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Victory for Team SVG

Victory for Team SVG

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Team SVG proved once again that it is not the size of the country, but the quality of the team work that counts.
Facing Nicaragua – the largest Central American country, with a land area 333 times greater than that of SVG, and a population of 5.2 million, the Vincentians underlined that slogan, which was coined in 1979. {{more}}
St. Vincent and the Grenadines, for the fourth consecutive occasion, have reached the semi-final stage of the World Cup Qualifiers. They did so by downing the visitors 4-1, the first time this country has beaten a Central American country in football.
After settling for a 2-2 tie in Nicaragua one week before, Team SVG made certain that they took command from the first whistle in the return leg last Sunday.
An opening burst by the pacey homesters cramped the more methodical style of the Nicaraguans.
Before the visitors could have settled, Team SVG were one up.
In the 14th minute, a pass with surgical precision from Jamal Ballantyne, found the fast-moving Shandell Samuel lurking in the Nicaragua penalty area.
Samuel with a shimmy, made a deft flick past Sergio Chambarro – the Nicaragua goalkeeper.
One minute later Samuel then afforded Marlon James the compliment, which he made no mistake, powering the ball in the back of the net. The home crowd had hardly settled in their seats after Samuel’s opener when they were once again on their feet cheering the home team’s second goal.
James, who plays professionally in Malaysia, was one of three overseas-based players who were included in Sunday’s return leg. The others were Kendall Velox and Cornelius Huggins. Both made their mark on the match, with Huggins adding stability in the defence.
But the Nicaraguans were not daunted by the two goal deficit and began stringing together passes with
consummate ease.
At the other end, the Vincentians, though, were squandering some golden opportunities as the Nicaragua defence played with lethargy.
Samuel, James, Velox and Wesley Charles were the guilty parties.
The Nicaraguans who made two decisive substitutions, like true insurgents, returned in the second half with a sense of purpose, mounting raids on the Vincentian goal.
A ten-minute period of sustained attacks forced Wesley “Brisco” John to commit a foul.
The Nicaraguan free kick found a flat-footed St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ defence. Emilio Palicios took full advantage and drilled a low shot under an advancing Melvin Andrews in SVG’s goal. This was in the 60th minute.
The fluid movements of the visitors continued as the local lads looked to regroup.
The visitors’ dominance came to an end in the 79th minute when Samuel, who was a handful, scored his second goal of the match.
An unselfish play from veteran forward Alwyn Guy who had replaced James, saw Samuel latching onto a pass, to slide the ball over the goal line.
An own goal in the 86th minute sealed the Vincentian victory. Ballantyne’s intended low cross was parried into the net by Nicaraguan defender Carlos Alonso.
For the second week St. Vincent and Grenadines had key players entering the referee’s book. Dominican Ibrahim Brohim issued yellow cards to Andrews, Velox, James, John, and Captain Ezra Hendrickson.
Andrews and John were also carded in the first leg.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines are now placed in Group C along with Trinidad and Tobago,
St. Kitts and most likely South American giants Mexico.
Although not completed, the Mexico-Dominica tie has not been completed; Mexico is likely to advance having handed a ten-nil drubbing in the first leg.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines will play its first semi-final round match here against southern neighbours Trinidad and Tobago on August 18.
Group A of the semi-finals shows the United States, Jamaica, El Salvador and Panama; Costa Rica, Canada, Guatemala and Honduras are in Group B.
The two top teams in each group will advance to the final round of the CONCACAF Zone.
Three teams will go forth to the finals set for Germany in 2006.

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