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Team can win on Sunday-Ezra

Team can win on Sunday-Ezra

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St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Senior Football team, go into this Sunday’s return- leg elimination match against Nicaragua here, with a record to defend.
In three previous World Cup outings they reached the group stages in 1992, 1996 and 2000.{{more}}
This time around, the home team, having scored two away goals, have a slight cushion, but they must improve on home turf to ward off the Nicaraguans.
The Central Americans’ short passing and nifty movement in the midfield have to be counteracted by the local lads.
Both teams played to a 2-2 tie in Nicaragua last Sunday. Playing at the Cacique Diriangen Stadium in front of 8000 screaming Nicaraguans, the visitor’s came away with their first draw after seven previous outings in Central America, which they all lost.
It was St. Vincent and the Grenadines who drew first blood. A clearance from the defence picked out the fast moving Shandell Samuel who outran the Nicaraguans to the ball. He then made a pin-point cross to Renson Haynes, who tapped the ball past Sergio Chamarro in the Nicaraguan goal.
Haynes’ tenth minute strike numbed the crowd into dead silence. This was a stunned crowd which had half-filled the Stadium from about midday, and had earlier been deafening with their loud shouts, drums, firecrackers et al.
But the midfield of Nicaragua responded well. The combination of Emilio Palacios (No 10) and Denis Rocha (No 12) kept the Vincentians on the defensive constantly. The four-man defence team of Brent Samuel – who was making his debut on Central American soil even though he toured there before- Captain Ezra Hendrickson, Burton Forde and Wesley Charles did well, absorbing the pressure.
Palacios pounced on a through ball in the 38th minute, with the Vincentian defence calling for the Assistant Referee’s flag for an offside. This never came. Instead Palacios slotted the ball into the net, past an advancing Melvin Andrews.
This sent the Nicaraguan crowd into a frenzy. But before they could have savoured the goal, Samuel responded and put the visitors ahead.
Receiving a crisp pass from Wesley John, Samuel turned Carlos Alonso inside out, then calmly put the ball in the back of the net. This put the Vincentians into the ascendancy and closed the first period 2-1.
But it was mainly Nicaragua in the second half, as forays were made on the Vincentians’ goal. Rocha shot wide in the 47th and 59th minutes, as the Nicaraguans searched for the equalizer.
An injury to Brent Samuel saw a readjustment in the defence, with John taking up the right back position as Samuel was substituted.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines though, could have made good on the two opportunities against the run of play, but failed to capitalize as the Nicaraguans were short at the back. A free kick given to Nicaragua in the 81st minute, much to the amazement of the Vincentians, resulted in Rudel Calero putting the ball over the goal line which Andrews failed to grasp.
The raucous Nicaraguan support engulfed the Stadium, but the SVG defence held tight until the final whistle, but not without a few more anxious moments.
The 95 minutes of gruelling, entertaining football saw team SVG picking up four yellow cards. These were dished out to Andrews, John, Charles and Forde.
Team SVG captain Ezra Hendrickson, sees this Sunday as the ‘second half with the scores tied 0-0’. Hendrickson, who plays for the Dallas Burn in the US Major League, is not resting on the team’s two away-goal advantage, neither is he banking on a 0-0 or 1-1 tie.
Either of these results will see Team SVG through to the next round. The lanky defender believes that his team can win on Sunday.
Last Sunday’s Starting line-ups: SVG: Melvin Andrews, Brent Samuel, Burton Forde, Ezra Hendrickson, Wesley John, Wesley Charles, Kenlyn Gonsalves, Tyrone Prince, Shandell Samuel, Benford Joseph, Renson Haynes.
Nicaragua: Sergio Chamborro, David Solorzano, Heud Quintanilla, Carlos Alonso, Jaime Ruiz, Sergio Ivan Rodriguez, Tyron Acevedo, Franklyn Lopez, Rudel Calero, Emilio Palacios, Denis Rocha.

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