Trinidad and Tobago’s National Futsal men’s team received a stern lesson from the reigning champions of CONCACAF in Heredia on Wednesday night.
T&T, coached by former National Team and “Strike Squad” captain Clayton Morris, suffered a 6-0 defeat to the hosts at the Palacio de Los Deportes Indoor Arena as both teams continued their build up for upcoming CONCACAF qualifiers.
The five starters for T&T were goalkeeper Kevin Graham, captain Jerwyn Balthazar, Kerry Joseph, Noel Williams and Cyrano Glen, who is the brother of T&T international Cornell Glen.
The Costa Ricans controlled the pace of the match and were clinical for most parts against a T&T team which arrived in San Jose on Wednesday morning after their original flight out of Port of Spain on Tuesday had been cancelled.
The hosts went ahead in the first half through Alejandro Paniagua and Diego Zuniga doubled the lead before the break. They added further items in the second half through Edwin Cubillo, Isaias Mora, Carlos Chavez and Yariel Sandi.
T&T did manage to create a few goalscoring opportunities but failed to capitalize particularly in the second half. Kerry Joseph had right footer into the left side netting after beating his man inside the opening minute of the match. And Noel Williams had his crack rebound off the post after being played through by Jerwyn Balthazar in the second half.
Morris who guided the team to third place in the Caribbean championship in January, said the timing of the defeat was ideal for his players.
“We have six players who have not played at this level before and what a way to get a baptism of fire,” Morris told TTFA Media.
“As coaches we have been telling them what is expected at this level and tonight’s game was a testimony and something I think the players will remember for the rest of their lives. I think they are understanding more of what is required for us to get past Honduras.
“We have not been playing on this size of the field which is the regulated size but we do not have that available to us at home. Defensively we were quite solid in the first ten to fifteen minutes but they were able to get ahead of us.
“We have another opportunity to play them on Friday night and we will be aiming to be a lot sharper and more composed on the ball,” Morris added.
Team captain Balthazar who is also a member of the Defence Force professional league team, said he expected nothing less of Costa Rica. The Costa Rican team was coming off a four-game training camp in Argentina last month during which they lost their one-off international 4-2 to the Argentina National Futsal team. Costa Rica has qualified for three FIFA Futsal World Cups.
“Coming into the game we knew that it would be difficult for us against the CONCACAF champions but we needed this kind of challenge. This was a lesson for us and hopefully we can have a better showing on Friday. The most important thing for us is the preparation for the games against Honduras and I believe this game would have served us well inspite of the 6-0 loss,” said Balthazar who also made his senior international debut against Grenada a few weeks ago
The T&T team is staying at the Costa Rica Football Federation’s headquarters and live-in training centre which is equipped with state of the art facilities used by all its National Teams. Both teams will face off again on Friday as T&T prepares to face Honduras in a qualifying leg on May 4th and 5th while Costa Rica is gearing up to defend its title with a spot at the 2016 FIFA Futsal World Cup in Colombia at stake.