Thu, Mar

T&T’s men’s Futsal football team returned home Thursday night after drawing a three-match series with Cuba.

Each team won once and the other match was drawn.

In the tour opener, the team — captained by Kevin Graham — pipped Cuba, the region’s top side, 2-1 with a goal each from Jerwyn Balthazar and Kevin Peters — the latter having been voted the “Most Valuable Player” in the Caribbean Football Union’s Futsal Championships which T&T won, beating Guyana 5-0 in the final.

The touring players then played to a 1-1 deadlock against the host team, with Cordelle Greenidge getting the T&T goal, while they went under 1-2 in the final match, also against Cuba.

In the third and final tour match, Balthazar scored again for T&T, who conceded the winning goal during the last two minutes, with only four players on the field after acting captain Sterling O’Brien was shown the red card.

The Cubans were coming off a 2-2 draw with Mexico and a 4-2 triumph before the goodwill series against the “Calypso Boys.”

The T&T players, who hold the CFU championship, are preparing for the final round of the CONCACAF tournament, to be staged in Costa Rica from July 23 to 31.

Joining T&T in the eight-team tournament awill be the USA, Cuba, Guyana, Suriname and Costa Rica while the other two berths will be determined on conclusion of the North/Central Zone Series 1 (Canada vs Panama) and Series 2 (Mexico vs El Salvador) preliminaries this weekend.

In the 2000 CONCACAF tournament, winning team Costa Rica and Cuba qualified for the FIFA Futsal World Championships, held in Guatemala.

National coach Clayton Morris said: “After we defeated Cuba in the opening match, they wanted to get a rematch, so instead of playing two club teams in the other matches, we played a three-match series with the Cubans.” Looking ahead to the CONCACAF tournament, Morris said: “We will be looking to have another couple of international matches against some Central American countries.

Two teams from CONCACAF will qualify for the grand 2004 FIFA Futsal World Championships in Chinese Taipei from November 21 to December 5. Tomorrow, the T&T Futsal squad will resume training at the University of the West Indies Sports and Physical Educational Centre in St Augustine, from 9 am.