By Jay Hipps
San Diego, Cal. (February 20) - On a day that featured both sudden downpours and
sunny skies, it turned out to be a beautiful day for Trinidad and Tobago as they
defeated Costa Rica 2-1 in extra time in the Gold Cup quarter final. The day offered all
the emotions ranging from joy to frustration and, for the Trinidadians, joy again.
The action started early as Costa Rica created
the first scoring opportunity in just the
second minute. Wilmer Lopez played a through ball which Pablo Wanchope ran onto
in the right side of the penalty area. His low shot to the far post beat the keeper but
went just wide.
Trinidad and Tobago didn't wait long to challenge
the Costa Rican goal, though. They
worked the ball through the midfield, moving the ball out to defender Angus Eve,
making an overlapping run into the corner. His hard shot was too much for Costa Rica
goalkeeper Hermidio Barrantes to handle, but he was able to punch it out of play to
end the threat. Barrantes was called into action just a minute later when Jerre Nixon
was freed in a similar manner, this time on the left side. His angled shot was parried
dangerously by Barrantes, the ball deflecting straight up the middle of the penalty area.
It came tantalizingly close to Arnold Dwarika, but the Trinidadian couldn't get off a shot
as defenders converged on him. The ball squirted out across the top of the box and
was fired back in, but a Costa Rican defender blocked the shot.
The action continued end to end throughout
the opening 25 minutes, with both teams
alternating in their dominance of midfield. The game was shaping up to be quite an
offensive display, the question being not if a goal would be scored but how soon and
Russel Latapy, Trinidad's "Little Magician,"
nearly broke the deadlock in the 24th
minute, taking a free kick from 25 yards out just about 10 yards off center. His shot
rocketed off his boot and over the wall, bound for the upper reaches of the Costa
Rican net. Only an athletic leap by Barrantes kept the match scoreless.
Costa Rica's reprieve was a short one, however.
Just three minutes later, Latapy made
a run down the left side, crossing the ball into the area about 15 yards out. Barrantes
rushed out to field the ball only to have it headed away by one of his own defenders,
Pablo Chinchilla, and the ball landed at the feet of Dwarika as though it had been
passed to him. With the goalkeeper out and only a defender to beat with his shot,
Dwarika finished with ease to give Trinidad and Tobago a 1-0 lead.
The goal led Costa Rica to redouble their efforts
and, combined with Trinidad's desire
to protect their lead, created some good opportunities for the Ticos. The 32nd minute
saw a buildup into Trinidad's penalty area, giving Wilmer Lopez an open shot from just
12 yards out. His first-time shot was mis-hit, however, and goalkeeper Clayton Ince
easily stopped it. The Ticos threatened again in the 34th minute, but Harold Wallace's
hard, bending shot from the right side curled just wide of the near post. Despite their
chances, though, Costa Rica was unable to score and the half ended 1-0.
Costa Rica again pressed forward after the
interval. Though the Ticos were able to find
space down the wings, their crosses failed to connect with their front runners. A
sequence in the 51st minute was typical, where Austin Berry was freed down the left
wing. He first put in a low cross that was cut out by a defender, but the ball deflected
back to him. He took it deeper into the area and floated in a cross, but it was
misplayed and sailed over the heads of his teammates in the box. Hernan Medford ran
it down on the right side, but his cross landed in a cluster of Trinidadian defenders and
was cleared easily.
T and T saved its offensive efforts for counterattacks
which, though infrequent, looked
dangerous. In the 58th minute, Latapy, Dwarika, and Jerren Nixon led a rush up the
field, with Latapy squaring up and walloping a shot from the edge of the 18 that went
over the top. They scored a goal in the 63rd minute when Dwarika took a through ball,
dribbled the keeper, and put it home, but the linesman's flag held aloft made it all for
The back-and-forth action continued in the
64th minute when Wanchope nearly
converted Costa Rica's best chance yet. This time, the Ticos' interplay in the area
clicked, sending Wanchope in on the right side. Wanchope got everything he wanted
out of the shot with perfect placement and power, but Ince's reflex dive to his right got
enough of the ball to slow its momentum and cause it to trickle across the goal and out
Costa Rica threatened again minutes later when,
in the 72nd minute, Medford beat his
man on the left corner and moved in to fire a rocket from 10 yards out. His aim was
off, though, and the ball dented only the side netting.
With time running out, the Ticos' desperation
was building and Trinidad's counter
attacks became more frequent. Latapy again showed off his powerful shot in the 76th
minute, ripping a ball from 22 yards out that Barrantes could only parry. The 81st
minute saw an opportunity for Dwarika, who held up the ball at the edge of the area in
a two-on-two to fire a carefully-aimed shot off the far post. Costa Rica was still alive,
though, and their assault on the goal continued.
Time and again, the Ticos would play the ball
into the area, only to see it cleared by the
tenacious defense, shot with little power, or simply fired close, but wide. It looked as
though Costa Rica was simply suffering from a jinxed effort, one of those games where
no matter how many chances are created, the ball will simply not go in.
Just before the final whistle, however, they
finally broke through. With what seemed
like every player on the field in the Trinidad penalty area, William Sunsig booted a low
shot from about 16 yards out. Ince dove to his right but the ball was deflected before it
reached him, and he was lying on his stomach as the ball rolled, seemingly in slow
motion, behind him and into the net. The referee blew the whistle immediately after the
restart and the teams took a moment to catch their breaths before extra time.
It was going to be a difficult tast for Trinidad,
due both to the crushing last-second goal
and to the fact that their midfield genius Latapy had been substituted in the closing
minutes of regulation time as they sought to protect their lead.
Costa Rica created the first real opportunity
of extra time, when Wanchope received
the ball with his back to goal just 12 yards out. He fired a low shot on the turn, but
placed the ball directly at the goalkeeper whose heart must have skipped a beat before
making the stop.
Following the narrow miss, Trinidad began to
take a more conservative approach,
often playing with Dwarika as a lone front runner. It was clear that they were playing
for either a counterattack or favored the idea of taking the match to penalties.
It turned out to be the counterattack. Dwarika
took a long ball at the edge of the area
and flicked it sideways to Trotman, who held off a challenge by Mauricio Wright,
turned, and shot. The kick probably would have been an easy save for Barrantes, but
the ball took a deflection off of Victor Cordero as he attempted to block it and
bounced into the net past a helpless keeper. Trotman, in celebration, sprinted off the
field and into the players' tunnel, his jubilant teammates following him.
Trinidad and Tobago will meet the winner of
this afternoon's match between Mexico
and Canada in the semifinal to be played Thursday night in Los Angeles. The game,
along with the rest of the Gold Cup, will be broadcast live on internetsoccer.com.
Costa Rica: Hermidio Barrantes; Harold Wallace,
Mauricio Wright, Victor Cordero,
Pablo Chinchilla; Austin Berry, Walter Cente?o, Wilmer Lopez; Hernan Medford,
Pablo Wanchope, Jeaustin Campos.
Trinidad & Tobago: Clayton Ince, Angus
Eve, Ansil Elcock, Stokely Mason, Russell
Latapy, David Nakhid, Anthony Rougier, Arnold Dwarika,
Golden goal puts T&T in Gold Cup semifinal
FANTASTIC, remarkable, spirited. All three
words can describe Trinidad and
Tobago's 2-1 victory in sudden-death extra time over Costa Rica in a Gold Cup
quarter-final before about 13,000 fans at the Qualcomm Stadium yesterday.
Mickey Trotman's strike with four minutes remaining in the first half of the added on
time, put the Soca Warriors through to their first ever semi-finals of the Football
On Thursday T&T will face Canada in one
semi-final. Canada beat Mexico in similar
fashion, 2-1 in sudden-death extra-time in their quarter-final clash in Los Angeles.
Coach Bertille St Clair held his head in disbelief when in the 69th minute substitute
William Hidalgo snatched an injury time equaliser.
Then the Tobagonian embraced team manager Richard
Braithwaite in joy when
Trotman, who replaced Jerron Nixon (in the 60th minute) received a pass from Arnold
Dwarika to rifle home the Golden Goal in the 101th minute of the match.
"I have been saying over the years that Trinidad
and Tobago has an abundance of
talent. What we lacked was the attitude and the discipline and the organisation.
"We have now begun to focus on that and are beginning to see the rewards. Now we
will be force to be reckoned with," said St Clair after the match.
The victory was certainly one of the hardest
won by a T&T team in top class
competition for quite some time.
Captain Anthony Rougier and his men absorbed
almost non-stop pressure after
Dwarika had put them ahead in the 26th minute.
Similar to their first-half display against
Mexico, T&T outfitted in white and playing their
first match of the competition without Dwight Yorke, enjoyed the better of exchanges
for much of the 45 minutes.
T&T will look forward to the return of
Yorke who sustained a injury which is not fully
known, in action for United against Leeds yesterday.
Dwarika finished the game with a swollen ankle
and Latapy with a groin strain.
However, both are expected to be ready for Thursday's "semi."
From the word go, skipper Rougier came out
gunning against the Central Americans.
FC Zurich striker Jerren Nixon, making his first start in place of Yorke, had the Costa
Rican defence on their toes with his agility and speed.
Nixon, in the 13th minute, powered a shot against
goalkeeper Hermidio Barrantes from
a acute angle on the left and Dwarika lost his footing going for the rebound.
Five minutes later, after at least eight passes were strung from the centre of the field,
Nixon fired a left-footer wide of the upright.
Midfielder Russell Latapy cracked a free-kick
which had Barrantes pushing out.
Then the Little Magician played a ball into the box and Barrantes and Pablo Vega got
into a mix- up, allowing the on-spot Dwarika to slam home the loose ball from
That goal woke up the Central Americans and
they would have at least five missed
chances against the suspect T&T defence before the break.
Goalkeeper Clayton Ince, who enjoyed his best
performance of the tournament saved
low an attempt by veteran Hernan Medford on the left and moments after coming on,
Jafet Soto's left-footer flashed wide from inside the 18-yard box.
T&T were pressed into half of the field
from the start of the second period.
Wanchope headed overbar from Medford's right- side cross and for most of the
opening ten minutes the 1990 World Cup finalists lived around the T&T goal area.
After 48 minutes, T&T almost got the item
to hold off the Costa Ricans when Dwarika
intercepted a pass by Mauricio Wright and found Latapy, who body-shook the same
player and left another one skating before hitting over from the edge of the box.
The T&T backline continued to resist pressure
and Ince had to pull off his best save in
the 62nd minute when Soto's close-range effort had the tall custodian pulling off a reflex
Wilmer Lopez then saw his left-footer from
the six-yard box squirm wide and Soto's
Medford then broke down the right and luckily
for T&T, he shot into the side netting.
Rare second-half tries by Latapy and Dwarika's shot which rebounded off the right
post was all T&T could see off the Costa Rican goal.
As the clock ticked away, T&T came under
more pressure but they stood up like
Just when it seemed T&T were through to the semifinals, Hidalgo buried a low drive
from the edge past Ince for a dramatic equaliser.
T&T, who had Brent Rahim replacing "Latas"
and Wise for Angus Eve, started the
extra-time rejuvenated, while Costa Rica ran out of gas.
After Victor Codero headed into the path of
Dwarika, the dreadlocked player found
Trotman, whose shot deflected off Codero into the net.
Trotman led the victory charge into the dressing room, while midfielder David Nakhid
knelt with outstretched hands praising his god.
"The feeling was just so unbelievable, I just
felt like celebrating with a difference. I
knew it was a victory so it was like 'Let's go home.' I have to thank the coach Bertille
St Clair and manager Richard Braithwaite and
the players for believing in me.
"I knew when I went on the field that something special was in the air," an elated
Trotman, who also scored in T&T's 1-2 loss to the same opponents last month, said
T&T are expected to move to Los Angeles
on Tuesday for their semi-final outing.
About 100 Trinidad and Tobago supporters watched the game live.