Soca Warriors battle to 0-0 draw with Japan
Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Marvin Phillip produced an excellent performance to earn a battling 0-0 draw with Japan in an international friendly on Wednesday at the Toyota Stadium.
Phillip staked his claim for the Gold Cup starting spot, making seven saves, including a string of late interventions to keep Trinidad and Tobago from conceding.
The Warriors also created some nervous moments for the home team through an Alvin Jones free kick in the first half, while Levi Garcia and Nathan Lewis combined to produce further opportunities in the second half.
The goalless draw ended a string of three 1-0 defeats for Trinidad and Tobago, and was the first clean sheet for Dennis Lawrence’s men since September 2018.
In front of a crowd of 38,507 at the Aichi Prefecture venue, Trinidad and Tobago produced the first real chance of the match in the 21st minute.
After a foul committed by Takehiro Tomiyasu, Alvin Jones drove a freekick over the wall to force a brilliant diving stop from goalkeeper Daniel Schmidt.
However, the opportunity only seemed to sting the six-time World Cup finalists into action.
Hiroko Sakai set up an opportunity for Yuya Osako just three minutes later, but his right-footed shot was saved by Phillip.
The Central FC custodian also saved from Shoya Nakajima from a Hidemasa Morita assist in the 34th minute.
Japan thought they had a penalty late in the first half, when Ritsu Doan fell after being challenged in the area.
However, the FC Groningen player was left holding his head in dismay after referee Lei Zhang allowed play to go on.
Hajime Moriyasu’s team hit the woodwork just a few moments later from Nakajima’s freekick, and Phillip made another save in injury time, once again from Morita.
T&T were thankful to go into the half without conceding.
In the second half, Japan turned up the pressure, producing an early opportunity for Nakajima, which was once again turned aside by Phillip.
Trinidad and Tobago carved out an opportunity of their own in the 55th minute, when lone striker Levi Garcia forced a save from Schmidt, from a Nathan Lewis pass.
Immediately from the corner, Kevan George forced another save from Schmidt.
Garcia then returned the favour in the 70th minute, setting up an opportunity for Lewis to force the Japanese shot-stopper into another save.
Japan attacked furiously in the final minutes and three times came close to snatching the winner.
Phillip saved twice from Gaku Shinaski and then gloved a late header from Gen Shoji.
Japan dominated possession in the match, holding the ball 61 % of the time and outshot Trinidad and Tobago 21 to 4.
Trinidad and Tobago have now been held scoreless in their last four international games, but broke their three-match losing streak.
T&T went under by 1-0 margins in their last three internationals to Wales, Iran and Thailand.
The Soca Warriors last international win was a 2-0 victory over United Arab Emirates on the 6th of September 2018.
Trinidad and Tobago travel to Canada for another international friendly on June 10, before departing for the Gold Cup in the USA, where they will face Panama (June 18), USA (June 22) and Guyana (June 26).
T&T team: Marvin Phillip, Alvin Jones (Akeem Humphrey), Carlyle Mitchell (Curtis Gonzales), Daneil Cyrus, Mekeil Williams, Kevan George, Jomal Williams (Judah Garcia), Khaleem Hyland (Neveal Hackshaw), Leston Paul, Nathan Lewis (Karl Muckette), Levi Garcia (Lester Peltier). Unused substitutes: Shahdon Winchester, Adrian Foncette