Soca Warriors eager to impress against U.S. after winning start on Road to Russia 2018

​Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland (#8) during World Cup Qualifying action against Guatemala at the Estadio Mateo Flores in Guatemala City on November 13, 2015. (Photo courtesy Trinidad and Tobago Football Association)

Monday 16 November 2015

Trinidad and Tobago are hoping for a another positive result to the start of their FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifying campaign when they host the United States from 7:36 pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Tuesday (November 17).

T&T and the United States both arrived in Trinidad Saturday following their opening wins of CONCACAF semi-final round Group C qualifying against Guatemala and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, respectively, last Friday.

“The win (against Guatemala) is very important,” said T&T’s goalscorer Khaleem Hyland after the opening win. “The journey has just started and this is just one hurdle we’ve passed. Now we have to keep focused and go back home (against the United States) and give the public another good performance and something more to celebrate.”

The Soca Warriors pulled off a hard-fought 2-1 win over hosts Guatemala at the Estadio Mateo Flores, while the United States bounced back from an early deficit to trash visiting St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) 6-1 in St. Louis.

Jozy Altidore scored twice for the Americans, who also had a goal each from Bobby Wood, Fabian Johnson, Geoff Cameron and Gyasi Zardes, all after U.S.-based player Oalex Anderson scored first for SVG in the 5th minute.

In Guatemala City, T&T’s European-based duo Khaleem Hyland and Kenwyne Jones gave the Caribbean power a two-goal advantage, before substitute Carlos Mejia pulled one back in stoppage time for the hosts.

Hyland, following a difficult goalless first half, gave the Soca Warriors a 1-0 lead in the 65th minute, collecting a pass on the left and unleashing an effort from beyond the 18-yard box that skipped past diving Guatemala goalkeeper Paulo Motta. It was the 26-year-old former San Juan Jabloteh player’s fourth career international goal and his first since netting against Honduras in a World Cup qualifier in March 2009.

“I think it was a great fighting effort from the whole team,” Khaleem said. “We knew we had to weather the storm and we did great to come away with the result.

“The coach (Stephen Hart) changed things around a bit (replacing Keron Cummings and Lester Peltier with Kevan George and Cordell Cato). We were losing the battle and (he) wanted to go a bit more solid in midfield. It was a great pass and I took my opportunity. I saw the far post (exposed) so I just placed it. Before the game Sheldon (Bateau) told me don’t go for power (…) just place it.”

In the 81st minute, Kenwyne Jones connected on a Joevin Jones feed to double the visitor’s advantage 2-0. Capitalizing on space down the left for much of the night, former W Connection player, Joevin Jones, attracted the attention of five converging Guatemalan defenders. The speedy Chicago Fire winger played a precise ball into the area for the unmarked Kenwyne Jones to volley home.

Mejia sparked a rally in the first minute of stoppage time. After captain Carlos Ruiz picked up an errant ball on the T&T touch line, the Municipal produced a deft touch on the cross that found Mejia amongst a crowd of defenders. The substitute dutifully knocked his shot out of the reach of goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams and goal-line stationed defender Radanfah Abu Bakr to make it 2-1.

Satisfied with the 3 points on the road, T&T head coach Stephen Hart said, “Sometimes you can’t always be playing beautiful football. You have to roll up your sleeves and do what is necessary to come away with a (positive) result. It was not pretty but we got the three points in a very difficult environment and I’m happy with that.

“I was really pleased with the second half and the way we buckled down. We endured a rough period with about five or six straight corners but we defended them well. We got the goal off a nice play with Khaleem and then the second goal was just beautiful to watch with the pass from Joevin.”

Guatemala, which will visit SVG on Tuesday, also fell to Trinidad, 3-1, in July’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Teams in Guatemala last Friday
Trinidad and Tobago (4-2-3-1): 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK); 5.Daneil Cyrus, 6.Radanfah Abu Bakr, 4.Sheldon Bateau, 17.Mekeil Williams; Khaleem Hyland, 14.Andre Boucaud; 23.Lester Peltier (13.Cordell Cato 63rd minute), 20.Keron Cummings (19.Kevan George 61st minute), 3.Joevin Jones; 9.Kenwyne Jones (Capt.) (10.Willis Plaza 84th minute)

Unused substitutes: 1.Marvin Phillip (GK), 7.Jonathan Glenn, 18.Yohance Marshall, 16.Justin Hoyte, 12.Carlyle Mitchell, 15.Neveal Hackshaw, 11.Trevin Caesar

Coach: Stephen Hart

Guatemala (4-4-2): 12.Paula Motta (GK); 4.Hamilton Lopez, 3.Elias Vasquez (6.Carlos Mejia 54th minute), Dennis Lopez, 11.Moises Hernandez, 18.Stefano Cincotta (7.Henry Lopez 74th minute), 15.Fredy Thompson, 10.Jose Contreras, 16.Marco Papa, 9.Gerson Tinoco (22.Mynor Lopez 83rd minute), 20.Carlos Ruiz (Capt.)

Coach: Ivan Sopegno

Referee: Mathieu Bourdeau (Canada)