Like many of the 19,000 people who watched Tuesday’s World Cup qualifying match between the United States and Trinidad & Tobgao, Keiron Matthews wrapped himself in the flag of his country and hoped for the best.
For the Flagler College men’s soccer player, from Santa Cruz, Trinidad, the match in Jacksonville presented an opportunity to watch his country.
“It was a great feeling, even though the results weren’t there for us,” Matthews said of the qualifier. “It was good to be up close and personal with the team.”
Matthews has known Trinidad & Tobago regulars Kevin Molino, Aubrey David, Jomal Williams, Levi Garcia, Carlyle Mitchell and others for years. At one point, Matthews and Mitchell played for the same club, Morvant Caledonia United.
Afterward, Matthews, a redshirt sophomore defender, was able to chat with David and Bateau. David played all 90 minutes in the Soca Warriors 4-0 loss to the United States.
“Getting to see my friends go on the field was a joy,” Matthews said. “Hopefully, someday I can join them.”
With 1.3 million residents Trinidad & Tobago remains the smallest nation to ever qualify for the World Cup.
The Soca Warriors are alive for the 2018 tournament in Russia, but after Tuesday’s result, they will likely have to regroup heading into the CONCACAF Hexagonal.
None of that mattered to Matthews. He was excited to once again watch his friends and his nation try to qualify for the world’s largest sporting event.