TRINIDAD and Tobago footballers ended their World Cup finals campaign yesterday losing 2-0 to Paraguay at the Fritz Walter Stadion in Kaiserslautern.
The Soca Warriors needed to win the match to have a mathematical chance of advancing to the last 16 round of the competition. However, an own-goal by Brent Sancho in the 25th minute gave the South Americans the lead and substitute Nelson Cuevas put them further ahead with a brilliant solo effort in the 86th.
The Caribbean footballers lost two and drew one in their three-match campaign to finish bottom of Group B with one point.
The group was won by England who drew with Sweden 2-2 also yesterday in Cologne, but both teams move into the knockout phase of the finals, with the British Lions on top.
Playing before a sellout crowd of 46,000 fans the Soca Warriors saved their best for last but just could not score the goals needed to extend their stay in Germany,
Not even the magic of midfielder Russell Latapy who came on as a substitute in the second half, could give their team an historic victory at their first ever World Cup.
Latapy was playing for the first time in the tournament, and created numerous opportunities but the clinical finishing needed to win the match once again was absent.
However the team played with a fluidity and pace hardly seen so far in their campaign.
Coming back after injury, goalkeeper Kelvin Jack was exceptional between the uprights to ensure that the Paraguayans did not score more goals than they eventually did, also Carlos Edwards at right back was a menace to the Paraguayan defence.
And Chris Birchall at last given the room to move in the midfield showed that he is a top class player. Skipper Dwight Yorke also had an exceptional match in midfield, while Kenwyne Jones, one of the three substitutions made by coach Leo Beenhakker, made several darting runs down the right flank but could not connect with Stern John up front to keep the Soca Warriors in the match.
In a post-match media conference Beenhakker said the Soca Warriors who were written off at the beginning of the tournament could hold their heads high.
He said: “The team played with courage and confidence and will be leaving Germany with pride.”
He also defended his decision to omit Latapy who he said at age 38 “could not be expected to keep pace with the fast style of play at the World Cup.”
After the match the Soca Warriors were given a rousing sendoff by their red-shirted fans at the stadium, and skipper Yorke responded by throwing his shorts into the crowd, and other players threw most of their gear into the crowd to the fans likewise.