Host country Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana booked their places in Friday's final of the Caribbean Football Union Futsal qualifiers with respective victories over Netherlands Antilles and Suriname at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine on Wednesday night.
T&T easily got past Grenada 9-2 while Guyana hard to work hard to earn a 7-5 win over Suriname, edging out the latter on goal difference.
T&T coach Clayton Morris was obviously pleased with the team's success so far, saying that the main objective now was to win the tournament. "I think things have gone just as planned so far. From day one e told the players that they can go as far as they wanted to in this version of the game once they set their minds to the task. This is their game and we are happy that the authorities saw it fit to expose them. Reaching the finals in Costa Rica is a big achievement for them," Morris told TTFF Media.
Going into the final against Guyana from 8pm at UWI, Morris added "They (Guyana) will be on a high because they are undefeated but they will also be cautious against our guys because I think we have the more skilful players in this tournament."
In the feature match of the evening, Grenada were hoping to cause an upset against hosts T&T but soon found the going tough against a team that had improved with each match.
Three minutes past before Anthony Small put T&T ahead from a left side cross by Ako James. Two minutes later, things got better for the home team as James got into a one on one with goalkeeper Roosevelt Romain and calmly slotted home for a 2-0 lead.
Grenada hit back though in the same 5th minute when Brian Stanisclaus found the target to make it 2-1.
Jerwyn Balthazar wasted no time in regaining T&T's two-goal advantage when he netted in the 9th minute leaving Grenada to wait a further nine minutes before Akenson Neckles made it 3-2, T&T went 4-2 ahead in the 27th minute through Balthazar who struck with a bullet past Romain. The lead was extended when Balthazar got his third goal in the 31st minute. Kevin Peters shot between the keeper's legs to make it 6-2 in the 33rd. Marvin Lee pushed T&T ahead 7-1 in the 34th minute and by then it was all T&T. They got further goals from Lee in the 35th and Peters in the 39th minute. T&T substitute goalkeeper Perry Martin saved a penalty by Neckles in the final minute.
In the earlier match, the Netherlands went ahead in the 4th minute through Clifford Pauletta and proceeded to get further goals from Curly Poppen (6th ,10th and 35th ), Claymore Dewindt (29th) and Riangelo Rodriguez in the 37th minute. The Puerto Ricans, far from a bad playing side, got their goals from Chago Snatiago (31st), Manuel Freije (38th) and Javier Ortiz in the penultimate minute.
Guyana, in their match against Suriname, had to wait until the 9th minute before taking the lead through Alton Fraser before Eron Hayde doubled their advantage four minutes later following a tightly contested opening few minutes.
Suriname pulled a goal back through C.Sama-an in the 23rd minute but were soon trailing by two goals again when Fraser notched his second item in the 25th minute. Things got worse for Suriname when S. Berenstein put the ball into his own net a minute later to leave Guyana ahead 4-1. Further goals by Travis Grant in the 28th minute, Fraser in the 32nd and Norman Nassey four minutes from the end completed the win for Guyana and in the process send them into Friday's final.
A. Doesburg (30th, 37th) G Brandon (31st) and Sama-an (40th) were the other scorers for Puerto Rico.
The other match on the day saw the hammering team of the competition, Turks and Caicos giving a much improved performance in their closing match against St Vincent and the Grenadines. Though losing again, 2-0 this time, the Turks were able to hold a 0-0 scoreline at half time, the first scoreless half for the series. Narel George scored in the 25th minute and Chester Morgan got St Vincent's second item a minute from the end. The three Caribbean representatives will join three qualifiers from the North/Central Preliminary Series, along with Cuba and the host Costa Rica, in the eight-team CONCACAF Final Round. This event will qualify two CONCACAF nations to the 2004 FIFA Futsal World Championship to be held in Chinese Taipei from 21 November - 5 December.