Victory is always sweet and when it relates to the image of our country, the feeling is even more meaningful.
Antigua and Barbuda needed to withstand any possibility of conceding five goals in order to hold the second position and they succeeded. The Warriors felt more in a comfort zone because they were already qualifiers as a result of their two victories.
Starting with the team which played the first match was an indication that Coach Hart was consistent with his way of assessing the players. The cohesion and creativity which the players produced lent evidence that this present group are well on the way to gain some level of ascendency in the future.
This game did not only endorse the present form of Kevin Molino and the welcome sign of Kenwyne Jones as the work horse which he demonstrated during the match. Surely, if there was any doubt of his ability to lead and perform at the same level, the fans may feel relieved that he now earns his place through his desire to be the leader in terms of commitment to give his best by example on the field of play.
Antigua and Barbuda clearly decided that defence must be the main feature of their game, which indirectly showed respect for the Warriors.
They packed a six-man defence whose organised defensive pattern was based upon tightening and reducing space for their opponents to utilise within 40 metres from their goalpost.
It worked well for the visitors simply because they were not only diligent in their game, but decided that a rugged approach is always a deterrent for skilled players who would really wish that they would not be faced with tough tackles.
For the true professionalists such as Khaleem Hyland, Andre Boucaud, and Carlyle Mitchell, this tactic was ineffective. There was a hint of speculation in the minds of Hughton Hector, Lester Peltier, and to a lesser extent, our marquee player Molino.
In many ways the quality of football in this game was the best in the tournament, as the teams appeared to be more familiar with organizational methods and their tactical intentions appeared to be logical in football terms.
Antigua and Barbuda banked heavily upon Peter Byers to battle the T&T defence almost single handedly, with some cautious attacking assistance from two competent midfielders in Keiran Murtagh and Joshua Parker. They had no degree of success, but not for the want of trying.
The excellence of the Warriors central defenders Mitchell and Sheldon Bateau, well supported on both sides by Joevin Jones and Daniel Cyrus was enough to protect Jan-Michael Williams.
However, the day once again belonged to Molino the dapper, but energetic roving striker, whose speed level, plus his intelligent use of space made him available to passes from almost anywhere, including the keeper at times.
He must share the credit of his well taken goal with a touch of technical quality from Jones, whose chest collection and sweetly timed five-metre pass, met Molino arriving just in time to collect on the move and head for a confrontation with keeper Brentton Muhammad.
The Antiguan keeper had no choice but to succumb to a clinical dispatch from the Orlando city striker which brought the only goal of the match. Maybe the closeness of this match could have caused either team to retain the intensity of the first half.
The visitors were prepared to keep the score line down in order to earn the second place, while the hosts decided that they must operate with caution, seeing that most of their overseas players had club commitments some three days ahead in the various overseas countries where they are employed.
The next group in this tournament will be much more intense and the more qualitative teams may recognise deficiencies easier than the recent opponents. These matches are rehearsals for the Gold Cup which means Mexico, USA, Costa Rica, Honduras and the like.
The Gold Cup must be our main target and we must look forward to the upcoming 2015 finals as a massive stepping stone towards international prominence in the world of football.