Trinidad and Tobago Senior Men’s Team closed off their two-nation South American tour with a 2-0 defeat to World Cup finalists Iran at the Corinthians Training Complex in Sao Paolo on Sunday evening. Click here for more photos
The defeat followed last Wednesday’s 3-0 loss to Argentina in Buenos Aires but generally the two matches served its purpose extensively as T&T continues its preparations for the 2014 Caribbean Cup Finals and the 2018 World Cup qualification campaign.
In an immediate reaction, T&T head coach Stephen Hart was somewhat pleased with T&T’s showing but felt more could have been done against the Iranians who are grouped with Argentina, Nigeria and Bosnia at the World Cup.
“It was not a bad performance but I thought we allowed them to take charge at some points of the game we could have been stronger and not allowed them to get into certain positions,” Hart told TTFA Media.
“Again we conceded just at a point before the half and that changes the mindset in the dressing room before the team comes back out. That is something we’ll work on.
“I was happy with the way we played the final 20 minutes, especially in attack. But again we were playing against well prepared and rested team that is going into a World Cup. We are trying to get to that level and our kind of preparation now is not where Iran or Argentina would be at this point in time. Overall we had a wonderful opportunity for some of our less experienced players to play at a high level and on a stage where we want to be at on a consistent basis. We'll look back at these matches and pick out what will serve us well going forward. We still have some way to go but it's all part of the process to getting where we want to be at," Hart added.
T&T began the proceedings well, looking more purposeful going forward and enjoying more possession than they did in the match against Lionel Messi’s men. Orlando City midfielder Kevin Molino and Radanfah Abu Bakr came into the starting eleven.
But similar to Wednesday’s loss, T&T conceded moments before the half time break when Ehsan Hajisafi powered a right footer into the top right corner of the net leaving goalkeeper Jan Michael Williams with no chance in first half injury time.
Prior to that, T&T had a glorious opportunity to sneak a 1-0 lead when Lester Peltier’s effort went inches wide of the left post after Kenwyne Jones found him from the right.
Iran’s first real threat on T&T’s goal came in the 26th minute. From a right side corner that was cleared and then played back into the box, Iran's captain Javad Nekounam sent a powerful header just wide of the right post
Eight minutes before the break, after combination play between Jones and Molino, Peltier got possession on the right flank but his cross from the right was cleared by the Iranian defence. Just before their opening goal came, Iran captain Javad Nekounam had right footer go just wide of the right post from an incoming right side corner.
After the break, T&T were caught on the backfoot and Iran looked ready to punish the “Warriors” at any given opportunity.
In the 50th minute Justin Hoyte was adjudged to have committed a foul resulting in a penalty being awarded to Iran by Brazilian referee Wilton Sampaio. But Williams kept T&T in the game, making a superb save as he moved low to his right to deny Nekounam and the rebound narrowly missed the target before being cleared.
But Iran hit back soon after and got their second goal in the 54th minute when Reza Ghouchannejad ran onto a through ball and slotted past an advancing Williams. The goal came from a lapse in concentration by T&T and Iran capitalized.
Stephen Hart introduced Willis Plaza and Trevin Caesar in the final 20 minutes and there were some promising attacks by T&T with the injection of some pace up front. Caesar won two free kicks for T&T around the penalty box but Iran were committed to ensuring they finished with a clean sheet.
Also entering the match in the second half for T&T were Marcus Joseph, Gavin Hoyte, Joevin Jones and Kevan George.
The T&T team will return to Port of Spain on Monday evening.
T&T start team: 21. Jan Michael Williams, 2. Justin Hoyte, 6. Radanfah Abu Bakr, 12. Yohance Marshall 4. Sheldon Bateau (17. Gavin Hoyte,) 72, Khaleem Hyland, 14. Andre Boucaud (5. Kevan George, 63’) 23. Lester Peltier (16. Marcus Joseph , 83’). 7. Ataulla Guerra (3. Joevin Jones, 63’), 10. Kevin Molino (20. Trevin Caesar, 80’) 9. Kenwyne Jones (11. Willis Plaza, 76’) (capt)
Head coach : Stephen Hart
Subs who did not play: Densill Theobald, Carlyle Mitchell, Marcus Joseph, Rundell Winchester.