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Trinidad and Tobago’s Under 20 Men pulled off a required victory over El Salvador to keep themselves in the running for a quarter final spot but would have to take to the stands to cheer on Bermuda in the evening’s second encounter with Costa Rica in San Jose on Saturday.

Goals by captain Jabari Mitchell in the 47th minute and a winner by Kathon St Hillaire in the 72nd, spurred T&T to a 2-1 victory and moved them to four points. But a win for Costa Rica would seal the second qualifying spot in the group with El Salvador already through with six points from their opening two wins against the hosts and Bermuda.

“This was by far our most positive game and result in the tournament so far and I am very pleased for the entire squad. They worked very hard for it and they went into this match with the right mindset and it showed out there on the pitch. They gave everything and got the just reward with the victory,” Head coach Brian Williams told TTFA Media.

“Now it’s for us to see if Bermuda can put on a strong performance and cause the upset against Costa Rica in the second match,” he added.

T&T drew  their opening game with Bermuda 1-1 before losing 1-0 to Costa Rica in a close encounter on Thursday.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Under 20 Men produced a valiant effort but succumbed to a second half goal in Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat to hosts Costa Rica in their second group stage  encounter of the CONCACAF Under 20 Men’s Championship at the National Stadium in San Jose

The first 45 minutes of the Concacaf U-20 championship first round contest between Trinidad and Tobago and the host nation Costa Rica could be described as a ‘bruising dog fight’ which resulted in neither competitor having the upper hand but a moment of brilliance in the second half puts a dent in the World Cup aspiration of the Caribbean nation. The mathematical chance of qualification for the next round following this 1-0 loss is there but Head Coach Brian Williams and his team will need help from Caribbean counterparts Bermuda, who must put in a masterful performance to defeat the host even if T&T pulls off a win over the  unbeaten El Salvador in Saturday’s match.

“I am proud of the guys, they stuck to the plan and we could have pulled it off but that was a fantastic free-kick in the second half and we did not recover” Williams said following the match at the National Stadium in San Jose.

The coach also lamented the loss of starting goalkeeper Denzil Smith due to a shoulder injury in the 10th minute.

“Our reserve keeper is quite capable but we lost the advantage of having a third outfield player to insert into the game and put pressure on Costa Rica with fresh legs late in the second half.”

The reason for the coach’s pride is well founded as his team took the game to Costa Rica early, creating the first genuine chance in the 14th minute when defender Kori Cupid climbed above all to produce a telling header towards goal which was well save by Mario Sequeira.

The Costa Rican ‘keeper was called into action again a minute later when midfielder Noah Powder slapped a bullet towards goal after penetrating on the right flank. Things went quite after that as the host consolidated in midfield and waited for an error from T&T which came with some errant passes in their eagerness to go forward but despite that, 0-0 was the score at the end of the first half.

Nine minutes in, the Ticos struck. They were awarded a free-kick following a foul on busy forward Andy Reyes some 22 yards out from Montel Joseph’s goal. The ball always belonged to playmaker Randell Leal because there was no discussion amongst the Costa Ricans as to who would take it and we saw why as he produced a gem with such power, curl and accuracy, the defensive wall seemed insignificant and just like that it was 1-0.

Trinidad and Tobago came back hard in search of parity as they pinned Marcelo Herrera’s team deep in their own half for long periods with the ‘big’ striker Nicholas Dillon tormenting them in the air and on the ground. A flashing drive by the Central F.C player midway through the half caused a hush around the stadium but it went agonizingly inches wide of the far post. That would be the closest we would come to getting on the score sheet before Jamaican referee Kevin Morrison blew the final whistle.

T&T Captain Jabari Mitchell was practical in defeat.

“We played well but conceded the free kick which was expertly converted but we are still in with a chance and just have to go out there and do what we have to do and hope for some help from Bermuda” was the comment from the W Connection midfielder when he spoke to TTFA Media.

T&T will look to regroup and pull out all the stops in Saturday’s closing clash with El Salvador. The South Korea dream is still alive.

Trinidad and Tobago claimed their second win of the CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championship with a 5-1 victory against US Virgin Islands on Wednesday, thereby ensuring their place in the quarter finals on Friday.

T&T now have maximum points from their Group C campaign and will be ensured a top two place in the pool after a Hakeem King hat-trick helped ensure a routine success at Malcolm Park. This win followed an 8-1 win over Antigua/Barbuda on Monday and puts T&T two wins away in the knockout phase from qualifying for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2017.  T&T face United Stated on Thursday in a tussle for the Group C top spot.

In a slow burner of an opening period, King’s bobbled effort beat Carlos Quezada to open the scoring but skipper Michael Vollmer got enough of a touch to glance the ball past Victor Thomas and level matters for the US Virgin Islands.

Mayan Hislop sent a fierce drive just wide midway through the second frame but the Virgin Islands proved stubborn to break down, until King bagged a second with the help of a fortuitous bounce in the sand.

Goalkeeper Zake Coker pulled off a tight save to deny Vincent Schultz with T&T only 2-1 ahead. And later on T&T’s other ‘keeper Victor Thomas also did well to deny Emiliano Aranes.

King had his hat-trick from another set-piece before the break to put T&T 3-1 ahead with Chad Appoo joining him on the scoresheet with an overhead kick with just less than five minutes remaining.

David McDougall who bagged a beavertrick in the win over Antigua/Barbuda, had a penalty saved by the USVI goalkeeper in the 4th minute of the third and final period and soon after saw his acrobatic overhead attempt bounce off the post.

There was time for Kevon Woodkey to score with an overhead kick time and wrap up a relatively straightforward victory T&T.

After the win, head coach Astorga said he was pleased to see his team advance to the quarter finals.

“We’re happy to have completed the first mission which was to get to the quarter finals. We know coming here that our chances were good but we had to take care of business. Today we were a bit slow at the start maybe because of some nerves but we finished strongly which will be important in the knockout phase,” Astorga told TTFA Media.

“We have the US tomorrow (Thursday) and we want to top the group for sure with a win over them.”

King, the hattrick scorer, added “It felt great to open my tally with a performance like this. We were a bit slow out the blocks but I knew we would get chances and we took them well. Our boys are growing in each game and I think we are all focused now to go all the way and get to the final.”

T&T captain Ryan Augustine said T&T were gaining momentum in each game.

“It’s important for us not to let up now. Even though we are through to the quarter finals, we want to top the group with a good performance and a win against the US on Thursday. But as for now, we will enjoy the moment of this second victory and recover and regroup for the rest of the tournament. Getting to the final is our next objective which would see us qualifying of the World Cup also,” Augustine said.

US head coach Edwin Soto said after his team’s 7-2 win over Antigua/Barbuda on Wednesday: “We are happy to be through to the quarters but we still have another game tomorrow against a very good Trinidad and Tobago Team. We want to win this to top the group.”

Andrew Feld, who scored in the win today, stated : “We feel we are good enough to beat them (T&T). We have seen them play and we going to head into the match confident of finishing on top the group.”

Goals: 0-1: King, min. 7 (1); 1-1: Vollmer, min. 2 (1); 1-2: King, min. 5 (2); 1-3: King, min. 2 (2); 1-4: Appoo, min. 4 (3); 1-5: Woodley, min. 2 (3)

Exiled West Indies batsman Darren Bravo is on his way to the lucrative Indian Premier League after landing a contract with Kolkata Knight Riders in the auction held here Monday.

The 28-year-old left-hander, locked in an impasse with the West Indies Cricket Board after being controversially sent home ahead of the West Indies campaign in the Tri-Nations Series against Sri Lanka and hosts Zimbabwe last November, was picked up in the third round by KKR for US$74 000 – the same base price at which he entered the draft.

KKR are owned by the same interests who recently purchased Trinbago Knight Riders – the Port of Spain-based Caribbean Premier League franchise for whom Bravo currently campaigns.

Bravo was joined by rising West Indies star Rovman Powell who was also snapped up by KKR for US$44,000, and fellow Trinidadian Nicholas Pooran who signed with Mumbai Indians for $44,000.

Discarded two-time Twenty20 World Cup-winning captain Darren Sammy will make a return to the IPL after missing out last season, and will turn out for Kings XI Punjab on a contract worth US$44,000.

The quartet were the only new players from the Caribbean to secure contracts in the IPL, the most popular T20 tournament on the international schedule.

The auction also saw Barbados-born England all-rounder Chris Jordan picked up by Sunrisers Hyderabad for US$74,000.

West Indies Test and one-day captain Jason Holder, along with Andre Fletcher, Johnson Charles, Marlon Samuels, Evin Lewis and Shane Dowrich all went unpurchased.

The IPL runs from April 5 to May 21.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Beach Soccer Men got off to a smasher on Monday as they trounced Antigua/Barbuda 8-1 in their opening Group C CONCACAF Beach Soccer qualifier at the Malcolm Beach Soccer Stadium in Nassau.

David Mcdougall scored a beaver trick  while Kevon Woodley grabbed a hattrick and Chad Appoo added one more for the Benny Astoria-Coached team.

T&T plays US Virgin Islands  in their second game tomorrow (Wednesday) at 2:45pm and then they face the United States at 9pm on Thursday.

“We are delighted to start the tournament on a winning note. The men went out there and expressed themselves and put on a strong showing which as a coach I am pleased with,” T&T head coach  Astorga told TTFA Media.

“But it’s far from finished for us. We haven’t achieved anything because our goal is to advance  to the last stage and go onto qualify for the World Cup.

“We have two more games to win in the group phase and then we can start to focus on finishing the task,” he added.

McDougall dedicated his four goals to his mother Susan who passed away while he was on duty for the T&T team at the Qualifiers in Bahamas in 2013.

“This win and my performance is dedicated to my mom. I suffered to pain of losing her during the tournament in 2013 and everything here is in memory of her,” McDougall said.

“Right now we are a family here and our coach Benny is the perfect father for our family. We are like brothers on this team and that spirit and attitude along with the great assistance from the TTFA has helped us to where we are now. We are now focused on keeping up the winning ways and advancing to the next phase and then to the World Cup,” he added.

Woodley who has been in prolific form for T&T in their various competitions, added “We came here with one mission and that is to win matches. We have gotten one game out of the way and now we have to keep it up and keep going forward.”

Three-time CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championship winners USA  recovered from a slow start to hammer US Virgin Islands 8-1 in their Group C opener.

The home nation sit top of Group A after the opening round of matches and had a Lesley St.Fleur hat-trick to thank as they picked up maximum points in front a vibrant home crowd against a Guyana side making their first appearance at the tournament.

Mexico too avoided an upset on the opening day as they beat Guadeloupe 9-2 – the highest ranked nation in the CONCACAF region battling back from 2-1 behind thanks to a hat-trick from Jose Ramon Maldonado Alonso and a Fausto Jair Aleman Palacios brace.

Elsewhere in Group C, T&T  joined USA on maximum points.

David McDougall and Kevon Woodley provided the inspiration with seven of their side’s eight goals, as Antigua and Barbuda were left unable to cope on a difficult opening-day outing, while Marc Jankovic’s four-goal haul helped Canada edge past Barbados 6-4.

In a tight contest that saw both Group B sides match one another for long spells, it was the rangy Canadian forward who made the difference, scoring four times along with further efforts from Danilo Pessoa and Maxime Leconte.

Belize saw off a spirited effort from Jamaica to claim a 2-0 win on penalties after ending 5-5 at the culmination of normal time in their Group A meeting.

Jamaica battled back from 4-0 down to level thanks largely to a Daemion Benjamin hat-trick but, when the clash went to penalties, Belize held their nerve as Marlon Meza and Jermaine Jones scored from the spot.

Devorn Jorsling lashed home the winning penalty, his only but considerable contribution, as Defence Force retained the Digicel Pro Bowl with a 5-3 penalty win over Central FC following a dramatic and fiercely-fought 2-2 draw on Sunday night at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva to bring down the curtain on the truncated 2016/17 Pro League.

“I knew Central were due for a loss,” Defence Force head coach Marvin Gordon told www.ttproleague.com after the game. “And, I knew the only team to really beat them (Central) were us.”

Defence Force, Pro Bowl champions of 2012 and 2016, and the winners of this season’s only other knockout title, the First Citizens Cup, went ahead on either side of the half through defender Justin Garcia and new star and eventual forward of the tournament Jamille Boatswain.

But Central, the recently crowned Digicel Pro League champions for a third consecutive time, never rolled over—twice equalising in the second half through a converted penalty from Leston Paul, who missed another from the spot, and captain Darren Mitchell’s goal at the death.

Mitchell however struck the upright on the Couva Sharks’ first kick during the shootout against Defence Force, who were spot on with Hashim Arcia, eventual defender of the tournament Curtis Gonzales, Justin Garcia and substitute Jamali Garcia all finding the back of the net against goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams before Jorsling, a stoppage-time substitute, composed himself to seal the victory.

“I always knew I had a part to play,” said Jorsling who had been side-lined throughout the tournament with a thigh injury. “My team did well and Central had missed a kick, then I was fortunate in putting away my penalty. Now it’s a great feeling for me and my teammates to celebrate as champions.”

Leston Paul and defenders Keston George and Julius James all scored in the shootout for the 2015 winners Central, who entered Sunday’s final on a seven-game winning streak in all competitions, but had to join hundreds of spectators in looking on as Defence Force, champions of the "Winner Takes All" $100,000 final, hoisted the 2016-17 season Digicel Pro Bowl.

“Even when the decisions went against us, we continued to believe and work hard tonight,” an impassioned Gordon continued. “The man above—God—don’t sleep, and that’s why the result is what it is tonight.

“Thank God for giving us the health and strength for the way we performed today. I must credit the players, most importantly, and the backroom staff that worked throughout and never stopped believing.”

Defence Force were equipped with a battalion of Army recruits encouraging their soon-to-be fellow soldiers from the stands. But it was the non-stop excitement on the field of play, banded together with the pulsating sounds of the Army rhythm section, that would surely make it an unforgettable final for those who showed up.

"This victory (title) is for the entire Defence Force,” added Gordon. “They came out in their numbers to support us. It’s a great feeling to give them this victory. It’s always different when you’re playing in a stadium with a lot of people to spur you on.”

Justin Garcia, the only change to Gordon’s starting line-up from their 4-0 semi-final win over Police FC a week ago, headed the Army/Coast Guard combination in front 1-0 in the sixth-minute when he directed a deep Marvin Jones free-kick to the right of Central and Trinidad and Tobago first choice goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams.

That lead lasted until eight minutes into the second half when Leston Paul converted from the penalty spot to equalise 1-1 after Garcia, who missed the semi-finals due to a late automatic red card in the quarter-final round, was adjudged to have pulled down Mitchell in the area.

Defence Force goalkeeper Sheldon Clarke, who was unbeatable in the first half, which included a point blank save to deny Central forward Rundell Winchester, was left wrong-sided by Paul’s strike from the spot.

Referee Crystal Sobers awarded Central another penalty on 73 minutes, ruling a handball in the area against defender Curtis Gonzales in his attempt to cut off a cross by Johan Peltier.

But Paul’s audacious “panenka” attempt saw the ball rebound off the crossbar at the time Defence Force were already leading again by a goal advantage, 2-1.

Six minutes earlier Jamille Boatswain had celebrated his fourth goal of the tournament for Defence Force. The 23-year-old former Point Fortin Civic striker latched onto a clever Arcia pass, rounded ‘keeper Williams and slotted into an empty net in what seemed the winner.

“I needed to come up big for my team,” said Boatswain whose speed and ability to hold up play for his teammates gave Central defenders a difficult night at the office.

However in the 90th-minute, Defence Force allowed victory to slip in regular-time when Mitchell, from the angle on the left, smashed his effort across the six-yard area and into the far netting of Clarke’s goal to make it 2-2.

Defence Force, though, were superior in the shootout.

“Hard work finally paid off,” Boatswain said with a proud smile. “We worked collectively and came out victorious. We deserved to be champions. We were also confident on the penalty kicks.”

Central FC head coach Dale Saunders, who made two changes to his starting line-up from last week’s semi-final win over Club Sando with midfielder Jason Marcano and left-back Kevon Villaroel replacing Kishun Seecharan and Kaydion Gabriel respectively, conceded that it was a good final but reminded his players that they are still the league champions.

Digicel Pro Bowl Final
2016-17
(Sunday 19 Feb. 2017)
Central FC 2 (pen. 3) (Leston Paul 57’ penalty, Darren Mitchell 90’) vs Defence Force 2 (pen. 5) (Justin Garcia 6’, Jamille Boatswain 67’), at Ato Boldon Stadium.
Defence Force won the game 5-3 on kicks from the penalty mark

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