Trinidad and Tobago's Soca Warriors are rapidly devolving into one of the more fascinating soap operas in world football. In less than a month since he was appointed head coach of T&T, Tom Saintfiet has managed to generate a lot of stories, mostly involving back-and-forth disputes with players. Wired868.com is the place to go to catch up with the Belgian coach's current issues, which include ongoing arguments with Joevin Jones and Daneil Cyrus over the specific reasons both players were summarily dropped from the current squad.
On the pitch, things aren't going much better for Saintfiet or the Soca Warriors. The team's first performances under the new coach were a pair of friendlies in Nicaragua that saw T&T lose to Los Pinoleros for the first time before bouncing back to register a 3-1 win over their hosts.
Those games were preparation for the 2017 Caribbean Cup Fifth-place Playoffs, which got underway on January 4 in Trinidad. Three teams - T&T, Suriname, and Haiti - are competing for the right to be considered the fifth-best team in the Caribbean, which isn't much of a prize but the opportunity to play for a spot in the 2017 Gold Cup is the real incentive to make the best of the tournament.
The winner of the current series in Trinidad will go to play the fifth-best team from the 2017 Copa Centroamericana. The winner of that match gets a lucky-loser spot at Gold Cup.
As they had done in Nicaragua, Saintfiet's Soca Warriors got off to an inauspicious start. T&T is the favorite to win the playoff series, or at least it was until it lost its opening game, 2-1, against Suriname.
Suriname took the lead in the 76th minute...
76' Guno Kwasie's shot is deflected past Foncette and in to the net, Kwasie getting credited with the goal for now, 1-0 Suriname— Caribbean Football (@caribbeanfooty) January 5, 2017
...T&T equalized in the 81st...
Tyrone Charles curls a free kick over the wall and in to the corner, T&T 1 - 1 Suriname— Caribbean Football (@caribbeanfooty) January 5, 2017
...and the match went to extra-time. These games do not allow for ties, so will be settled by penalties if necessary. The shootout was not required on this night: Suriname found a goal in the 109th minute and the Soca Warriors could not conjure another equalizer.
Sub Ivanildo Rozenblad, who was so important in Suriname's victory over Guyana, with the goal, lobbing Foncette who was off his line, 2-1— Caribbean Football (@caribbeanfooty) January 5, 2017
It was reportedly Suriname's first win over T&T in more than 20 years.
The win puts Suriname in position to win the tournament if it can beat Haiti on Friday, January 6. A win for Les Grenadiers in that match at least keeps all three teams interested in the outcome of the Haiti-T&T match on January 8.
Haiti's squad includes the New York Red Bulls' Derrick Etienne (and former RBNY man Andrew Jean-Baptiste). Les Grenadiers have been training in Trinidad for almost two weeks, although players were still arriving in camp as recently as January 3.
Win or lose against Suriname, Etienne and his teammates will be in Trinidad until January 8, when they play T&T. But for that game to have any significance, they must first win on January 6.