|Praying to equalise - Apr 5|
|2009 - Sports|
|Friday, 03 April 2009 15:05|
by Sedley Joseph, former national footballer
The jury is still out on the team selected by Coach Maturana to play against Honduras last week Saturday.
On my way to the game, I was listening to one of the radio stations and the differing views of the commentators, among them national players, former national coaches, as well as technical directors.
The bone of contention in one instance was the benching of Kenwyn Jones and the selection of Stern John to start, and another question was whether Russell Latapy should start or be introduced during the course of the game.
I must say I was surprised when I heard the starting eleven as I had expected that Jones would have been in the starting line-up and not Denzil Theobald.
I understand after speaking to a good friend of mine, who is very close to what’s happening in our football, that the Coach had decided after looking at the statistics of the three strikers – Jones, Scotland and John, that Jones would be the one to warm the bench at the start. His reason was that in the recent past Jones had had very few shots at goal and had not caused any problems for opposing defenders on the ground or in the air. It certainly took a lot of strength on the Coach’s part to so decide as I think 99% of T&T’s supporters expected to see Jones in the starting eleven.
My real problem, however, was the use of Theobald in central midfield. I’ve said it before that he is a very negative midfielder. His passes either go square of back and, as far as I am concerned, a central midfielder has to be one who can supply good, incisive passes to his strikers to get shots at the opponent’s goal.
T&T’s problems would have been obvious to anyone with eyes to see but, for those who did not look closely, we were outplayed in midfield. Palacios, Guevara and De Leon had freedom of movement in the middle and, with some precise passing and clean collection of the ball, they advanced time and time again to our defence, which put Thomas and Lawrence under severe pressure.
Add to that the freedom given to the Hondurans’ right midfielder by left back Edwards, whose positioning at times was awful.
Without skipper Dwight Yorke and Chris Birchall in midfield, it was obvious that there would have been problems in that area, hence the reason why I thought there should have been another player with at least the ability to make proper passes to the men up front.
While I know that Latapy would not last a full 90 minutes at top pace at this level, my thinking is that he would have brought some stability in midfield. He has the ability, unlike most of our midfielders nowadays, to make good passes, the kind of passes that would allow strikers to have shots at the opposing goal.
Scotland has been scoring well in his club games and he had one particularly good shot in the first half, turning and hitting with his left foot, which just went wide.
John did a lot more work in his previous two games. Besides the lone shot he had on goal in this game, he was well marked by the Honduran defence and, on most occasions, the delivery from behind to both Scotland and himself was in the air.
Our attacks need to be built from midfield and although Yorke no longer has the legs to take him through a gruelling 90-minute game, at least he tries to get things going by falling back to collect the ball short from the defence. Honduras had more ball possession in the first half but their shooting was poor, except for a fierce right-foot drive from about 30 metres by De Leon – which goalkeeper Williams did well to push it over the bar. T&T’s best chance came after a right-side corner, but Dennis Lawrence failed to make contact with his left foot and the ball was eventually scrambled away.
From the start of the second half, Honduras looked business-like but Pavon, their experienced striker and captain, missed a header. I am sure when he looks at the replay he will wonder how on earth he headed outside from just about two to three yards. He only had to head the ball back in the direction from which it had come, but he turned his head instead and missed a golden opportunity to put his team in the lead. but it wasn’t long after that miss, in the 49th minute, with T&T goalkeeper Williams fisting the ball upwards, that Pavon headed it back into an unprotected goal to give Honduras the lead.
It was evident that Coach Maturana had to make changes. This he did by introducing Hyland, A former Mucurapo Senior Comprehensive player, to replace Theobald, and substituting Jones for Scotland. Five minutes later, Latapy was to replace Daniel and this was in the 66th minute.
Hyland got into the thick of things right away and showed that he was capable of handling things in midfield. The “Little Magician” had problems getting into stride and made a few bad passes at the start, but got his confidence and was soon asking for the ball.
Jones was running here, there and everywhere without getting a touch and it seemed as if the Coach had made the correct decision not to start with him. I must say, however, that the service to him was not good. With time winding down, Honduras started to defend their one goal and probably made a mistake.
With three minutes left, Latapy found Hyland on the left side with a beautiful cross-pass, Hyland collected well, settled himself and, although at a slightly acute angle, shot to goal. The Honduras goalkeeper seemed to have had the ball well covered, but it slipped through his hands and went over the line by the time he had scrambled it back. It was the equaliser for which all of T&T had been praying.
This was certainly not one of the performances that the Coach would want to remember, particularly as far as his midfield is concerned. Yorke is still unavailable but Birchall is available for the game against theUS, as well as goalkeeper Ince, who served a one-match suspension.
It will certainly be interesting to see Coach Maturana’s starting XI as I noticed in a weekend newspaper article that he reportedly said he was saving Jones for the match against the US.
Let’s hope we had a better result against the US last Wednesday, as we certainly need some points on the road, having drawn our first home game.________________________________________________________________________________________ **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