Former Presentation College of San Fernando winger Jordan Riley who played professionally in Europe snatched a late winner for the T&T men’s beach soccer team to secure a 3-2 come-from-behind win over the Dominican Republic in their must-win final round-robin Group C match to reach the quarterfinals of the 12-nation 2023 CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championship on Wednesday.
Facing off in the opening match on the third day of group play at Malcolm Park Beach Facility, Nassau, Bahamas, T&T found itself trailing at the end of the first 12-minute period when Yensy Severino scored in the sixth minute for the Dominican Republic when his long-range right footed effort took a wicked bounce on the surface which deceived the dive of T&T goalkeeper Jabari Gray, who dived low to his right, with the ball bouncing past his shoulder and into the net.
However, three minutes later Shane Hospedales got T&T level for a 1-1 score at the end of the first third when he was on the spot to tap home from close range after the ball ricocheted off the body of defender Yorinson Noesi.
Three minutes into the second period, Miguel Moreta restored the lead for the underdogs when his effort sneaked in over the goal line off the underside of the crossbar, which they held until the end of the period to keep alive their hopes of a shock win.
However, just when it seemed as though, the upset was on the cards, T&T managed to turn things around, first with veteran goalkeeper Zane Coker drawing his team level in the 32nd minute with a long-range left-footed blast that whisked past goalkeeper Miguel Rojas and nestled into the top right corner of the goal.
And with a minute left on the clock, Riley, formerly of lower divisions Czech Republic clubs, FK Dvr Králové and Labem and TJ Dvůr Králové intercepted an inbound pass from Rojas intended for Noesi, and curled a right-footed effort into the top of the vacant goal to secure a first win in three matches for T&T after going under to former champions Panama, 2-1 in their opener on Monday, and then two-time winners USA, 6-2 on Tuesday.
In the second match on the day in Group C, USA hammered Panama 5-1 for a third straight win to top the group with a maximum of nine points, three ahead of its opponent, and will meet the runner-up of Group A, Costa Rica who was humbled in its pool decider, 7-1 by El Salvador while Group C runner-up Panama meets the runner-up of Group B, the Bahamas.
By finishing third in Group C, the Chad Appoo-coached T&T had a nervous wait on the outcome of the third-place pool matches in Group A between Guadeloupe and Turks & Caicos, which the latter won 5-3 to deny the French-speaking who needed to win by nine clear goals a spot in the last eight.
With its goal difference of minus-three, T&T could have only been surpassed as the top third-placed team by Guatemala who came up against Belize in their last Group B match.
The Guatemalans entered their match against Belize with a goal difference of minus-four and a win by two clear goals would put them above T&T and a quarterfinal date with the winner of Group A (El Salvador), while T&T will meet the winner of Group B, Mexico, as its look to stay in the hunt for one of the two spots for the 2023 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
In the other matches on Tuesday, Costa Rica slammed Turks & Caicos 10-2, and El Salvador punished Guadeloupe 10-1 in Group A while in Group B, former champions Mexico spanked Guatemala 6-3, and the Bahamas downed Belize 6-2 with today being a rest day in the competition ahead of the quarterfinals on Friday.
Two years ago in Costa Rica, the T&T men’s team coached by Ramiro Amarelle, a former Barcelona and Spanish top player came up one win short of reaching a first-ever CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championships semifinal when they were crushed 9-2 by four-time FIFA World Cup qualifiers El Salvador in their quarterfinal encounter to finish in the fifth to eight spots alongside fellow quarterfinal losers Bahamas, Panama, and Costa Rica.
T&T secured its place in the quarterfinals against 2009 champion El Salvador when they edged the Turks and Caicos Islands 7-5 in their final Pool C for a first win in three matches to advance as one of the two best third-placed pool finishers along with the Bahamas.
In their opening two pool matches, T&T went under two-time confederation runners-up Costa Rica 5-3 in their opener before suffering a 5-2 defeat to two-time champion the USA.
This is the sixth time T&T is competing at the CONCACAF Beach Soccer marquee event with a best-ever showing of fifth in 2015 while the team was seventh on debut in 2013 in the Bahamas and also reached the quarterfinals in 2017 and 2019.
T&T face Mexico in knockout stage.
T&T Express Reports.
Having finished third to the United States and Panama in Group C,Trinidad and Tobago face Mexico in today’s quarter-final round of the 2023 CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championship.
Last-day group stage wins pushed T&T and Guatemala to the knockout stage as the two best third-placed teams, with the Cayman Islands missing out on goal-difference.
They join Mexico, Panama, United States, Costa Rica, Bahamas and defending champions El Salvador in today’s quarter-final round.
T&T were defeated by Group C winners United States and Panama, Meanwhile, Mexico played unbeaten in Group B, where they won the final match of the group stage on Wednesday night, edging hosts Bahamas 5-4 to capture Group B.