For the right to be the smallest nation represented at the World Cup finals next year, Trinidad & Tobago and Bahrain take their battle half-way across the globe on Wednesday. In fact, both teams flew out immediately after the first leg of their play-off here on Saturday in their mutual desire not to be caught out by fatigue.
But whatever happens in the second leg, it is doubtful whether there will be a goal better than the one from Chris Birchall that salvaged hope for Trinidad & Tobago. Or, indeed, a crowd more partisan or passionate than the full house in the Hasely Crawford Stadium, named after the Olympic 100m gold medallist.
Three-quarters of the 24,991 crowd were in their seats three hours before kick-off. Most were clad in the replica red shirts of their Soca Warriors. But with the kick-off curiously the crowd quietened only to be roused after seven minutes when Port Vale's Birchall let fly from outside the area. Ali Hassan Ali kept that one out as well as another shot from Carlos Edwards.
Bahrain were looking barely up for the challenge. Dwight Yorke then threaded through a pass to Stern John, who shot tamely into the arms of Hasan Ali. It was a miss as bad as the one perpetrated by Husain Ali Ahmed earlier for Bahrain. But Dennis Lawrence and his defensive cohort Marvin Andrews were both out-jumped by Ghuloom Ali when he nodded Mohamed Ahmed Hubail's cross past Kelvin Jack. Trinidad looked down and out but then along came Birchall with a pile driver that flew into the far top corner.
Goals: Isa Ghuloom Ali (72) 0-1, Birchall (76), 1-1.
Trinidad & Tobago (4-4-2): Jack (Dundee); Spann (Yokohama), Andrews (Rangers), Lawrence (Wrexham), John (New England Revolution); Edwards (Luton), Birchall (Port Vale), Yorke (Sydney), Whitley (San Juan Jabloteh); Latapy (Falkirk), John (Derby). Substitutes used: Scotland (St Johnstone) for Latapy 64; Jones (Southampton) for John 81.
Bahrain (4-4-2): Hassan Ali; A Rahman M, Ali Hasan, Mohamed Adnan, Mahmood Jalal;M Ahmed Hubail, Ahmed Salmon, Abdul Rahman; Isa Ghuloom Ali; Yusuf Mohamed;Ali Ahmed Substitutes used: A Ahmed Hubai for Ali Ahmed 45, Hassan Taleb for Yusuf Mohamed 76; Mubarak; Aaish for Isla Ghuloom Ali 90.
Booked: Bahrain: A Rahman M, Ahmed Salmon.
Referee: M Shield (Australia)Reuse content