Sat, Jan
Match Report
Trinidad & Tobago Mexico
T&T flag Mexico
Marvin Andrews (14')

World Cup Qualifier
2001-04-25Queens Park OvalPort-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago8000

Soca Warriors get a lifeline

AFTER 270 minutes of football, the Trinidad and Tobago national football team got their first point of the 2002 Concacaf World Cup qualifying final round yesterday with a 1-1 draw against Mexico at the Queen’s Park Oval.

In a game where either team seized momentum only to concede it through petulant use of the arm, the Soca Warriors would rue three lost points but could hardly feel aggrieved by the result.

Nor should the visiting El Tricolor outfit for that matter.

The pre-game cross talk between the Trinidad and Tobago and Mexican Football Federations suggested 90 minutes of open warfare but, in the end, yesterday’s qualifier could be described as football’s answer to chess.

The play was gripping and thoughtful but was much too tight to please the crowd of roughly 10,000 persons grown accustomed to the swashbuckling football of the semi-final rounds.

Trinidad and Tobago and Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke was the afternoon’s main casualty.

There were two neat spin moves by Yorke and one shot that just missed the far post but, those rare moments apart, the Tobagonian was as restricted as the two Lincoln Navigators held, at present, by the local Port Authority.

To the relief of the local crowd though—and no doubt embattled coach Ian Porterfield as well—the T&T defence was almost as economical and generally offered protection to goalkeeper Clayton Ince.

It was a far cry from the team that were gunned down 3-0 away to Costa Rica a month ago if only in terms of their patience and discipline while defending.

And, after 194 barren minutes, T&T finally opened their “goals for” account.

Fourteen months ago, it was Scottish-based defender Marvin “Dog” Andrews who gave Porterfield his first goal in the opening 2002 World Cup qualifier against Netherland Antilles.

Yesterday afternoon, with the Soca Warrior’s World Cup ambitions in the balance, he provided an encore.

From a left side corner kick, Andrews rose to meet an inswinging Angus Eve cross with a firm downward header that bumped off the ground and into the roof of Mexican goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez’s net.

There was a brief rise in aggression soon after but three quick yellow cards by Kuwaiti referee Kameel Saad Mane—one for T&T’s Anthony Rougier and two for Mexico’s German Villa and Rafael Marquez—kept the game well under control.

Then came Eve’s error of judgement.

Mane was talking to lanky stopper T&T Dennis Lawrence when Mexican left wing back Marco Antonio Ruiz went down clutching his face.

A check by Mane with his assistant revealed the home fans’ worst fears and Eve was sent to the showers for improper use of his forearm.

If the visitors felt that three points were now there for the taking, though, they had another thing coming.

By the interval, the Mexicans were in control stroking the ball from side to side but unable to get to the flanks—their favoured mode of attack—thanks to the patient and disciplined work of their opponents.

Yugoslav coach and new T&TFF “defensive co-ordinator” Zoran Vranes may have been forgiven a curt smile in the dressing room.

There would be a more in-depth test of the Joe Public coach’s credentials after the break, though.

On went livewire midfielder Jesus Arellano and Jared Borgetti, the T&T’s tormentor in chief last October with a hattrick in their 7-0 win at the Azteca Stadium, and something always looked likely to give.

It would be on the end of the red, white and blacks.

The Warriors dug in creditably but could only preserve their clean sheet for another 15 minutes before Mexican midfielder Pavel Pardo brought the guests on level terms with a right footer which surprised custodian Clayton Ince.

In his defence, Ince could hardly have gotten a good look at the ball with the majority of his teammates, at the time, defending at the edge of his box.

The game had finally swung the way of the green, red and whites.

Fourteen minutes later, it swished the other way as Marquez was given marching orders for handling the ball from a Mexican corner kick.

It was a shocking piece of amateurism for a defender who is rumoured to be just months away from a US$20 million move from French team Monaco to European giants Real Madrid.

Still Mexico had the best chance to take all three points.

With just ten minutes remaining, the skilful Arellano turned inside Elcock and feinted past Rougier before his left footed attempt deflected obligingly for Borgetti.

The small group of Mexican travellers rose to their feet in expectation but, Borgetti got his co-ordinations embarrassingly wrong and sidefooted the ball harmlessly wide at Ince’s far post.

It was the luck of the green that Porterfield had pleaded for in a pre-game match conference on Monday.

More than Andrews’ header, though, it was Borgetti’s blunder that handed the Warriors a World Cup lifeline although they remain at the foot of the six team table.

They would hope to make good use of it, in three weeks time, when Honduras come visiting.

21.Clayton Ince
4.Marvin Andrews
13.Ansil Elcock
7.Dennis Lawrence
8.Angus Eve Red Card 32 '
10.Russell Latapy (capt.)
6.Subbed outRonald Mauge
 Subbed in 72' Dale Saunders
12.Subbed outBrent Rahim
 Subbed in 83' Lyndon Andrews
17.Anthony Rougier Yellow Card 16 '
19.Dwight Yorke
14.Subbed outStern John
 Subbed in 79' Arnold Dwarika
16.Lyndon Andrews
9.Arnold Dwarika
3.Dale Saunders
1.Michael McComie
6.Avery John
15.Stokely Mason
11.Gary Glasgow
 Ian Porterfield
72'Subbed outSubbed inDale Saunders for Ronald Mauge
79'Subbed outSubbed inArnold Dwarika for Stern John
83'Subbed outSubbed inLyndon Andrews for Brent Rahim
16'Yellow CardAnthony Rougier
32'Red CardAngus Eve