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Vincy Heat set sights on Mexico

Vincy Heat set sights on Mexico

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The mental and physical capacity of this country’s senior football team will be put to the sternest test next month.
Vincy Heat meets Mexico October 6, in in the high altitude in Central America. The return match is four days later in mid afternoon tropical conditions here. {{more}} The Vincentians then journey to St. Kitts to face the hosts in artificial lighting in St. Kitts, October 13.
The Technical staff will have to show their worth in getting the players up to fitness level to endure the rigours of the crammed fixtures.
Added to this, is the amount of travel required between the matches.
Equally, the players will have to show the commitment needed.
The away match with Mexico was originally set for September 4. However, the Vincentians were grounded, owing to the threat of Hurricane Frances on Florida, while they were en route to Mexico.
It is expected that the Mexican Federation will honour a proposal of US $20,000 to the SVGFF towards travel cost of the October 6 fixture.
CONCACAF’s boss Austin ‘Jack’ Warner communicated this to the local Federation, while the team was stuck in Miami, September 2.
The SVGFF should have had this issue among others, crystallised yesterday, when Caribbean Football Union’s General Secretary met with the local body.
The local players were given two weeks break and are expected to resume training next week when Head Coach Aide Shaw and Technical Director Ces Podd return here.
Both traveled to England soon after St. Vincent and the Grenadines beat St. Kitts last Friday 1-0.
This country recorded its first win at the second round stage of the World Cup Qualifiers after 20 matches.
The local football fans though, did not savour the victory. 4,000 patrons witnessed the match, a relatively disappointing crowd, granted a half holiday was given by government, many left the Arnos Vale Playing Field, dissatisfied. They felt that the lads played below their ability.
It was the first time that the local team had all its professional players available and more was expected.
Malaysian-based striker, Marlon James, however, was on the reserve list. He later confirmed that he had an injury.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ starting eleven showed five changes to that against Trinidad and Tobago August 18.
Goalkeeper Melvin Andrews returned to duties having served his suspension replacing Fitz Bramble. Burton Forde, who was outstanding in the three previous matches, sat out for a greater part of the match, owing to a side strain. This saw a shift in the defence lineup. Brent Samuel took the right back position and Captain Ezra Hendrickson partnered Cornelius Huggins in the Centre, with Wesley Charles completing the barrier.
Midfielder Wesley John, like Andrews, returned after serving a one-match suspension.
Jamal Ballantyne and Randy Pierre replaced Vincent John and Kenlyn Gonsalves, while Renson Haynes got the nod over prolific goal-scorer Shandel Samuel.
A Rodney ‘Chang’ Jack strike in the 23rd minute made the difference in the score-line.
This was Jack’s first goal at this stage, though he has been around since 1992.
The 31-year-old, who plays for Oldham Athletic in the English First Division, received a pass from Renson Haynes in the Kittians’ penalty area, following a surging run from midfielder Randy Pierre.
Anticipating the Assistant Referee on the western side flag for an off side call; the Kittitian defenders were flat-footed. Jack easily got around Goalkeeper Akil Byron, to slot the ball in the back of the net from close range.
This goal came after the Kittitians showed signs of breaching the Vincentians’ defence.
Quick action by Andrews in the 11th minute thwarted striker Ian Lake, who received a back heel from Keith Gumbs. Lake, who plays professionally in Malaysia, shot wide six minutes later with only Andrews to beat.
The Vincentians struggled to string passes together, and while the defence held, only John in the midfield showed creativity and zeal.
The second half continued like the first with the battle sustained in mid field.
Both defences were stretched in the latter part of the match. Gumbs’ 77th minute header shaved the Vincentian cross bar.
Samuel, who replaced Haynes in the 64th minute, made a hash of two chances after outrunning the defence.
A powerful header from Pierre in the 85th minute was miraculously cleared off the line by Daryl Gomez with the Vincentians vigorously appealing.
St.Vincent and the Grenadines came away with the needed boost and the three points. This kept their hopes alive of advancing to the final stage of the CONCACAF Zone.
This country lies second with Mexico, in Group C, but the Mexicans have played one match, disposing of T&T 3-1. Trinidad and Tobago leads with six points from two matches. St. Kitts remain pointless.
The first and second place teams from each of the groups in CONCACAF will advance to the final round.
The three top teams go through to the World Cup in Germany in 2006, while the fourth place will engage in a play off with the Oceania group.

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