Trinidad and Tobago’s senior footballers closed their slate of matches on the historic African tour with a praiseworthy performance in Saturday’s friendly international against South Africa which finished 2-1 in favour of the homeside at the Telecom Stadium, Port Elizabeth. Playing before an estimated 25,000 crowd, the “Soca Warriors” showed positive signs sending a signal that the team is on it’s way back up.
First to praise the performance of the T&T side was South African coach Shakes Mashaba, moments after his team completed the win on a dubious penalty call against goalkeeper Clayton Ince. Lesley Manyathela, who fell as Ince came for the initial cross, converted in the 71st minute after defender Brent Sancho, one of the standouts for T&T, was ejected for questioning the call by Botswnanian referee Boniface Mpofu. A right side cross from Sancho then saw Nigel Pierre’s header helped over the line by defender Tony Coyle for T&T’s equalizer which was later credited to the Joe Public striker.
Manyathela had earlier given Bafana Bafana a 20th minute lead with a blistering drive which entered the right corner of the net, however it was TnT who had the chance to take the lead when an early chance went to midfielder Travis Mulraine who hit the ball over the crossbar after teammate Hector Sam had beaten the home side defence with a clever cross in the seventh minute of the game.
Bafana skipper Mbulelo Mabizela was also lucky not to have conceded a penalty in the 36th minute when he appeared to have fouled Hector Sam inside the penalty area, the "Soca Warriors" had another good chance to score in the second half when Silvio Spann superb free kick was denied by South Africa's keeper Brain Baloyi.
“Trinidad and Tobago played very well and it’s unfortunate that they lost a good player at the back which then allowed us to maneuver. Technically they are a good side, there’s no doubt about that,” Mashaba told TTFF Media. A few minutes earlier he shed a tear following the win by his team, saying he had been under tremendous pressure to improve the team’s showing.
“It takes a very good team especially when it comes to mobility to get past the Trinidad team. I thought we played well in the second half after making our two changes. We were lacking in the middle. This victory has helped us a lot. We needed to win this game to boost our moral for the upcoming game. This is the kind of game we expect against Ivory Coast,” said Mashaba. “Maybe Trinidad is lacking a bit up front which is our problem as well. They (T&T) created some chances but the strikers were not reaching the ball,” he added.
Fevrier meanwhile said he would have preferred a draw but was quick to credit his players for a gritty performance.
“It was that stage in the game where things could have gone either way. I was a bit disappointed in the way the referee gave the penalty. It was a situation where several players were around the ball and all of a sudden we saw the penalty call. No one knew what happened. All our player did was indicate to him that it was not a good call and he decided to send him off. The player never insulted him or use any obscene language. It affected us psychologically at that point as well as our rhythm was affected. We did not have enough time to settle back down and South Africa, to their credit, seized the initiative with the extra player,” said Fevrier.
Reynold Carrington too was a pleased captain as the team, which played in a new kit sponsored by South African sport clothing company Fain, prepared for their homeward journey following the three-week long tour.
“It was a good overall performance by the team. We played expecting to be victorious but things didn’t go our way and I thought the penalty call was a harsh one but these things happen in football. We just have to use it as a stepping block and move on. We have gained tremendously from the experience of the last three weeks,” Carrington told TTFF Media as he and teammates spent some time reflecting on the game and enjoying some desert at the Courtyard Suite Hotel.
“I am very thankful for this tour. I think it has been a success because we lost only one game and it came against the toughest team. We are slowly improving as a team and we just need more games to judge ourselves. We saw today that we are capable of performing well at this level,” he said.
As well wishers dropped by the Hotel to meet the team, Sancho was not prepared to let the red card disappointment to dampen his spirits.
“We were just unlucky in this game and while we won’t make any excuses I think the refereeing was against us. The penalty call was a hometown decision and it was really disappointing. The referee was just spurred on by the crowd and he decided that he wasn’t happy with the call being questioned. It was extremely disappointing to be having a good game and then be forced to leave the field in that manner but overall I think we are still in high spirits,” he said.
FIFA Vice President Jack Warner was a proud a proud T&T man on the evening as he met up with the players, accompanying them at dinner. “Some games you lose, some you win but this is all part of the experience and things can only get better from here. I am proud of the team’s performance and I am confident that the performances will continue to improve,” Warner said.
The T&T contingent will travel to Johannesburg on Sunday evening where they will overnight before going to London the following day. Sounds of “Trini to the Bone” echoed from the voices of the “Soca Warriors” on the bus drive back from dinner. No doubt Carrington anticipate Tuesday evening’s arrival at Piarco and a look ahead to the July 3 friendly international against Venezuela’s senior team.
South Africa 2 vs 1 Trinidad & Tobago.
South Africa Goal Scorer:
Lesley Manyathela, 20th, 71st-pen.
Trinidad and Tobago Goal Scorer:
Nigel Pierre 24th.
Brent Sancho (Trinidad & Tobago) 70th.
16-Brain Baloyi (1-Andre Arendse 61st); 20-Tony Coyle, 14-Thabang Molefe, 2-Lucky Lekgwathi, 5-Mbulelo Mabizela, 8-Jabulani Mendu (12-Tebeho Mokoena 53rd), 6-Godfrey Sapula (7-Benson Mhlongo 84th), 10-Stanton Fredericks, 18-Clement Mazibuko, 19-Lesley Manyathela, 9-David Radebe.
Trinidad & Tobago:
1-Clayton Ince; 2-Brent Sancho, 3-Reynold Carrington, 4-Keyeno Thomas, 14-Nigel Daniels (12-Anton Pierre 80th), 5-Dale Saunders, 7-Carlos Edwards, 8-Silvio Spann, 10-Hector Sam (6-Avery John 73rd), 19-Travis Mulraine (18-Kerwyn Jemmott 66th), 16-Nigel Pierre (9-Jason Scotland 75th).
Boniface Mpofu (Botswana).
Here’s some quick observations on the game.
Report By: Patriot.
1. Tactically we have a VERY good coach in Stuart-Charles! I know lots of people wanted Bertille, but HIS tendency to leave subs until the 88th min used to drive me crazy!!! With Mr. Fevrier, as soon as he identifies a deficiency in our play he doesn’t dilly-dally. This was seen yesterday, as for the first time in along time, as soon as I thought “Man we could use Jemmott instead of Travis Mulraine now to create more from the middle… on came Jemmott! After Sancho was red-carded, I thought “Man we need an extra defender now… on came Avery John! Then, when I said to myself…
Nigel Pierre bound to be tired by now, up there by himself, we would get more hustle from Jason Scotland… that’s exactly what he did! So Stuart-Charles gets FULL marks for me in terms of his ability to analyze, AND take decisive action! Have to question him selecting Nigel Daniel over Avery John and Nigel Pierre over Jason Scotland to start, but other than that the man obviously did his homework.
2. In the early part of the game we were being over-run and the boys seemed nervous, up until the goal was conceded. Then, it’s like we wake up! Sure enough, we equalized inside of 5 minutes and were back in the game with a renewed sense of confidence that “HEY we can beat these guys”.
3. I know Jemmott isn’t fully fit, but on his day, he’s far more creative than either of the guys in central midfield who started yesterday, namely Travis Mulraine and Silvio Spann, but what those two bring to the team AHEAD of Mr. Kerwyn Jemmott, is more HUSTLE, which was needed yesterday. "Read the SA’s coach’s remarks on T&T winning the battle in the middle of the park"!
4. Hector Sam is a must for this team! Samuels have the big rep, but Hector Sam is a REAL speedy fella!!! The man was up and down the field like a madman! I haven’t seen so much work-rate from a striker since Angus Eve made his debut in the early 90’s. Whoever picks him up from Wrexham will be getting a damn good forward! Nigel Pierre will always be a man who as dangerous as he LOOKS, can’t make MY first team (Yeah, yeah he scored the goal for us yesterday, but his work-rate is really TOO poor for international level! I’d like to see a Stern John/Hector Sam combo!
5. In the middle well Dale Saunders did his role as Defensive-Midfield to a “T”, but the man have to watch them tackles boy! I still think Silvio Spann or Travis Mulraine should be dropped back to his place and Kerwyn Jemmott or Arnold Dwarika used as the creative midfield–general. Brent Rahim will also come in just behind the 2 strikers. Personally, I don’t like Nigel Daniel, because he gives away the ball waaay too much, with bad passing, but his hustle and work-rate was impeccable yesterday! He’s like a young Stokely Mason, hope he improves with time.
Carlos Edwards is probably the only TRUE winger on the team, and has cemented his place at right-wing! But then, the man don’t have any real competition! For the qualifiers we need to groom a back-up! Because when Carlos is either injured, suspended or out of form, we go be in BIG trouble! Maybe Jabloteh's Cornell Glen? He’s a man I like to think of as a “Foreign-based in waiting”
6. Defensively, this is where I think T&T have made some strides! Having 3 coaches who played Stopper (Stuart-Charles) at right-back (Brian Williams) and in goal (Shabazz) is making a difference. Added to that the intensity of play from Brent Sancho and Keyano Thomas, we have the makings of a back three that will be together for some time to come! I expect Marvin Andrews to replace Carrington in the starting line-up (ALTHOUGH THE OLD MAN PLAYED DAMN GOOD YESTERDAY, WAY TO GO “HIPPO”!!!), who should be kept on the bench as a calm leader who can come on and tighten things up at the back.
7. Ince should have the #1 jersey with NO problem for 2006 qualifiers, but Jan-Williams and Marvin Phillips will give him competition down the road!
All in all, I’d say we don’t have an outstanding Latapy or Yorke to build our team around anymore, but what we DO have is a sense of commitment and fire that was missing before, and I think that we will give a good account of ourselves, once we keep this team together and get more tours/tournaments like this one, and at least 1 International friendly a month. I know some people will say that we were beaten by an all-local SA team, but in fairness to T&T, we were also without Stern John, Marvin Andrews, Brent Rahim, Arnold Dwarika, Dennis Lawrence, Cornell Glenn, Ian Gray, Gary Glasgow, Kenwyne Jones, Evans Wise, Erroll McFarlane and Andre Toussaint (to name a few) who would all be part of the team once fit and available.