Trinidad and Tobago’s Under 20 Men’s Team pulled off a spirited come from behind 3-2 victory over St Vincent and the Grenadines in their opening CONCACAF U-20 Championship World Cup qualifier at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida on Thursday. A winner in the final minute of added on time by Judah Garcia gave the Russell Latapy-coached team the victory after they were trailing 2-0 inside the opening twenty minutes.
Jayden Prowell pulled a goal back for T&T in the 39th with a well taken item after Gidson Francis stunned Latapy’s men with two goals in the 15th and 19th minutes. The first goal was a well hit strike into the top right corner which left T&T custodian Denzil Smith without much hope and the second one came with the T&T backline caught napping as Francis ran onto to put a glancing header into the goal from a right side free kick.
Travis Fraser caused problems for T&T with his movement in the first half and he had the first proper chance of the match when he got away from Kerdel Sween before seeing his effort go under Smith only to have Derron John clear the ball off the line.
T&T forward Jaydon Prowell had a header go wide in the 6th minute and skipper John Paul Rochford had a good right footed drive that whizzed over bar in the 12th. Other than that, there was not much more to talk about T&T’s first half showing before Prowell met a delicate pass from Rochford and finished well to make it 2-1 going into the half time break. Six minutes into the second half Prowell’s effort rebounded off the left post and Nickel Orr found himself in a one on one with the goalkeeper but shot straight at him.
Latapy introduced Naparima College’s Mark Ramdeen and Isaiah Lee in the 75th minute in place of Orr and Prowell and both men made their presence felt in the remaining minutes. Lee got past his men cleverly before crossing for Ramdeen to connect with his effort as the ball hit the post and went in off goalkeeper Jadiel Chance. Ramdeen then won a free kick deep on the left, allowing Rochford to deliver into the box for Garcia to slot home for the winner.
Latapy later credited his players for the comeback but was not particularly pleased with the performance.
I thought it was a game of two halves. Obviously I am delighted with three points and it’s about winning football games. But I am just a bit disappointed in the way that we played. With the quality players we have here I know we can do a lot better,” Latapy told TTFA Media after the game.
“But a large part of it is that we had four training sessions before this tournament started, since July. We had a session yesterday here. We started nervously and we weren’t getting the ball down and passing it well as we normally do. And FairPlay to St Vincent. They made it hard game. They started well and they were all over us. Very difficult first game for us but I am delighted with three points.
“Basically half time what i was trying to do is get every body on the same page, everybody signing the same hymn. In the first half we were getting good individual performances but it was not a team performance. With our had time talk we stressed the point that we had to get together and play as a better unit.
“There are different sections and zones on the field that we needed to improve our game on and we were able to do that a bit better in the second half. One of the things I am happy about is that with all the difficulty this team has gone through, to score two goals in the last minute or two of game to win it shows a lot of character and determination and it shows the kind of spirit and desire we have here and where they want to go in life and I’m delighted that I can be a part of this group, ” Latapy added.
Goalscorer Judah Garcia dedicated his goal to former St Benedict’s College player Reuel Tyson who lost his life in a car accident earlier this week.
“It’s always a pleasure to represent your country and to come away with three points. It’s a great feeling to win the first game of a tournament and to score the winner felt good. Despite being two goals down, we came back out in the second half, working on our mistakes and doing what it takes to get the three points,” Garcia said.
“I really dedicated this goal and this win to a brother that left me a couple days ago… Reuel Tyson. It was a very sad moment for me and a lot of the other guys,” added the Shiva Boys Hindu College student. T&T faces Puerto Rico in their second game on Saturday.
Trinidad and Tobago 1.Denzil Smith (GK); 18.Kerdell Sween (4.Jerrin Jackie, 46′), 5.Justin Homer, 2.Mikel Mieres, 3.Derron John; 19.Shaqkeem Joseph; 12.Kishon Hackshaw, 10.Judah Garcia, 15.John-Paul Rochford, 13.Nickel Orr (7.Mark Ramdeen, 75′); 9.Jaydon Prowell (6.Isaiah Lee, 75′).
Subs not used 20.Jabari Brice (GK), 16.Luke Singh, 17.Matthew Beal, 8.Jabarry Francis, 14.Ethan Bonaparte.
Head Coach – Russell Latapy
Referee: Daneon Parchment (Jamaica)