Fri, Sep


Canada's Jim Brennon vs T&T's #9 Arnold Dwarika (Gold Cup 2000).Seventy-two-year-old Republican delegate John McCain failed to convince the United States electorate, on Tuesday, that he was better equipped than Democratic nominee and new President-designate Barack Obama-his junior by nearly 30 years-to lead his country through today's testing times.

 Too bad McCain does not have a Trinidad and Tobago passport and a pair of football boots.

The most gifted player in football at present, arguably, is the 21-year-old Argentina and Barcelona attacker Lionel Messi while Portugal and Manchester United winger Cristiano Ronaldo is 23 and Brazil and AC Milan playmaker Kaka is 26. Comparatively then, the likes of Russell Latapy (40), Dwight Yorke (37) and Clayton Ince (36) should not be too offended at being likened to “pensioners”.

Add Bmobile Joe Public’s 35-year-old maestro Arnold Dwarika to the list.

Dwarika returned to international service after a four-year absence on Wednesday night in Macoya and made an immediate impact as he scored one goal and helped create another in Trinidad and Tobago’s 3-2 Caribbean Cup qualifying win over Antigua and Barbuda.

“It is great to be back,” said Dwarika, after the match. “This is a stepping stone to get into the team for the game (against Cuba) on the 19th.”

United States’ voters showed, on Tuesday, that race is no longer a hindrance in aspiring to the highest post in their country. In Trinidad and Tobago’s sport, it would seem, age discrimination has also been mortally wounded.

Head coach Francisco Maturana should be neither applauded nor ridiculed for this fact. His predecessor, Leo Beenhakker, cared about results not the dates of birth of his squad.

Maturana’s mistake was to pigeonhole himself by pontificating about the wisdom of fast tracking talented but inexperienced schoolboys like Akeem Adams and Jamal Gay before sending a SOS for Yorke and company when trouble hit—one of many about-turns regarding his selection policy, if there is one.

There were big changes against Antigua as well as, just 37 minutes into the game and trailing by a Peter Byers goal, Maturana replaced captain Aurtis Whitley and fellow 2006 World Cup squad member Anthony Wolfe with Dwarika and United States-based striker Scott Sealy. Although it was not until midway through the second half that the “Soca Warriors” pulled level as Antigua finally paid the price for sitting deep and inviting pressure from the host nation.

Cornell Glen got the equalizer with a header from a Keon Daniel cross for his ninth goal from just 12 appearances this year. One more item from the Clico San Juan Jabloteh striker would make him the first Warrior to manage double figures in a calendar year since record national scorer Stern John in 2004.

Glen’s international resume now boasts 20 goals from 48 appearances although 17 of those strikes came against Caribbean opposition.

A clever run and finish from Dwarika put the Warriors ahead and fellow substitute Andre Toussaint got an insurance item after the Antiguan defence failed to clear Dwarika’s cross. But a lapse in concentration allowed the visitors a stoppage time consolation goal.

Maturana cooed about a “just win” in the post-game press conference but his team often lacked fluidity in their play while they were caught out more than once by Antigua’s uncomplicated long ball game aimed at their lone striker, Byers.

It is cause for concern when one considers that Maturana did not use an experimental defence. Three players from the back four as well as goalkeeper and defensive midfielder started in Trinidad and Tobago’s World Cup qualifier away to the United States.

Credit though for the ambition of either full back in venturing forward to attempt crosses. They will not have such an easy time against Cuba but surely a handful of lofted balls into the opposing penalty area would be sufficient once Sunderland’s Kenwyne Jones brings his aerial prowess to the Warriors.

On Wednesday night, though, it was time to cheer the return of a beaming Dwarika. The dreadlocked playmaker does not drive forward as he used to and is still light in the tackle. But Dwarika used the ball intelligently and there was a cute left footed drag past a defender that ignited the stands and Glen’s equalizer came within a minute of his trick.

A midfield trio of Yorke, Latapy and Dwarika is seemingly too short on energy to challenge CONCACAF’s best nations. But strange things have happened with team lists of late.

Youthful promise spectacularly beat experience in United States’ politics on Tuesday. The aged seem to be much more valuable on Trinidad and Tobago’s football fields.