Embattled Trinidad and Tobago brushed aside their off-field administrative turmoil to open their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign on a high, by turning over Guyana 3-0 in their opening match on Thursday.
In a Group F contest in the Dominican Republic, first-half strikes from Levi García, Sheldon Bateau, and Ryan Telfer were enough to see off the Golden Jaguars, in one of six CONCACAF zone fixtures played on the night.
Trinidad and Tobago have been at the center of controversy ever since football’s world governing body, FIFA, swooped down on the T&T FA last March to install a normalization committee, to run the affairs of the organization.
And after being hit by a suspension for the TTFF’s decision to launch legal proceedings against FIFA, the national side was in danger of missing out on the qualifiers.
Once the legal action was withdrawn, FIFA lifted the suspension last November, clearing the way for the country’s participation.
And they made it count at the Estadio Panamericano in San Cristobal, dominating the Guyanese to come away with a comfortable three points.
Garcia opened the scoring at the near post with a neat finish from a tight angle in the seventh minute before turning provider eight minutes later when Bateau used his hip to guide his free-kick past goalkeeper Akel Clarke.
Guyana could have been further behind in the 34th minute when Trayon Bobb, who had earlier went close at the other end, brought down Telfer to concede a penalty.
However, Clarke then saved Joevin Jones to his right and followed up with two reflex saves, to keep the scoreline intact.
It was Canada-born Telfer who fortuitously found his side’s third goal on the stroke of half-time when Clarke and defender Terence Vancooten failed to communicate over a back pass, resulting in Telfer walking the ball into the net.
Also in the Dominican Republic but in Group D at the Estadio Olímpico Félix Sánchez in the capital, Panama needed substitute Jair Catuy’s 82nd-minute strike to break down a defiant Barbados for a 1-0 win.
In Group A, Grenada suffered a 2-0 drubbing at the Estadio Cuscatlan in San Salvador after Gerson Mayen (23rd) and David Rugamas (46th) scored on either side of the half.
And in Group B in Orlando, United States, Bermuda without several key players slumped to a heavy 5-1 defeat to a strong Canada side, with Beşiktaş forward Cyle Larin netting a hat-trick.
Twenty-year-old Kane Crichlow, on the books of English club Watford, got the lone goal for Bermuda in the 63rd, with Canada already 3-0 up.
In Willemstad, St Vincent and the Grenadines slumped to a 5-0 defeat at the hands of hosts Curacao, with Huddersfield Town’s Juninho Bacuna netting a first-half double.
French-speaking Caribbean side Haiti also opened their campaign with a win, beating Belize 2-0 in Port-au-Prince.