Costa Rica took advantage of an under strength T&T to come away with a 2-1 win in their Concacaf Beach Soccer Championship quarterfinal at the Estadio de Futbol Playa, Costa Del Sol, El Salvador on Thursday night.
The T&T squad went into contest without the suspended pair of goalkeeper Zane Coker and defender Makan Hislop, after they were red carded in their final Group B match with Mexico, a 4-0 loss on Tuesday night.
However, despite their absence, the Ryan Augustine-skippered T&T men managed to hold its own and only trailed 1-0 after three quarters, with Jossimar Aguilar, the scorer for the Central Americans in the 11th,
Kerwin Stafford managed to draw T&T level in the 33rd minute, but with 92 seconds remaining in the third period Greivin Pacheco broke the 1-1 stalemate to give Costa Rica its fourth straight with his tenth goal of the tournament and ending T&T hopes of qualifying to the Beach World Cup in Portugal later this year.
Joining Costa Rica in last night’s semifinals were USA, Mexico and El Salvador, all of whom have made it to the World Finals at least once before.
USA, the defending Concacaf champions, whipped Jamaica 7-3 to set up a semifinal with Mexico which dumped Guatemala 5-2 while El Salvador blanked Bahamas 6-0 and faced Costa Rica.
Also yesterday, in the fifth to eighth semifinals, T&T which welcomed back Coker and Hislop met Bahamas while Jamaica tangled El Salvador.
The tournament ends today with the playoffs from third to eighth as well as the finals at the end of which the top two teams qualify for the World Cup.
T&T head coach, former USA beach soccer international player Benyam Astorga, in spite of the quarterfinal loss, described T&T’s showing at the tournament as creditable.
“To sum up, I would say proud. The players have shown the technical and tactical ability to play with all teams at this level. Going forward and playing top teams is where experience so far plays a big part,” Astorga said.
Before the 2-1 loss, he said T&T were showing great signs of potential qualifiers.“It’s been a great tournament ! The team got off to a great start as expected, due to the hard work they put in during the camp. The venue and support from the fans created an amazing atmosphere! The men here have been professional in ever aspect and true ambassadors of T&T.”
Aside from the efforts by the TTFA and its president Raymond Tim Kee to ensure the team could undergo its preparations for the tournament, the Ministry of Sport was also a supporter of this venture. T&T Beach Soccer president Kyle Lequay and assistant Yuri Chapman also shouldered responsibilities in the team’s build up to the Finals.
“We had a tight unit. The seven-day training camp in Tobago brought the men together. They are better tactically now with a better understanding of beach soccer, something we stressed with experience. One big factor is they not only fight for themselves but their country. We were not that team from the previous World Cup qualifiers. We attacked we defended, we had set plays and a good balance of players in rotation. Again, to everyone who had been following us, thank you for your support,” Astorga said.
Costa Rica: - Bladimir Adanis (Yellow 34); Jason Campos Chavarría, José Mendoza MacAdam, Christian Alonso Sánchez González (Yellow 20), William Andrés León Cruz.
Subs From: - Neils Fallas Beita; Jossimar Antonio Downer Aguilar, Deyber Daniel Villegas Guerrero, Alfredo Gabriel Azuola Urea, Danny Johnson Hadson, Greivin Alberto Pacheco Quesada, Luis Fernando Jiménez Arias.
Coach: - Franklin Gonzalo Zúñiga Garita.
Trinidad & Tobago: - Victor Thomas; Ryan Augustine, Jesse Bailey, David Mc Dougall, Kevon Woodley.
Subs From: - Karrem Perry (Yellow 11), Lemuel Lyons, Chad Appoo, Hakeem King, Kerwin Stafford.
Coach: - Benyam Astorga.
THURSDAY’S QUARTERFINAL RESULTS
Costa Rica 2 (Jossimar Aguilar 11th, Greivin Quesada 34th) vs T&T 1 (Kerwin Stafford 33rd)
USA 7 (Nicolas Perera 6th, 13th, 16th, 20th, Alessandro Canale 1st, 25th, Christopher Toth 35th) vs Jamaica 3 (Rohan Reid 9th, 34th, Phillip Peddie 18th)
Mexico 5 (Angel Rodriguez 1st, 29th, Adrian Gonzalez 9th, 20th, Gerardo Gomez 2nd) vs Guatemala 2 (Alex Avila 20th, Angel Gomez 24th)
El Salvador 6 (Rube Batres 6th, 18th, Francisco Velasquez 11th, 33rd, Jose Ruiz 12th, 36th) vs Bahamas 0