TRINIDAD KEPT the Caribbean round of the CONCACAF tournament wide open when they beat Cuba 2-1 at the National Stadium last night.
Now they have five points from four games — the same as Haiti and one more than Jamaica who play each other in the last match of the tournament tonight.
This means that if Jamaica draw tonight's match they will have to play-off with Trinidad for one of the places reserved for Caribbean countries in the CONCACAF finals.
And if they beat Haiti, then Trinidad and Haiti will playoff for second place. So only if Haiti beat Jamaica tonight will there be no play-off and Haiti and Trinidad will qualify for the finals in Spanish Honduras in March.
Last night's match was a good one, with Cuba on the attack much of the time but failing to take their opportunities.
All the goals came in a four minute flurry early in the first half. Warren Archibald hit the first for Trinidad — his fourth of the tournament — then Louis Hernandez equalized.
Leroy DeLeon put Trinidad 2 — 1 ahead and Cuba missed their big chance to take a point when Jose Hernandez hit a second-half penalty wide of the post.
The match got off at a cracking pace and in the second minute Trinidad came desperately close to scoring.
Alvin Corneal put a beautiful pass through to Everald Cummings, in the Cuban penalty area.
The crafty Cummings flicked the ball over defender Penalver's head, then shot, only to see the ball cleared off the line by Jose Hernandez.
Cuba came straight onto the attack and Sotomayor put Verdecia awav on the left with a fine long pass. The Cuban centre forward raced down the touchline, outflanked the defence, then spoilt a spectacular move by centring badly.
The match really came to life in four dramatic minutes which produced three goals.
First left-winger Warren Archibald put Trinidad ahead when Cuban goalie Brigido Ochoa misjudged a ball which bounced over his head. Archibald was on the spot to score his fourth goal of the tournament.
Ninety seconds later Cuba equalized. The Trinidad defence twice failed to clear
the ball after a Verdecia inspired attack. The ball reached Verdecia again, who
flicked it through a crowded penalty area for Louis Hernandez to tap it in.
But back came Trinidad with a handsome goal from Leroy DeLeon. He received a pass from Archibald on the right edge of the penalty area, turned and blazed it in from an acute angle, catching Ochoa by surprise.
Despite the exertion of three matches in the previous eight days, both teams kept the game at a brisk tempo.
Cuba were the faster and playing with the air of a team that knew they had to win to stand a chance of qualifying for the CONCACAF finals, they started to put on the pressure.
The desperation of their position, however, was reflected in their finishing. Three times Verdecia, Sotomayor and right-winger Felix Pozo hit the easiest ot chances wide.
Cuba were unlucky to be a goal short at the end of a thoroughly entertaining first half which the small crowd acknowledged with a big round of applause.
Cuba flew into attack at the start of the second half but their marksmanship was still poor. Louis Hernandez put a ball across to Verdecia who headed
it on to Felix Pozo.
But Pozo didn't bring the ball under control and shot it way over the bar.
Trinidad came back into the game. The live-wire, Archibald, one of the tournament's outstanding forwards, roamed all over the place worrying Cuba whenever he got near the penalty area.
In the 23rd minute of the half, Cuba got a penalty and they couldn't even score from that.
Verdecia fell after he and David crashed into each other. Referee Guy Domel ruled that David had bowled over the chunky Cuban centre-forward and awarded a penalty — a hard decision.
It threw Cuba Into a tizzy — nobody wanted to take the kick! For a minute they argued, finally disconsolate Jose Hernandez, head bowed low, went up to the spot and slammed the kick wide of the left post.
P W D L F A Pts. Haiti ........ 3 2 1 0 6 3 5 Trinidad ..... 4 2 1 1 7 7 5 Jamaica ...... 3 1 2 0 4 3 4 N. Antilles .. 4 0 2 2 4 6 2 Cuba ......... 4 0 2 2 ? 7 2
IS IT HAND-BALL? Trinidad left-winger Warren Archibald, leading goal-scorer in the Caribbean round of the CONCACAF tournament, appears to handle the ball as he and Cuban defender Arguelles fight for the ball during the first half of last night's match at the National Stadium.