Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence was on the right side of an international record tonight, as the Soca Warriors routed Anguilla 15-0 at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva. The fact that there were barely 300 patrons at kickoff might suggest what local football fans made of the match-up.
The record win for Trinidad and Tobago before tonight’s fixture was an 11-0 triumph over Aruba in 1989, in which then head coach Everald ‘Gally’ Cummings used a ‘B’ squad. In Couva tonight, the Warriors led 10-0 at the interval.
Things stronger than the Anguilla backline? Plasticine, a house of cards, Mr Glass’ jaw, Gerald Ramdeen’s ethical compass, the sexual harassment policy at the Ministry of Sport…
In the pre-match press conference, Lawrence said the Anguilla outing would help his players find their ‘rhythm’. Suffice to say that there were a lot of cheaper and better alternatives for that purpose than a team whose goalkeeper, Ryan Laddie, often made the ball look like a wet bar of soap.
What we do know is that tonight’s outing reset Lawrence’s winless column from 14 matches to zero, which is something Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams might also appreciate with an election campaign just two weeks away.
Anguilla is ranked 209th out of FIFA’s 209 member associations and have never won a competitive match in their 34-year history as a football nation. Trinidad and Tobago, on the other hand, have played in one senior World Cup and four World Youth Cups; and Lawrence started six players—Marvin Phillip, Daneil Cyrus, Aubrey David, Mekeil Williams, Leston Paul and Marcus ‘Lobo’ Joseph—with FIFA tournament experience.
To call it a mismatch, even with Trinidad and Tobago ranked at 101st in the world, is an understatement.
Still, the Warriors did the only thing they could in such circumstances. They made the gulf in class between the two teams unmistakably obvious with a largely professional display on the offensive end.
Right back Alvin Jones on the overlap with a firm cross towards the far post. Goal. Repeat.
‘Lobo’, for one, was not bashful about hogging the scorecard. In his 18 previous international outings, Joseph managed one goal. By the time Lawrence withdrew him tonight in the 52nd minute, Joseph had added five more items to that tally.
Joseph’s current strike rate now reads a very credible six goals from 19 matches. In the future, coaches might have to deduct ignore the ‘Anguilla affair’ when they attempt to make sense of the international history of some Warriors.
Ryan Telfer, Ataulla Guerra and Nathan Lewis scored twice each too while Aaron Lester, Jomal Williams and debutantes Darius Lewis and Matthew Woo Ling chipped in with a goal apiece.
The spattering of supporters tempered their cheers after Trinidad and Tobago’s fifth goal and substitute Lewis, who plays in the Faroe Islands, was the only player to mark his item with a choreographed celebration after that.
There was little about Lewis’ performance to suggest he is superior to even the local-based players available to the Warriors, so it was just as well that he enjoyed his moment. For Lawrence, it was a brief respite before he travels to face Ecuador in a friendly on Thursday and then Honduras in Concacaf Nations League action next Sunday.
Even in the lopsided triumph, the Trinidad and Tobago defence gave up a handful of corners and free kicks to their lowly opponents while substitute custodian Nicklas Frenderup needed to make a fine save with his legs to deny Anguilla substitute Jonathan Guishard in the 79th minute.
The fact that even on home soil against the weakest team in international football with all four match officials from Trinidad and Tobago, Lawrence still opted for the protection of his regular first choice custodian, Phillip, for the opening 45 minutes was another story.
But at the final whistle, Lawrence had presided over the biggest Trinidad and Tobago triumph of all time. And, for whatever it is worth, local sport fans now know that the Warriors are 15 goals better than FIFA’s worst football nation.
Trinidad and Tobago (4-2-3-1): 1.Marvin Phillip (GK) (21.Nicklas Frenderup (GK) 46); 16.Alvin Jones, 5.Daneil Cyrus, 17.Mekeil Williams, 2.Aubrey David; 23.Leston Paul (8.Aaron Lester 46), 19.Matthew Woo Ling; 7.Nathan Lewis (4.Darius Lewis 62), 11.Ataulla Guerra (13.Duane Muckette 46), 9.Ryan Telfer (20.Jomal Williams 46); 10.Marcus Joseph (6.Kevon Goddard 52).
Unused substitutes: 22.Adrian Foncette (GK), 12.Carlyle Mitchell, 14.Jomoul Francois, 15.Ross Russell Jr, 18.Aikim Andrews.
Coach: Dennis Lawrence
Anguilla (4-1-3-2): 1.Ryan Laddie (GK); 5.Carlique Gumbs (11.Antoine Fleming 89), 4.Luke Parris, 3.Tafari Smith, 2.Kion Lee; 8.Kapil Battice; 14.Kadeem Rogers (16.Cameron Lloyd 50), 7.Jerrel Gumbs, 13.Jermal Richardson (12.Shemari Bryan 68); 9.Glenville Rogers (19.Jonathan Guishard 58), 10.Calvin Morgan.
Unused substitutes: 18.Daniel Bailey (GK), 21.Akeem Tittle (GK), 15.Bakari Battice.
Coach: Nigel Connor
Referee: Rodphin Harris
(Sunday 10 November)
Trinidad and Tobago 15 (Ryan Telfer 10, 21, Marcus Joseph 13, 27, 31, 33, 47, Ataulla Guerra 15, 42, Nathan Lewis 20, 40, Aaron Lester 61, Darius Lewis 75, Matthew Woo Ling 78, Jomal Williams 89), Anguilla 0 at Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.