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T&T vs Paraguay (20-Jun-2006).
Wed Jun 21, 2006 16:12

The adventure ends.
By: Shaun Fuentes.

The adventure in Germany came to an end on Tuesday night in Kaiserslautern as Trinidad and Tobago surrendered 2-0 to Paraguay in their closing Group B fixture.
The South Americans, already eliminated, claimed their first points of the tournament through Brent Sancho's first-half own goal and an 86th-minute effort from Nelson Cuevas.
The sides had failed to register a tournament goal coming into the game but it could have been 1-1 after five minutes in a lively start at the Fritz-Walter-Stadion.
Recalled Soca Warriors keeper Kelvin Jack, who missed the first two games through injury, flung himself to his left to claw away Roque Santa Cruz's glancing header from a freekick. Paraguay keeper Aldo Bobadilla was also tested at the other end by a powerful Cornell Glen header.
T&T carried the bigger threat from set pieces and Bobadilla punched clear from another awkward curling free kick. Cruz and Nelson Haedo Valdez were off target with headers before the breakthrough came on 25 minutes when Roberto Acuna's free kick was headed on by Julio Dos Santos and the luckless Brent Sancho deflected the ball into the net.
Trinidad coach Leo Beenhakker reacted by throwing on striker Kenwyne Jones in place of defender Avery John and the substitute almost made an instant impact when his fiercely driven free kick flew narrowly wide.
Paraguay had a goal chalked off when defender Denis Caniza slipped the ball under Jack but was denied by a late flag by the linesman, apparently for handball in the build up.
T&T's problems got worse before the break with Glen carried off on a stretcher after falling awkwardly.
Paraguay were on top and only another flying Jack save, to deny Valdez, and Densill Theobald's goalline clearance kept the scoreline down. But Leo Beenhakker's team finally conceded a second goal when Cuevas produced a neat finish after a one-two with Santa Cruz.
Try as they might T&Tcould not get back on level terms. Chris Birchall found space on the edge of the box but unfortunately not the net with his 20-yard drive. Yorke was also off target after being set up by his old mate Russell Latapy, on as a substitute for his first appearance in the World Cup, who then shaved the bar when he reacted quickest to Jones' knock down.
But the equaliser would not come and the killer blow arrived four minutes from time when Cuevas exchanged passes with Santa Cruz and slid a neat shot under Jack.

Dwight's disappointment.

It's a massive disappointment," captain Yorke said. "I suppose when you see the England score at the end it's different. But we wanted to win the game. We wanted to score a goal at the end of it all. That would have made the whole campaign a huge success."
It is, however, one that will only slightly muddy the glorious campaign accomplished by the tournament's smallest participants while their coach Leo Beenhakker has now taken charge of seven World Cup games - four previously with the Netherlands - without a victory, which is a record.
But it would be a rank injustice if that is what the Dutchman is remembered for. He and a modest group of players, the self-styled Soca Warriors, can hold their heads up high.
Yorke, who hinted that he might, once again, retire, said afterwards: "This is a moment of history for the country, the people, the supporters. The way we have played and conducted ourselves makes me very proud."
His "boyhood dream" ended without the passage into the second round that Yorke believed was achievable, even if the Paraguayans were not the demoralised bunch T&T hoped they might be after failing to progress for the first time at a finals since 1958. Instead the South Americans played with a freedom which, in truth, meant their victory was warranted.
Beenhakker's decision to recall Kelvin Jack in goal, instead of the capable Shaka Hislop, proved to be an error. He saved smartly from Roque Santa Cruz's header inside the first five minutes, but then appeared hesitant and eminently beatable, often rushing from his goal unconvincingly or pushing shots from distance back into his own area.
Time and again the Paraguayans peppered his goal with crosses which were half-cleared until, finally, Robert Acuna swung in a free-kick which was glanced on by Julio Dos Santos only for Brett Sancho to head into his own net.
T&T made a better fist of it after the break by speeding the game up. They had to and poured forward, Beenhakker throwing on extra attackers and a low skimming cross by Carlos Edwards just evaded Yorke while the Luton defender did better with another centre, although it was brushed off Stern John's head by Bobadilla.
Paraguay, with Dos Santos and Paredes in particular, reminded T&T of the threat they could create before Beenhakker finally introduced Russell Latapy for his first appearance of the competition.
The 37-year-old made a difference. Immediately he set up Yorke, but his shot flew over, and then he met Kenwyne Jones's knock-down with a fierce half-volley which only just cleared the bar. It would have been a wonderful ending, but T&T were tiring badly and then Paraguay broke away and scored a fine goal.
Substitute Nelson Cuevas exchanged passes with Santa Cruz before beating Jack with a low shot from just inside the area. With that the fairy tale was over. "We had possibilities but scoring is our problem," Beenhakker said. "We played with courage, with confidence. We didn't want to go home now. But we have to and leave with pride."


Paraguay (4-4-2):

22-Aldo Bobadilla; 2-Jorge Nunez, 4-Carlos Gamarra, 5-Cesar Caceres (15-Julio Manzur 77th), 21-Denis Caniza (14-Paulo Da Silva 88th); 8-Edgar Barreto, 13-Carlos Paredes, 10-Roberto Acuna, 19-Julio Dos Santos; 18-Nelson Valdez (23-Nelson Cuevas 66th), 9-Roque Santa Cruz.

Trinidad & Tobago (4-1-4-1):

21-Kelvin Jack, 6-Dennis Lawrence, 3-Avery John (15-Kenwyne Jones 31st), 5-Brent Sancho, 11-Carlos Edwards, 7-Christopher Birchall, 18-Densill Theobald, 9-Aurtis Whitley (10-Russell Latapy 67th), 19-Dwight Yorke (capt), 14-Stern John, 13-Cornell Glen (16-Evans Wise 41st).


Brent Sancho 25th minute (own-goal), Nelson Cuevas 86th.

Players & Coaches' quotes.

Julio DOS SANTOS (PAR), Budweiser Man of the Match
Iím very happy to have started tonightís game, because I was disappointed that I hadnít started before. We knew the importance of winning this game, not just because it was our last game, but because we wanted to leave a positive image behind of our involvement in the World Cup. We wanted to win for ourselves, because this squad didnít deserve to go out of the tournament. Obviously Iím pleased with how the game went and with our win. I can see a great future ahead for Paraguayan football because there are a lot of young players in this team who have gained a lot of experience. The foundations are very good.

Iím satisfied with the win and with my goal, although we know that our morale isnít the best after our elimination. We win together and we lose together, and thatís why weíre a team. Even though weíre hurting because of the way the World Cup turned out for us, that pain will eventually go away.

On the one hand, weíre departing with great sadness because weíve been eliminated very early, but at the same time, Iím leaving with great satisfaction because of the respect among the players and the atmosphere in the squad. What will I do in the future? Iím not sure just yet, but I have to step aside to let the young players come through. Iíve played for the national team for 14 years. They were marvellous years, and those happy memories will stay with me.

Roberto ACUNA (PAR)
We played well, and I think that we showed some of the things that we didnít do, for example, in the game against England. Itís a pity to leave the World Cup so soon, but we had to try and compete in a very difficult group.

I thought that we could beat teams of the stature of England or Sweden, but we should have taken a few more risks to do it. I really think that there wasnít an awful lot of difference between us and them. It will be important to learn from the mistakes we made so that we can eliminate them in the future.

Dwight YORKE (TRI)
I am proud to be captain of this fantastic team. It was a dream come true to be taking part here for the first time. We had an unforgettable time in Germany and we can be more than satisfied with our performances. In my 20 years as a professional, Iíve had a lot of good experiences, and some bad ones too, but this World Cup is undoubtedly one of the highlights. This may have been the last time that I play for my country, so this is a very emotional day for me.

(Brent) Sanchoís own goal was just plain bad luck, things like that can happen to anybody. It wasnít his fault that we lost the game, though - we were all responsible. It was a very tight match, but we never gave up and never stopped believing that we had a chance. Our football has a great future ahead of it, since weíve shown that we can compete with the best teams in the world. Being at the World Cup and having such great fans supporting us was a wonderful experience. Weíre already looking forward to South Africa 2010!

Evans WISE (TRI)
We never gave up, and we had a lot of chances in the second half. Iím going to fly home with my boys now and celebrate our achievement properly. The World Cup was a total success for our team and for our country. We can return home with our heads held high.

We showed a lot of passion. I feel really bad about the whole own goal thing, but things like that can always happen Ė thatís life. We played well and created some good chances ourselves, but unfortunately we didnít manage to take them. Weíre sad to be going home now. Weíve proved that we can compete with big teams like England and Sweden. The last two weeks in Germany have been like a dream come true for us. We came here and nobody gave us a chance. Thatís why it was so unbelievable that the German fans really took us to their hearts. A great World Cup and a fantastic atmosphere.

Anibal RUIZ (PAR)
We had asked the players to try and lift their spirits after the Sweden defeat. We knew that it wasnít easy, because that was a harsh blow, but it was important to get up for this game and play for pride and honour. The boys showed that they are a classy team. This win against Trinidad and Tobago means that we can leave the tournament in the right way.
I donít want to answer any more questions, and I hope that you will excuse me, because I would like to go and discuss the game with the Paraguayan press. My future? I will announce my plans when I get back to Asuncion. In the meantime I have to put together a report to explain our performance here.

It was an open game and we had some chances, but that's football. If you donít put away the chances you create, the opposition deserve the win. I didnít like the way we performed in the first half, when we had a few problems in defence. On the other hand, in the second half we matched them and we had some chances to grab an equaliser. Unfortunately, we didnít make them count and we paid dearly for that.
Clearly the team had some problems with their finishing, but you have to bear in mind that before the tournament started, people back in Trinidad and Tobago were expecting us to lose 6-0 or 8-0 against Sweden and England. For that reason, I'm disappointed to be out of the competition so soon, but I'm very satisfied with the effort my players put in. I can't blame them, because they played with pride and passion.
Perhaps we paid for the fact that the other teams played at a higher tempo than us, but I think we're leaving with our heads held high. This was the first time that the team has played in a World Cup, and we've learned some great lessons. The next time, they should have more confidence. This experience will help to develop football in Trinidad and Tobago.

Technical analysis by TSG member Alvin CORNEAL (TRI)
Right from the beginning, Trinidad and Tobago looked both nervous and over-ambitious. There was too much emotion and too little structure to their game. They defended too deep and couldn't put any pressure on the opposition. Paraguay took advantage of this lack of confidence and let their greater experience shine through.
Paraguayís opener in the 25th minute was a very unlucky own goal by Brent Sancho, and this made Trinidad and Tobago even more shaky. Coach Leo Beenhakkerís team seemed to be in shock, and Paraguay totally dominated the rest of the half, keeping possession, spreading the ball wide and snuffing out any half-chances. The South Americans had 53 per cent of the possession and looked very confident going forward. The Trinidad goalkeeper Kelvin Jack had to pull off a couple of excellent saves to keep his team in the match.
The second half was the complete opposite of the first. Trinidad came back out with renewed spirit and put Paraguay under real pressure. The Caribbean team created a number of chances, looking particularly dangerous down the flanks and firing in quick crosses. Nonetheless, Paraguay still looked a threat on the break, in particular 23-year-old Bayern Munich midfielder Julio Dos Santos, who launched numerous counterattacks and proved to be very much the linchpin of Anibal Ruizís midfield. The performance, combining physical yet very intelligent play, earned him the Budweiser Man of the Match award.

Trinidad much stronger after the break.

Trinidad showed a lot of heart and passion, but couldnít manage to turn their possession into goals. Indeed, they spent long periods in the Paraguay half without creating any real chances. Russell Latapyís appearance as a substitute gave the Soca Warriors more guile in attack Ė his distribution was very intelligent and he also had a few decent long-range efforts himself Ė but luck was not smiling on the Caribbean side tonight.
Paraguay, on the other hand, stoutly defended their lead and put the match beyond any doubt with five minutes to go when Nelson Cuevas made it 2-0, his opportunist goal underlining T&Tís lack of experience. Though the scoreline flattered Paraguay, they fully deserved their win.
Trinidad and Tobago can also be satisfied with their performance at their first ever FIFA World Cupô. They gave an excellent account of themselves, and both the players and the fans can feel justly proud of their team, which showed that they were capable of holding their own with the big guns. Indeed, with a bit more luck throughout the tournament, who knows how far they could have gone?

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