May 29, 2015
SVG advance in Olympics football qualifiers

A meeting with Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname and host Puerto Rico, June 24 to 28, is the next assignment for the St Vincent and the Grenadines Under-23 men’s football team.

They will head to Group Four of the Olympics qualifiers, after blanking Dominica last Friday and Sunday in a home and “away” tie here at the Arnos Vale Playing Field.{{more}}

After getting past their Windward Islands counterparts 5-0 on aggregate, the local management team is bracing itself for stiffer opposition on their sojourn in Puerto Rico.

“We have to step up, our midfield has to step up and our fitness level has to step up,” commented assistant coach of the Vincentian outfit, Wade Jackson.

Continuing his projections, Jackson added: “We have to take our chances; if we don’t, we will be punished, playing against teams like Trinidad and Suriname, they won’t let us off, they are going to be more clinical….We also have to be more clinical in our attacking third, as our players seem to be very timid…. We have the players who can hold it up in that third of the field.”

Jackson’s evaluation of his team’s efforts was a direct reference to St Vincent and the Grenadines squandering several goal scoring opportunities in both matches.

The host came away a 2-0 winner on Friday, which was their “away” match, as Dominica did not have a suitable venue, as their best facility, Windsor Park, is preparing to host a test match between the West Indies and Australia cricket teams from June 3 to 7.

On Friday, St Vincent and the Grenadines benefitted from an early own goal when Dominica defender and captain Malcolm Joseph guided an intended header past his goalkeeper, Elijah Toulon.

Thereafter, there were forays on the Dominican goal; however, the Vincentian strikers failed to make them count, with as many as four clear chances being muffed, with the usually poised Tevin Slater being the main culprit.

This pattern continued late into the second half, but with Dominica in spurts making it somewhat of a contest.

St Vincent and the Grenadines added the second goal in the 89th minute, when Toulon was deemed to have fouled second half substitute Chavel Cunningham. Team captain on the day, Oalex Anderson, stepped up to convert the penalty.

Anderson (#10) returned on Sunday in his team’s reverse fixture, to be again on the score sheet.

Sporting a blonde hair style, Anderson, who plays for Sounders 2 in the United States Soccer League, made good on a decisive build-up when he collected a ball from Chavel Cunningham in the 18 yards area, to score in the 51st minute.

Tevin Slater (#12) redeemed himself from his miserable Friday when he registered his team’s second goal in the 71st minute.

The lanky Slater showed some of his innate determination when he outran his marker to put the ball past Toulon from a very acute angle.

With the goals coming in 19-minute intervals, Cunningham (#14) rammed up the third from close range in the 90th minute after Toulon failed to hold on to his initial strike.

Reflecting on his team’s efforts, Jackson said, “We would have accomplished about 70 per cent of the total package ….The ground was a foreign ground as it was for the Dominicans….The only home advantage we had was really the crowd.”

Jackson concluded that the size of the Arnos Vale ground and the presence of the cricket pitch in the centre of the field affected his players, especially the midfielders.