It was a dream debut for 25 year old striker Mickey Trotman and for coach Bertille St. Clair, it was a most commendable result for his side which comprised of eight local players in the starting eleven.
This country's 2-0 victory over South Africa at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Thursday night, according to administrator Richard Braithwaite has hopefully sent the message out the sponsors and local fans that "TT is on the right track towards 2002."
Retired national skipper David Nahkid got a fitting farewell present and he could not have been more pleased. "South Africa's a great side . We used a young bunch of players and gave a much better performance than we did against Jamaica. I feel the future is in safe hands and there's nothing more I could have asked for" Even West Indies cricket captain Brian Lara would have been proud of his fellow countrymen in beating the South Africans at something. Thursday night was a tale of two ruthless headers by two of this countries outstanding young strikers in front of a n appreciative crowd of roughly 7,000.
Trotman, playing in his first senior match, executed a gem of a header in the 27th minute from an Angus Eve right side cross to put the homesters ahead. That goal seemed to have unsettled the South African, who up to that point were having the better of the early exchanges and should have benefited from at least two goals in a promising but ultimately fruitless first half.
Skipper Doctor Khumalo saw his long range effort zip over Clayton Ince's goal. Soon after Clyde Mahlangu forced Ince to save low down. In the opening 25 minutes, the visitors had at least five cracks at goal. TT, were by no means out of the early running, playing original and exciting football.
When Eve broke away down the right flank and delivered a pin point cross for Trotman to head home, the Miami Fusion striker was overjoyed. Ten minutes later, John robbed Thabo Mngomeni of possession and found sufficient space to shoot, but ended up wide of the left post.
Khumalo's crossing from both flanks was most noticeable and the Kaiser Chiefs midfielder had Ince in some problems on more than one occasion. He picked out an unmarked Mathew Booth inside the 18 yard box, but luckily for Ince, the lanky defender headed wide of the mark. Even so, Ince gave a solid showing between the upright on the night. Before the interval, he saved well to shots by Papi Mbele and Ndlanya.
Coach Trott Moloto's men were expected to come out with all guns blazing in the second half. however, they were not allowed to. In the 52nd minute, a second item, almost a mirror image of the first arrived for St. Clair's men .Overlapping defender Sherwyn Julien provided John with a well measured cross for him to head home with precision.
The local fans were now much in love with their boys in red on the night. In the 53rd minute, following a good build up in which Daniel Mudau dummied Mngomeni's pass only to have Khumalo's effort kept out by Ince.
The Bafana Bafana boys began playing with increased determination for a certain period, but there ws no letting up by the local side. The miserable night for the World Cup qualifiers continued when Khumalo's penalty was smartly saved by Ince to his left, following hand ball incident. Moments before that, Nahkid unfortunately headed over from a right side delivery. Certainly it would have been a wonderful farewell gift.
In the end result could not have more satisfactory for St. Clair, who claimed that it was all because of the hard work that was being put in."As I've been saying, once we work hard we're going to get the results and so it happened." As to what the critics will have to say, he added "The people have their voices to say what they need to. I have just have to do what is required of me."