World Cup 2006 Preview – Trinidad & Tobago
Outright Odds: 1500/1
Group B Winners: 50/1
Trinidad & Tobago will be looking to cause a few upsets after qualifying for the World Cup finals for the very first time at the eleventh attempt. The ‘Soca Warriors’ beat Bahrain 2-1 across a two-legged play-off to reach Germany but also beat Mexico, ranked seventh in the world, along the way.
Dennis Lawrence headed in the decisive goal in Bahrain but it was the final North, Central American and Caribbean Zone group match against the 40/1 (Bet365) Mexicans that will be best remembered.
Trinidad & Tobago needed a win in order to beat Guatemala to the precious play-off identify but fell a goal behind and already missed a penalty before a Stern John double turned the match around to ensure a fourth-placed finish in the group.
active striker John will play in attack with veteran striker Dwight Yorke. The former Manchester United and Aston Villa striker is nearing the end of his career and will be 35 in Germany. He came out of international retirement in 2005 to give it one last go, and although he is no longer the same player who helped United to complete their magnificent treble in the 1998/99 season, qualification is the final reward for a long and frustrating career for his country.
Yorke was part of the team that almost qualified for the 1990 finals and needed just a point against the USA to book a place in Italy. However, the United States scored a last-gasp winner to qualify themselves at Trinidad & Tobago’s expense.
Manager Leo Beenhakker, formerly of Holland, Real Madrid and Ajax has worked wonders for this tiny country with a population of just 1.3 million – the smallest competing nation in the finals. He has managed to get the best out of a limited pool of players, many of which play at a low standard for the clubs.
However, there is a strong “British contingent” that will make watching Trinidad & Tobago interesting for UK audiences. in addition as Yorke and John, the starting XI includes Kelvin Jack (Dundee), Brent Sancho (Gilklingham), Marvin Andrews (Rangers), Dennis Lawrence (Wrexham), Chris Birchall (Port Vale), Kenwyne Jones (Southampton) and Carlos Edwards (Luton).
Being thrust onto the world stage is a big ask for some of the players but they need to look at Jamaica in the 1998 World Cup for inspiration. If they can beat either England, Sweden or Paraguay, that would go down as the country’s greatest consequence in history.
Trinidad & Tobago’s best chance of success could come in the final group game. If Paraguay are out of the reckoning, Trinidad & Tobago could battle their way to a draw at tempting odds.
Paraguay vs Trinidad & Tobago draw @ 13/5