T&T cruise into CFU Finals - SVG, Barbados fail to qualify for Jamaica series
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC): Trinidad and Tobago predictably finished unbeaten to cruise into the Finals of the CFU Caribbean Cup, but there was heartbreak for St Vincent and the Grenadines who gave up three goals in the space of 13 minutes against Martinique to crash to defeat in the second round of qualifiers which wrapped up on Sunday.
Playing at home in Port-of-Spain, the Trinidadians got past Antigua and Barbuda 1-0, thanks to a first-half strike by Kevin Molino, as they topped Group Seven with nine points.
However, it was in Group Nine in Guadeloupe where the drama unfolded as SVG seemed en route to the Finals in Jamaica next month, before plunging to a 4-3 defeat.
Playing at the Stade Réné Serge Nabajoth, Cornelius Stewart scored the first of his brace in the 25th minute to put St Vincent ahead, a lead they held until half-time. After the break, however, Guadeloupe hit back through seasoned striker José-Thierry Goron, who equalised in the 56th minute.
SVG were back in front five minutes later through Stewart and when Oalex Anderson scored the third in the 72nd minute, a berth in the Finals seemed assured.
However, Sebastien Cretinoir pulled one back in the 74th minute for Martinique, and with time running out, Julien Faubert scored twice in five minutes as the French side pulled ahead 4-3 in the 86th minute, before holding on for victory.
Martinique finished top of the group with seven points and qualified for the Finals along with Curaçao, who edged hosts Guadeloupe 1-0 to finish second on four points.
In Group Seven, meanwhile, Antigua also qualified for the Final round, despite going down to Trinidad and Tobago.
They finished on four points alongside the Dominican Republic, who beat St Lucia 3-2 in the other game but possessed a superior goal difference.
In Group Eight, Barbados had their hopes of a Finals berth shattered when they crashed to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of French Guiana.
Entering the final series of games needing a win to be sure of advancing, Barbados were undone by goals on either side of half-time from Gilles Fabien and Gabriel Pigree.
Hosts Haiti topped the group with five points after playing to a nil-all draw with St Kitts and Nevis in the other game. French Guiana finished second to earn their spot in the Finals.
The six teams will now be joined by hosts Jamaica and defending champions Cuba in the eight-team Finals set for Montego Bay from November 10-17.