Trinidad and Tobago had a losing start to their 2023 Concacaf Beach Soccer Championship campaign on Monday as they were edged by Panama 2-1 in their Group C opener at Malcolm Park Beach Soccer Stadium in Nassau, Bahamas.
Starting for TT were Jesse Bailey (captain), Hakeem King, Shane Hospedales, Kareem Perry and Zane Coker (goalkeeper).
In the first of three 12-minute sessions, both teams pressed for the go-ahead goal but neither could find the back of the net.
Perry, however, broke the deadlock early into the second period as he rifled home a right-footed shot into the lower left corner of the Panamanian goal, too powerful for custodian Jaime Londono to get a hand to.
Five minutes into the final third, a defensive blunder between TT’s Jordan Riley and goalie Zane Coker saw Panama’s Alfonso Maquensi capitalise to level the score.
But with just over three minutes to go, Londono launched a long throw forward and Julio Watson shouldered the ball past Coker, who unsuccessfully appealed for hand ball. The review showed the ball did come off Watson’s shoulder.
TT rallied to grab the equaliser in the dying minutes but could not find the back of the net once more.
They return to action against last year’s runner-up USA on Tuesday from 1.30pm (TT time) and play their final group match against Dominican Republic
on Wednesday at noon.
TT are four-time quarter-finalists in this event. El Salvador are defending champions.
The top two teams from each of the three groups advance to the knockout stage, along with the top two third-place finishers.
Both finalists qualify for the 12th edition of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in November in the United Arab Emirates.