T&T defy the odds against Sweden at World Cup

Trinidad and Tobago defy the odds in World Cup Opener

Trinidad and Tobago defy the odds in World Cup Opener


Trinidad and Tobago Soca Warriors defy all odds and held on to tie Sweden in a testy 0-0 game at Dortmund Stadium in Germany at World Cup 2006. The warriors played with ten players from the first minute of the second half and as such raised their game to a defensive level that has rarely been seen from an underdog team at World Cup.
Big news was coming out of the T&T camp all week. Days prior to the Sweden game it was revealed that central defender Marvin Andrews was out for at least the Sweden game after he re-injured his knee at practice and was replaced by Brent Sancho in the starting line up. On game day Beenhakker inserted Densil Theobald for Otis Whitely in the starting line up and no sooner than the insertion was published the mysterious news that had everyone scratching their heads was the move to start Shaka Hislöp whose name was not on the starting line up in goal instead of Kevin Jack who apparently felt some discomfort in his sore knee when he was warming up and notified the medical staff to his status.

In retrospect the only thing that favoured the Soca Warriors before the game was the warm temperature from the hot sun and the stadium stands took care of that by casting shadows on half of the field by game time. In contrast Sweden was the Göliath on this day with a large contingent of supporters in the stands that outnumbered the Warriors supporters by probably more than the odds that T&T was picked to win the World Cup.
However on game day these odds means nothing if you are a good sport you would have been routing for the underdog Trinidad and Tobago because everyone was in Germany except the Sweden supports. The warriors did play the odds and were determine not to succumb under the pressure which was the defensive brand of football they played that was reminiscent of the Bahrain second game and was rewarded on both occasions with a shutout.

This was yet another game that it seemed that it was ´’Hakker time´’ as in coach Leo Beenhakker and it is quite obvious that Beenhakker relishes his team positioned as an underdog. My hunch is that he is going to try to pull out all the stops to confuse the oppositions by using all of his trump cards early and often in the even the team gets to the second round.

His decision to start Collin Samuel and Densil Theobald together is the sign of a coach that is doing his homework and in my mind Shaka Hislop was my starter and I will just leave my thoughts right there. Maybe it was divine intervention that Shaka Hislop replaced Kevin Jack who re-aggravated his knee injury and was a game time scratch but Shaka has also risen to the occasion in that all important game when just before halftime Kevin Jack was injured.

Saturday June 10 was Trinidad and Tobago Soca Warriors day and to withstand the constant pressure generated by Sweden the warrior’s defensive coverage’s was exceptional.

The game started at a hot paste and Sweden fans were very vocal making sure that their team knew they were attendance to witness the domination and convincing win of their team over underdog Trinidad and Tobago. In the first two minutes of play the Soca Warriors were on their heels conceding two successive corners and from my vantage point it also seemed that the new starters in Hislop, Theobald. Sancho, and Samuel were noticeably nervous. In nervous situations the advantage goes towards the defensive players whose number duty was to react to potential dangerous situation coverage’s and defend the goal and Sancho and Shaka certainly did everything that coach Beenhakker could have ask of them and them some more. In my books the Game ball goes to Shaka Hislop, Leo Beenhakker, and Dwight Yorke.

It was good for Collin Samuel and Densil Theobald to get their big starts to gain the experience that will be needed for the warrior’s game against England because the game against England will be emotional for most of the players. With the tie against Sweden Trinidad and Tobago cannot be mathematically eliminated until the team completes their schedule on June 20 against Paraguay.