Hart take positives from Panama test
Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Marvin Phillip was impressive and a number of players received kudos from head coach Stephen Hart despite suffering a narrow 1-0 loss against visiting Panama in a friendly international at the Ato Boldon Stadium on Friday night.
Roman Torres, of Colombian club Millonarios, headed "La Marea Roja" (The Red Tide) in front in just the 16th minute of play, seconds after Ricardo Buitrago's deflected half volley flew over bar.
But Buitrago, who plays for Costa Rica’s CS Cartagines, had reason to celebrate after he blew past T&T’s England-born left-back Justin Hoyte inside the box and provided the cross that Torres was able to pounce on ahead of right-back Shannon Gomez to put it past Phillip.
Buitrago was involved again in the 21st minute, linking inside the box with Rolando Escobar, who provided Rolando Blackburn a look at goal. But ‘keeper Phillip was superb, pulling off a one-handed save to keep out the forward's effort.
Phillip was at full stretch again in the 67th minute keeping out Blackburn's header off a right-side corner swung in by Escobar.
Escobar then rattled the crossbar in the 69th minute from distance before Phillip made another save in the 75th minute, getting his leg in the way of Blackburn’s low attempt which substitute defender Jamal Jack failed to prevent.
“Marvin with his professionalism and his work ethic deserved the opportunity to play the game,” said Hart over his decision to field Phillip ahead of regular number on Jan-Michael Williams. “This [was] an exhibition game and I have to find ways of creating competition in the squad for places. Marvin came up great saves [tonight]… some big saves."
Hart utilised Friday’s friendly international as a test for his 20-man squad inclusive of three teenagers (Neveal Hackshaw, Shannon Gomez and Akeem Garcia) among nine first time call-ups (the others being Tyrone Charles, Jamal Jack, Jomal Williams, Dwane James, Uriah Bentick and Johan Peltier), as he looks to widen his selection pool ahead of the CONCACAF Gold Cup (in July) and FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifiers (beginning in November).
“I think inexperienced showed. It took us the first 35 minutes or so to find our legs and get our working relationships going. I asked the players to do some things and they tried to do that in the second half. In the end Panama’s experience showed and they made us chase the ball a lot mainly because everything was new for us. New lines playing together. New players playing together. It was either we were playing it too quick or we were playing too slow. But when you look at some of the performances of some of the players, you can see that they can push for spots for selection.
Hart also commended the efforts of teenaged newcomers Hackshaw and Gomez, experienced foreign-based players Khaleem Hyland and Kevin Molino, and Mekeil Williams and Ataullah Guerra.
While Panama, also preparing for the Gold Cup and World Cup qualifiers, utilised a full-strength squad with just four home-based players although their top two forwards, Blas Perez of FC Dallas and Luis Tejada of Peruvian club Juan Aurich, were unused substitutes.
Panama’s Colombian head coach Hernan Dario Gomez utilised such players as La Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, Colombian based duo Harold Cummings and Roman Torres, Costa Rica based duo Gabriel Gomez and Adolfo Machado, 20-year-old Jorman Aguilar, Mexico based duo Roberto Nurse and Alberto Quintero, Guatemala based Rolando Blackburn, El Salvador based Miguel Camargo, Poland based Luis Henriquez, Hungary based Anibal Godoy, Ricardo Buitrago, Germany based Armando Cooper and Venezuela based Rolando Escobar.
Panama dominated ball possession and movement, especially in the first half, which at times troubled ability of Hart’s debutants.
“That’s why we played this game,” Hart said. “The intensity of our training [this week] was different for [our players]. You can see we were slow to close the ball down in comparison to them (Panama). They were fast in ones and twos, especially when the ball went wide. But that’s the learning. That’s why you play games like this. It was a huge learning curve for our players.”
Hart said part of his strategy was to limit the involvement of Panama’s 25-year-old midfielder Anibal Godoy and force the plays to a less effective Gabriel Gomez, something that his players only achieved in the second half.
Willis Plaza tested Panama goalkeeper Penedo for the first time, three minutes into the second half, unleashing a low left-footed strike from above the box after taking control of a long ball ahead of Panama captain Roman Torres, dumped forward by defender Sheldon Bateau.
Bateau also had a try in the 84th minute from distance but it lacked power to really cause Penedo trouble. Earlier Ataullah Guerra dragged an effort wide but in the best move by the “Soca Warriors” involving Kevin Molino and Khaleem Hyland substitute Marcus Joseph directed his effort straight at Penedo but referee Sherwin Moore of Guyana had already pulled the play back for a foul on Molino.
However, just as earlier free-kicks, T&T failed to breach the Panama wall.
“Trinidad and Tobago were a very strong team and they had very good moments during the game,” said Panama head coach Gomez after the game. “Usually 1-0 is a level kind of score in these types of matches and I believe Trinidad and Tobago will do well at the Gold Cup.”
Panama will return home on Saturday in preparation for Tuesday’s friendly international against Costa Rica, utilising both FIFA international dates.
Meanwhile Hart, who expressed his dissatisfaction of T&T not being able to utilise both FIFA international dates, said he will continue to assess the players’ performances against Panama from video footage and will begin plans for a full-time camp beginning at the end of the TT Pro League season in May.
Hart said fitness trainer of the national team Tobias Ottley will analise the fitness level of the players and outline individual training programmes between now and the start of the camp.
Following the camp, Hart wants two friendly internationals in June and another in July prior to the start of the Gold Cup, and he wants Panama again and a south-American styled team.
“I always want us to play teams that are going to push us over the top,” he said. “Larry Holmes was Muhammed Ali’s sparring partner and he became world champion. You always have to be able to push yourself. You cannot be afraid to lose games and you cannot be afraid to take risks.”
Panama 1 v Trinidad & Tobago 0
Trinidad & Tobago: 1.Marvin Phillip; 12.Shannon Gomez (19.Jomal Williams 76th), 4.Sheldon Bateau, 17.Mekeil Williams, 2.Justin Hoyte; 18.Neveal Hackshaw (14.Dwane James 71st), 8.Khaleem Hyland (capt); 7.Tyrone Charles (6.Jamal Jack 53rd), 11.Ataullah Guerra (16.Marcus Joseph 81st), 10.Kevin Molino, 9.Willis Plaza (5.Akeem Garcia 63rd).
Unused substitutes: 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK); 15.Uriah Bentick, 20.Hashim Arcia, 23.Johan Peltier.
Coach: Stephen Hart.
Panama: 1.Jaime Penedo; 13.Adolfo Machado, 3.Harold Cummings, 5.Roman Torres (capt), 17.Luis Henriquez, 6.Gabriel Gomez, 20.Anibal Godoy, 22.Rolando Escobar (19.Alberto Quintero 78th), 21.Ricardo Buitrago (11.Armando Cooper 59th), 14.Jorman Aguilar (9.Roberto Nurse 59th), 16.Rolando Blackburn (8.Miguel Camargo 86th).
Unused substitutes: 12.Oscar McFarlane (GK); 4.Chin Hormechea, 7.Blas Perez, 15.Eric Davis, 18.Luis Tejada,
Coach: Hernan Dario Gomez.
Referee: Sherwin Moore (Guyana).
Venue: Ato Boldon Stadium.
Attendance: 3,000 (APPROX).
Type: International Friendly.
Video Highlights: Trinidad & Tobago 0-1 Panamá
Panama edges goal-shy Soca Warriors.
T&T Guardian Reports.
T&T Soca Warriors suffered the first defeat in six outings on home turf under coach Stephen Hart after a 1–0 loss to 2013 Gold Cup finalist Panama in a international friendly at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on Friday night.
However, the final scoreline was not a true reflection of the match as the more robust Central Americans, who had previously failed to register a win in T&T, dominated for most of the contest against a youthful Soca Warriors line-up which featured only four overseas players in Khaleem Hyland, Sheldon Bateau, Kevin Molino and Justin Hoyte, all of whom started.
Others included in the team were Under-20 duo Neveal Hackshaw and Shannon Gomez, along with fellow debutant Tyrone Charles, Willis Plaza, Mekeil Williams, Ataullah Guerra, and goalkeeper Marvin Phillip as the T&T team went in search of a winning start this season after ending last year with a penalty-kicks loss to host Jamaica in the Caribbean Football Union Cup Final in November.
Panama, on the other hand, brought a full-strength squad with just four home-based players although their top two forwards, Blas Perez of FC Dallas and Luis Tejada of Peruvian club Juan Aurich, were unused substitutes.
From early on they took control of the encounter, bossing possession with slick movement on and off the ball, which eventually led to the opening goal in the 16th off a header by captain Roman Torres, who was first to the ball ahead of rookie right back, Gomez.
This after Panama’s Ricardo Buitrago eluded T&T left-back Justin Hoyte with relative ease inside the 18-yard area and whipped the ball across the goal.
Five minutes later, Buitrago was again involved for Panama as she put through Rolando Escobar who centered for Rolando Blackburn, but his one-time effort was kept out by a brilliant reflex left-handed save by Phillip on his goal-line to keep T&T in the contest.
The Panamanians continued to control the flow of the match, with T&T only seeing brief periods of possession, and just before the half, it looked as though the frustration got to Hyland, who was involved in a midfield tussle with Escobar, but luckily for both players, referee Sherwin Moore issued no cards.
On the resumption, the Soca Warriors started brighter with Plaza connecting on a long ball over the top from Bateau, but his one-time half-volley under pressure from Torres was straight at goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.
At the other end of the field, Phillip again came up trumps for his teams in the 67th minute, diving full length to his left to keep out a header by Blackburn off a right sided Escobar corner, while two-minutes later, the latter smashed a right-footer off the T&T cross-bar with Phillip beaten as his team looked for a second.
Undoubtedly, the player of the match for T&T, Phillip made another point-blank save in the 75th minute, this time with his legs to keep out a rampaging Blackburn after he eased past substitute Jamal Jack on the left side.
With a slight drizzle now soaking the players, T&T came to life mainly through the introduction of Dwane James (71st), Jomal Williams (76th) and Marcus Joseph (82nd) and created a few late chances through an out-of-sync Guerra and from dead-ball situations, however they all failed to trouble Penedo as his team held on for the deserved win, its first on T&T soil.
Panama school Warriors; but Hart savours individual successes.
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868).
Trinidad and Tobago’s Russia 2018 World Cup charge started off with a baby step at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva last night as the “Soca Warriors” fell 1-0 to Panama in an international friendly affair.
At the final whistle, Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo had not been stretched once. Trinidad and Tobago registered two shots on target for the entire 90 minutes—from Willis Plaza and Sheldon Bateau respectively—and both offered just straightforward catching practice for Panama’s US-based custodian.
But, on the other hand, it was not quite shooting practice for Panama either as Trinidad and Tobago defenders Sheldon Bateau and Mekeil Williams—the best players in red, white and black on the night—protected their own goal as well as could be expected.
“In the end, Panama’s experience showed and they made us chase the ball a lot,” said Trinidad and Tobago coach Stephen Hart, in the post-game press conference. “… Outside of the fact that it is five days of preparation, our organisation wasn’t too bad.”
Not too bad, of course, is not good either. It was a lukewarm showing at best from the Warriors, who rarely imposed themselves on their Central American guests. But, as always, context matters.
Panama were seconds away from pipping Mexico to a 2014 World Cup Play Off spot, barely two years ago, while they were beaten finalists at the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament. It is not for nothing that the Central American team is ranked fourth in the Confederation.
And, more importantly, Panama travelled to Trinidad with a full-strength team while the hosts did not return the compliment.
The average age of Panama’s starting team was 28 with a combined 523 senior international appearances between them. In contrast, the Warriors’ first team averaged just 22 years of age and amassed just 185 full international caps.
It was veterans versus interns.
“I always wants us to play teams who will push us over the top,” said Hart. “(American boxer) Larry Holmes was Muhammad Ali’s sparring partner and he went on to be world champion…”
The final score line was no disgrace but Panama pulled their punches. It was a schooling, which might necessarily be as bad as it sounds. The Panamanian squad is built for today whereas the Trinidad and Tobago team is at the start of its cycle.
But that might be scant consolation for the roughly 3,000 local fans who turned out for the proceedings.
Thirty minutes before the scheduled 7 pm start, Couva was hit by a power shortage that temporarily cut the lights at the Ato Boldon Stadium. And, as they waited for the generator to warm up, a shower—blown from east to west—sent supporters scampering through the dark in search of a hiding place.
When the game got underway, seven minutes after the advertised kick off time, it was the Warriors who looked exposed as Panama gave the hosts a lesson in ball movement and collective play.
After an early optimistic penalty shout by Trinidad and Tobago playmaker Kevin Molino, Panama deservedly went ahead in the 16th minute as captain Roman Torres outmuscled 18-year-old Warriors right back and debutante, Shannon Gomez, to head home Rolando Escobar’s cross.
It was a rough introduction for the pint sized Gomez but the National Under-20 Team captain did grow into the match and might be pleased with his contribution by the end.
Things nearly got worse for the Warriors in the 24th minute, as the slick passing Panamanians carved through the left side of the host’s defence like a hot knife through butter. On this occasion, Marvin Phillip, the Point Fortin Civic goalkeeper, produced a superb save to deny Rolando Blackburn.
Phillip was a surprise inclusion in the starting line-up ahead of Jan-Michael Williams but there is little to choose between the former 2001 Under-17 World Cup teammates.
“Jan is always 100 percent ready (but) I think Marvin deserved an opportunity with his professionalism and work ethic,” said Hart. “I have to find and create competition in the squad for work places.”
But while Phillip, Williams (M) and, to a lesser extent, Gomez gave tangible evidence of their worth for the Russia 2018 cause. Further upfield, Tyrone Charles, a debutante at 27, struggled to adjust to the demands of the international game while neither striker Willis Plaza or the creative pair of Kevin Molino and Ataulla Guerra compensated for the man-mountain that is striker and captain Kenwyne Jones.
True, Jones’ performances in the 2014 Caribbean Cup were largely forgettable. But, under Hart, he has produced more good games than poor ones and, on this evidence, his leadership will be vital.
Khaleem Hyland, who barely played a handful of games this season with Belgium top flight club Racing Genk, thundered around the field flattening Panamanian players like a latter day school principal after the recess bell had rung.
He certainly put the fear of God into his opponents. But it is debatable whether he helped galvanise his own teammates.
Seconds before halftime, Hyland nearly started a brawl after he knocked over Escobar, took exception to the fallen player’s reaction and drew his hand back as if to punch him.
Guyanese referee Sherwin Moore, who looked as far out of his depth than one or two of the Pro League players, did not even show a card.
At the interval, Hart urged his players to get closer to deep-lying Panama playmaker Anibal Godoy, and the Warriors did make things more difficult for the Central American team in the second half.
Three minutes after the break, Plaza got Trinidad and Tobago’s first effort on goal as he neatly cushioned a long ball before crashing a left footed half volley. It was a simple catch for Penedo but at least gave supporters something to cheer.
Hart seemed to be thinking about damage limitation already. In the 53rd minute, he introduced Central defender Jamal Jack for Charles and, ten minutes later, Plaza gave way to teenaged winger Akeem Garcia.
The changes checked Panama’s rampaging runs down either flank but it would be overly generous to say that the Warriors were in the ascendancy.
Phillip made a flying save to his left to keep out a Blackburn header in the 66th minute while, three minutes later, Escobar crashed a 22-yard effort off the bar. Blackburn was denied by Phillip’s legs in the 75th minute, after he spun Jack far too easily in the Trinidad and Tobago penalty area.
Bateau had a tame effort in the 84th minute while substitute Marcus Joseph crashed two late free kicks into the wall. But that was as good as it got for the Warriors who settled for getting through the lesson without significant embarrassment.
“We were not prepared for (the speed of the Panama team) but that is why we played this game,” said Hart. “There were a number of players who the intensity of the training was different for them and you heard them talk about it in the dressing room… It was a learning curve for them.”
Panama jet off to play Ecuador in three days time while the Warriors will disband. Hart has requested three international warm-up matches before the July Gold Cup but none are confirmed. And, since the best teams are booked up to two years in advance, the Warriors must hope for cancellations or make do with whatever teams are on the market.
In the meantime, the Warriors have drafted in fitness trainer Tobias Ottley, who will create individual programmes for the players. Hopefully, they will be in better condition when next they wear national colours.
If yesterday’s exercise was about widening the player pool, Hart seemed fairly satisfied.
“I thought (Neveal) Hackshaw settled down nicely and had a good game,” he said. “… When we moved Gomez higher in the midfield, their left back never got forward again. So he can push.
“Mekeil also had an excellent game both aerially and on the ground…”
It is notable that the National Under-20 players, just two months after the 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship, were among the best players in red. International experience matters.
Hopefully, the likes of Dwane James, Joseph and Charles will not have to long to wait for their next international outing.
Trinidad and Tobago (4-2-3-1): 1.Marvin Phillip (GK); 12.Shannon Gomez (19.Jomal Williams 76), 4.Sheldon Bateau, 17.Mekeil Williams, 2.Justin Hoyte; 18.Neveal Hackshaw (14.Dwane James 71), 8.Khaleem Hyland (captain); 7.Tyrone Charles (6.Jamal Jack 53), 11.Ataulla Guerra (16.Marcus Joseph 81), 10.Kevin Molino, 9.Willis Plaza (5.Akeem Garcia 63).
Unused substitutes: 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK), 15.Uriah Bentick, 20.Hashim Arcia, 23.Johan Peltier.
Coach: Stephen Hart
Panama (4-2-3-1): 1.Jaime Penedo (GK), 13.Adolfo Machado, 3.Harold Cummings, 5.Roman Torres (captain), 17.Luis Henriquez, 6.Gabriel Gomez, 20.Anibal Godoy, 22.Rolando Escobar (19.Alberto Quintero 78), 21.Ricardo Buitrago (11.Armando Cooper 59), 14.Jorman Aguilar (9.Roberto Nurse 59), 16.Rolando Blackburn (8.Miguel Camargo 86).
Unused substitutes: 12.Oscar McFarlane (GK), 4.Chin Hormechea, 7.Blas Perez, 15.Eric Davis, 18.Luis Tejada,
Coach: Hernan Dario Gomez
Referee: Sherwin Moore (Guyana)
Gomez tips T&T for Gold Cup.
By Shaun Fuentes (Guardian).
Panama head coach Hernan Dario Gomez had a few encouraging word for the T&T senior men’s team following his side’s 1-0 victory in Friday’s friendly international in Couva.
Gomez said he was somewhat surprised at T&T’s display in certain moments of the match and believes they can progress towards having a strong showing at the Concacaf Gold Cup in July.
“It’s a game in which we did very important things in the first half. In the second half we had a mis-performance because we lost a lot of control of the game The pitch was kind of complicated with the wetness and it was difficult for Panama to make a better game in the second half.”
“I like the way T&T was playing. They are very strong and fast team and they had some very good moments in the game which could have been dangerous for us. There are no favourites these days. Usually 1-0 is very level kind of score. I believe T&T will have a great Gold Cup with Panama with the way they are playing."