Some folks do not even like to call kicking of penalties in a football game to decide the result as a defeat.
Unfortunately, the current law pertaining to the final result of a knockout match, is the only way, hence the reason why coaches and players ought to pay attention to this special skill.
T&T entered this game with much confidence after such a satisfying performance against the might of Mexico.
The slight changes in the starting team brought Daniel Cyrus in to replace Aubrey David, while Abu Bakr returned to Central defense in place of Yohance Mashall.
For the first fifty minutes, the change did not bear relevance to the quality of play during the short period from the start.
Panama decided to pay respect to the new look Warriors, whom they had met some months ago and literally dominated the proceeding in Trinidad.
Their assessment was correct, in that Stephen Hart decided to seek composure and methodical approach in the early stages, where caution must be a major factor as a main ingredient that all teams use in the Knock-out game system.
The from six players appeared to be comfortable with a strong midfield of Kheelem Hyland in the back of Joevin jones, Kevon George, and Cordel Cato, a foursome which set the character of a possession game in the midfield with some smooth transitions to captain Kenwayne Jones and newcomer Kerron Cummings operating as twin strikers.
Panama did not appear dominant, neither did they appear to be in a hurry to attempt speedy attacking methods. They chased the passes used by the warriors as the ball was moved around laterally when there was no pressure, only to make full use of the speedy wingers Jones and Cato. For fifteen minutes, Panama looked uncertain as to how they plan to deal with some challenges to which they had not seen before from T&T. As happens so often in circumstances where a team is gaining in confidence, an awkward slip by Abu bakr, followed by an attempt to correct the error by Sheldon Bateau, his central defending partner. This turned out to be disastrous as bateau’s desperate clearance, bounced off Tejeda, struck Bateau in the face and fell to the feet of Tejeda.
His experience brought clinical accuracy and composure as he quickly realized that Keeper Marvin Phillips was stranded and could not defend against an accurate push of the ball into the net.
My own impression was that the setback would only be temporary, seeing that Panama was not really in the game in the early period.
A series of freekicks and corners went the way of the Warriors, but none making a positive impact on the defense of Panama.
The game was moving towards the half time whistle with T&T still showing that they were capable of taking control of the game. A few half chances were not accepted, mainly through errors in the final passes.
With five minutes to go in the first half, there was relentless pressure put on by the warriors, causing some tough tackles by Panama as a way to offset the attacking mode of their opponents.
My half time observation was that Jones (K) was again enjoying another good game. His placement for crosses was spot on and the services from the defense to him were well supported by Cato on the right, George in the middle and Jones (J) on the left.
It looked awesome but unproductive in the first half and promised better in the second.
It actually was and Panama did not appear to be the force that they had shown previously in their group matches.
Free-kicks and corners entered the fray against Panama when they were defending under pressure and just taking evasive action.
In the end it was a very good match for T&T as it now looks forward to the 2018 World Cup qualification campaign.