Trinidad and Tobago faced a harsh reality on Friday night, as its 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign came to a depressing end following its 2-1 defeat to hosts Guyana, in their Concacaf Group B Second Round qualifier at the National Stadium, Providence, Guyana. The result pushed Guyana to an uncatchable 13 points going into Tuesday's return encounter at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo. Minnows Antigua and Barbuda, with a population of only 89,000 also created history by advancing to the semi-final round as they defeated Haiti 1-0 at home. They now join USA, Guatemala and Jamaica in the next round. Guyana will tangle with El Salvador, Mexico and Costa Rica. And T&T – a proper evaluation and regrouping in a concerted effort to get its football back on the path that it can bring a level of success, respect and admiration. An 11th minute goal by Ricky Shakes, who once wore a T&T shirt in a friendly versus Iceland in 2006 and an 81st minute by Leon Court turned the "Soca Warriors" over as Guyana lived up to its pre-match predictions of a win over the visitors. A Kenwyne Jones 91st minute item came obviously too late for T&T. It was the first time since the 1982 World Cup campaign when they drew 0-0 with Netherlands Antilles twice, that T&T failed to progress into the penultimate qualifying round or semi-final stage of the qualifiers.
T&T-born head coach Jamaal Shabazz appeared at a loss for words after Friday's win saying only to some members of the T&T contingent, "What can I say," as he too tried to come to terms with what undoubtedly was Guyana's proudest footballing moment and one of their biggest ever sporting achievements. T&T's head coach Otto Pfister was left to ponder his next move. "This my friends is something you never look forward to and it is something that is always difficult to accept and understand. But it must be a lesson in life for all of us. When you look back now, for me this campaign was lost when we lost in Bermuda. If you look back at the round, that result made it difficult for us and we did not come back like we should. Okay this is life, you are out one day and then you have to decide how you pick yourself up and go again," Pfister said after the match. Days like this one are not what any player, staff member or supporter can stomach and it was a fact accepted by the players and staff following the match. "Everything we are saying after the game in terms of what we should have done was said in the pre-match earlier today. We lacked a lot of things out there today. They wanted it more and now we have to face this defeat and see how much we really have that desire to succeed in the game," Jones added.
Assistant coach Anton Corneal, in his talk with the players after the loss likened the performance by Guyana to the attitude of Guyanese workmen at his home in Trinidad. "When I think about the situation now it reminds me of the two Guyanese workmen at my home. The reason they are there doing the work...it's a job no other Trinidadian wants to do because it is not in their interest or they are not prepared to do a job like this.
The Guyanese men are prepared to work for $250 a day but the Trinidadian wants $400 for the same job and if you cannot give them that then they prefer to hang on the block and hustle. They are prepared to not do the job," Corneal said. "One particular night the two men came to me just before night time and asked to put up two lights in the backyard and I asked them if they were crazy...go home and we would work again tomorrow," he explained. Corneal said: "Nobody is more disappointed than the players and the staff. We feel very sorry about the situation we're in right now but at the end of the day we have to take a closer look at ourselves if we intend to improve what we are right now. And it starts with a lot more passion and desire to give everything when we're in it whether it be for the country's national football team or in our own personal lives away from football." The T&T dressing room felt exactly like one should at end of a game in which a World Cup qualifying dream turned into a nightmare finish. And a wall apart, the Guyanese team embraced the joy of victory. Shabazz added: "This is history for Guyana and we created it tonight by showing what belief, determination and a will to accomplish something can do for our lives and for a country. This is a moment we dreamt about, that I dreamt about and we worked together and made it happen." The T&T team returned home yesterday and will face Guyana again on Tuesday, with a game that holds little significance except for some dignity. The match will kick-off at 5 pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Full Time - T&T 1 (Kenwyne Jones 91) vs 2 Guyana (Ricky Shakes 11, Leon Cort 81).
Trinidad & Tobago: - 1. Marvin Phillip, 11. Carlos Edwards, 5. Julius James, 20. Seon Power, 4. Akeem Adams, 8. Khaleem Hyland, 7. Christopher Birchall (15. Hughtun Hector 39th), 16. Kevin Molino (Yellow 29), 13. Lester Peltier (14. Stern John 56th), 9. Kenwyne Jones (capt), 19. Keon Daniel (12. Kendall Jagdeosingh 55th).
Subs: - 21. Jan-Michael Williams, 6. Oesi Telesford, 3. Carlyle Mitchell, 10. Hayden Tinto, 17. Anthony Wolfe, 18. Andrei Pacheco.
Coach: - Otto Pfister (Germany).
Guyana: - 1. Ronson Williams, 2. Jake Newton, 4. Leon Cort (Yellow 82), 5. Walter Moore, 16. Kayode McKinnon, 7. Dwain Jacobs (3.Christopher Bourne 75th), 13.Charles Pollard, 8.Chris Nurse (capt), 10. Carl Cort, 21. Ricky Shakes, 11. Gregory Richardson (17. Vurlon Mills 58th) (Yellow 68).
Subs: - 14. Anthony Benfield, 19. Travis Grant, 20. Dwight Peters, 22. Richard Reynolds.
Coach: - Jamal Shabaaz (T&T).
Referee: - Enrico Wijngaarde (Suriname).