Group A: El Salvador 2 Trinidad and Tobago 2
July 15 – El Salvador guaranteed their qualification for the knock out rounds of the Gold Cup with a 2-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago in Frisco, Texas. It left Mexcio needing a win in the later game against in Guatemala in Dallas to keep them in the running to top the group.
The Trinidad and Tobago team have been under 24 hour police protection in Fricso, Texas, following their surprise 0-0 draw with Mexico in the opening game of the Gold Cup last Saturday. That game became marred by referring controversy but was also marked by a dogged Trinidad and Tobago determination to make their mark in the tournament.
In the opening salvo it was El Salvador who looked to be in more need of protection. Trinidad and Tobago made seven changes from the Saturday team but they were still defensively cautious and resolute. But unlike Saturday’s referee the was quick to step in to .
El Salvador like to keep the ball on the ground and their passing game dominated the early exchanges. This time out the luck was not going to be with Trinidad and Tobago.
On 27 minutes the ball was played into Jairo Henriquez on the edge of the box who turned his central defender at ease and shot to the bottom right hand corner of Niklas Frenderup’s goal.
Henriques should have scored a second in stoppage time of the first half but was denied by the speed of Frenderup’s dive at his feet forcing him push his shot wide.
Trinidad and Tobago came to the second half with a different attitude and more attacking penetration of their own.
On 62 minutes Triston Hodge came close and was later lucky not to get a second yellow card for a reckless challenge in the air that led to head contact.
On 65 minutes Trinidad and Tobago hit the bar and it looked as though they were starting to find some momentum with a succession of half chances and promising attacks that did not have enough quality in the final third of the pitch to be converted.
With the game and time running out El Salvador put what looks likely to be a second nail in Trinidad and Tobago’s Gold Cup coffin but guaranteed their own progression.
On 90 minutes Frenderup fumbled a save on the ground to his left for the ball to agonisingly roll along the line for sub Walmer Martinez to tap in.
After the heroics and drama of Mexico it was that kind of agonising night for Trinidad. They now face their third central American team on the bounce, Guatemala, who like Trinidad and Tobago were in the preliminary qualifying rounds two weeks. Unlike Trinidad they lost their penalty shoot out, only to be recalled when Curacao were stood down following a covid outbreak in their squad. Both teams are desperate to improve their standings in their region. Both still have something to prove, not least that they belong and can hold a place in the top tier based on performance rather than past reputation.
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