By Shaun Fuentes
in Los Angeles
TRINIDAD and Tobago football coach Bertille
St Clair got a big boost in his quest to
renew his contract when the Soca Warriors pulled off a terrific 4-2 romp over Guatemala
in their final Group C match at the Los Angeles Coliseum on a chilly Tuesday night.
The victory, through goals by Russell Latapy (26 th minute), Arnold Dwarika (36th),
David Nakhid (52nd) and Dwight Yorke (83rd) virtually booked T&T in the quarter-finals
of the Football Confederation tournament for the first time.
Of significance also was the fact that Manchester
United striker Dwight Yorke broke his
recent scoring streak, giving one of his best performances in a T&T jersey for almost a
St Clair, whose contract as coach ends shortly came
in for praise from the team
members including Yorke, Dwarika, Latapy and manager Richard Braithwaite.
They all hope that the coach will be part of their quest in realising the dream of qualifying
for the 2002 Japan/Korea World Cup.
"Hopefully the people of Trinidad and Tobago could
appreciate the efforts the coach
Bertille St Clair has put in," said Yorke, who promised his Tobagonian mentor a goal
mere minutes before kick-off.
"I just want to thank the coach for getting us ready
for this match, especially after the big
loss to Mexico. We knew it was going to be difficult to come back against Guatemala.
Hopefully Mexico will do us a favour so we can go through to the next round," added
Dwarika, who rose to the occasion after gaining
the nod over Mickey Trotman for the
chance to play alongside Yorke for the first time in his career, also paid tribute to St
"I want to congratulate Mr Bertille for helping keep
our spirits up and letting us know that
it was not the end of the road after we lost to Mexico. This one was also a special one
for my team mate Ronnie Mauge (injured out with broken leg). We went out there and
did what we were supposed to do and now we look forward to the next round," said
Captain Anthony Rougier and his "Soca Warriors"
took the field in front of a partisan
crowd of 23,621 of which some 150 were "Trini" supporters.
The Guatemalans, who knocked T&T out of the 1991 competition with a 1-0 win,
showed early intentions of taking the attack to their opponents.
T&T slowly got into stride and "Latas,"
playing with a slight injury, would have hoped to
do better with his direct free-kick which missed the left post from the edge of the 18-yard
Guatemala worked most of their attacks from
the right and fortunately for T&T,
Everaldo Valencia was rusty with his crossing.
T&T got their opening goal with a quickly taken
free-kick following a foul on Angus Eve.
Latapy found Yorke, who with his back to the goal, sharply slipped a pass behind him for
the on-rushing "Little Magician" to beat goalkeeper Edgar Estrada.
The entire T&T bench was on their feet and "Latas"
celebrated in style by raising his
jersey and pointed to the under top which was worn by all the players reading "This is for
But those celebrations were shortlived as three
minutes later the Guatemalans equalised
when Carlos Plata stabbed home from close range from a left-side corner by Valencia.
T&T, who had Eve and Marvin Andrews picking up yellow cards, refused to drop any
gears and seven minutes later, Dwarika's glancing header beat Estrada on his far post
from a Latapy right-side delivery.
That goal followed a shot by Eve which was
cleared by a defender after a combination
between Yorke and the Hibernian midfielder.
Guatemala didn't lie down and die and after a couple missed chances before the interval,
they tied the scores two minutes into the second half.
Goalkeeper Clayton Ince untidily dropped a
long range attempt by Jorge Rodas providing
substitute Guillermo Ramirez with a gift to tap home from close-up.
The Guatemalan fans could have been heard two blocks away from the stadium, but
T&T called the shots from there on.
Dwarika sent Yorke goalwards on the left but
the "Duke" saw his left-footer graze the
right post on its way out, bringing his trademark smile into play.
A minute later, Yorke once again showed his
creative ability, taking to the ball to the
by-line before hooking back for Nakhid to nail T&T's third goal.
Latapy and Yorke combined again in the 64th
minute but the latter cracked one wide of
the mark from inside the box and two minutes later, fired another inches over.
Once again Yorke smiled and the "Smiling Assassin"
then showed part of his £12.6
million worth when he calmly slotted the fourth goal from the six-yard box after Rougier
out-muscled a Guatemalan on the right.
Ince had to pull off two saves in the closing
ten minutes but T&T were already thinking
about their next assignment.