Soca Warriors held 0-0
Trinidad and Tobago came away with a scoreless draw with hosts Belize in an encounter that saw both teams create but fail to put away their scoring chances at the FFB Stadium in Belmopan on Saturday night.
The friendly international, which was used as a CONCACAF Gold Cup tune up for the two teams, would have left both sides cautiously optimistic after avoiding defeat, but saw the visitors unable to beat the Central Americans at that venue for a second time, as the teams also battled to a 0-0 draw under then coach Russell Latapy in 2010.
Four of T&T's 2006 World Cup players started together for the first time in over three years, with Kenwyne Jones and Cornell Glen used up front and Christopher Birchall and captain Densill Theobald in the midfield. Keon Daniel also made a return to the starting line up and connected well with Joevin Jones on the left for T&T and caused their opponents some problems, particularly in the opening half.
T&T, who travelled to Lima, Peru yesterday, where they will face the hosts tomorrow, made the better start and could have been comfortably ahead inside the first 20 minutes on a bumpy service that affected the fluidity of both team's play. A good volleyed effort from Glen went wide of the right post from the edge of the box after the Belize goalkeeper superbly blocked a header from his own defender and two minutes later the former Columbus Crew forward again went close.
Jones also got in the act, but could probably have done better with his effort in the 16th minute as his weak header caused no problems for the goalie Woodrow West. But he combined well with Glen, knocking one down for him only to have his partner blast wide.
Belize settled only after the half hour mark and did not impress on any of their few looks at goal before the half time break. They did however cause a scare for T&T when Portland Timers striker Deon McCauley dragged his shot inches wide of the left post from a point blank position inside the penalty box. It was about the best chance on goal for Belize for the 90 minutes as T&T 'keeper Cleon John had a relatively decent time in goal in his first full appearance for T&T.
Birchall brought drive to the midfield and was accurate in his passing, later being complimented by head coach Jamaal Shabazz for his efforts in the 90 minutes. The Port Vale player had a decent crack at goal which went wide in the 41st.
Belize came to life in the second half and got their 3,000-odd fans behind them.
Newcomers Marcus Joseph and Jason Marcano got some playing time midway through the second half at the expense of Jones and Kevon Carter, who struggled to make an impact on the right flank. Darren Mitchell also made his first entry into international football late in the match.
Devorn Jorsling, after coming on in the 75th minute, was ejected eleven minutes later for retaliating to a rash tackle by Tyrone Pandy. Belizean referee Irfan Basdemir also issued a red card to Pandy.
Jones missed another header in the second half, while substitute Keyon Edwards forced West to save on his left post with a low drive from outside the box.
Marcano headed wide from a left side cross and Belize survived goalmouth scramble in their six-yard box two minutes from time and a goal line clearance much to the relief of their home fans as T&T pressed late in search of a winner.
For tomorrow's match against Peru, Jorsling is suspended, while Daniel has to return home to renew his US work visa. No replacements have been called up for those players.
T&T – 22. Cleon John, 3. Joevin Jones, 4. Curtis Gonzales, 6. Daneil Cyrus, 7. Chris Birchall, 9. Kenwyne Jones, (8. Jason Marcano, 66') 13. Cornell Glen (10. Devorn Jorsling, 75'), 14. Kevon Carter (12. Marcus Joseph, 66'), 17. Keon Daniel (15. Darren Mitchell, 88'), 18. Densill Theobald (16. Keyon Edwards, 75'), 19. Carlyle Mitchell
Did not play – Marvin Phillip, Kareem Moses
Belize – 1. Woodroy West, 10. Harrison Roches, 16. Floyd Jones (14. Andres Makin, 61'), 6. Evan Mariano (19. Harrison Tasher, 84'), 7. Ian Gaynair, 9. Deon McCauley (5. Lennox Castillo, 90')23. Tyrone Pandy, 3. Trevor Lennon, 18. Evral Trapp, 13. Dalton Eiley, 12.
Belize's Jaguars Play Trinidad's Soca Warriors to A Draw
On Saturday night - over two thousand football fans crowded into the FFB stadium in Belmopan to see the international friendly between the Belize Jaguars and the Trinidad Soca Warriors. The Trinidad team had four international players and a programme that has taken it to the world cup before.
But, the Belize team showed remarkable offensive resourcefulness - and played to a draw, nil - nil. It's an encouraging starts for the national team as it starts to get ready for the Gold Cup in July, but the Trini-team was still complaining about the pitch.
Here's what they said after the game:
Deon McCauley - Forward, Belize National Football Team
"Well, I think we played a very good game, offensively today. With these guys up there with me, I think that they can do the job. The only thing that was missing today was a goal."
Woodrow West - Goalkeeper, Belize National Football Team
"I can proudly say that we outplayed them this time. We had more control of the ball, the only thing we did wrong was that we were hasty when we got to our grave to score, we made wrong decision by - at the last moment, or to make the right pass or to score the goal."
Danny Jimenez - Forward, Belize National Football Team
"I would give anything to get that opportunity again, but that is how football is. All of us want - no one wants to miss when we get in front of the goal. I think basically it was a lack of a little concern - little patients left me there and little more control with the ball. I thought I was going to put it behind the net but I didn't go how I wanted it."
Harrison "Cafu" Roches - Forward, Belize National Team
"This is a system that we practiced a long time. From the since the ex-coach that left, this is a system that he was practicing, but he was practicing it more defensively, not offensively. Now, Charlie came with the idea that to play it let it hold down the game and play contact."
"We know that these guys have international players who play in England and all over the world, but we just have confidence in ourselves. We don't watch player for player; different players play better with different clubs, and I feel that we were fortunate to control most of this game, and almost won it."
Charlie Slusher - Head Coach, Belize National Football Team
"We definitely know that the team - the Trinidad team is a very big and strong team, so there's no way we could have matched their strength. So I told the guys in the locker room we have to use our speed; that will help us today. We can't go into any strong game with these guys, and we have to run them for 90 minutes. So - and I think that it played out, we got some good looks, we didn't capitalize but at the end of the day, with the short notice that this team trained, I have to be satisfied with the guys performance."
Harrison "Cafu" Roches
"We see what we can do. We can better off the team, and that is what we are trying to work on. It's just that the goal didn't come. It's just that a matter of time; we just have to continue."
"On paper you all have a stronger team. Are you surprise that the effort that Belizeans gave, and in fact that they controlled the tempo?"
Jamal Shabazz - Co-Head Coach, Trinidad and Tobago National Football Team
"Well, the game is never played with ink, you know; it's not played with computers. It's played on the pitch. We saw this team played in the UNCAF tournament, and we were quite impressed. We thought that they were very organized. They're playing at home, and did very well. We never underestimated them. You - the Belize team in the past was not as organized as the Belize team of today, and you know we're satisfied that we played in an opponent that was worthy of such a game. I thought that it was a good comeback in performance under a difficult surface. The ground was slippery; it was hard; it was bumpy, and both teams struggled to put the ball down and play. I think it affected the quality of the game, but both teams gave a very good account of themselves, given the conditions they had to play under."
"They will see a different team also because we had one week to prepare. So, we'll definitely be more prepared, and at the same time I believe they might play in a hot-sun game which will favor us much more. Like I said, we only played a week so they should be the one scared for the fact that if we prepare a month, 2 months or 3 months before, we will be a better team also."
Harrison "Cafu" Roches
"The field did not give us that enough play that we could play because the field was kind of stiff for us, all of that played a big roll, but I guess outside there with the nice field and everything we could have much better game."
"When they come to Trinidad we will try to ensure that they get a very nice sufficiency and better quality in terms of the surface on the passing and the movement of the ball."
"Belize is a level that we were hoping to reach a long time but the work isn't finished here. We can reach the international level, the higher levels like Mexico, we can reach their standards. We just need to work hard and hope that this same team that they have, they keep together and work with us as a group."
"This is just showing Belize on a whole that Belize football is growing, the way that we are playing against these other countries."
The T&T squad now travels to Lima to face Peru tomorrow. That's another international friendly match to get ready for the Gold Cup. Belize's football federation, meanwhile is seeing how it can fund-rasie as much as half a million dollars it will need just to get ready for the Gold Cup. KREM Radio reports that the 500 thousand dollars will cover logistical support and salaries for the 35 players while they are in camp for three months starting April 2nd.
Towards that end, the FFB will hold a Telethon on Saturday.