TT MEN’S football team got their 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign off on a winning note when they brushed aside Guyana 3-0 on Thursday, in their Concacaf Zone Group F fixture at the Estadio Panamericano, San Cristobal, Dominican Republic.
Levi Garcia, Sheldon Bateau and Ryan Telfer got their names on the scoresheet for TT, as they took advantage of an under-par Guyanese squad on a day and uneven surface.
With the result, TT moved to the top of the five-team standings with a superior goal-difference of plus-three, compared to St Kitts/Nevis’ plus-one. St Kitts/Nevis edged Puerto Rico 1-0 at the Estadio Panamericano on Wednesday.
Garcia, who has been in fine form for his Greek club AEK Athens, capitalised on poor defending to break the deadlock, after seven minutes.
Wing-back Aubrey David’s long ball was chased down by Garcia, on the right flank. Garcia spun between defenders Kadell Daniel and Matthew Briggs before drilling his left-footed shot past goalkeeper Akel Clarke.
The Guyanese team, coached by Brazilian Marcio Maximo, featured seven English-born players (Daniel, Briggs, fellow defenders Miquel Scarlett and Terence Vancooten, as well as midfielders Samuel Cox, Callum Harriott and Keanu Marsh-Brown) and a Canadian-born striker (Emery Welshman).
TT’s coach Terry Fenwick handed fellow English-born player, 19-year-old Daniel Phillips, his international debut and the defensive midfielder gave a mature performance, while a surprise selection between the uprights, Denmark-born Nicklas Frenderup, looked mostly assured.
Garcia had a hand in TT’s second goal. In the 15th minute, the winger swung a freekick from the right which grazed the left hip of central defender Bateau and nestled into the back of the net.
Guyana had a couple of chances to trim the deficit.
In the 23rd, Marsh-Brown intercepted a poor clearance from Phillip in the penalty box, but his deflected left-footed effort went wide. Five minutes later, Welshman got a through ball from his skipper Trayon Bobb but could only watch in agony as his right-footed drive struck the post, with only Frenderup to beat.
Mexican referee Marco Antonio Ortiz awarded TT a penalty in the 35th when Telfer was brought down by Marsh-Brown, but Joevin Jones was thwarted three times by Clarke, a former St Ann’s Rangers, Central FC and North East Stars goalie.
Clarke dived to his right to deny Jones’ first effort, used his right hand when Jones tried to chip home the rebound, while the third try smashed off Clarke’s right leg.
Frenderup was alert to save a right-footer from midfielder Daniel Wilson, after he capitalised on a weak pass from Michel Poon-Angeron.
Guyana were made to pay for their mistakes when Telfer smashed his right-footed shot into an open net, two minutes before the half-time interval, after Clarke failed to hold a long ball from Frenderup.
Both teams made changes in the second half and the tempo was not the same. In a rare attempt on goal, TT substitute Brent Sam met a ball from Poon-Angeron but he headed straight at Clarke.
This game was played in the Dominican Republic, instead of TT, due to the government’s covid19 quarantine regulations.
TT will continue their World Cup quest on Sunday when they meet hosts Puerto Rico at Mayaquez while Guyana will remain in the Dominican Republic to face Bahamas on Tuesday, at Santo Domingo.
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: Nicklas Frenderup; Sheldon Bateau (Justin Garcia 46th), Robert Primus, Neveal Hackshaw, Aubrey David; Michel Poon Angeron, Daniel Phillips, Joevin Jones (Judah Garcia 76th), Levi Garcia (Noah Powder 68th), Khaleem Hyland (capt); Ryan Telfer (Brent Sam 76th).
GUYANA: Akel Clarke; Matthew Briggs, Terence Vancooten, Kadell Daniel, Miquel Scarlett (Bayli Spencer-Adams 64th); Daniel Wilson (Omari Glasgow 64th), Samuel Cox (Pernell Schultz 71st), Callum Harriott (Kelsey Benjamin 76th), Trayon Bobb (capt), Keanu Marsh-Brown (Jobe Caesar 64th); Emery Welshman.