Trinidad and Tobago predictably failed in their bid to reach the World Cup knockout phase.
Yet, while they might not have won a match, or even scored a goal, the Soca
Warriors will leave Germany with a smile, their dignity and a host of new
A 25th-minute Brent Sancho own goal and a late Nelson Cuevas effort gave
Paraguay the win they just about deserved but there was no disgrace in defeat
for the men from the Caribbean, far from it.
Throughout the magical last fortnight, Trinidad have pushed themselves to the
limit, a fact recognised by the notoriously hard-to-please German supporters,
who backed Leo Beenhakker's men to the hilt.
But the goal they craved would not come, not even after 35-year-old Trinidad
hero Russell Latapy was introduced late on to cap a fine career on the World Cup
Instead, the final whistle only brought an initial sense of disappointment,
although that soon gave way to more positive reflection as their hosts made them
aware of how much their sterling deeds had been appreciated.
Although the Trinidad skipper Dwight Yorke was confident enough about his own
side getting a victory to start texting his old Manchester United team-mate
David Beckham demanding a favour England eventually could not repay, coach Leo
Beenhakker was rather more cautious.
The Dutchman has been around long enough to know a country with a population
of little more than a million - the smallest ever to reach the final stages of
the biggest tournament on the planet - had already performed wonders in
The stark truth was that Paraguay had narrowly lost two closely-contested
games, whereas Beenhakker's team had gained a point from Sweden and frustrated
England for so long largely by throwing a blanket over their goal and defending
as though their lives depended on it.
Needing a victory to stand any chance of progress, Trinidad had to become more
expansive and as a result offered Paraguay the room to execute their slick
Cornell Glen might have put Trinidad in front with a firm header which Aldo
Bobadilla did well to palm away but it would have been an injustice to the South
Kelvin Jack, back in the Trinidad goal after suffering an ankle injury in the
warm-up prior to the Sweden epic, was kept busy from virtually the first
whistle, racing from his goal to chest down a long ball from Edgar Barreto which
threatened to release Nelson Valdez.
Jack had already made one tremendous save to deny Roque Santa Cruz before he
was beaten by Sancho, who was panicked into lunging at the ball when Julio Dos
Santos got his head to Roberto Acuna's free-kick and promptly turned it into his
It was a devastating blow to the Soca Warriors but Paraguay deserved their
lead and, amid a flurry of activity around Jack's goal just before the break,
might have extended it.
Jack twice denied Valdez, substitute Kenwyne Jones booted a goalbound Carlos
Paredes shot off the line while Denis Caniza, correctly, had his angled strike
ruled out for offside.
Presumably, news of England's half-time lead in Cologne filtered through to
the Trinidad dressing room at the break, which could have been part of the
reason why they started the second half with such intent.
A couple of low Carlos Edwards crosses came perilously close to finding their
target and, playing in a more advanced position than he had done previously,
Yorke tried to roll back some of his 34 years and push his team on.
Edwards was his chief ally. The 28-year-old Luton man, more used to Kenilworth
Road than Kaiserslautern, brought the crowd to its feet with some dazzling
dribbling down the right wing.
Latapy's arrival brought even more pressure and the veteran Falkirk man
skimmed the bar with one 20-yard effort.
But, try as they might, the breakthrough would not come for Trinidad.
Instead, Sancho was spared the upset of scoring the only goal when Cuevas
exchanged passes with Santa Cruz four minutes from time and beat Jack with an