Trinidad and Tobago register an emphatic 3-0 victory over debutant St Kitts and Nevis

Trinidad and Tobago, Gold Cup (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)
Trinidad and Tobago, Gold Cup (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images) /

Trinidad and Tobago registered an emphatic 3-0 victory over debutant Saint Kitts and Nevis in the Concacaf Gold Cup opener at the DRV PNK Stadium. The game, which was scheduled for a 3:30 pm start, was delayed due to torrential rainfall and a lightning storm. The pitch was covered ankle-length deep with water two hours before the planned start. Kudos to the Concacaf and Inter Miami staff who worked assiduously to get the game on its way at 4:00 pm.

After failing to qualify for the last four Gold Cups, the ‘Soca Warriors’ were determined to repay their fans for their absences. Trinidad got a safe passage to the group stage without kicking a ball. The Nicaraguan, who was one of several teams qualified for the group stage, was disqualified from taking further part in the Gold Cup after fielding an ineligible player in the Nation League. That disqualification allowed Trinidad to take their position. Trinidad and Tobago gesticulated their intent in the 5th minute after Alvin Jones whipped in a superlative cross to Ryan Telfer, whose right foot shot from an acute angle went agonizingly wide of the left upright.

St Kitts and the Nevis brushed aside French Guiana 4-2 on penalties on their way to the group stage and showed that they are not just at the Gold Cup to make up numbers but to compete. Omari Sterling-James picked Raheem Somersall out in the box 16 minutes into the game, but his goal-bound header was blocked by Moses in defense. Trinidad and Tobago had a very stout performance in the recently concluded Nations League, where they underwent a single loss in six fixtures, surrendering the second-fewest goals on the B side of that competition.

The Soca Warriors have gone undefeated in the last six straight encounters against Saint Kitts, losing only once to the Sugar Boyz this century. St Kitts’s stout defense was finally breached under the continuous pressure from Trinidad’s lightning attack in the 43rd minute. Neveal Hackshaw made a sublime dink over the Sugar Boyz backline from the edge of the center circle to Alvin Jones, who took it nicely on his chest and then hit it sweetly on the volley past the hapless St Kitts custodian. Regardless of ending the half a goal behind, the Sugar Boys were banking on history to favour them after only suffering one defeat against a Caribbean country in over two years.

Staring down the barrel of a defeat, St Kitts coach Austin Huggins shuffled the pack and introduced Jacob Hazel and Tquan Terell in an effort to restore parity. Two minutes after St Kitts’s substitution, they went further behind in the 65th minute when Ajani Fortune found good fortune after collecting an exquisite pass from goal scorer Haveal Hackshaw and unleashed a thunderous right-footed shot from outside the box which found the bottom right corner.

Deep into the second half, the heavy water evaporated as the skies cleared up, and the sun started beaming again in the Sunshine State. The passes from the midfield were accurate, crisp, and precise to their intended target. Trinidad grew from strength to strength in the game and got far better as it progressed. St Kitts rued a few half chances and were made to pay dearly as Jameel Ible knocked one past his own keeper to make it 3-0 in the 73rd minute. It was now game over for the Sugar Boyz and a matter of preventing humiliation on their debut. Both teams created a few half chances as the game trickled to a grinding halt. Trinidad’s coach Angus Eve was beaming with joy sporting a broad smile after the 90 minutes. Angus Eve was a part of Trinidad’s best run at the Gold Cup after reaching the semi-finals in 2000.

Coach Huggins was a little disappointed in the result but was very optimistic about getting even a point in the next game. St. Kitts and Nevis will go up against defending champion United States Men’s team on Wednesday, while Jamaica square off with early group leaders Trinidad and Tobago at the City field in Missouri.