Fans in T&T were expecting a good performance, following the number of sessions which coach Stephen Hart expressed satisfaction over the past few weeks.
Despite the shortage for a few key players, I was still comfortable with many of the players who were attached to national football for some time.
I was aware of the readiness of the Peruvians and their short skillful “pass and move” quality play and supported by smart triangular movement in tight circles.
We may have felt that our players were slow to tackle but credit Peru for releasing the ball far too quickly to be caught in possession.
Even when it appeared that the Warriors were being asked to maintain a stable defense and protect as little as 40 metres from their own goal, they held it tight for only the first 15 minutes.
Thanks to the timely clearances of Radanfah Abu Bakr from deep in his penalty area, and some zesty forms of ball winning tactics by Khaleem Hyland and Sean De Silva, efforts which became crucial and literal defensive ploys appeared to be done in desperation.
Peru was not even worried.
It became far too prevalent and the Peruvians recognised the disorganisation of their opponents. Even if they had planned counterattacks, there was no time that Willis Plaza had supporting partners when the long balls came his way.
Time flew by and the picture was no better. Coach Hart seemed worried, and rightly so, as it was difficult for him to instruct so many erroneous faults at any one time.
As the chemistry of the midfielders grew, the Warriors’ response was some unnecessary tough tackles—to the point that the referee was taking a closer look.
The hosts stepped up their attack on the flanks, after recognising the vulnerability of Daneil Cyrus and Aubrey David. Clearly, they created a few blindsided runs which brought a confused state of positional play. Some of their early crossed balls were well attacked by the central defenders, Weslie John and Abu Bakr.
However, their distribution was too much under pressure and invariably, the clearances went to the opposition.
In the 36th minute, classy diagonal interplay sent a crisp cross to the far post that found forward Christian Cueva waiting to head it accurately back towards the post from which it came, leaving every one out of position, including keeper Marvin Phillip. Goal number one.
Three minutes, almost like in a superb “Soccer” movie, a beautiful piece of wall passing, plus a most deceptive dribble by Luis Silva which threw Abu Bakr onto his seat, and placed the second goal neatly pass keeper Phillip.
Thank heavens, the 45th minute showed up, so that Coach Hart could have some time to utter advice and make substitutions.
Actually, some of the changes were excellent and it brought about some more possession of the ball, especially in midfield, where the dapper little midfield Leston Paul was beginning to link with some companions in Levi Garcia and mostly penetrative Marcus Joseph, whose absolute superior speed and crafty movement forward invited some close marking by the Peru defense. Then came the 50th, when an absence of good communication between the central defenders saw a delicate reverse pass to the speedy Edison Flores. He was half turned alongside to John, but a quick take off gave him enough time to find a space through the legs of Phillip, before anyone could reach him.
At one time, it appeared as tough young Shahdon Winchester had become so frustrated that he was caught into possession, received tackles and responded with anger and exchange of words. Thank heavens, neither could understand the other’s language.
Control was in the hands of the Peruvian substitutes who lifted the quality of their game and accepted victory by just swinging the passes laterally and slowing down the play almost like mimicking their opponents. The red shirts were all waiting patiently on the final whistle. But Cristian Benevente surprised the defense, collected a classy pass and headed for goal. The only player with energy left was Abu Bakr. But he arrived too late with his tackle and the referee politely showed him red and pointed him towards the vacant area in the stand. A simple penalty by Benevente and number four was registered.
The statistics showed some 14 shots at goal for Peru and two shots which appeared to be sliced crossed ball for the Peruvian keeper.
Seventy-six (76) percent possession to T&T’s 34 percent. The Warriors had their egos damaged, their confidence shattered and the thought of their next opponent felt like an albatross creeping towards them before match day.
Let us forget that debacle and fight back in the best way that we can.