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T&T vs Sweden (10-Jun-2006).
Sat Jun 10, 2006 21:13

10-man T&T team holds Sweden 0-0.
By: Lasana Liburd (Express).

Trinidad and Tobago captain Dwight Yorke leads his team off the field after their draw with Sweden in Group B of the World Cup Finals in Dortmund, Germany, yesterday. Trinidad and Tobago has no history as an occupying force but that can change over the next two weeks.
Yesterday afternoon, the "Soca Warriors" football team grabbed a foothold in Dortmund at the 2006 Germany World Cup with a surprise 0-0 draw against Sweden in a memorable and historic debut in the prestigious sporting competition. For the final ten minutes, Dortmund's Westfalenstadoin ground rocked to chants of "Trinidad! Trinidad!" from neutral supporters impressed by the personality and colour of the red, black and white army.
It was not a victory but, for those who witnessed it and the ten T&T players who held out against 11 Swedes, it felt like one. Trinidad and Tobago captain Dwight Yorke said that the memory of his first World Cup point ranks favourably with anything he accomplished in football including a treble of English Premiership, FA Cup and the European Champions League titles in 1999.
"It is a very proud day for me and my country and my family," said Yorke. The deadly striker cum elegant midfield general worked tirelessly yesterday in helping his troops maintain shape and defy the Swedish opposition while also orchestrating counter attacks.
Alongside Yorke, Luton midfielder and former Trinidad and Tobago soldier Carlos Edwards was equally commanding at midfield and right back with a superb show of poise and controlled aggression in a gripping battle with Sweden and Arsenal midfielder Freddie Ljunberg.
There were Trinidad and Tobago heroes all over the field. But it was not for nothing that the players ran to congratulate goalkeeper Shaka Hislop at the final whistle. Recruited by coach Leo Beenhakker just 15 minutes before kick-off, Hislop responded with his best performance in national gear when it mattered most. "It was always going to be a special day for me," said Hislop. "But to be involved and to keep a clean sheet and help Trinidad and Tobago win a point; it is something that I am delighted with as a professional footballer.
"And, as a national of Trinidad and Tobago, I am filled with pride." It might have been even better for the Warriors. If only substitute Cornell Glen's shot was an inch lower or referee Shamsul Maidin was not so quick to eject Avery John. The final whistle induced many pleasant thoughts but there were moments of self-doubt at kick-off.
There were barely 20 minutes remaining before kick-off when Trinidad and Tobago's first choice goalkeeper Kelvin Jack walked towards the dressing room in tears after failing to recover from a calf strain.
"I thought me and the physio had done enough (to ensure my recovery)," said Jack, who was instrumental in the team's qualifying campaign. "But it tightened up at the last part of the warm-up and I even felt like it would tear I had to make the decision I felt was for the good of the country."
Hislop was sent out to deputise at the rear of a defence that also missed the commanding presence of injured Glasgow Rangers stopper Marvin Andrews, who was replaced by Gillingham defender Brent Sancho.
Neither man got off to a good start.
Only two minutes elapsed before Sweden striker Henrik Larsson outmuscled Sancho to gain possession and then won a corner kick from him while Hislop flapped at the resulting set piece and only an alert Yorke denied star Sweden and Juventus striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic from a goal scoring opportunity.
Ibrahimovic figured brightly in most of Sweden's attacking play in the first half. He might be a six-foot-five wall of muscle but Sancho struggled to spot, let alone close down the gifted attacker early on.
"He was an absolute handful," said Sancho, of the player nicknamed "Ibra-cadabra" by Juventus fans. "He is a tremendous footballer." Ibrahimovic and Larsson had already rattled off two shots apiece before Trinidad and Tobago had even located the opposing goal. But Yorke was beginning to assert his authority by then.
Yorke might have lost a yard of pace but his intelligent reading of the game and technique was unrivalled. Fullbacks John (A) and Cyd Gray began to win battles on either flank while left winger Collin Samuel and lone striker Stern John also imposed themselves. Hislop got better too and, midway through the half, kept out Ibrahimovic with a flying stop to his right.
The Warriors went into the interval serenaded by their supporters' rendition of Maximus Dan's "Fighter" but, two minutes after the break, there was a bad note as Maidin ejected John (A) for a second caution after a lunge at tricky Swedish winger Christian Wilhelmsson that took ball and man.
Beenhakker responded by dropping Edwards to right back and shifting Gray to the left back spot. Then, the Dutchman replaced Samuel with Glen who joined John (S) upfront as a genuine second striker.
"I was definitely surprised (to go on)," said Glen. "Being one man down, I was expecting the coach to call on a defender."
In his first contribution, Glen ran on to a flicked header from John (S) and sent a stinging drive that clipped the bar on its way over.
"Everyone expected us to take off an offensive guy and bring on an extra defender," said Beenhakker, in the post-game press conference. "Instead, we brought on an extra striker who is very fast and had them defending with five men against our two It kept them from pushing forward too much.
"It was amazing how it worked."
Sweden may have been unable to push too many players forward but still had the quality of Ibrahimovic and Larsson. Coach Lars Lagerback threw in a third striker, Marcus Allback, for good measure.
But Hislop was in inspired form.
Twice, the West Ham goalkeeper denied Ibrahimovic with superb reflex saves and, eleven minutes from time, he pulled off a crucial stop to keep out Allback from point blank range.
By now, Sancho and everyone else seemed to have risen to the occasion as they propelled successive waves of Swedish attacks while always looking for opportunities on the break.
And German spectators were falling in love with the Caribbean Warriors.
"We won some fans here today," said John (S) "People who have been watching all over the world will be talking about Trinidad and Tobago football."
Ibrahimovic was another convert. The talented striker was signed by Beenhakker, five years ago, at Dutch club Ajax Amsterdam and the two shared a moment at the final whistle.
"I said, 'you are a real friend, Zlatan, thank you for not scoring," Beenhakker joked.
But Ibrahimovic credited Hislop and not his former mentor for the goalless result. "The goalkeeper for Trinidad was fantastic," Ibrahimovic told the Trinidad Express. "I cannot understand why he is the second goalkeeper. We created a lot of chances but he was outstanding today.
"I wish (Trinidad and Tobago) all the best for the World Cup." Next stop, England at Nuremberg on June 15.


TRI - 1-Shaka Hislop, 3-Avery John, 6-Dennis Lawrence, 8-Cyd Gray, 5-Brent Sancho, 11-Carlos Edwards, 7-Christopher Birchall, 18-Densill Theobald (9-Aurtis Whitley 66th), 19-Dwight Yorke (capt), 12-Collin Samuel (13-Cornell Glen 52nd), 14-Stern John.

SWE - 23-Rami Shaaban, 3-Olof Mellberg (capt), 4-Teddy Lucic, 5-Erik Edman, 7-Niclas Alexandersson, 9-Freddie Ljungberg, 10-Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 11-Henrik Larsson, 16-Kim Kallstrom (6-Tobias Linderoth 78th), 18-Mattias Jonson (21-Christian Wilhelmsson 78th), 20-Marcus Allback (8-Anders Sevensson 62nd).
Coaches' & Players Quotes

You could see in the game today that there are no more small fish in international football. My boys put the big boys in their place tonight. Of course they had more chances and higher-quality players, but we fought hard all game long.
In the beginning the boys were a little impressed by the atmosphere and the occasion, but once we calmed down we fought for everything and proved that what is on paper is very seldom the same as what you find on the pitch. This is football, not mathematics and two plus two very seldom equals four, usually itís three or five. I could not be more proud of my players.
They deserve this day. Look at their players from big clubs like Juventus and Arsenal and Anderlecht, look at ours from San Juan Jabloteh and New England Revolution...and look what we did. This is the beauty of our game.

It just one of those matches that happens now and then. We controlled the play and created many more chances than our opponents but the ball didnít want to go into the net. We were not sharp enough in front of goal and also the Trinidad goalkeeper, Shaka Hislop, had a brilliant game.
I canít really come up with an explanation for what happened. I believe we played well but we could not score. Hopefully things will change in the next matches and our scoring can equal our overall play. I was not really surprised by Trindadís performance. They had some skill and they really defended well today, but we have no one to blame but ourselves.
Now we are in a bit of a tough spot and we will need a win and a draw in our next games and maybe even two wins. We will need to restart our engines and overcome this opening setback.

Dwight YORKE (TRI), Budweiser Man of the Match
After winning a treble with Manchester United and having some great footballing memories I can say honestly that this draw ranks right up there with the best. This was really quites an achievement for us and I am so proud to be a part of it and am thrilled for my team-mates and the fans and everyone back home.

This is not only the biggest footballing day for me, but for most my team-mates as well. Itís also the biggest night in our countryís footballing history. Now we just need to keep our feet on the ground and try to give a little taste of Trinidad to England in our next match.

Cornell GLEN (TRI)
We worked really hard together today. For weeks weíve been putting in the hours and coming together as a team and it really paid off. We fought hard for each other, but we didnít really play a great game. Hopefully we play better in our next match, but to not play your best and still get a result is a very good sign.

We played pretty well today. Our defence held the line pretty well and we did enough I think to get the point, especially after going down to ten men. No one expected us to get a result in this game but we always believed. Who knows what can happen now? This is the biggest moment in our footballing lives and hopefully we will have bigger ones in this tournament.

Kelvin JACK (TRI)
Itís a calf strain, I hope itís not a tear. Iíll have it looked at tonight and hopefully I can come back and play in some games later in the campaign.

Stern JOHN (TRI)
We ground out a result today and we fought hard all the way. We had some bad luck to get a red card so early in the second half, but we stayed together and played as a team and got a result when no one gave us a chance. We earned some respect and made some friends all over the world with this game. Hopefully we can make some more as the tournament goes on.

We fought like lions today. No one rated us before, but now they will know that Trinidad is no joke. This wonít be the last surprise we spring in the tournament.

I don't know about unbeatable, but I certainly enjoyed myself today. I didn't have any really good saves to make because the team defended very well. This evening was a dream come true; it was very emotional. We hope this is just the beginning. The great thing is that we've made some new fans this evening.

I hardly had anything to do all evening. We knew the match would go the way it did, but we could have made things much easier for ourselves with a better start. In these kinds of matches, you always think you're going to score eventually, but unfortunately it didn't happen for us this time.

Trinidad and Tobago played very well, while we had no luck in front of goal. We created at least 20 chances and when you create them you have to put them away. We tried everything, but they defended well. Personally I did ok, but that doesn't make up for the disappointment. We know we've got to win the next game, or we'll be going home. But Paraguay are in the same boat, so it'll be a difficult game.

I think overall we played pretty well. Iím not sure what went wrong really, but in front of goal we failed to get the job done. This is what killed us I think.

We just couldnít put the ball in the net tonight and that was the difference. The Trinidad goalkeeper had a wonderful game and really their whole team played the games of their lives. Itís football and if you donít take your chances you are not going to win. Now we know what went wrong and we will try to correct it. We are still alive with two games to play and nothing is decided. We will not let our heads drop.

It has been a very frustrating evening for us. We created more chances, kept the ball more but for some reason it did not want to go into the net for us. Now with a draw in this first game we will have to double our efforts and try to get maximum points from our next two matches. It wonít be easy, but we are still very much alive.

Technical analysis by Gyorgy Mezey (HUN)
This evening, we saw a Trinidad and Tobago side that played to their maximum, perhaps as well as they have ever played at such a high level. They showed remarkable spirit and relied on excellent organisation, even after they were reduced to ten men.
In the middle of the park, Dwight Yorkeís display was a decisive factor, as he was like a second coach on the pitch for his team. Not only was Yorkeís positioning impeccable, but he also made the right choice whenever he touched the ball. An exemplary captain, he was an inspiration to all his team-mates.
As for Sweden, despite creating numerous chances, they just could not get the better of the oppositionís defence to apply the finishing touch they needed. Shaka Hislop in goal thwarted them repeatedly, but overall, they were rather disjointed, which helped Trinidad and Tobago obtain this historic result.

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