The Trinidad and Tobago squad cut dejected figures after their 4-1 defeat at the hands of Egypt in the opening match of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2009. Zoran Vranes' men more than held their own against the host nation throughout the first half and refused to be intimidated by the partisan support from the 74,000 fans packed into the Egyptian Army Stadium. The team from the Caribbean came up short after the break, however, shipping three goals and getting off to the worst possible start.
The one thing the Soca Warriors could take consolation from was Jean Luc Rochford's 36th-minute strike that brought the sides level. Perhaps more significantly, though, it was the country's first ever goal at a FIFA U-20 World Cup, having gone through their only previous appearance, in 1991, without getting on the scoresheet.
With the burden of this goalless streak finally lifted, their next target is to garner their first points - and what better time than against Italy in their second Group A match on Tuesday? Another defeat on the other hand would make it almost impossible for them to make it through to the knock-out stage.
Vranes is therefore concentrating solely on Tuesday's match at the Cairo International Stadium. "It will obviously be tough," the coach told FIFA.com, "but there are no easy matches at a tournament like this. We'll be doing our utmost to get a result. We watched the Italy-Paraguay match and will set our stall out accordingly. My players are working very hard and will be giving it their all in the hope of getting something out of the next two matches."
Goalscorer Rochford will certainly be giving it his all, and is fully aware of the significance of his strike against Egypt. "Scoring a goal at a tournament like this, against the host nation as well, was a great feeling. It's tough to put it into words. I dedicate my goal to my family and of course to all the fans back home," said the 18-year-old, who is looking forward to crossing swords with a team that reached the final of the 2008 UEFA U-19 Championship.
"The Italy match will be make or break for us. We know they're one of the biggest names in world football and we respect that, but at the same time we're confident in our own abilities and we're going to try to show what we're made of against them," a confident Rochford told FIFA.com. "We'll be looking to put the defeat to Egypt behind us and the upcoming match against Italy is our first opportunity to do just that."
The Soca Warriors will have a healthy respect for their opponents therefore, but no fear, as Rochford's fellow midfielder Khaleem Hyland explains. "I'm really looking forward to this match. We need to think positive because when you think about it, it's just 11 against 11."