Trinidad & Tobago – Cuba: 2 - 1
Trinidad & Tobago vs. Cuba promised to be a close game, as the last encounter between the two teams had to be settled by a penalty-stroke competition in the 2006 Final of the CAC (Central American and Caribbean) Games. The first half was played at a very high tempo, with the game flowing from one end to the other, creating spectacular opportunities and defensive saves from both sides.
The Cuban tried to unsettled their opponent with long and high balls, but the T&T defense held strong, anchored as usual by an imperial Kwan Browne. The free hits were played immediately and every ball was contested to the limit, often resulting in impressive tumbles, but half time was reached without any score.
The Cubans took the advantage in the 47th minute when a rapid counter-attack found Yoandi Blanco alone in the circle, leaving no chance to the T&T goal-keeper. But the Trinidadians were not down yet and attacked even more aggressively. They were rewarded by a penalty-corner in the 54th minute, their first of the game, and Kwan Browne made no mistake to slot the equalizer.
There was a possibility that T&T would suffer from the high pace of play at the end of the game, but, surprisingly, it was the Cubans who folded, physically and mentally, allowing Atiba Whittington to score the winning goal after a rare turn-over from the Cuban defense. The Trinidadian even earned a penalty-corner on the final buzzer, but they didn’t really try to convert it, too busy celebrating their historic first win on their Caribbean neighbors.
Argentina – Brazil: 19 - 0
Just as their women’s counterpart the day before, the Brazilian men were no match for the talented Argentinean men, who only had to wait 3 minutes to score their first goal before piling 18 others with an efficient regularity.
This didn’t dissuade the large local crowd from loudly encouraging their team, treating them to wild ovations when they managed to stop an attack or step over the centre line in a counter-attack. To tease the Argentinean players, the Brazilian fans often chanted the name of the football players who scored the goals for Brazil against Argentina in the Final of the South American Cup of football, played the night before and bringing the two countries to a halt.
Argentina seemed decided to score at least 20 goals, and they nearly paid for this futile purpose when their Captain Mario Almada injured his ankle diving to score a final goal in the dying minute…
Chile – USA: 2 - 1
The game started tentatively for both teams, with progressively more initiative on the USA side under the impulsion of Pat Harris. He was rewarded by scoring a penalty-corner in the 9th minute. It was the wake-up call that Chile needed and Pablo Kulhental tied the scoring with a field goal in the 18th minute.
The rest of the half was mostly played between the 25m, with no real deep penetration. Chile tried to input some tempo in the game, but too often rushed their passes, losing the benefit of their effort. They had all the pressure in the final minutes of the half, but half-time was reached on the tied score of 1-1.
The Chileans were awarded a penalty-stroke early in the second half and Ian Koppenberger didn’t miss the opportunity. Nevertheless, Chile could not increase their lead and stayed within reach of the American team, setting the stage for dramatic end of game when USA forced a penalty-corner on the buzzer. Unfortunately, they couldn’t control the ball and missed this last chance.
Canada – Netherlands Antilles: 2 - 0
Canada took immediately control of the game, pushing the Netherlands Antilles deep in their camp; Ravi Kalhon had a chance to open the scoring early, but he waited slightly too long and his shot was deflected. Canada had all the ball possession, while the Dutch players were patiently waiting and keeping their defensive structure. They suddenly decided to push forward and created some difficulties for the Canadian defense with their individual technique and collective plays, but without managing to create any real chances.
Canada controlled the midfield with Rob Short and Scott Sandison. On a combination at the top of the circle, they found Connor Grimes for the first goal. The sky then opened up for a violent tropical downpour that drowned the remainder of the half.
The game was halted with 22 minutes left in the second half, when the field (and indeed the whole stadium!) started to be submerged with water. It restarted after a 40 minute interruption, and Canada was immediately threatening with a “diving” shot from Gabber Singh (never the term of “diving” was better deserved than on this flooded field!). The game was surprisingly good despite the quantity of water on the pitch, but the ball and the players were too slowed down to generate anything dangerous.
Players were understandably upset by the conditions and temper flared on occasions. Canada tried to circulate the ball but the Dutch pressed very high to try and take advantage of the ball slowing down in puddles. On one occasion, Mike Mahood had to come up with a decisive save (his only one of the game) on a ball lost by his defense and quickly exploited by the Dutch.
It is finally with a couple minutes left that Connor Grimes scored a second goal for Canada that let them breathe more easily in the remaining time.
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