Trinidad and Tobago’s senior footballers put themselves in a familiar position having to win all three remaining matches in the current CONCACAF group phase if they are to realize their ambitions of qualifying for Brazil 2014. And all it took to cause some discomfort for Otto Pfister’s men was a 2-1 victory by Bermuda over T&T at the National Sports Centre, Hamilton on Friday night. The win left T&T second in the group on six points behind Guyana (9pts after beating Barbados 2-0) with Bermuda third on three and Barbados pointless.
John Nusum did the damage to T&T back in 2008 and his return to the Bermuda line up today brought back winner’s luck as the hosts took their chances perfectly withAntwell Russell hitting home past Marvin Phillip in the 53rd minute and Bradford City striker Nahki Wells punishing them with a blistering shot following an error at the back ten minutes later.
The game itself seemed odd from the start as the Bermudan anthem was never played as instead the sounds of United States’ own started playing shortly after T&T’s anthem. That was the second time of such an occurrence at the same venue at a meeting between both teams. Added to that, there was an announcement over the PA that the game time would be pushed back because fans were still trying to get into the stadium. Quite odd, considering that there was maybe just under 3,000 fans and extra seating at the venue and about 100 were trying to get in at the time of the announcement ten minutes before the scheduled start. The game eventually kicked off 18 minutes late.
The Bermudans showed spirit on the pitch against a T&T team that was missing five regular starters but still managed to move the ball around with some zip early despite struggling to create clear cut chances on goal. When Kevin Molino pulled a goal back in the 81st minute, T&T could not complete a comeback despite their valiant efforts in the closing stages
Lester Peltier had an effort on 12 minutes and Stern John’s low drive from a free kick went wide two minutes later. Bermuda slowly got into their own and once they realized they were in a position to challenge for result their spirits lifted and they began to believe. Skipper and mainman Khano Smith, playing in the left wingback position, forced a corner with a good effort and Kwame Steede shot into the side netting soon after.
Pfister played Hayden Tinto on the left and Peltier on the right but the former never settled and forced the German to replace him with Hughtun Hector in the 34th. John was up top with Khaleem Hyland, Molino and Keon Daniel in the middle. Seon Power and Julius James played in central defence with Akeem Adams on the left and Osei Telesford on the right
Lashun Dill caused a scare for T&T when his effort rocked the crossbar in the 36th minute and Bermuda’s confidence kept growing. All the while T&T appeared comfortable despite not mounting countless pressure on the Bermudan goal.
As the second half started, Bermuda went in early search of a goal with Wells’ shot saved by Phillips. They got the go ahead item when a soft exchange between Keon Daniel and Osei Telesford allowed Andre Manders to pick up possession and he found Russell who clinically got the ball past Phillips.
The goal certainly woke T&T up with Hector proving to be a force on the left side but it wasn’t too long before Bermuda put a further dent on T&T. Another lapse at the ball saw the end result being Wells picking up and unleashing a rocket which left Phillip hapless between the sticks. The Bermudans celebrated like never before.
John had a header denied and his replacement Devorn Jorsling brought some additional force up front for T&T. Molino brought back some hope for T&T when he bundled the ball over the line for a 2-1 scoreline after Kevaughn Connell played one in that caused some mayhem in the box.
Pfister’ men pressed and hustled after every ball, keeping Bermuda on the backfoot for much of the remaining half but could not force an equalizer.
Julius James had a header cleared on the line and Peltier also muffed an opportunity inside the box while Hector curled one wide of the far post late in the game.
When the final whistle came after three minutes injury time, the result hurt the T&T team. But Bermuda began partying like Brazil was only now a booking away and rightly so. It was maybe their biggest ever victory on home soil. The T&T faithful living in Bermuda, commendably, kept on waving the T&T flags more than half hour after the game was over, ensuring that the rhythm section was still going as the T&T bus exited the venue.
Pfister will hold a session on Saturday morning prior to the team’s departure to Port Spain where they will face Barbados from 5pm on Tuesday at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. A revived Bermuda will host Guyana. T&T will also face Guyana on the road and at home with everything to play for in what hopefully will be a November to remember. For the right reasons of course.
Pfister: No reason to press panic button
Head coach Otto Pfister said this was no time or reason for pressing the panic button as this country heads into its next three 2014 World Cup qualifying matches needing to win all to stay ahead in the race for a semi-final round spot.
Speaking after Friday’s 2-1 defeat to Bermuda in Hamilton, Pfister said : “Bermuda were a good team today. Okay I never look for excuses but we had three or four key players that didn’t play today and we had three players that played for me for the first time today. This was difficult for the coordination. We slept in the first half because I was only happy with the last twenty minutes. It was our plan to press from the begin but we didn’t. We have to work and make corrections. In two days we have the next game. I think the competition is open. Bermuda also has their next game at home. This is football. We have to respect the defeat and we go again.”
“No need (to press the panic button). In football you have three possibilities. You draw, you win or you lose. Today we lose. The first two games we win and now we have to try and win again.
“The weather was the same for the two teams. They had two opportunities and they took them. This is football.” (Photo shows Molino going past Wells courtesy islandstats, Oct 7,2011)
Bermuda: Frederick Hall, Khano Smith (captain), Taurean Manders (Seion Darrell, 85th), Keman Tucker, Devrae Tankard, Tyrell Burgess, Kwame Steede, Lashan Dill (Damon Ming, 65th),John Barry Nusum, Antwan Russell,Nakhi Wells (Chris Casey, 68th).
Subs not used: - Tahj Bell (Red 37'), Quadir Maynard, Angelo Simmons, Jesse Seymour.
Trinidad & Tobago: Marvin Phillip,Seon Power, Julius James, Akeem Adams, Osei Telesford, Lester Peltier, Khaleem Hyland, Keon Daniel (Kevaughn Connell, 65th), Hayden Tinto (Hughtun Hector, 34th),Kevin Molino, Stern John (capt) (Devorn Jorsling, 60th).
Subs not used: - Jan-Michael Williams, Andrei Pacheco, Clyde Leon, Mekeil Williams.