Trinidad and Tobago out of World Cup
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany (AP) -- Trinidad and Tobago needed a lot to go its way to make the second round of the World Cup.
The Soca Warriors were unable to pull off the most important: getting their first World Cup win.
Brent Sancho headed a ball past his own goalkeeper in the 25th minute and Trinidad and Tobago never recovered, losing 2-0 to Paraguay on Tuesday night in a game it needed to win to have any chance at advancing.
Trinidad came into its final first-round match with slim hopes, needing a victory against already eliminated Paraguay, an England win over Sweden and help on goal differential to make the second round.
None of the three happened as Sweden tied England 2-2 to earn second place in Group B behind the English. After starting its first World Cup appearance with a promising and surprising 0-0 draw against the Swedes, Trinidad and Tobago finished last in the group with only that one point.
"It's a massive disappointment," captain Dwight Yorke said. "I suppose when you see the England score at the end it's different. But we wanted to win the game. We wanted to score a goal at the end of it all. That would have made the whole campaign a huge success."
The biggest problem was the Soca Warriors' inability to score. In fact, the only time a Trinidad player put the ball into the net in three matches it went into the wrong goal.
Nelson Cuevas broke free on a counterattack in the 86th minute to score Paraguay's second goal, providing a bright ending to a disappointing World Cup.
"There is nothing we can do about what happened here in Germany," striker Roque Santa Cruz said. "We were able to win just one game, but we now have to look to the future, work hard and change everything that has to be changed.
"I am glad we had this small joy today. But this was not enough."
Trinidad did its best to generate offense, playing the final 59 minutes with three strikers and giving creative midfielder Russell Latapy his first chance to play in this tournament in the second half.
Latapy created a spark, setting up Dwight Yorke with a good chance outside the penalty box and narrowly missing his shot from nearly the same spot. But Trinidad had only one shot on goal until Latapy's long attempt was easily saved by Aldo Bobadilla in the 79th minute.
"Everybody who was involved with Trinidad and Tobago can be proud," Trinidad coach Leo Beenhakker said. "Before the start of the tournament the only question was if we would lose 6-nil or 8-nil or 5-nil. They did what they could. I don't have any reason at all to blame my players."
It was a fitting break for Paraguay, which never recovered after losing its opener 1-0 to England on an early own-goal by captain Carlos Gamarra. The South Americans then lost 1-0 in the closing minutes to Sweden and were only playing for pride in the final match.
"This victory doesn't mean as much in the way of this World Cup but it does give the young players, who are our future, something to build on," Paraguay coach Anibal Ruiz said.
Paraguay finally got a break in this World Cup in the 25th minute. Roberto Acuna swung in a free kick from the left side that Julio Dos Santos got his head on. Sancho tried to clear it with his own header but instead redirected the ball past Kelvin Jack.
"These things happen probably 50 million times a day in football," Sancho said. "It's unfortunate. I didn't intentionally try to head it in. It just glanced off at the last minute. It was disappointing."
Sancho's dreadlocks played a big role in this World Cup for Trinidad. England's first goal against T&T came when Peter Crouch pulled on one Sancho's dreadlocks to create the space to head in a goal in the 83rd minute. Sancho had a rubber band around his hair this game to help prevent that from happening again, but it could do nothing to stop the own-goal.
Trinidad's desperation showed itself right after the first goal as Beenhakker brought in a third striker in the 31st minute, subbing Kenwyne Jones for defender Avery John.
Paraguay put Trinidad on its heels after the goal and nearly added to its lead in the 36th minute but an apparent score by Denis Caniza was waved off by a late offsides flag. In injury time, Jack made a good save on a header by Nelson Valdez and Densill Theobald cleared a shot by Carlos Paredes off the goal line.
Both goalies were tested early in a matchup of two of the six teams who failed to score in the first two games. Jack made a diving stop in the second minute on a header from Roque Santa Cruz, and Bobadilla answered with his own diving stop on Glen's header about three minutes later.
Jack, who missed the first two games with an injured calf, got the start in place of Shaka Hislop, who played well the first two games.