Trinidad and Tobago skipper Khaleem Hyland and his teammates will have to fight from behind to get into the next phase of the Concacaf Gold Cup after losing their opening Group D match to Panama 2-0 at the Allianz Field in Minnesota, USA, on Tuesday night.
Armando Cooper (58th) and Edgar Barcenas (69th) were the goal heroes for Panama, leaving T&T in a must-win situation heading into its next match against the United States on Saturday.
After a goalless first half in which Panama outshot T&T nine to two but had nothing to show for it, the Caribbean side let it all slip in the opening period of the second half.
Both of Panama’s goals came off quick counter attacks. The first came off the boot of midfielder Cooper some 13 minutes after the resumption. In a quick-counter attack down the left flank, Cooper collected a pass from a teammate, cut into the penalty area shot past advancing goalie Marvin Phillip into an open net with a T&T defender desperately diving to his feet to try to block the shot.
In the 69th minute, midfielder Edgar Barcenas pounced on a loose ball after Phillip parried a shot from his teammate Cooper, only for the ball to fall nicely to Barcenas, who hit home. Seconds before this, Phillip had managed to parry a blistering shot from Gabriel Torres but could not keep the loose ball out of Cooper's path but still managed to block a shot from him as well.
Phillip also kept T&T from going further behind with a keeper brilliants saves thereafter.
Panama keeper Luis Mejia also dove at the feet of US-based Kevin Molino in the late stages to parry away a loose ball just as the latter was about to unleash a shot after turning on a defender inside the six-yard box.
RESULT: PANAMA 1 (Armando Cooper 53rd, Edgar Barcenas 69th) v T&T 0
T&T: Marvin Phillip, Alvin Jones, Daneil Cyrus, Aubrey David, Mekeil Williams, Khaleem Hyland, Kevin Molino, Kevan George (Leston Paul 46th), Nathan Lewis (Cordell Cato 83rd), Levi García, Jomal Williams (Joevin Jones 46th)
PANAMA: Luis Mejía, Michael Murillo, Román Torres (Abdiel Arroyo 85th), Hárold Cummings, Éric Davis, Édgar Bárcenas, Fidel Escobar, Armando Cooper, Alberto Quintero (Omar Brown 89th), José Fajardo (Ernesto Waker 78th), Gabriel Torres