|Trinidad & Tobago||Guadeloupe|
|2008-02-06||Queens Park Oval||Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago||0|
T&T, Guadeloupe battle goalless
The Trinidad and Tobago national football team made a tame start to their 2010 World Cup campaign yesterday afternoon with a dull goalless draw against Guadeloupe at the Queen's Park Oval, Port of Spain.There were five 2006 World Cup players in the starting line-up for the hosts but surely none can afford lazy recollections of the glorious German summer in the near future. The road to South Africa, if yesterday's showing is anything to go by, would be an onerous one.
On the first day of Lent, the Oval was as still as a church as the resolute "Gwada boys" proved a more than capable match for their more vaunted opponents.
The "Soca Warriors" started with two strikers-Sunderland's Kenwyne Jones and Southampton's Stern John-that have represented three different England Premier League clubs between them. Try telling that to Guadeloupe custodian Franck Grandel who did not have a save to make for the duration of his outing.
Guadeloupe coach Roger Salnot decided it was as good a time as any to offer 34-year-old reserve goalkeeper Marius Fausta a cameo for the final 10 minutes and he too ended his appearance unruffled.
Not the most promising start then for Trinidad and Tobago's latest foreign coach, Colombian Francisco Maturana, who officially began duties on February 1. Maturana explained beforehand that no meaningful change can be expected after three days of practice and there was surely little on display yesterday he would want to claim.
But the coach, whose resume includes three World Cup appearances and a Copa Libertadores title, was not on the bench for the ride.
John, who wore the captain's armband, World Cup midfielder and deputy leader Densill Theobald and free kick specialist Silvio Spann were all hauled off at halftime and replaced by England-based striker Jason Scotland and the Pro League pair of Marvin Oliver and Hayden Tinto.
Warriors' World Cup coach Leo Beenhakker built his offence around the prolific but moody John while his Dutch compatriot and successor Wim Rijsbergen had little but contempt for local based players and, in particular, Oliver-who he never once invited to his training camp.
In one flurry of substitutions, Maturana ushered in a new era that, on face value, will not be kind to posers. John was a touch unfortunate to be replaced as his supply line did not do him justice while none of the changes significantly lifted the standard of play.
But the message from the Colombian in the handling of his bench should surely be more meaningful than anything he has relayed to his troops thus far via translator. His playing personnel were not totally without honour, though.
Clayton Ince, the 35-year-old Walsall goalkeeper, spared Trinidad and Tobago's blushes with two smart saves in the first half.
Ince is tied with ex-standout and present goalkeeper coach Michael Maurice for the most Trinidad and Tobago clean sheets in World Cup competition. His performance yesterday may keep him on course for a record breaking 10th shut out when the 2010 qualifying campaign starts in earnest this June.
Eighteen-year-old CL Financial San Juan Jabloteh midfielder Khaleem Hyland is young enough to be the goalkeeper's son but he gave a fairly assured showing too with his tidy first touch and high percentage passes in the middle of the pitch.
No disrespect to either but it was Jones, the Premiership star and 2007 Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) Player of the Year, who arguably interested the spectators most at kick-off.
The towering 23-year-old striker ended the match with the armband, after John's early departure, and looked the most potent T&T weapon but his threat came largely from set pieces and he should have done better with an inswinging Collin Samuel corner that he headed wide in the 60th minute.
Jones had the game's first effort too with a low shot dragged across the goal in the opening minute but it offered false hope to the partisan spectators who saw little action from open play.
The Guadeloupian team spent much of Tuesday enjoying the splendor of Trinidad and Tobago's carnival while the Warriors trained quietly in Bacolet. Perhaps, the Warriors should be offered a visual reminder of the colour and verve expected by locals in the future.
Maturana suggested, on the eve of yesterday's fixture, that the encounter served only as an opportunity for players and technical staff to become better acquainted and for him to get a healthier picture of the job ahead. It was not a snapshot that anyone would want in their album.
Trinidad & Tobago:[/b] - Clayton Ince; Nigel Daniel, Osei Telesford, Seon Power, Akile Edwards; Silvio Spann (Hayden Tinto 46th), Khaleem Hyland, Densill Theobald (Marvin Oliver 46th), Collin Samuel (Keon Daniel 79th); Stern John (capt) (Jason Scotland 46th), Kenwyne Jones (vice-capt).
Guadeloupe: - Franck Grandel (Marius Fausta 80th), Cedriek Vanoukia, Miguel Commings, Steeve Bizasene (Marving Onestas 73rd), Alain Vertot (capt), David Fleurival, Stephane Auvray, Vidian Valerius, Yannick Darmilingon (Kevin Labiche 46th), Yannick Passape, Jean-Luc Lambourde.
|46' Hayden Tinto|
|46' Marvin Oliver|
|14.||Stern John (capt.)|
|46' Jason Scotland|
|75' Keon Daniel|
|46'||Marvin Oliver for Densill Theobald|
|46'||Hayden Tinto for Silvio Spann|
|46'||Jason Scotland for Stern John|
|75'||Keon Daniel for Collin Samuel|