Despite two goals from captain Ryan Augustine from free-kicks, T&T’s Beach Soccer men went down 3-5 to host Costa Rica in their opening match in Group C of the CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championship in Alajuela, Costa Rica, on Monday.
The result means T&T will have to beat giants USA in their second match on Tuesday to have a chance of being one of two teams to progress from the group.
The hosts, spurred on by their handful of fans in the stands, always looked the more dangerous team from the start as the Trinbagonians struggled to offer any resistance. After some early attempts, the Ticos were rewarded with the opening goal a minute from the end of the first period of play, when Jonaiker Gamboa connected sweetly from a throw-in on the right side.
T&T goalkeeper Zane Coker, the star in the T&T goalpost when the two teams met in the quarterfinals of the tournament in 2015, could only watch on as Gamboa’s shot flew past him into the top right-hand corner of the net.
The goal gave the Ticos a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period of play and in the second, the Ticos went two-up from Christian Sanchez who unleashed a thunderous low drive that flew in before Coker could even see it. Coach Ramiro Amarelle immediately replaced Coker with Jabari Gray for the start of the third period where the Warriors came to life.
Captain Augustine pulled a goal back after the early moments, courtesy of a powerful low shot from a free-kick that beat the dive of the Costa Rican custodian to the right side. And a minute later Augustine it was again from event further out but this time his shot took a favourable bounce to go past the goalkeeper for a 2-2 scoreline.
The Trinbagonians, who were beaten 1-2 by the Costa Ricans almost six years ago, were now in line to avenge that defeat. But the home team then missed a golden opportunity to go 3-2 up when Sanchez picked out Josimar Downer from a right-side centre but with the goal at his mercy, the latter turned his header wide.
However, they were not to be denied as Sanchez got away from his marker from a tussle on the right side, and unleashed a blistering low drive that Coker could only parry into his own nets. Two minutes after the Ticos restored their two-goal advantage from another counter-attack on the left side. This time Gamboa centred for Greivin Pacheco to score, although it took him two attempts to do so.
Still trailing 2-4, the T&T men did not give up and were rewarded from a simple tap-in by Dominic Mc Dougall two minutes from the end, after Jesse Bailey pulled it back for him from the right side.
However, the Ticos would have the last say when Pacheco’s cross from the corner was connected nicely on the volley by Pablo Calvo to complete the win 5-3.
The Costa Ricans must now face the Turks and Caicos Islands for a chance to secure one of two spots to emerge from the group. If T&T upset the two-time winner of the tournament USA today, then they will face the Turks and Caicos on Wednesday to advance, but the task though seems a mountainous one.