The Trinidad & Tobago men’s senior football team will be advancing to the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup group stage after a nerve-wrecking 8-7 penalty shootout victory over French Guiana after drawing 1-1 in regulation time on Tuesday at the DRV PNK Stadium in Ft Lauderdale, Florida.
Tied 7-7 in sudden death penalties, T&T’s goalkeeper Nicklas Frenderup chose correctly in diving to his left to save Kevin Rimane’s shot. Then, Curtis ‘Boyo’ Gonzales who replaced Marcus Joseph at half-time, calmly slotted to the left of French Guiana’s goalie Simon Lugier who went the other direction.
After his heroics on the night, Frenderup said, “I’m just really happy. I didn’t think we played a good game.” The Danish-born goalie added, “We need to work on that and look at some videos and we need to do a lot better because this was not good, we need to improve a lot more.”
The Soca Warriors were rewarded US$100,000 for qualification and a spot in Group A against Mexico (July 10 – AT&T Stadium), El Salvador (July 14 – Toyota Stadium), Curacao (July 18 – Toyota Stadium).
Playing in damp conditions, T&T opened the scoring in the 27th minute through Kevin Molino’s left footed shot after right back Alvin Jones’ attempt on goal ricocheted off the post and into the path of the ever-present Molino. This was Molino’s second goal in as many games since his return to the national team from injury. A few minutes later, Marcus Joseph thought he extended the Warriors lead but his goal was ruled offside by mere inches from VAR.
Head coach of the twin-island republic, Angus Eve had two crucial decisions to make as starters Judah Garcia and captain Khaleem Hyland picked up injuries in the first half. Whilst, Hyland was off the field attending to the medical staff, the French team equalized in the 44th minute when Midfielder Arnold Abelinti volleyed home after a misjudged clearance by central defender Jelani Peters.
French Guiana controlled most of the possession in the second half and were more potent in their attack and with the evidently tiring legs of the Warriors; penalty shootout was probably their best chance of winning.
Penalty Kickers for French Guiana: Thomas Vancaeyezeele, Carino Atchaliso, Rhudy Evens, Ludovic Baal, Alex Eric, Dylan Adam, Jessy Marigard, Kevin Rimane.
Penalty Kickers for T&T: Duane Muckette, Neveal Hackshaw, Jelani Peters, Andre Fortune II, Kevin Molino, Alvin Jones, Justin Garcia, Curtis Gonzales.