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Wed, Jun

T&T's Reon Moore runs with ball during the World Cup qualifier against Grenada on June 5, 2024, at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain. - Daniel Prentice
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THE road to the 2026 FIFA World Cup for the Soca Warriors kicked off in disappointing fashion with a 2-2 draw against Grenada at Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo on June 5 in their first qualifier.

The Soca Warriors often ask for the T&T fans to come out in numbers and be the 12th man. It was by no means a full house, but over 8,000 showed up to support.

A brace from Myles Hippolyte in the first half gave The Spice Boys of Grenada a 2-0 lead. Ryan Telfer pulled a goal back before halftime and Reon Moore equalised with 15 minutes remaining.

The first quality chance on goal was for T&T. In the fifth minute, Telfer picked out Noah Powder with a diagonal pass. Powder collected near the top of the 18-yard box, but his shot was parried away.

Grenada played a high line as the defenders stood near the halfline. The high line worked in the first 15 minutes as most of T&T's possession was in their own half.

Grenada, who dominated physically, started to string passes together and it led to an attempt by Darius Johnson. The left winger cut in on his right foot, but his shot went wide in the 19th minute.

The Spice Boys were rewarded in the 24th minute with a penalty. Josh Gabriel hit a cross from the left side and it struck Daniel Phillips, who handled the ball. Hippolyte converted to make it 1-0.

In the 28th minute, Hippolyte's scorcher made it 2-0. The ball was initially cleared by T&T, but it fell to Hippolyte just inside the box who volleyed home.

You could hear a pin drop in the stadium.

Grenada continued to create better chances in front goal. In the 40th, Johnson found himself in the box with only T&T goalkeeper Denzil Smith to beat but the T&T custodian kept the score 2-0 with a diving save.

Against the run of play, T&T pulled back a goal in the 43rd minute. A neat counter-attack led to Telfer slotting home near the penalty spot.At halftime, T&T were trailing 2-1.

At halftime, T&T head coach Angus Eve substituted Powder for Alvin Jones and talisman Levi Garcia was forced to be subbed for Andre Rampersad due to injury.

T&T began the second half with more purpose in search of the equaliser, but Smith still had work to do in the T&T goal.

In the 60th minute, Telfer collected the ball near the halfline with space in front of him. He made a strong run toward goal but he scuffed his shot and it trickled wide. Eve introduced the attacking Nathaniel James with a little more than 20 minutes left.

Reon Moore, who was having a quiet match, was played through on goal but over pushed and Grenada goalkeeper Jason Belfon stopped a goal-scoring chance. Minutes later, Moore made amends as he beat Belfon with a powerful shot at the near post in the 75th minute to make it 2-2. The crowd was now animated as the Mexican Wave started to make its way around the stadium, which was later followed by chants of "T&T we want a goal."

In the 82nd minute, Jones made a timely challenge in the box to deny Grenada a goal-scoring chance.

Grenada did not sit back and settle for a draw. In the 89th minute, sub Steffon Abraham's free kick from 20 yards sailed over the crossbar.

Grenada got a chance to grab a late winner, but could not as the match ended 2-2.

The Soca Warriors will play The Bahamas in their next World Cup qualifier on June 8 in the Bahamas.

(Squads)

Trinidad and Tobago (4-3-3): 22.Denzil Smith (GK); 14.Shannon Gomez (10.Real Gill 78), 2.Aubrey David (captain), 17.Justin Garcia, 6.Andre Raymond (3.Triston Hodge 78); 8.Noah Powder (16.Alvin Jones 46), 4.Daniel Phillips, 20.Ajani Fortune (9.Nathaniel James 66); 13.Reon Moore, 11.Levi Garcia (18.Andre Rampersad 46), 7.Ryan Telfer.

Unused substitutes: 1.Christopher Biggette (GK), 21.Aaron Enill (GK), 5.Duane Muckette, 12.Steffen Yeates, 15.Dantaye Gilbert, 19.Malcolm Shaw, 23.Kevon Woodley.

Standbys: Josiah Trimmingham, Michel Poon-Angeron.

Coach: Angus Eve

Grenada (4-2-3-1): 1.Jason Belfon (GK); 2.Benjamin Ettienne (13.Steffon Abraham 87), 4.Kayden Harrack, 5.Omar Beckles (captain), 21.Josh Gabriel; 19.Kwazim Theodore, 8.Myles Hippolyte (23.Jamal Charles 87); 15.Jermaine Francis (10.Saydrel Lewis 79), 11.Shavon John-Brown (7.Romar Frank 87), 20.Darius Johnson (16.Keishon Clarke 87), 9.Lucas Akins.

Unused substitutes: 12.Chad Phillip (GK), 22.Trishawn Thomas (GK), 3.Brady Charles, 6.Dorrel Pierre, 14.Jamie Kabuusu,  17.Trevon Williams, 18.Vijay Valcin.

Coach: Shalrie Joseph

Referee: Mario Escobar (Guatemala).