Trinidad and Tobago got off to a good start in its World Cup debut, holding heavily favored Sweden to a surprising scoreless draw.
The stadium here in Dortmund seats 65,000 fans and Swedish yellow shirts in the stands far outnumbered the red of Trinidad and Tobago. The loud cheering from the Swedish sections could have been intimidating for a team that had never before played in a World Cup, but Trinidad and Tobago stood up under the pressure.
And what pressure it was, as the Swedes dominated play, taking 18 shots to six for Trinidad and Tobago, and taking eight corner kicks to only one for the Trinidad and Tobago.
But what was even more impressive was Trinidad and Tobago keeping Sweden off the scoreboard while playing nearly the entire second half a man down.
Defenseman Avery John picked up his second yellow card in the first minute after the intermission and was expelled. But his teammates, especi?ally goalkeeper Shaka Hislop, rose to the occasion and gained a hard-earned point in Group-B with a scoreless draw.
Dutchman Leo Beenhakker is Trinidad and Tobago's coach and said he was very proud of his team's effort. "We are the first guys to recognize that Sweden has more talent, that Sweden had more possibilities to win the match. In that way we have our eyes wide open. Don't blame us that they didn't score a goal," he said.
Thirty-five year old Trinidadian captain Dwight Yorke (york) was named Man of the Match. "It's a historical moment for our people, for our country, and certainly for the people who came out and supported us. We're underdogs here and quite rightly so because we're a very small nation as everyone knows. But we showed a lot of heart today. And even though it was always going to be difficult with 11 men, let along 19 men, and we showed a lot of courage and determination," he said.
While many of the Swedish fans sat stunned in their seats after the final whistle, the Trinidad and Tobago supporters celebrated. But Christian Rooks said during the match the underdogs at times felt a bit uneasy. "It was kind of frightening among so many Swedish people, and there was so little bit of Trinidadians. I was afraid I might get trampled or so," he said.
But his friend Troy Sulliman said, nevertheless, it was great to be there for their nation's first-ever World Cup match. "One of the best feelings of my life," he said. "I mean I just felt the adrenaline pumping, you know. It was absolutely brilliant just to see everybody here supporting Trinidad. And I hope we score a goal against England."
In the other World Cup Group-B match played earlier Saturday, England edged Paraguay in Frankfurt, 1-0.