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Trinidad and Tobago Head Coach Angus Eve (center) juggles the ball on the sidelines during an International Friendly match against Jamaica at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain on Friday, March 1st 2024.
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Despite a 1-0 loss to Caribbean rivals Jamaica in a friendly encounter at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo on March 1, Trinidad and Tobago men's football team coach Angus Eve saw the positives in the exercise which created debuts for several local-based players.

In the first of two friendlies between the two Caribbean nations in the space of three days, the "Reggae Boyz" came out on top in the closed-doors friendly courtesy a second-half goal by teenager Kahiem Dixon.

Jamaica assistant coach Merron Gordon said the Arnett Gardens FC winger was one of 13 debutants in the visitors' lineup for the match, and the tricky Dixon looked to be the happiest man in the two-island republic when he controversially claimed the 58th-minute goal. His low cross into the six-yard box appeared to have been bundled over the line by veteran attacker Fabian Reid.

Starting with a 3 pm kickoff owing to the preparations for this weekend's hosting of T&T's Carifta trials, both teams appeared to struggle for fluidity and consistency in their play in the unforgiving Mucurapo heat – particularly as the second half wore to a close.

Eve gave debuts to the Tiger Tanks Club Sando pair of left back Shervohnez Hamilton and midfielder Kai Moos, while AC Port of Spain's versatile wing back Liam Burns also got his first start for T&T. Eve also started the overseas-based pair of Kai Garvey and Justin Obikwu, who started at the left wing and centre forward positions respectively, and he gave an assessment of their first outing in the red, white and black.

"It is going to be difficult for these guys (Garvey and Obikwu) coming from where they are coming from and trying to adjust in just a couple days of work," Eve said at the post-match briefing. "I thought they adjusted well. They tried to bring the strengths they had to the group.

"For the most part, I thought the group did really well. We gave up a really soft goal and we could not get ourselves back in the game. I think it was a lack of belief and that happens when players are not accustomed to playing at this level consistently. For effort, you must give all of the guys an A."

Jamaica started brighter and they got the ball out to the flanks and they tried to isolate their wingers against the T&T defenders in their 4-4-2 formation. In the 13th minute, the tricky Alex Marshall danced his way past Hamilton on the right flank and forced a low save from veteran Soca Warriors goalkeeper Adrian Foncette.

The 19-year-old Dixon was also a bag of tricks down Jamaica's left, but Burns handled his one-on-one battles efficiently for the most part.

At the other end, both Garvey and Obikwu struggled to get sufficient touches to influence the game, with T&T's brightest sparks arguably coming from flanker Kaihim Thomas and central midfielder Rhondel Gibson, who came on as a first-half substitute for Nathaniel Garcia.

Early in the first half, the lively Thomas forced a fingertip save from the Jamaican keeper with a long-range shot, while Gibson failed to get enough power behind a tame 39th-minute free kick.

The Reggae Boyz showed their intent early in the second half when midfielder Jashuan Anglin tested Foncette with a low, long-range drive in the 54th minute.

Four minutes later, the Police FC captain was picking the ball out of his net after Dixon's goal, which stemmed from a defence-splitting pass by substitute Romario Guthrie.

Jamaica created a few more presentable chances in the latter stages of the game as they seemed to be targeting T&T's left side. A couple of timely blocks by towering Jamaican-based Josiah Trimmingham and a wild 66th-minute effort from Dixon, ensured the visitors did not extend their lead.

Eve tried to impact the game by inserting the attacking pair of Kaile Auvray and national under-20 standout Michael Chaves in the 80th minute. However, T&T rarely troubled their guests in the dying stages of the game as the visitors held on for the win.

Eve was satisfied with the outing and he vowed to use a different lineup in the next game.

"I thought it was a great exercise for the guys. When you look at the starting team, we had about six or seven players who were uncapped.

"We need more exercises like this to expose these guys and give them the opportunity because they have been doing well in the league."

From 4 pm at the Larry Gomes Stadium in Malabar on Sunday, T&T will try to exact revenge against Jamaica in their second friendly showing.


SOURCE: T&T Newsday