Trinidad and Tobago head coach Dennis Lawrence expressed his level of disappointment following this country’s 1-0 defeat to Panama at the Ato Boldon Stadium on Tuesday night.
The young T&T Warriors held their opponents goalless until the 93rd minute when a defensive blunder by captain Daneil Cyrus on the right side of defence allowed Alexis Palacio to whip in a low cross for Josiel Nunez to turn in past Adrian Foncette, just when the game seemed heading for a tie, the Guardian reported.
Lawrence’s concerns began as early as the first minute of play when Carlos Small was put through an open T&T defence and Foncette, despite his hesitance to charge at him initially, was able to keep out his attempt eventually. Otherwise the local team failed to show progress while possessing the ball and showing an inability to score at the same time.
Panama, preparing for its 2018 Russia World Cup appearance in June, used several young players in its line up on Tuesday.
Lawrence in the post match press conference said a victory was never on the cards for his team, although he didn’t feel they deserved to win or lose the match. But he was clear, however, that many questions about the country’s young players’ readiness for international football were answered, saying they are not technically sound.
Though for most of the young players it was their first attempt at international football, Lawrence said, “It is obvious to see what qualities some of the players can offer and I think some of them have hit their levels, they cannot go the extra bit that is required. But at the same time a lot of them are still young and we have to work with them to improve them from that aspect, but based on the game tonight, some of them are not ready,” Lawrence said, the Guardian reported.
He added, “I cannot see them displacing any of the more senior, foreign players who would come in on a match basis.”
Lawrence’s concerns Tuesday were numerous and included erratic passing of the ball to lack of concentration, to the inability of players to receive the ball in the middle of the park and either make a progressive pass or be creative. It was this limitation that restricted the home team to just one real chance of at goal in the 10th minute, when Hashim Arcia found room on top the box from Alvin Jones right side centre, but he lifted his shot high and wide of the target.
Other than that the visitors created many scoring opportunities and should have hit the target when Palacio delivered a pin-point cross to Jose Fahardo inside the area, but his header was somehow scrambled wide by the outstretched arms of Foncette in the 58th.
Later Francisco Palacio benefited from a goal-mouth scrimmage when the ball bounced invitingly for him in the 77th minute, but he fired wide, with the goal at his mercy. Lawrence’s search to find players to fit into his structure only further weakened his team in the final 15 minutes, with the Panamanians relentless in their attacks.
The lanky national coach promised he will continue to develop players as his job demands, but he echoed another troubling concern which is to keep the young players active with the T&T Pro League still in doubt.
Before last night’s encounter T&T drew with Martinique and defeated Guadeloupe in its last two international matches.
(Game Photo by Dexter Phillip, Trinidad Express)