Yesterday, the 19th edition of the CONCACAF U-17 Championship got underway with Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) playing Bermuda in the opening match at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
From the onset, T&T took control of the game in the early period scoring two goals. Atlanta United academy product Ajani Fortune wearing the #19 shirt (the number worn by legendary Dwight Yorke) was inspirational in spearheading the midfield with support from Kevan Kouhassi and Zachery Welch (captain). Fortune was the last person to join the team fresh off the Generation Adidas (GA) Cup with Atlanta in Frisco, Texas. Fortune brings a calm presence in the midfield along with tactical ability, technical ability, and a legitimate threat on set pieces.
Trinidad and Tobago took the lead in the 24th minute with a goal from Justin Araujo-Wilson. The Ontario, Canada based forward, doubled his tally 14 minutes later, giving the Warriors a 2-0 lead. Bermuda had no answer for Arajuo-Wilson as they struggled to contain him leaving T&T with a 2-0 lead at half time.
With nerves settled, the second half started with T&T being the more vibrant of the two teams creating chances but failing to extend their league, hitting the upright on two occasions in the opening minutes of the second half. Bermuda responded with a goal through Nazuri Dailey in the 75th minute and nearly doubled their tally with a controversial penalty call in the 80th minute. The Gombey Warrior’s Ne-jai Tucker failed to tuck it away hitting the upright on the miss.
With a 2-1 lead, the momentum changed and the young Warriors were under pressure. They were saved by manager Stern John when he introduced Andrew De Gannes, who scored in the 90th minute, giving the Warriors a well deserved 3-1 victory. Yesterday’s win left T&T leading the group after the first day of play.
Trinidad & Tobago’s next match is against their rivals Jamaica on Friday, May 3 at 4pm at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
It was also nice to see former Atlanta United player Kenwyne Jones still involved in the beautiful game assisting Coach John with the Warriors.