Crosbie's debut ends in heavy loss for islanders

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The Independent Football

Paul Crosbie, the 27-year-old Scottish-born coach of the Turks and Caicos Islands, will need a miraculous performance from his team tomorrow in the second leg of their 2006 World Cup Concacaf preliminary against Haiti to overcome the 5-0 first-leg deficit inflicted on Wednesday night.

Crosbie became the world's youngest international coach when he took up his wide-ranging job as the TCI's technical director last September. His main job is to develop football on the islands and a win against Haiti was never expected. But his playing resources were so stretched - the islands have a population of 25,000, and Crosbie says that only five native, resident adults are good enough for selection - that he ended up fielding himself on Wednesday. He substituted himself after 26 minutes while TCI were only 1-0 behind.

Because of a lack of playing resources, TCI, ranked second-bottom in the world at No 203, are allowed to select players not only with birth ties to the islands but anyone who has lived there. Hence Charlie Cook, who manages Cardiff City Ladies, and Lawrence Harvey, a quantity surveyor from Peterborough, who are both former TCI residents, both played on Wednesday.

The match, which was Crosbie's managerial debut, was staged at the 74,000-seat Orange Bowl in Miami. It was distant both in geography and form from Crosbie's previous post at Wimbledon, where he was a community coach and helped to run the club's website before being made redundant. Tomorrow's game will be played at the Ted Hendricks Stadium in Hialeah, Florida.

Haiti secured their 5-0 aggregate lead with a hat-trick from Johnny Descollines and goals from Jean-Philippe Peguero and Wadson Carriolan. TCI, who were only admitted to world football in 1998, had played only four games before Wednesday. Their best result was a draw with the US Virgin Islands and their worst, to date, an 8-0 defeat by St Kitts & Nevis.