The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association Youth Invitational Tournament kicked-off yesterday at the Home of Football, Ato Boldon Stadium in Balmain, Couva.
In this tournament, the Under-15 Boys’ teams of Panama, Mexico, Venezuela and hosts Trinidad and Tobago along with the Under-16 Girls’ teams of Curaçao and T&T look to showcase the future of football in the Americas.
We start off in the later game where the T&T U-15 Boys’ faced their first test of the tourney against Panama.
The goal scoring started in the 16th minute where Panama defender Felix Ariza scored off a Trinidad and Tobago corner. Unfortunately that goal was in the back of his own net, giving T&T the lead early.
That didn’t discourage Panama however, as they kept going forward and looking apply pressure to T&T’s back 4. Eventually, Reymundo Arauz managed to negotiate his way through two defenders to beat T&T goalkeeper Kanye Lazarus to the ceiling of the goal for Panama to draw level, 1-1.
Panama was gaining momentum and capitalized with a penalty by Abraham Mejia in the 39th as he was brought down in the box by T&T’s #8, Molik Khan. But T&T would not be discouraged. Two minutes later, Khan would repay his debt by connecting off an Abdul-Quddoos Hypolite (#7) corner to send T&T into the half with a 2-2 draw.
The 2nd half began and both teams were on the attack, looking to take control of the game. In the 68th minute, captain Jaheim Marshall (#6) collects the ball from on top of the box and delivers a sensational goal to put Trinidad and Tobago to the lead once more, 3-2.
But the lead would be short-lived. Almost immediately after, Panama would score the equalizer in the 69th minute thanks to Rafael Diaz. An uproar came from the crowd as they believed the linesman on the near side missed an offside call. The goal stood.
Four minutes later, Arauz, the penalty taker from the first half scored on another counterattack to put Panama into the lead 4-3. Then again, another counter-attack and Emanuel Iglesias gave the Panamanians a 5-3 lead in the 74th.
Trinidad and Tobago didn’t let up however. After a couple of close chances, they finally pulled within one thanks to a solo effort by #10 Nathaniel James. Towards the end of a 4 minute stoppage time, James almost brought T&T back level, but Panama came up with a clutch defensive effort to send the ball out for a corner. T&T couldn’t convert the corner and the referee called the match over, with T&T coming up short in a thriller, 5-4.
In the post-match conference, Under-15 head coach Stuart Charles-Fervrier told the media”
“I thought that the match started a little nervous, and I wasn’t that surprised because, they were excited, they wanted to do so well…That was the case for me personally, but I find that in the first half, they were not composed enough and because of that they gave away possession easily and it caused us to waste too much energy in the first half, trying to regain possession of the ball.
In the 2nd half, it was better, they were a little more settled. I still feel they can improve in terms of possession of the ball…We made some silly errors and I think those silly errors cost us the game.
But all in all I was pleased in the sense where I saw all the positives in the team. I thought they did well, generally speaking…and going forward I believe these games would help us for the tournament that we have in the next two weeks.”Stuart Charles Fevrier, Head Coach, T&T Under-15 team
Earlier in the day, Mexico’s U-15 team took on Venezuela. After a scoreless first half, the game would have to wait till the 72nd minute for Jésus Moreno to score on the counterattack for Mexico giving them a 1-0 lead.
Venezuela would have their chances, but Mexico would put any doubt away thanks to Gael Bernal scoring in the 83 minute. Mexico would go on to win by a score of 2-0.
Tomorrow, the Youth Invitational Tournament moves north-west to the Haseley Crawford Stadium where T&T’s Under-16 Girls’ team would open the day’s festivities against Curaçao at 4pm. Game 2 will see the winners from yesterday, Panama and Mexico square off at 6:15 pm. To cap off day 2, T&T’S Under-15s will take on Venezuela at 8:15 pm, with both teams looking for their first win of the tournament.
ALL PHOTO CREDITS GO TO ALLAN V. CRANE https://www.facebook.com/AVCAP/