Trinidad & Tobago captured the 2013 Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Under 17 title, with a hard fought 1-0 victory over host team Haiti at the Sylvio Cator Stadium. The much anticipated Final was played in front of 6,800 spectators who braved the inclement weather to witness Tournament history as a Champion was crowned for the first time.
Haiti took the attack to the “Soca Princesses” from the opening whistle, much to the delight of the boisterous crowd which was ready to burst with excitement at the expectation of a Haitian goal. Trinidad & Tobago, on the other hand, started cautiously and paid special attention to Haitian playmaker Isnada Lebrun and the Tournament’s leading goal-scorer Batcheba Louis. The Soca Princesses managed to completely mark them out in the first half.
The game’s only goal came in the 40th minute on a play started by midfielder Chevonne John, who maintained her balance after bypassing her marker and passed the ball to Zoe Swift, who then found an open Shanelle Arjoon in the penalty area. Arjoon hit past goalkeeper Jonie Gabriel to give Trinidad & Tobago the advantage.
Haiti stepped up their attack in the second half and Trinidad & Tobago’s goalkeeper Nicolette Craig did well to push a well placed shot from Sherly Jeudy over the upright in the 55th minute. In response, the Soca Princesses reverted to a fully defensive style of play, operating with one striker, and dropping the midfield back to assist the defence in keeping out Louis and her fellow midfielders, who liked to operate on the flanks. It was a risky tactic which paid off for Trinidad coach Marlon Charles, and after some near misses, he leaped into the air at the sound of the final whistle.
“The game came down to tactics and being a goal ahead I wanted to preserve that lead. I had a lot of confidence in my defenders and the way they were cutting out the spaces in the midfield. I cannot say if my plan would have changed had Haiti scored, but they didn’t, so it’s safe to say that it worked. I must also thank Haiti for a good game and they played well to reach the Final.”
Haiti’s coach James Morisset applauded Trinidad & Tobago for a game well played, and said his team will now prepare for the CONCACAF Qualifiers. “We learned a lot from this game and it has prepared us well for the CONCACAF Under 17 Qualifiers, and who knows, maybe we will meet Trinidad again for a rematch!”
Trinidad & Tobago’s Shanelle Arjoon, was judged Most Valuable Player of the Tournament.
In earlier action, Puerto Rico took third place at the Tournament by defeating Bermuda 2-0, with a brace of goals from Monica Ocasio in the 20th and 70th minutes.