Cuba opened the Digicel Caribbean Cup Finals here in Martinique in fine style by beating Trinidad and Tobago 2-0.
After comprehensively wining Group F, 2006 Digicel champions Trinidad and Tobago started brightly and after a well rehearsed short corner routine Keon Daniel worked his way to the edge of the Cuban box and smashed his shot across the goal and just wide.
Cuba then took the game to the Caribbean heavyweights and passed the ball with purpose, looking dangerous as they swept forward. Duarte Pla had managed to impress enough to keep his starting place in the Cuban team and was keen to justify his selection as he led the line well causing considerable trouble to Kern Cupid at the heart of the Trinidad defence..
It was the impressive midfield general and Captain Jaine Valencia who opened the scoring between these two giants when the ball broke kindly for him on the edge of the box and he smashed it past a flying Williams from 18 yards on the half volley to put the Cubans one up.
Rather than the expected immediate fightback the growing crowd expected, it was the Cubans who continued to dominate and looked more likely to increase their lead as the half wore on with Duarte Pla and Campanioni a constant thorn in the side of the Trinidad defence.
Half time saw coach Latapy ring out the changes as Cyrus and Gay came on to add more potency to the Soca Warriors attack.
The changes however seemed to have little effect as the Cubans steamrolled over the Soca boys in midfield and only for a previous infringement that ruled out a second goal for Cuba, things could have been a lot worse.
The game ebbed and flowed and two decisive changes from Cuban coach Triana paid dividends after only two minutes when the substitutes combined to score Cuba’s second and move the game beyond the reach of Trinidad.
After some neat build up play from the back, a lacklustre Trinidad defense was found missing when Balmaseda broke free and when left with a one on one with the keeper selflessly squared for Salor, whose initial shot, although blocked on the line by a retreating defender, was happily smashed into the roof of the net by a jubilant Balmaseda on the rebound.
Things turned from bad to worse for Trinidad after that as Peltier was given a straight red for an off the ball incident spotted by the watchful eye of the assistant referee Venton Mars.
With Cuban centre half Molina eating up any attempt of a Trinidad fightback, the Cubans were content to take the little that Soca Warriors had to offer and see out their opening Digicel Cup Finals game with a win.
For the Soca Warriors it would not have been the start they wanted or that their under pressure coach Latapy would have wished for but with the team looking less impressive and void of any real ideas in going forward, one worries for their future ambitions in the tournament.
The Digicel Cup Finals will be played from November 26 through to December 5 in Martinique with live television broadcast worldwide courtesy of Digicel as well as live radio coverage.