Trinidad and Tobago’s Under 20 men’s team suffered their first defeat, going down disappointingly 2-0 to Guatemala on Wednesday but are still very much in the race to securing one of two playoff spots at the CONCACAF Final Round of World Cup qualification in Jamaica.
The loss on Wednesday left T&T in fourth place with four points with a plus 2 goal difference, level on points with United States which is ahead on a +7 goal difference after their 8-0 win over Aruba. Panama is atop the group with nine points and Guatemala in second on seven. Jamaica is fifth with one point while Aruba remains in the cellar position.
T&T has it in their own hands as victories in their next encounter against Panama on Sunday and against the USA next Wednesday in Montego Bay is likely to push them into the playoffs from which the top two teams will advance to the FIFA Under 20 World Cup in New Zealand.
Head Coach Derek King expressed his disappointment with the manner in which T&T conceded and gave away Wednesday’s match to the Central Americans.
T&T outshot their opponents 11 to one but MArtieon Watson’s unfortunate 25th minute own goal and a disastrous error by goalkeeper Johan Welch in the 88th proved to be the difference.
“I’m very disappointed because we were outstanding in the first 20 minutes. They scored against the run of play, the own goal off Watson. They didn’t create any chances until late in the game. In our final third we were still rushing that final pass which wasn’t always on but we still created a number of chances,” King told TTFA Media.
“Guatemala only dropped off and kept their shape and it worked for them, It’s a tough loss to accept because we were better on the day but the result went in their favour. Goals win matches and now we have to fix that for our next two games.”
King emphasized the importance of T&T bouncing back in their remaining two matches against Panama and USA.
“Panama and USA will be very tough but we have it in our hands. We have a few days before those two games in Montego Bay and we’ll have to regroup and try to come back strong to keep the dream alive,” he added.
T&T captain Shannon Gomez said the team was recovering for the hurt of the defeat, admitting they had to shoulder the blame for failing to take care of business.
“We paid the price for lack of concentration at a couple points in the game but it was a good performance overall I felt,” Gomez said.
“We started off really well. It was similar to the way we had the game early against Jamaica but then we let in a soft goal and that set us back. Even though we continued to dominate ball possession for the majority of the game we let down in our finishing.
“I know we can refocus and bounce back against Panama. They are the top team in the group but we have more to play for now and we believe we have what it takes to get the positive results in the next two games. It’s now or never for us and we’ll be going all out,” he added.
Match Report from Concacaf
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Guatemala (2-1-0, 7 points) maintained its unbeaten record in the 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship, posting a 2-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago (1-1-1, 4 points) on Tuesday at the National Stadium.
With two games to be played later in the evening – Aruba (0-0-2, 0 points) v United States (0-1-1, 1 point) and Jamaica (0-1-1, 1 point) v Panama (2-0-0, 6 points) – the Guatemalans took the provisional lead in Group A by a single point over their Central American counterpart.
It appeared that a 25th minute own-goal would be all to separate the teams, but a hustling Mauro Portillo added an insurance tally late in the encounter.
Trinidad enjoyed a bright start and through its possession was able to force Guatemala goalkeeper Nicholas Hagen into an early save off a Duane Muckette effort.
From there, though, the Guatemalans settled in, utilizing the pitch’s width to their advantage.
That tactic paid off in the 25th minute as Stheven Robles delivered a cross from the right-goal line to the far post for powerful forward Mauro Portillo, who headed the ball down towards the net. It took a deflection off defender Martieon Watson’s thigh and crossed the line. The own-goal made it 1-0 and gave solid-defending Guatemala, which conceded only one goal in its opening two games, the opportunity to play more compactly.
The Caribbean champion’s best chance came in the 74th minute. Levi Garcia broke away down the right wing and crossed into the box for Aikim Andrews, who reacted quickly to chest it, but the solid Hagen anticipated well and was there to gather it in.
Guatemala made sure of the victory with two minutes left in normal time. On the right side of his own end, goalkeeper Johan Welch received a throw in. Rather than launch the ball up field, he tried to elude the charging Portillo with a move. The rising Municipal star hustled to make the steal, raced towards the left edge of the box and rolled a shot from 14-yards out into an open goal.
Group A action moves to Montego Bay on Sunday, when Guatemala will face Aruba and Trinidad will look to bounce back against Panama.