STAND-in Trinidad and Tobago skipper Ross Russell
and his teammates advanced to
the next round of the 2002 World Cup qualifying series on Saturday night here at the
Ergilio Hato Stadium.
The men in red, white and black earned a 1-1
draw in their return leg matchup to
knock the Netherlands Antilles out of the next round 6-1 on aggregate.
However, while the overall tally may look impressive,
T&T learned a lesson which is
sure to serve them well when the battle for the three spots in Japan and Korea heats
Almost everything that could go wrong for them on the night did go wrong.
An islandwide blackout at 7.05 p.m. delayed
the start by some 45 minutes, disrupting
their warm-up. Then, after enjoying the better of the exchanges, Russell's side found
themselves 1-0 down at the interval.
In the second session, they battled back to
earn an equaliser - but not before striker
Arnold Dwarika had found himself in the middle of several angry Dutchmen after an
incident with goalkeeper Marcelo Pisas.
The tall custodian took offence at Dwarika's challenge as both contested a ball in the
83rd minute. And having gathered the ball, Pisas lashed out at the T&T marksman who
responded with a shove.
Several Dutchmen then surrounded Dwarika and
began shoving him around before his
teammates stepped in.
But the final say went to Jamaican referee
Peter Pendergast who, having had a clear
view of the incident which caused the trouble, showed Pisas a red card.
The ejection did not go down well with the
small home crowd of some 250 people
who vented their disgust as he went off.
And there were just four minutes left in regulation
time when T&T settled themselves
enough to grab the equaliser through Scotland-based defender Marvin Andrews.
The six-foot-plus Andrews scored his second
header in as many games against the
Dutchmen when he crept in on the far side to place a curling right-side freekick from
Dwarika past a helpless Michael Martina, the replacement for Pisas.
But even after the final whistle had gone,
officials of both teams had to calm the players
down and the two teams eventually shook hands before they finally left the field.
Earlier, coach Ian Porterfield's decision to
experiment backfired and T&T found
themselves under pressure for long periods.
Porterfield put Mickey Trotman, usually a striker,
in with Stokely Mason and debutant
Dennis Lawrence as his core midfielders in the 3-5-2 set. But, with players also having
to make the adjustment to the artificial surface, the trio were initially unable to give the
side the impetus it needed in attack. Trotman in particular looked out of sorts.
Still, T&T were clearly the better of the
two sides and Dwarika would muff three
clear-cut chances to open the scoring within a 10-minute spell.
In the 21st minute, he was on the end of a
right-side cross from Ansil Elcock but the
ball deviated slightly just as he unleashed his shot which posed little problem for Pisas.
Four minutes later, Dwarika succeeded in curling a right-footed freekick around a
five-man wall from just outside the penalty area only. Pisas pushed it over the bar.
Within minutes, Pisas had to dive low to his left to stop a blast from Dwarika.
Where Dwarika had failed, the home side succeeded,
Angelo Martina beating Russell
against the run of play. In a quick counter-attack which caught the T&T defence
napping, Manuel Rekondie surged up the right flank and fed a long pass all the way
across the field to Martina.
With his marker Elcock nowhere in sight and
several T&T players trying desperately to
get back, the Dutchman made his way into the area and slotted past the advancing
The Trini posse who had made their way across
earlier in the day on a charter went
silent. At the interval, they still wondered whether their team could come back.
The home team's quick start suggested they might not.
Eight minutes into the half, Russell had to
come off to take a cross from Raleigh
Francisca. When he could only punch the ball as far as Martina, the striker rifled a shot
back in where the defence had to clear.
Only then did T&T begin to respond. In
the 59th minute, Mason delivered a low
right-side cross into the six-metre box. Both Dwarika and Kerwyn Jemmott, brought
on at the interval for Trotman, were inside the six-metre box as the cross was whipped
in but neither could get a decisive touch.
Pisas make a fine reflex save on the line as Dwarika rushed into the six-metre box to
stab a shot goalwards.
Substitute striker Hector Sam came on in the
66th minute to add more spunk to the
T&T attack. His deft dribbling skills left the Dutch defence in tatters at times and they
often had to resort to roughhouse tactics to stop him.
Russell also had to do some stopping of his
own at the other end. When winger
Michael Obispo dispossessed T&T Brent Sancho on the left flank and spotted the
custodian slightly off his line, he unleashed a dipping right-footer on the run from 15
metres out. But, diving backwards, Russell just managed to push the effort over the
After that, the home side began to let their
frustration really show and when they lost
Pisas, T&T took full advantage.
They will now meet the Dominican Republic who
also got the better of Montserrat
T&T 1 (Marvin Andrews 86th) v Netherlands Antilles 1 (Angelo Martina 41st) - T&T
advance 6-1 on aggregate
T&T-Ross Russell, Shurland David, Marvin
Andrews, Brent Sancho, Ansil Elcock
(Carlos Edwards 76th), Sherwyn Julien, Dennis Lawrence, Stokely Mason, Mickey
Trotman (Kerwyn Jemmott 46th), Nigel Pierre (Hector Sam 66th), Arnold Dwarika
Andrews saves T&T
These were the ingredients of Trinidad and
Tobago's 1-1 draw with the Netherlands
Antilles in their return leg 2002 World Cup qualifying match at the Ergilio Hato Stadium
in Curacao on Saturday night.
It was not the result hoped for but it was
enough to send T&T through (6-1 on
aggregate) to the next leg against the Dominican Republic who beat Montserrat
The Soca Warriors were a relieved bunch after the 90 minutes of rough action with the
The start of play was delayed by 30 minutes
after the lights went out at the small
stadium which had a few hundred spectators present.
Coach Ian Porterfield's starting eleven included
Ross Russell in goal, defenders
Sherwyn Julien, Brent Sancho, Shurland David playing as sweeper, Ansil Elcock and
Andrews, Mickey Trotman, Stokely Mason and Dennis Lawrence in the middle and
Nigel Pierre and Arnold Dwarika up front.
Russell, who pulled off a couple good saves,
captained the T&T side in the absence of
Anthony Rougier. He got a scare around the 15th minute when the home side took the
lead following a counter-attack.
After a T&T play broke down, the Antilleans
moved down the right and switched ends
before the goalscorer awkwardly toe punched the ball past Russell from near the
Despite the hard surface which caused the ball
to bounce at a fast pace and a rain
shower before kick-off, T&T did manage to string some passes around.
Sancho who has a sore left thigh after falling described the action on the surface "like
playing small goal on the road."
A lack of proper finishing made things even
Some ten chances were thrown away in the opening half with Dwarika being the main
A similar amount of squandered opportunities
followed in the second half.
The Antilleans, fielding a couple new faces in their team from the earlier 5-0 defeat
defended in numbers after going ahead and were aggressive throughout.
With the clock running down, T&T were saved
from defeat when Andrews headed
home Dwarika's free kick from the right in similar style to the set play goal he scored in
the first leg from the left.
Porterfield admitted afterwards that it was
difficult to expect a result similar to the
earlier leg because of the absence of some players and the different conditions.
He was nevertheless happy to advance to the
next stage and relieved to be undefeated
in his first two games as coach.
T&T's Olympic team went into camp at the
Concacaf Centre of Excellence yesterday
leading up to their match against the Netherlands Antilles tomorrow in a 2000 Sydney
Olympics qualifier at Macoya.
Guatemala and Canada are also involved in the
semi-final stage tournament here.