By Gregory Trujillo
TRINIDAD and Tobago's Under-20 hopes of reaching the finals of the World
Youth Football Championships in Argentina in June received a severe blow
yesterday at Dr João Havelange Centre of Excellence, Macoya.
The young Soca Warriors' bubble was quickly burst by Costa Rica who
crushed the local side 3-0 in the opening match of a double header.
The Costa Rican goalscorers were Winston Parks (51st), Erick Scott (78th)
and Warren Granados (88th).
In fact, it was only a game display of goalkeeping from Kevin Graham which prevented the scoreline from being any bigger in a game in which two glaring defence blunders were responsible for the visitors' goals.
To add insult to injury, key forward Josh Johnson was given marching
orders by Mexican referee Jorge Gasso in an unfortunate incident.
And T&T's work will get no easier either as the young lads will
now meet an even stronger United States in the second match of the series
tomorrow at the same venue. The US showed its strength by shutting out
Guatemala 5-0 in the second game.
Speaking after the game, T&T technical adviser, Jim Kelman said
the sending off of Johnson was unfortunate and thereafter "it was difficult
to play with 10 men against such gifted players".
Johnson was ordered off the pitch three minutes before half-time when
he retaliated with an elbow after Costa Rican skipper Christian Montero
sat on top of him (Johnson) following a tackle.
While the Trinidadian got a red card, Montero saw yellow. Before the
incident, keeper Graham was a Trojan in goal, saving his country on numerous
occasions. Graham made his first major save in the fifth minute with his
foot, guiding a low Parkes shot wide of the post.
Two minutes later Granados tested him with a chest-high shot which he
parried away and not too long after, he was again called upon to make a
difficult save from a low cross from Erick Scott. T&T's only real chance
in the first session came from down the left flank where Johnson was giving
right-back Pablo Salazar a torrid time.
After getting past Salazar in the 16th minute, the nippy Johnson centred
for Devon Mitchell, who lost the ball in a close tussle with goalkeeper
Nighel Dormond. Six minutes into the second half, Parks opened the scoring
when he intercepted an intended back pass from Shelton Williams in midfield.
He was chased down by Jace Peters and skipper Marvin Lee but stayed
ahead of the pair and was challenged by Graham, who left his goal line.
Graham made a brave tackle but the ball lobbed into the air and Parks was
left with the easy task of slotting the ball into an open net.
Scott then showed good composure in front of goal after receiving a
neat pass on the penalty spot.
He calmly put a low placement to the left of a diving Graham into the far corner. Two minutes from the end, a weak left footed shot by Granados deflected off the boot of Peters and the ball beat Graham all ends up.
In the other match Conor Casey opened the US scoring in the 11th minute.
Robert Convey then netted a double (14th & 16th) before Damarcus Beasley
scored in the 30th minute.
Second half substitute Bradley Davis, put the icing on the cake.
T&T: Kevin Graham, Kerry Baptiste, Josh Johnson, Junior Joseph,
Jace Peters, Damien Westfield, Michael-Lee Celestine, Jonathan Westmaas,
Devon Mitchell, Shelton Williams, Marvin Lee (Junior Spencer for Westmaas
59th, Scott Sealy for Mitchell 59th, Nigel Daniel for Williams 80th).
Costa Rica: Nighel Dormond, Michael Rodriguez, Pablo Salazar, Christian
Montero, Roy Myrie, Erick Scott, Warren Granados, Jonathan Orozco, Carlos
Hernandez, Michael Robinson, Winston Parks (Derman Moss for Orozco 45th,
Jose Lopez for Montero 66th).
THE Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 football team’s chances of
a 2001 Youth World Cup spot took a major blow yesterday afternoon as they
fell 3-0 to Costa Rica at the Joao Havelange Centre of Excellence.
The result leaves T&T with the unenviable task of taking three points
from the United States tomorrow if they are to have any chance of qualifying.
Technical Director Jim Kellman offered hopeful words in the post-game press
“We are prepared thoroughly for the United States of America,” said
It would take a huge turnaround in their performance from not just yesterday
but their last eight games—all losses—to achieve this though.
The hole in which Head Coach John Granville now finds himself could
have been much deeper.
Granville explained that his team “froze”, although he defended his
team selection and their preparation. Neither he nor Kellman admitted that
it could have been much worse. It was only the heroics of custodian Kevin
Graham that kept the scores even at the interval.
The game was just four minutes old when the Costa Rican midfielders
began to find the leaks in the hosts defence. Spectators were searching
for seating space at the sold-out venue when Carlos Hernandez sent Winston
Parks clear in the area. Only an outstretched left boot from Graham preserved
the goalless scoreline. It would be a recurring theme throughout the first
half of play.
Midfielder Warren Granados, Hernandez and Erick Scott all had efforts
turned away as the young Soca Warriors were enveloped by a wave of Central
And, even as Granville was counting his lucky stars to be at level terms
at the interval, his team was one player short after a provoked Josh Johnson
retaliated. His forearm caught his instigator, Granados, in full view of
Mexican referee Jorge Gasso, four minutes before the break.
Indeed, Granville could have been two players down as Gasso allowed
T&T midfielder Michael Celestine to go unpunished with a boot in the
face of opposing defender Michael Rodriguez.
The Costa Ricans responded positively in the second half by sending
on a third striker and, six minutes later, the game was up.
On the left flank, Defence Force recruit Shelton Williams was given
a starting spot despite spending less than two weeks with the team. His
performance did not justify Granville’s faith in him and it was his wayward
pass that gave Costa Rica their first goal. Winston Parks gleefully accepted
the errant pass, just inside the T&T half of the field, and beat Graham
on the second attempt.
A tidy finish from Scott, again in a one-on-one situation, doubled their
advantage after 78 minutes. And substitute Derma Moss added insult to injury,
two minutes from time, with his item which he scored after a cruel deflection
from Jace Peters.
It was a sad moment for Peters who, like Graham, and forward Devon Mitchell,
had performed courageously. Mitchell’s substitution was not nearly as strange
as the omissions from the team list. Midfielder Nigel Daniel was left out
until late in the game to aid his recovery from the flu.
But there was no excuse for the absences of Portugal-based Sean Cooper
and Collin Samuel from the field and Kwame Wiltshire from the entire 20-man
squad. In their places, Damien Westfield, Williams and Celestine clearly
They have two more matches in which to redeem themselves.