By ZAID MOHAMMED
BEATEN but not disgraced.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Under-15 boys national football team, playing in front of a home crowd for the first time, were outmuscled by Panama 5-4 on Wednesday in the opening match of a TTFA Youth Invitational Tournament at the Ato Bolden Stadium in Balmain, Couva.
In the opening match, Mexico’s U-15s beat Venezuela 2-0.
The TT boys were gifted an opening goal in the 14th minute, but fell behind as the visitors scored in the 26th and 39th minutes through Reymundo Arauz, and Abraham Mejia.
TT’s Molik Khan scored to knot up the scores in the 41st minute, and Jahiem Marshall (68th) got the go-ahead item early in the second half. But the Central Americans used their superior physical strength to score three goals in five minutes to press ahead once more and deflate the homesters.
Rafael Diaz shook the net in the 69th, Arauz notched his second goal in the 73rd minute, and one minute later Emmanuel Iglesias (74th) put his name on the scoresheet to put the guests 5-3 up.
TT got a consolation item through Nataniel James in the 86th as the encounter ended 5-4.
Afterwards, TT team coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier said he was obviously disappointed but had a lot of positives to take away the effort of his young charges who he said will learn from their mistakes.
He said that any team scoring four goals do not deserve to lose and attributed the Panama victory to soft goals scored against a team which was clearly nervous at the start and took some time to gain their composure.
Tactically he said that the players must be able, going forward, to combine their individual impulsiveness with the necessity for teamwork especially against opponents whose underlying strategy was defence.
Charles-Fevrier also said that emphasis will be also be placed on how his TT players best managed the timing of their passes and their judgement regarding when to hold on to the ball, attributed which he predicted will improve as they gain more competitive experience.
“I m not worried. They boys are mainly 14 year-old and our program is long-term. This group has the potential to develop into future national senior players,” the St Lucian former player said.
He said after the invitational tournament which also involves Mexico and Venezuela, the TT boys are headed for Bradenton, Florida , USA for the CONCACAF Under-15 hemispheric tournament.
He described forward Nahaniel James as a talented player who wants to do well and will continue to improve and strike a balance by combining his individual talent with the objectives of the rest of the team.
The tournament continues on Friday when TT play Venezuela at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo, and on Sunday, against Mexico at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
The TT national women’s Under-17s are also involved in the youth football fest and will come up against their Panama counterparts on Friday and Sunday.