Trinidad and Tobago’s senior footballers broke their run of four defeat when they played to an enthralling 1-1 draw with Kenya’s National team before 28,000 vociferous fans at the Kasarani Stadium, Nairobi on Saturday afternoon.
The result was a much welcomed one for the “Soca Warriors who had previous lost matches dating back to a fixture against Cuba in March. But in their first official outing in Africa, skipper Reynold Carrington and his teammates proved their capabilities on the pitch.
For coach Stuart Charles Fevrier, this day would go down in his memory books as his first international in charge ended with an ovation from the fans as well as the T&T players and officials.
The team’s fifteen minute journey to the Stadium saw many onlookers waving their support and the “Soca Warriors” won thousands of new friends following their performance which was beamed live on Kenyan national television as well as other parts of Africa on BBC Africa.
T&T got just the start they were hoping for when a left sided free kick by Avery John was handled by a defender inside the penalty box and English-based striker Hector Sam calmly slotted the kick home to send the Caribbean side after just seven minutes of action.
Even before that, T&T seemed hungry for goals with Falkirk striker Collin Samuel and Hector Sam being the target of some robust tackles inside the opening minutes.
Despite the early setback, the Kenyans didn’t let up and a John Muiri pinpoint right side cross forced Carrington to head out, inches wide of Clayton Ince’s goal.
The Kenyans continued to press and on 22 minutes, T&T got their first scare at the back when after Brent Sancho averted danger, the resulting corner saw Muiri’s powerful header headed off the line by an alert Dale Saunders. The follow up play then forced Ince to save Francis Chinjili’s low effort.
Soon after Ince was again brought into action but it was his former Defence Force teammate who almost silenced the packed audience who at the time were loud in getting behind their team. A free kick was quickly played short to Avery John on the left and his zipping low cross saw a lunging Scotland narrowly failing to connect on the far post.
The Kenyans got their equalizer through some luck as defender Keyeno Thomas, who otherwise had a solid game, headed out an incoming cross but the ball was played back in his direction and the Joe Public man mistimed his clearance, allowing Oliech a clear path to goal. The result was firm movement into the box and a low shot past Ince by Oliech to send the home fans into a frenzy.
Generally, Carlos Edwards was enjoying a good day on the right flank with good support on the left by Avery John as well as Silvio Spann who improved in the second half along with Saunders. The gutsy Carrington, Brent Sancho and Thomas were rock solid at the back.
Coach Fevrier opted to introduce playmaker Kerwyn Jemmott in place of Samuel at the start of the second half and the smoothness and the preciseness in his passing was evident from there on.
The likes of Nigel Pierre, Nigel Daniel, Conrad Smith, Anton Pierre and Nigel Daniel all got a piece of the action as Fevrier opted for stability in midfield even as T&T maintained the ability to cause panic in the Kenyan defence.
Hector Sam was forced to leave the field with a cut to the forehead following a kick by one of the Kenyan players, allowing Pierre into the action on 68 minutes.
The Kenyans rarely got a sight on T&T’s goal for the majority of the second half. Scotland went close to being the eventual hero again in the 63rd minute when Carlos Edwards whipped one in from the right corner but the normally clinical finisher just managed to bundle his effort inches over bar from close range.
The only threat to Ince’s goal after the break came three minutes into injury time when Anthony Mathenge tried his luck from about 30 metres out and after the ball crashed off the top of the crossbar. The Crewe Alexandra custodian maintained his composure to hold off three onrushing Kenyans. Ince’s final play then summed up T&T’s effort which had a mixture of fight and flair on a cool evening in Nairobi.
T&T line up:
21.Clayton Ince, 2.Brent Sancho, 3.Reynold Carrington, 4.Keyeno Thomas, 5.Dale Saunders (12.Anton Pierre 88th), 6.Avery John, 7.Carlos Edwards (14.Nigel Daniel 80th), 8.Silvio Spann, 9.Jason Scotland (15.Conrad Smith 78th), 10.Hector Sam (16.Nigel Pierre 72nd), 11.Collin Samuel (18.Kerwyn Jemmott 46th)
Subs not used:
22. Jan-Michael Williams, 13. Derek King - (Travis Mulraine and Peter Ramon Fortune were not part of final 18).
Kenya line up:
13.Onyiso Francis, 8.Masoud Mohammed, 3.Kassim Isa, 6.Anthony Mathenge, 10.John Muiruri (11.Lawrence Owino), 20.Dennis Oliech, 7.Titus Mulama (John Muligree 75th), 5.Walter Odede, 17.Robert Mambo, 21.Francis Chinjili (Bernard Mwala 68th) 15.Pascal Ochieng.
Subs not used:
28.Hilary Omondo, 15.Dennis Okangi, 23.Macdonald Mariga, 1.Ochieng Willis.