Game Report: Trinidad and Tobago vs Costa Rica

C Rica bursts T&T's bubble

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).

Under-20s beaten 3-0

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 conference.

“We are prepared thoroughly for the United States of America,” said Kellman.

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 American pressure.

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 struggled.

They have two more matches in which to redeem themselves.