TCI U-23 MNT vs. Bahamas College All-Stars
May 26th saw the first of two games for the U-23 TCI Men's National Team against the Bahamas College All-Stars. The Bahamas College All-Stars brought a selection of 16 top players from their college system which included several existing and potential international players. TCI put in a very solid and disciplined performance following the instructions of Coach Philip Shearer with a strong midfield and Fred Dorvil working hard as the lone striker. Generally, it was a very good team performance for such a new squad, and TCI apparently surprised the Bahamas team somewhat with the intensity of play and physicality. Chances fell to both sides, but TCI had the lion's share although the Bahamas hit the bar late on. Both teams left with a score of 0.
TCI U-23 MNT Starting 11: Pendieno Brooks, Jean Antenor, Wendy Laporte, Alex Bryan (Captain), Elton Charles, Jose Elcius, Pluviose Peterson Alexis, Mackenson Cadet, Rodrigo Torres, Fred Dorvil and Paul Claudel Nevers Constant.
TCI U-23 MNT Subs: Peterson Evariste, Inverson Philogene, Wildens Delva, Jeff Beljour, Junior Paul, Patrick Alouidor, Jameslee Louis, Markenly Amilcar, David Dooley & Jeff Davilmar.
Bahamas College All-Stars Starting 11: Christopher Godet, Isiah Collie (Captain), Ivan Rolle, Dwayne Taylor, Rejohn Ene, Justice Brown, James Thompson, Eltin Hart, Jivan James, Donovan Williamson, Swayde Smith.
Bahamas College All-Stars Subs: Valen Bodie, Dwane Beneby, Terry Delancey, Marcel Joseph, James Darville.
Both teams, during the second game on May 27th, were in a more determined and perhaps a less “friendly” frame of mind - with the Bahamas taking TCI more seriously, and TCI having gained confidence from the first game. TCI made a few changes with Brian Gregg and Raymond Burey coming into the team. Elton Charles and Alex Bryan, who are both good on the ball, teamed up again in central defense, which gave TCI more chances to play the ball out of defense. Perhaps, TCI came out a little over-confident and they didn’t quite show the same coherent shape and play in the first half, although they did have two or three good chances with header opportunities in front of goal. Both teams were more competitive and it was the Bahamas who gained the advantage and were two goals up with goals in the 11th and 18th minutes. The Bahamas College All-Stars appeared to be the stronger, older and physically bigger team, which they used to their advantage in the first half. However, TCI was awarded a penalty, not too long before half time, after a foul on Brian Gregg and which Gregg himself duly dispatched into the top right-hand corner to pull a goal back. The Bahamas scored again seven minutes later with a nice cutback and easy finish after the TCI was caught flat-footed. This made it 1-3 at half time and things were looking grim for TCI.
TCI U-23 MNT's Coach Shearer made a couple of changes at half-time with the lively Patrick Alouidor entering the game on the left wing and Wendy Laporte right behind him. These changes livened things up and the game became more competitive as the second half wore on. TCI scored another goal in 69th minute through Raymond Burey which got the noisy and partisan crowd right behind the TCI. Now on top, the TCI took the game to the tiring Bahamas team with some great football and Mackenson Cadet bundling in an equalizer off the keeper after an overlap and cross from Jeff Beljour on 75 minutes which really set the place alight. The coup de grace came three minutes later after a glorious move, and Gregg crossed the ball to Burey who powered in a header to make it 4-3. The Bahamians still had time to come back and it was a tense last 15 minutes with TCI under quite some pressure at times, and Elton Charles and Alex Bryan having to make some vital clearances but the TCI crowd urged the team to hold on, leading to joyful pandemonium at the final whistle as the relieved crowd erupted.
An excellent game from both teams but a great win and a powerful weekend for this fledgling TCI squad which illustrates the huge potential. “Both games were played with passion, energy, focus and determination which is what was requested and required," said Coach Shearer. "What was great to see in the first game was the discipline to adhere to instructions, keep a good shape throughout in order to keep a clean sheet. Very solid performance. The second game, the boys were asked to be more expansive but that always comes with risks as we saw in the first half with three goals essentially coming against the run of play. Half time changes, a new shape, and a positive team talk meant that the team deservedly won the game through good football and 100% effort. Every player played their part and did an excellent job. To come from 3-1 down in any game is no mean feat. I never doubted the boys could do it. I am so happy for them and for everyone who watches the game. It really was an absolute thriller”
Coach Godet expressed that he was pleased with a number of things that his team brought to the field. "This group of US-based college students comprises a number of previous U17 National Team players and, for the most part, they haven’t played as a unit since 2014. Our games against TCI gave us an excellent backdrop to jump start what may become a U23 National squad down the road if the Bahamas Football Association has U23 International Football in their immediate future plans. As the team coordinator, I would have been ecstatic with two wins but TCI was resolute in defending home field advantage and gave us all we could handle. As a wrap up, the team noted that our new indirect approach of attacking (3 weeks in development) has lots of merits as it did produce numerous scoring opportunities in both games and our Achilles “finishing” showed up, we must improve in this area. We had far too many clear opportunities to put the ball in the net and didn’t. Turks & Caicos in both games demonstrated lots of heart and to come back from 3 – 1 down in the 2nd match, wow!!! lots of courage. We salute those in the background that made this possible, our team was very pleased with the hospitality, the facilities and the very pleasant locals that cheered for two excellent football matches."
TCI U-23 MNT Starting 11: Iverson Philogene, Gary Bell, Alex Bryan, Elton Charles, Jeff Beljour, Ledson Jerome, Markenly Amilcar, Ricardo Joasilus, Mackenson Cadet, Raymond Burey, Brian Gregg.
TCI U-23 MNT Subs: Pendieno Brooks, Paul Claudel Phillips, Jose Elcius, Junior Paul, Patrick Alouidor, Jameslee Louis, Peterson Evariste & Wendy Laporte, Gilbert Tilus.