Trinidad and Tobago’s National Futsal Team ended their World Cup aspirations on Thursday night as they suffered a heart wrenching 5-3 defeat to Honduras in their second leg CONCACAF playoff qualifier at the BN Arena in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Both teams had battled to a 1-1 draw on Wednesday night and entered this affair with everything to play for with the winner set for a place in the CONCACAF Final round which starts in a few days in San Jose. The United States were also eliminated on Thursday, losing 5-3 t0 Canada in the second match at BN Arena.
T&T had the worst possible start when Juan Hernandez’s feeble left footed attempt from five metres out attempt at goal slipped through the hands of goalkeeper Kevin Graham to gift Honduras a 1-0 lead in the 3rd minute.
The early blow did not keep T&T down for long as Kerry Joseph tied the scores less than a minute later when he slipped his effort through the legs of goalkeeper Norman Vega after Jerwyn Balthazar had played him wide on the left.
T&T began to take control of proceedings, looking the livelier of the two teams in what was turning out to be a tense affair . Tackles flew from either side and there was not much attractive play from either team.
Kareem Perry should have done better with an opportunity but shot wide of the right post from close range. But he would play his part In helping T&T go ahead with a well played ball across the face of the goal from the right side which made way for Ishmael Daniel to run in and slot home from close up on the far post.
T&T had to endure a period of non-stop pressure from the Hondurans for the next four minutes or so and the Central Americans would eventually storm back to take a 3-2 lead with goals by Luis Rivera and Hasser Ortiz. Both goals came inside the 15th minute of play as T&T lost concentration and stopped pressing the Honduran defence for an extensive period
T&T had it all do to but would force their way back into the match with an equalizing goal from Jameel Neptune four minutes before half time.
The majority of the second half was played in a cautious manner with both teams unwilling to commit in attack at the risk of being left open at the back or committing errors that would gave any advantage to the opposition.
Neptune forced Vega to save with a decent left footed effort and Balthazar also had a snap shot narrowly missing the upright around the 35th minute.
With the clock winding down, Bevon Bass missed a glorious opportunity to put T&T ahead with what may have turned out to be the deciding goal. Inside the 18th minute, T&T surged forward on the counter after a Honduran attack broke down. Daniel slipped wide on the right to Balthazar who in turn played a perfect low pass for Bass on the far post. But with only the already struggling goalkeeper to beat with a tap in from less than a metre from the goal, Bass miss hit with his right foot, falling in the process as the ball trickled over the touch line for a goal kick.
A one-minute time out was called but it was soon all over for T&T when an attempted cross from Montes took a deflection off Noel and slipped past a stranded Graham on his near left post. Honduras were 4-3 ahead in the 19th minute but there was enough time for T&T to force another great opportunity a Balthazar’s shot was partially stopped by the goalkeeper and Neptune’s desperate attempt to nail the rebound from a metre out was foiled by a last ditched challenge by a Honduran player.
Goalkeeper Vega got hold of the ball and from a quick throw out, Honduras broke on the counter once again, outnumbering T&T in their half, setting up a simple close range conversion for Moncada. T&T goalkeeper Graham, who performed creditably in Wednesday’s game was tested a few times again in this encounter but could do nothing about the final two goals.
It was a disappointing end to T&T’s campaign after there being hopes of securing passage into the final round following the promising display in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw.
T&T head coach Clayton Morris was notably saddened by the exit.
“A great disappointment for us to go out in the manner in which we did but I could not ask any more of this team for the effort they put out in these two games,” Morris told TTFA Media.
“We saw a group of players who gave it their all for this entire campaign and they came a long way from where we were before the Caribbean finals in January. This experience will stay with them and hopefully we can push on from here and continue to strive for betterment in Futsal.
“We went into this game knowing that we had to leave everything out there and I think we did that. Sadly it was not enough but looking back at the game we saw where there were moments where the game could have gone either way, especially for us. We had a very good opportunity take the lead before they scored their fourth goal and then even after we were very unlucky not to get the fourth goal to tie the scores.
“We will hopefully build from this and look ahead to brighter things in Futsal in Trinidad and Tobago,” Morris concluded.
Game Highlights -Trinidad and Tobago vs Honduras final leg Futsal Qualifier