Trinidad and Tobago came away with a valuable point in a courageous 0-0 draw with Guatemala on Saturday night to keep their chances of securing a spot in the CONCACAF Final round very much alive.
Playing before a partisan home crowd at the Estadio Mateo Flores, skipper Dwight Yorke and his men, forced to play with ten men after defender Cyd Gray was given marching orders for a second bookable offense, held on with a gritty display which saw them almost snatching a late winner when Yorke free kick came back off the near left post.
Before the start of the match, upon arrival some 90 minutes before kick off, the venue was almost entirely filled by a vocal Guatemalan crowd which jeered Yorke and company as they walked out on the pitch to get an early feel of the expected intimidating atmosphere.
T&T had a bright first half, holding off the hosts for long periods and should have gone ahead had Carlos Edwards and Jason Scotland done better with their chances. Stern John, though being declared fit a day earlier, was not risked and was not included in the final 18. Anthony Wolfe, because of his defensive attributes was used ahead of Keon Daniel who did eventually come on in the second half. Scotland enjoyed a solid game overall while Edwards was a force throughout in the right defensive position.
Veteran midfielder Russell Latapy had to sacrificed at the break following Gray’s sending off, to allow Clyde Leon to enter in a more defensive role with Cornell Glen joining Scotland up front. Francisco Maturana said after the match that Latapy was willing to play further time but he had no choice but to introduce the defensive midfielder due to T&T then being a player short.
Chris Birchall was a workhorse throughout and had two decent tries at goal, one in the first half which was blocked and another in the second half which flew over bar. Goalkeeper Clayton Ince kept it even with some timely saves well supported by more tidy work by Keyeno Thomas, Dennis Lawrence and Avery John.
The players and technical staff, feeling the value of the point, embraced each other at half pitch. Russell Latapy jogged off with clenched fists in the air as the T&T team was cheered off the field by the section of the Guatemalan crowd above the players tunnel.
Next up, the "Soca Warriors will host USA on Wednesday night at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. Anthony Wolfe, on two yellow cards and Gray will miss that encounter. The T&T team, which was met by President George Maxwell Richards and TTFF Special Advisor Jack Warner before the game at the team hotel will arrive back with those two and 150 fans on a charter flight at 10pm on Sunday.
T&T: - 1.Clayton Ince; 2.Cyd Gray, 6.Dennis Lawrence, 5.Keyeno Thomas, 3.Avery John, 11.Carlos Edwards, 7.Christopher Birchall, 10.Russell Latapy (15.Clyde Leon 46th), 17.Dwight Yorke (capt), 8.Anthony Wolfe (13.Cornell Glen 46th), 12.Jason Scotland (9.Keon Daniel 70th).
Subs not used: - 14.Darryl Roberts, 4.Osei Telesford, 18.Marvin Phillip, 16.Makan Hislop.
Coach: - Francisco Maturana (COL).
Guatemala: - 1.Ricardo Trigueno; 4.Yony Flores, 5.Carlos Gallardo, 6.Gustavo Cabrera (17.Abner Trigueros 60th), 7.Mario Rodriguez, 10.Freddy Garcia (12.Jose Contreras 46th), 11.Guillermo Ramirez (capt), 13.Marco Papa, 14.Luis Rodriguez, 16.Jean Marquez (8.Gonzalo Romero 60th), 9.Carlos Ruiz.
Subs not used: - 2.Carlos Castrillo, 3.Cristian Noriega, 15.Fredy Thompson, 18.Luis Molina.
Coach: - Ramon Maradiaga (HON).
Referee: PETRESCU Silviu (CAN)
Assistant Referee 1: VERGARA Hector (CAN)
Assistant Referee 2: CLARK Darren (CAN)
Fourth official: DEPIERO Steven (CAN)
Guillermo Ramirez (27')
Carlos Gallardo (87')
Anthony Wolfe (6')
Cyd Gray (28')
Cyd Gray (39')
Chris Birchall (45')
Clayton Ince (79')
View Post game interviews with Ince, Birchall and Edwards
Watch the Warriors train in Guatemala City
Post Match quotes
"We played a very good game. I give credit to the players for fighting very had and playing to the end. It was not easy especially after we had Cyd sent off but our tactical game was very good tonight.
It was the kind of result that we deserved after a game like this. We played with a lot of heart. In the game we had the more clear cut chances to score and maybe the result could have been different if we made use of these. But when the player got sent off it made us have to change our game tactically and we had to take two players off. All my players did very well. Russell Latapy too. He had to come off because at this stage for the second half we had to put on the defensive player in the middle. He (Latapy) wanted to stay on but I had to make the change."
It was a good result and good to see all the guys put on such a performance. It was a tremendous fight by us after going a man down away from home. It was very important for us not to lose this game and that’s exactly what we did. We kept shape throughout the game and we also put them under pressure with a few good scoring chances of our own. It was a tricky affair but every player held their own exactly how you need to in a qualifying match of this nature. We played as a team whether it was with ten or eleven men. I think with this kind of confidence in the camp we can definitely go on to get a result against the States on Wednesday.
It was vital for them that they won seeing that it was their home game and vital for us not to lose so I think we came out the better team. I think this the best I have felt fitness wise since the World Cup. There was a lot of running and defending involved tonight and we did it well as a tea. We were hoping for the three points but it became a lot harder after we got the man sent off. But we showed a lot of grit and spirit. They had unbelievable support and the Guatemala fans were clapping us off the pitch after the game which was credit for our performance. Now is the one time we can be confident that we can really give America a game and not just a good game but also get three points. We will be going all out on Wednesday.
Soca Warriors hold Guatemala to goalless draw.
By: Ian Prescott Guatemala City (Express).
T&T hang tough
Trinidad and Tobago defender Cyd Gray plays with his heart on his sleeve and often with his brain somewhere far away.
It did not help that he was sent off 40 minutes into the most important match thus far for T&T in the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign. Still, the Soca Warriors battled on heroically, a player short, managing a valuable 0-0 draw against Guatemala on Saturday night at the Estadio Mateo Flores ("El Mateo") in Guatemala City.
Both teams are still level on five points, with Guatemala having a better goal difference, but the balance has shifted in favour of Trinidad and Tobago.
Having already picked up four points on the road, the Warriors complete the semi-final round with home matches against group winners United States (12 points) on Wednesday and finally Cuba on November 19.
Guatemala, with a single road point, play the same teams, but away from home.
Saturday's match was gripping, nerve-wracking, and close. Trinidad and Tobago had the two clearest scoring opportunities when both Carlos Edwards and Jason Scotland breached the Guatemalan defence, but struck the ball straight at goalkeeper Ricardo Foster.
A close-up goal from Guatemalan Carlos Ruiz was disallowed in the 70th minute, after the striker was caught offside having netted the rebound whenÂ T&T keeper Clayton Ince spilled Guatemalan captain Guillermo "Pando" Rodriguez's hard, low shot.
And T&T captain Dwight Yorke almost won the match in the 87th with a free-kick that crashed off the left post.
ItÂ might well have been God's blessing that Yorke had not bagged the winner.
The Chipanas, as the Guatemalan national squad are called, met unconditional support on entering "El Mateo", the stadium named after the Guatemalan who won the 1952 Boston Marathon.
Not a single ticket was to be had on match day, leaving thousands of desperate fans outside and well over the 30,000 capacity crammed inside "El Mateo", which was transformed into a boiling cauldron of hostility and fanaticism by the blue and white-painted supporters.
Enough soldiers were around to start a small war.
Guatemalans were whipped into festive frenzy hours before kick-off and few in Trinidad and Tobago would have experienced such intimidation, or the humiliation of hearing T&T's national anthem disrespectfully booed in the pre-game ceremony.
Afterwards, Guatemalans obviously saw the drawn game as a defeat and many hurled a barrage of profanity and racial taunts at the small contingent of Trinidad and Tobago fans who flew in for the match.
Trinis started speaking of "the Bahrain experience", but under a watchful military guard the T&T group remained in "El Mateo" until the Guatemalan mob left.
Guatemala also has good people and some did shake hands and gracefully offer their congratulations.
On the field, the Guatemalan footballers appeared wanting to win at any cost, taking the game to the visitors, but also using rough play and trying to con free-kicks and yellow cards out of the gullible Canadian referee.
After surviving the initial onslaught, Trinidad and Tobago had their chances.
Edwards looked dangerous in attack at wide right and, when picked out by Yorke's long, diagonal cross, just missed finding either the centrally-placed Russell Latapy or Scotland at the back post in the eighth minute.
Soon after, Edwards was again sprung and should have hit first time, but instead gave the keeper a chance to save when turning onto his less-favoured left foot.
At 40 years old, Latapy was a spent force by half-time, but his sweet touches kept Guatemala off-guard while he was on the field.
Trinidad and Tobago also got tireless commitment in midfield from Chris Birchall and Anthony Wolfe, while Yorke maintained his high standard for a long time.
Substitutes Cornell Glen and Keon Daniel also did a good job of keeping Guatemala defending.
Guatemala's Honduran coach Ramon Maradiaga dropped to three defenders at the start of the second half to exploit their extra man, but made no impression as T&T coach Francisco Maturana's line of four defenders lost nothing with Gray's ejection, as Edwards proved a more solid option.
Guatemala were restricted to shots from distance, although highly dangerous ones from hard-kicking Guillermo Ramirez. And, goalie Ince was solid, getting to the ball before both Luis Rodriguez and Freddy Garcia on the couple occasions Guatemala actually breached the Soca Warriors' defence.
Before the Guatemala match, Maturana looked like a man facing a public lynching. He has now gotten a reprieve and probably will get a presidential pardon with a similar draw against the USA on Wednesday.
If Maturana leads T&T to their first World Cup qualifying win over the USA, he will probably be a strong candidate for Prime Minister.
Eliminatoria: Noche triste para la Bicolor.
By: Prensa Libre News.
Por claudia castro
La Selección no aprovechó su localía y empató sin goles contra Trinidad y Tobago, con lo que complicó su clasificación a la fase hexagonal, porque ahora no solo depende de lo que haga en las dos últimas fechas, sino de lo que realicen los isleños. Otra vez a sacar la calculadora.
Todo estaba preparado para que se viviera una fiesta en el Estadio Nacional Mateo Flores, con los graderíos llenos y pintados de azul y blanco, pero anoche solo la afición cumplió al abarrotar el escenario deportivo; en el terreno de juego, los seleccionados corrieron, intentaron, pero no fueron efectivos, y perdonaron a un equipo que vino a defenderse.
Por eso, los seleccionados no salieron ovacionados como se esperaba, sino abucheados y con la clasificación cuesta arriba, porque sus dos próximos juegos son de visita.
La Selección Nacional inició el encuentro sin ideas, perdiendo el balón y sin crear jugadas de peligro.
En los primeros 45 minutos, Guatemala no marcó ningún tiro directo, porque su equipo se dedicó a buscar los centros, pero éstos fueron desperdiciados en los remates de Freddy García, Mario Rodríguez y Guillermo Ramírez.
Y es que los nacionales se desesperaron, porque el equipo trinitario jugó aplicado, principalmente en la defensa, además apeló al juego fuerte, a las faltas sin balón y a la desesperación de los nacionales.
Pero mientras Guatemala intentaba sin claridad, Trinidad y Tobago contó con más opciones; apenas iniciaba el partido y al minuto 11, Carlos Edwards pudo abrir el marcador al quedar solo frente al portero nacional, Ricardo Trigueño Foster, pero pudo desviar el remate y evitar que su arco cayera.
Los caribeños parecía que se complicaban al minuto 40, cuando el lateral Cyd Gray, recibió su segunda tarjeta amarilla, por una falta sobre Mario Rodríguez. Trinidad se quedó con 10 hombres, pero eso pareció no afectarles, al contrario, fue cuando más propusieron.
El técnico trinitario, Francisco Maturana ganó le duelo táctico a Ramón Maradiaga; en el segundo tiempo ingresó a Cornell Glen y a Clyde León, pues con un hombre menos no podía arriesgar y proponer, sino solo esperar, pero haciéndolo de forma ordenada y aplicada.
Bajó a Carlos Edwards, su mejor hombre en el terreno de juego, como lateral, para que su línea de cuatro defensas no sufriera daños y evitara los desbordes nacionales.
Además aprovechó el ingreso de Glen por su velocidad, e intentó explotar la banda izquierda, lo cual consiguió en varias oportunidades, pero desperdició las jugadas.
Maradiaga quiso cambiar la historia en el segundo tiempo y se quedó con un solo volante de contención y tres defensas, pero anoche el talento no apareció, ni en Freddy García, Marco Pablo Pappa, José Manuel Contreras y Gonzalo Romero, porque Trinidad le cerró todos los espacios y ahogó a los guatemaltecos, quienes querían ingresar con el balón dominado, pero solamente fue con los remates fuera del área y potentes del capitán Guillermo Ramírez, que se pudo inquietar al portero Ince.
De nuevo a calcular
Con seis puntos por disputar, la Selección Nacional volverá a sacar la calculadora, porque ahora no solo depende de lo que consigan en sus visitas en Cuba y Estados Unidos, sino de lo que haga Trinidad y Tobago, que tiene a su favor que juega en casa, las dos próximas fechas.
A eso, el combinado le debe sumar que a Cuba, viajará sin su capitán, Guillermo Ramírez, porque acumuló su segunda tarjeta amarilla y está suspendido para el partido del miércoles.