March 6, 2009
Good, but not good enough

In the opinion of Kendale Mercury, Coach of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Under-20 male football team, they were “good, but not good enough,” to get past Central American gurus, Honduras, to advance to the last eight of the CONCACAF Finals.{{more}}

St. Vincent and the Grenadines was beaten 3-1 last Monday afternoon at the Marvin Lee Stadium in Trinidad and Tobago, in a one off fixture.

Mercury told SEARCHLIGHT last Wednesday night that he was generally satisfied with the team’s display in the match.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines was leading one nil up to the 74th minute of the match, but according to Mercury, “a combination of ill discipline and injury caused us to lose the game”.

Mercury reported that during the first half, the Vincentians were doing the right things, which frustrated the Hondurans, who were flying into the referee’s face and fussing with each other.

He said that it was one of the forays on the Honduran goal which resulted in a handled ball, and a penalty kick, which Captain Cornelius Stewart, calmly converted.

“We were playing some superb Football,” the Coach said.

Mercury listed the loss of Stewart, who was ejected, as being a crucial blow to the team’s balance.

Stewart was given a second yellow card for elbowing one of his opponents in an off the ball incident.

Mercury revealed that the Hondurans throughout Stewart’s stay on the field were targetting him.

“They allowed the Hondurans to get into their heads, and at that point Stewart did not keep his cool,” Mercury added.

The Coach stated that added to the numerical disadvantage, his team lost the services of central defender Reginald Richardson, right back Justin Stapleton and midfielder Jolanshoy Mc Dowald, all through injury.

“We lost the spine of the team,” he recalled.

Satisfied that the players gave of their best in the circumstances, Mercury still holds the view that with a bit more experience and some more top level matches leading up to last Monday’s match, things could have been different.

In assessing the Hondurans, Mercury opined: “They were 10 – 15 per cent more technical than we, but we were able to match them physically, and tactically.”

“We were psyched out and beaten mentally,” Mercury, a former Assistant Coach of Jamaica Premier League Club, Village United, said.

He thought that the team has shown some improvements in their performance in the Caribbean Zone finals held here in January, where they finished second to Jamaica, which gave them the right to face Honduras.

Mercury said that part of the improvement came from the inclusion of English born Carlos Telbert, whose father is Vincentian.

The national Under-20 Coach revealed that Telbert’s experience in the English set up helped add some creativity in the midfield.

With the team’s journey in the Under-20 World Cup campaign at an end, Mercury wants to see efforts made by the current Executive of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation to have some of the players get out and garner experience.

He further advanced that the team should be kept together, and could form the nucleus for this country’s sojourn in the 2014 World Cup campaign.

Honduras joins the USA, Honduras and El Salvador in Group A. Group B will consist of hosts Trinidad &Tobago, Mexico, Costa Rica and Canada, with the top two teams from both groups advancing to the U-20 World Cup Finals set for Egypt in September.