Can U-23s do it?

Howard Campbell
Date Published: 
Jamaica Gleaner

TRINIDAD and Tobago leave their hotel for the National Stadium this afternoon with one hand firmly clutched on return tickets for the Pan Am Games in Argentina next year.

Only a recurrence of the recklessness exhibited by their Jamaican counterparts on Friday in the teams' first-leg match can see the Trinidadians surrendering a decided advantage against the home team whom they beat 4-2 after trailing 0-2 in the opening twenty minutes.

Jamaica have the difficult task of emulating that performance in this evening's second leg which will again be played at the National Stadium at 6:00. Reflecting on the Trinis second-half blitz on Friday night however, lowering the red and black flag will take some doing.


Prior to the feature, Canada and Bermuda look to break a 0-0 stalemate following their goalless draw in Friday's opening match. This evening's opener kicks off at 4:00.

Two evenly matched sides, Canada and Bermuda figured in a physical encounter that saw neither gaining the upper hand in a match that offered few scoring chances.

In stark contrast, the second match had six goals, the first two going Jamaica's way in a five minute period of total dominance. They took what looked like a winning lead through Milton Griffiths (13th minute) and Christopher Dawes (17th), but the Trinidadians stepped up a gear
or two in the second-half to pull off a remarkable win.

Wesley Webb scored twice, the first being a 30th minute penalty, the other a thunderous stroke that sealed the issue in the 74th. The classy Jerren Nixon tied things up after 56 minutes with Marion Andrews putting the Trinidad team ahead in the 71st.

Rene Simoes

According to Jamaican coach Rene Simoes, for the Jamaicans to claw their way back into contention it will require "ninety minutes of concentration", and not the mini-burst that saw them running rings around their opponents for the first thirty minutes two nights ago.

"They were fantastic for thirty minutes", said Simoes. "But they thought the game was over and abandoned the game plan; I am very upset, that game was ours."


And well he might be. Fitzroy Anglin and Christopher Dawes gave the Jamaicans control of midfield from early on. Boys' Town player Anglin, playing the deeper of the two, was the
architect of the opening goal. A darting run ended with a pass on the base of the penalty area to Griffiths who had time to pick his spot past Kevin Jack to the far corner.

The dust had hardly settled when the lanky Dawes weaved his way through the heart of the Trinidadian defence, got a deft return pass from Griffiths to slot past Jack.

A freak incident, which proved to be the turning point in the game, then revived the groggy Trinidadians. It came in the 30th minute when central defender Shakir Lawrence was ruled by Costa Rican referee Rodrigo Badillia to have handled the ball in the penalty area after failing to get his arm out of the way. Webb's placed spot kick beat Julian McLeish to the far corner and lifted his team's game at least ten notches in the second-half.

While the first shivers of Trinidad and Tobago's second wind came through close shaves from the creative Dwarika and Marion Raebum (hit the crossbar), the biggest gust came from the busy Nixon whose piston-like pace proved a constant bother to the Jamaican defence. The Dundee United player looked dangerous anytime he found space which he was granted in the 56th minute before beating three markers to drive beneath McLeish and level the scores.

Most experienced

With their most experienced players Dwarika and Nixon becoming more involved, Trinidad and Tobago took command in midfield and on either flank through the diminutive Raebum and Webb. Raebum's right-sided free-kick midway the half rose obligingly for the overlapping Andrews who came up from his centre-half position to head home unchallenged.

Dwarika, a stocky workhorse who sports a Tracy Chapman hairstyle, then virtually put the game out of Jamaica's reach with a brilliant run that ended with a pass to the ever-present Webb whose one-time shot beat McLeish at the near post and into the roof of the net.

Patriotism alone will see most of the fans wanting Jamaica to rise to the challenge this evening. But they have always admired the flair of Trinidadian players like Leonsen Lewis and Russell Latapy. The sentiments should be no different for Arnold Dwarika and Jerren Nixon.