Trinidad and Tobago’s Under-20 football team took a 2-nil beating from Guatemala in the CONCACAF Championship tournament in Jamaica yesterday and with that, a slide into danger zone of non-qualification for the May-June World Cup finals to be held in New Zealand.
The 12-nation CONCACAF event qualifies the two Group winners directly to the World Cup while a crossover playoff between the second and third-placed teams in each six-team Group will earn the two winners the other World Cup berths.
Trinidad and Tobago, with four points gained from a 2-all draw with Jamaica and a 5-1 drubbing of Aruba were joint-second with Guatemala heading into yesterday’s match. Panama with two wins were tops with six points while the United States were fourth with one point, Jamaica fifth also with one and Aruba winless and last.
When all six teams completed their match-ups yesterday at the National Stadium in Kingston, Panama remained perfect prevailing 2-0 over host Jamaica.
The United States meanwhile won its first match, defeating Aruba 8-0, a result and margin of victory that lifted the Americans into third place above Trinidad and Tobago because of goal difference.
The pressure to rebound well to earn a top-three placing is now all Trinidad and Tobago’s who have the table-topping Panama to play on Sunday and the United States next Wednesday in Montego Bay.
Trinidad and Tobago fell behind in the 25th minute in yesterday’s match on an own goal then sucked in another two minutes from full time.
The TT outfit enjoyed a bright start and through its possession was able to force Guatemala goalkeeper Nicholas Hagen into an early save off a Duane Muckette effort.
From there, though, the Guatemalans settled in, utilizing the pitch’s width to their advantage and defending solidly.
A cross from the right-goal line to the far post was headed down by powerful forward Mauro Portillo towards the net. It took a deflection off defender Martieon Watson’s thigh and crossed the line.
Trinidad and Tobago had their best scoring chance in the 74th minute when Levi Garcia broke away down the right wing and crossed into the box for Aikim Andrews, who reacted quickly to chest it, but the goalkeeper anticipated well and gathered the ball.
Guatemala’s game-clincher came when TT keeper Johan Welch received a throw in on the right side of his own end, and rather than launch the ball up field, he tried to elude the charging Portillo with a move.
But Portillo hustled to make the steal, raced towards the left edge of the box and rolled a shot from 14-yards out into an open goal.