Thursday, November 17, 2005

Cup Bound Baby!!!!!!!
By Ben Valentine

Well they did it . Some ten months after the CONCACAF finals started so poorly for the Soca Warriors, Trinidad and Tobago did what it had never done before in it’s history; qualified for the World Cup. And I don’t know what to say.

I guess the feeling still hasn’t left since the Mexico game. After that amazing a game, I just couldn’t envision them losing to Bahrain. I said otherwise jokingly after their 1-1 draw at home in the opening leg of the playoff Saturday, but I felt they would do what was necessary to make it. If they could beat Mexico, even the second team, they had to be able to beat Bahrain, a second rate Asian squad. The shock for me would have been if they didn’t do it, because I don’t know if they’d have an opportunity like this again. With their strikers Dwight Yorke and Stern John both well up their in age, this really may have been the Warriors’ last chance at the Cup.

Wednesday the hero was midfielder Dennis Lawrence, who put home a well placed corner from the aforementioned Yorke home in the 49th minute. Trinidad then held on to pull it out 1-0, 2-1 on aggregate. Some controversy brewed in this one in the end as well. Late, goalkeeper Kelvin Jack went to punt the ball clear. The ball was taken off Jack in midair by Bahrain striker Hussain Ali Ahmed, who sent it in. The referee immediately blew it dead however, citing interference with Jack. Despite Bahrain’s protest, I don’t think anything will come of this one. You’re not allowed to mess with the goalie when he has possession. Otherwise, goalies would never let the ball go.

And that’s that. A quest that began a few hundred miles off the coast of Venezuela ends in success in the Middle East. That’s why I love soccer. It truly is an international game.

Dennis Lawrence, the man who made the day of a nation.

So what will happen in Germany? Probably nothing special in the standings. Trinidad will be lucky to win a game. In fact getting a tie would probably be an accomplishment. They are the smallest nation in the World Cup and will pale in comparison talent wise to almost everyone in the competition. But the fact is they got there. I will be able to watch them play in the world’s greatest tournament with my dad, something I’ve always dreamed about doing. That’s something two months ago I didn’t think I’d get the chance to do. At one point the Soca Warriors were tied for last in the CONCACAF finals. They fired their coach, and brought in Dutchman Leo Beenhakker to save the squad. Somehow, he did. Somehow, Stern John managed to score twice in the waning moments against Guatemala to give them a chance to qualify. And somehow, they managed to beat a better Mexico team to make it to the playoff against Bahrain. I’m not sure how they did it, but all that matters is that they did.

So come cup time, I’ll have ordered my jersey. I’ll also have to procure a copy of EA’s next FIFA World Cup game; it will be the first time I’ll be able to use Trinidad since the 98’ version which featured every international squad on the planet. If need be, I’ll find a soccer bar to watch them. If that means dragging my dad to Nevada Smith’s on 3rd Avenue, then so be it. The World Cup maybe something that comes along once every four years, but Trinidad in the World Cup… that’s something that me, my dad, nor anyone else has ever seen before.

Just even more reason to count down the days until Germany 06’.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You summed it up so well. We will all be able to watch this once in a life event. I plan to make a DVD for myself with all of the Soca Warriors games.

9:09 AM  
Blogger Zachary Geballe said...

I hope that guy isn't being sarcastic

10:58 PM  

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