Look at the first half performance against St Kitts & Nevis and one wonders where this same Trinidad and Tobago was last Saturday, when they played to a disappointing 0-0 draw against Bahamas.
T&T’s short-lived Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign ended with a 2-0 victory over St Kitts & Nevis yesterday evening in the Dominican Republic. The result was of little consequence, as the ‘Sugar Boys’ had already amassed an unassailable nine points prior to the final encounter and had already advanced as Group F winners.
Having seen their qualifying chance disappear when held to a goalless draw by the cellar-placed Bahamas last weekend, T&T had only pride to play for, knowing that an eventual second-place finish to SKN would not suffice.
Having seen his team exit in the first round, under fire T&T head coach, Terry Fenwick won some kudos when T&T delivered its best performance in four matches under the Briton.
Vastly improved, the “Soca Warriors” led 1-0 at the half, through Duane Muckette left-footed rocket to the far corner, while also restricting SKN to one tame shot from distance, and also had their opponents defending for most of the opening half.
Goal apart, SKN custodian Clifford Samuel was busy. He smothered Levi Garcia’s near post shot and was relieved to see efforts from Muckette, Ryan Telfer and captain Khaleem Hyland whiz inches past his post in the early stages. Captain Hyland made it 2-0 in the 75th minute with a low shot, from Levi Garcia’s measured cut-back.
Fenwick gave a first cap to Ireland-based Coleraine F.C Academy player Jesse Williams, who was solid, both in defence and also in attack, where he combined well with a rejuvenated Levi Garcia. Dropped for the first half was underperforming United States-based Joevin Jones, who now looks a ‘passenger’ and neither a good attacker or defender anymore.
Defence Force’s Justin Garcia also looked good at left-back given a rare start, while another young starter Judah Garcia, had some trouble getting past SKN captain Gerard Garcia-- the former W Connection captain for years and one of the top players in the T&T Pro league.
But it was the midfield interchanges between the omnipresent Muckette, Hyland and Neveal Hackshaw, in a more attacking role. Second half changes allowed SKN back into the game. That would not have mattered had Jones looked for the goal when free on his favourite left foot early in the second half, instead he sought greater difficulty by picking out Levi Garcia, who struck the crossbar.
Group-F Full Time Results
T&T 2 (Duane Muckette 35, Khaleem Hyland 74) v St Kitts & Nevis 0, Felix Sanchez Stadium
Puerto Rico 2 (Ricardo Rivera 12, Isaac Angking 25-Pen) v Guyana 0, Warner Park Stadium
Trinidad and Tobago (4-1-4-1): 22.Adrian Foncette (GK); 23.Jesse Williams, 4.Sheldon Bateau, 2.Aubrey David, 17.Justin Garcia; 15.Neveal Hackshaw; 11.Levi Garcia (14.Andre Fortune II 90), 8.Khaleem Hyland (captain), 10.Duane Muckette (18.Michel Poon-Angeron 46), 5.Judah Garcia (3.Joevin Jones 46), 7.Ryan Telfer (9.Daniel Carr 71).
Unused substitutes: 21.Denzil Smith (GK), 6.Radanfah Abu Bakr, 12.Robert Primus, 13.Hashim Arcia, 16.Gary Griffith III, 19.Daniel Phillips, 20.Noah Powder.
Coach: Terry Fenwick
St Kitts and Nevis (4-2-3-1): 23.Clifford Samuel (GK); 3.Gerard Williams (captain) (17.Malique Roberts 85), 6.Lois Maynard, 5.Andre Burley, 2.Ordell Flemming; 14.Raheem Somersall (21.Kalonji Clarke 85), 4.Theo Warton (8.Yohannes Mitchum 40); 11.Omari Sterling-James (20.Tiquanny Williams 68), 19.Romaine Sawyers (vice-captain), 10.Harry Panayiotou; 9.Rowan Liburd (7.Vinceroy Nelson 68).
Unused substitutes: 1.Zaykeese Smith (GK), 18.Julani Archibald (GK), 12.Petrez Williams, 13.Tahir Hanley, 15.Raheem Francis, 16.Keithroy Freeman, 22.Xavier French.
Coach: Leonardo Neiva
Referee: Randy Encarnación (Dominica)
P W D L GD Pts
A - St Kitts & Nevis 4 3 0 1 6 9
Trinidad & Tobago 4 2 2 0 5 8
Puerto Rico 4 2 1 1 8 7
Guyana 4 1 0 3 -4 3
Bahamas 4 0 1 3 -15 1
Watch Hyland's Post-Match Interview after T&T's 2-0 win over St Kitts/Nevis
Watch Post Match Press Conference - T&T 2 v St Kitts 0 "2022 World Cup Qualifier
Watch Post Match Reactions with Jesse Williams