After the Barbados fiasco, India’s Carribean tour finally kicked off in Port of Spain at the Hasley Crawford Stadium. Trust a team coached by Armando Colaco to give a good account of themselves wherever they play. Though India lost 3-0 on the night, there were plenty of positives for Indian football from the match.
Armando Colaco started with the same team that played in the World Cup qualifier in UAE. Subrata Pal in goal, Sameer Naik and Debabrata Roy at fullback and Raju Gaekwad and Gourmangi Singh in the centre of defence, Syed Rahim Nabi and Steven Dias on the flanks in midfield and Climax Lawrence and Mehtab Hossain in the middle of the park along with Jeje and Chhetri up front.
On paper it was a complete mismatch with the 157th ranked India taking on the might of the 88th ranked Trinidad and Tobago. The home team attacked from the very first minute when old warhorse and Trinidad’s second most capped player Stern John found himself with plenty of space in the box, but Raju Gaekwad was there to clear. A couple of minutes later the former Birmingham City and Crystal Palace star took another shot that was deflected for a corner.
A minute later India had a couple of brilliant chances to put themselves in the lead. First, a brilliant long searching ball from East Bengal player Metab Hossain found India’s latest Arjuna Awardee Sunil Chhetri inside the box. However he failed to control the ball giving the defender plenty of time to clear. A minute later a Steven Dias freekick missed the target by a whisker after Raju Gaekad was brought down resulting in a free kick just outside the box. India were egged on by the large expat Indian population at Port of Spain and they were certainly giving a good account of themselves.
However India’s resistance lasted till the 20th minute after striker Darryl Roberts was brought down in the box resulting in a penalty for the Soca Warriors. Stern John coolly converted to score his 70th international goal and give the T&T an early lead. That started a period of total domination for the home side as the Indian defence came under wave of attacks from the 2010 World Cup debutants. Captain Densil Theobald, Stern John and Darryl Roberts were at the heart of every Trinidad attack which became more frequent with each passing minute. Climax and Mehtab found it difficult to break down attacks in the middle of the park and were forced to do a lot of defending.
In the 29th minute, India had another narrow escape when Stern John had the goal inside the net again but it was ruled offside. India then had a period of domination with some good chances but failed to capitalize on them which included a superb strike by the versatile Syed Rahim Nabi went inches over he cross bar. India were enjoying ball possession but failed to create clear cut chances.
The second half started with an early goal for T&T after the Indian defence went to sleep and allowed Darryl Roberts to score to make it 2-0. India seemed to be shocked by that early goal and started to feel the pressure in defence. Trinidad and Tobago capitalized on that, repeatedly raiding the Indian defence but were thwarted by the brilliant Subrata Paul who made brilliant saves on the night. India were trying to get more bodies forward in search of a goal but that resulted in gaping holes in defence which were being exploited by Stern and Darryl.
India then had a trio of chances in the 70th and 71st minute but the opportunities failed to yield the elusive goal with the T&T keeper Marvis on the first occasion saving a Sunil Chhetri shot from close range, then a Raju Gaekwad free header went narrowly wide and finally a finger tip save by Trinidad goalie denied young Jeje a goal. With fifteen minutes to go, Armando Colaco threw in the the final gamble, making three quick substitutions- Peter Carvalho for Samir Naik, Valeriano Rebelo for Nabi and Sushil Kumar for Sunil Chhetri – however they failed to get their goal.
The final nail in India’s coffin came nine minutes from time when a quick free kick from the Soca Warriors caught India- who were preparing for a substitution- off guard with Darryl Roberts making no mistake. Rocus Lamare made his senior debut with a couple of minutes to play after coming on for Climax Lawrence.
India were beaten on the night but not without a fight. There were plenty of positives to take from the performance. Firstly, the third goal was avoidable and a 2-0 scoreline would have been a fair result. Secondly, India were able to withstand long spells of pressure and even create some good chances but they lacked the finishing touches. All in all, a satisfactory performance and Armando Colaco will definitely look forward to their last game against Guyana.
Trinidad & Tobago 3-0 India : Highlights