|Eyes now on U-20s - Sep 20|
|2009 - Sports|
|Friday, 18 September 2009 15:19|
By Sedley Joseph
It is now history that T & T’s footballers could only see South Africa on a map of the world. Many people have advanced many reasons for the non-qualification of the team.
Most may be very valid, but I think our problems started with the black listing of players, one of whom, Brent Sancho never saw a red jersey throughout the entire campaign, although being one of the stalwarts in Germany 2006.
Then there was the question of the changing of coaches from Rjisbergen to Maturana and then to local boy Latapy.
Added to the fact that there were these problems, T & T gave away a 2-0 lead in their first match against El Salvador allowing the home team to come back to earn a draw, this after getting an opportunity to be three goals up when a second penalty was awarded. It is now history that Captain Dwight Yorke after scoring a penalty earlier in the game decided to give good friend Stern John an opportunity to add to his tally of goals for T & T. Stern’s shot almost reached the clouds and T & T paid the penalty, coming away with one point instead of a start in the series with three points.
Some die-hard supporters still thought T & T had a chance of qualifying before the Honduras game in Honduras, almost two weeks ago. I had written in my last article that I expected that that would have been a difficult proposition as the game was being played in Honduras in front of a massive partisan and noisy crowd and secondly Honduras had just trounced Costa Rica by a 4-0 margin.
My fears were realised as I sat watching the game on television. The first surprise was the selected team, Marvin Andrews, who I am told had not played a game for the season thus far, was not only included to partner young Abu Bakr, but given the captain’s armband. Young Abu Bakr, although very promising is not quick over short distances and Andrews is slow, which is expected at this stage of his career.
In the first half hour of the game, 35 year-old Pavon netted twice to give the Hondurans a 2-0 lead at half time. Although goalkeeper Ince had been performing well in games past, I thought he was partly responsible for both early goals as he left his citadel and found himself in no man’s land, although there was a defender in the vicinity. It is a cardinal error for goalkeepers to rush out of their goal when defenders are in striking distance of attackers.
Nothing seemed to have been going right for the T & T team as the ball was given away after two of three passes and opportunities were few and far between for strikers Glen and Jones. Honduras registered their third goal 16 minutes into the second half and if the result was in any doubt at half time, it was now secure for Honduras.
A strange substitution was made by Coach Latapy around this time, with Kerry Baptiste (who has been scoring regularly in the Pro League) on the bench, as well as Jason Scotland, who did exceptionally well last season in Scotland, on comes Lyndon “Chubby” Andrews.
To say this was shocking to me is putting it mildly as I cannot see the value of Andrews at this stage of his career being close to a national team. The coach may have had his reasons for so doing, but I would certainly like to hear an explanation for such a change, when with nothing to lose with the score at 3-0, a third striker might have been a better investment, or Baptiste being sent in at midfield, a position which is not foreign to him.
Honduras completed the rout in the 82nd minute and Baptiste got a consolation goal about three of four minutes from the final whistle, after being eventually given a run. With a 4-1 loss to Honduras, what semblance of a chance there was of qualification had gone through the window. It was back home to confront the USA who have an excellent record against T & T.
The die-hard supporters were still thinking of South Africa, but for all intents and purposes, South Africa was a distant dream as far as I was concerned. Crowd support had certainly dwindled, for more than one reason, as in addition to most supporters knowing that the team could not qualify, particularly after the Honduras debacle, the prices of admission remained high, $500.00 for covered stand and $300.00 for uncovered. I don’t think that was a wise decision if the authorities wanted a big crowd to support the team in this game.
I was pleasantly surprised that there were a couple changes to the team that took the field against Honduras. Lawrence was back to the stopper position replacing Marvin Andrews, who was relegated to the stands, not even the bench, although he had worn the captain’s armband in the previous game. Tinto, who should have been in the team previously, replaced Theobald and Carlos Edwards was switched to the left side of midfield. From the start of the game this was a much-improved T & T team as they held possession for long periods and the midfielders did not give the USA midfielders any amount of room.
There were about three good opportunities for goals, Jones heading feebly to goalkeeper Howard, Glen’s chip beating Howard and coming off the cross bar and Noel’s brilliant free kick which Howard did well to save. I always believe that when a team is playing well they need to score as the inevitable usually happens.
USA had a couple opportunities as well, one a scorcher from Altidore which was well saved by Ince and another which Donovan hit over bar and this after Clark had given USA the lead with a powerful shot from outside the 18 yard box.
This was one of the best performances by the team, particularly in the first half when they had more ball possession. I had mentioned in an earlier article about correct team selection and this game proved me to be correct.
Emphasis is now on the U-20s, who start their young journey on September 24, against Egypt in Egypt. Some of these youngsters, I hope should impress our technical people enough to start a new journey for World Cup 2014.
Best of luck to our U-20s in their quest for glory.________________________________________________________________________________________ **DISCLAIMER**: User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Camsel/Catholic News or its staff. Camsel/Catholic News accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments. Please help us keep our site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option. Camsel/Catholic News reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed. Before posting, please refer to the Comments Policy under Resources