As far as World Cup upsets go, this was one was impressive. With a population of around 1.5million, Trinidad and Tobago are the smallest nation to have ever qualified for the World Cup during this their first attempt. In contrast, Sweden have a population of 10million and a team that spills over with top quality, world class players. The likes of Freddie Ljungberg, Anders Svensson, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrik Larsson meant that the Swedes were expected to take a comfortable victory and an easy three points. Following England’s rather poor 1-0 victory earlier in the day, Sweden should have topped the group by the end of their opening game.
However, even the dismissal of Avery John at the very beginning of the 2nd half couldn’t help Sweden pick up the victory they so craved. The first half seemed to set the tempo for the remainder of the game as the Swedes relentlessly plugged away at Shaka Hislop, the Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper who had been drafted in as a replacement for Kelvin Jack who injured himself on the way to the dressing room following the warm up. Apart from some long-range efforts from the Soca Warriors they appeared to have very little chance of gaining any points from this game.
As is often the way, the sending off of the Trinidadian defender actually helped to bolster the underdogs. Unusually, they decided to substitute an extra striker onto the pitch and the ten-man team went on to brilliantly hold the Swedes for a well-fought point. Excellent saves from the reserve keeper Hislop and defending by all ten men left the Swedes with everything to do in order to secure qualification from the group.
As far as debutants go, Trinidad and Tobago provided plenty to talk about with action of varying different types but, in the end, they took a historic and highly unexpected point away from this game.