Moran Phillip of Grenada with the ball against Puerto Rico Photo/Haron Forteau

Moran Phillip of Grenada with the ball against Puerto Rico Photo/Haron Forteau

by Michael Bascombe

ST GEORGE’S, June 17, 2015 – Head coach of Grenada Men’s National Senior Football Team, Anthony Modeste credits a workmanlike performance for the team’s victory against Puerto Rico on Tuesday in the second round of the CONCACAF qualifying tournament for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

The “Spice Boyz”, facing elimination following a 1-0 defeat in San Juan last Friday, beat Puerto Rico 2-0 in front of an estimated 3,000 home fans at the converted cricket field.

It was the largest crowd to watch the national team since June 20, 2004 when Grenada played the United States in the return leg of the CONCACAF regional quarter-finals for the 2006 World Cup.

“I thought it was a workmanlike performance. We played extremely well and closed them down a bit in this game and I thought our ball movement was very well executed,” said Modeste, who had to sit out the game because of an expulsion in the first game in San Juan.

The odds were against Grenada and the visitors were threatening from the start and almost shocked the home team in the third minute from a corner kick but an experienced Grenadian defence thwarted the Puerto Ricans’ assault.

The Spice Boyz mounted its own counter offence and despite several chances the team took the advantage from an own goal (Joan Morales Feliciano) in the 34th minute. It came from a cross on the right which Morales attempts to clear but was too much for his custodian, Matthew Sanchez.

Grenada held the halftime lead but by that time goalkeeper Jason Belfon was the emerging hero for the Spice Boyz.

But his exploits were slightly overshadowed in the second half when debutant Jamal Charles headed home a corner kick from Moron Phillip in the 81st minute to seal Grenada’s victory. Charles replaced the 38-year-old Patrick Modeste who was recalled to stabilise the midfield.

“The entire team did its part, even young Ray (Jamal) coming off the bench. Ray didn’t go to Puerto Rico and I spoke him and told him to stay focus because he could be called up,” said Modeste.

“It was a great victory for Grenada. We’ve been starving for a victory and I must say hearts off to the patrons who came out and supported us yesterday.”

“The Patrick Modeste recall was one that was thoroughly thought through. We thought we needed a bit more experience in the middle of the pack. I didn’t say it in any prior interviews because I didn’t want to let the ‘cat out of the bag’. As coaches we expect Puerto Rico to be investigating whether or not we will be bringing in new players,” said Modeste who is the elder brother of Patrick Modeste.

The Grenadian coach praised goalkeeper Belfon for his outstanding performance in the game. “From day one I thought he was excellent as a player and goalkeeper. During all our practice games, Jason showed that he was ready for the challenge and I believe in his ability. He has the potential to go far,” he said.

“Going forward, we definitely will look at the people (players) on the outside and if we can improve the squad with quality, we will look at it. We know we have local based players but adding a little experience, a little professionalism within the squad will be nice for us. But we will not be adding players for adding sake. We will be adding players that will raise the level of the team in going forward,” Modeste asserted.

Grenada was the only victorious Caribbean Football Union (CFU) team in action on Tuesday.

Nicaragua eliminated Suriname 3-1 (4-1); Canada defeated Dominica 4-0 (6-0) and El Salvador stopped St Kitts & Nevis 4-1 (6-3).

Grenada advances to the third round of the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifier, joining Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Curacao, Guatemala, Nicaragua, St Vincent & the Grenadines and El Salvador in another series of home-and-away matches scheduled to take place between August 31 and September 8. Haiti and Jamaica will complete the 12 teams in that round of competition.

The winners advance to the fourth round of the tournament, joining the six top-ranked teams in the Confederation – Costa Rica, Mexico, the United States, Honduras, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago. Those 12 teams will be placed in three round-robin groups, to be played between November 7, 2015 and September 6, 2016, with the top two from each pool advancing to the final round.

The final six teams will face off in the CONCACAF hexagonal, to be played from November 7, 2016 to October 10, 2017. The top three in the group will advance directly to the World Cup with the fourth country taking part in an intercontinental playoff between November 6 and 14, 2017.

Grenada XI: J Belfon, S Phillip, C Langaigne, M Marshall, R George, R Phillip, S Rennie, M Phillip, M Julien, I Smith, P Modeste

Puerto Rico XI: M Sanchez, M Fernandez, A Rivera, D Bozkurt, A Cabrero, H Ramos, J Marrero, J Coca, A Perez, J Morales, C Arrieta

Goals: J Morales (OG, 34th); J Charles (81st)

Referee:

Adrian Skeete

Assistants:

Adrian Goddard

Clifton Garnes

Fourth official:

Trevor Taylor

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