On Saturday 10 June 2006, Trinidad and Tobago held Sweden to a nil-nil draw in the opening encounter for the twin-island Republic in the FIFA World Cup.
While the Swedes were expected to ride roughshod over the little-fancied Trinbagonians, few thought that the latter could have mustered the skill required to earn a draw playing the better part of the second half with 10 footballers.
For over 100 minutes the Caribbean came together in support of the lone regional team at the prestigious FIFA World Cup in Germany, no mean achievement.
Caribbean and the World Cup
The Caribbean has been represented at the World Cup on two previous occasions.
In 1974 Haiti was the first Caribbean team to make it to the World Cup. At the time, many of the staunch supporters of the Game did not readily lend their support to the Haitians largely as a result of the sour taste left in their mouths by the poor officiating in the TnT/Haiti encounter in the CONCACAF Finals.
The Trinbagonians were treated very badly by the match officials who disallowed two of the goals scored against the Haitians. FIFA subsequently banned the officials for life. This was little consolation for a TnT team that many still consider the best ever assembled by that country.
Not surprisingly therefore the Caribbean, already estranged from Haiti for a number of reasons, never rallied behind the Haitians during their 1974 World Cup foray.
Needless to say the Haitians performed poorly.
In 1998, Jamaica became only the second Caribbean team to grace the FIFA World Cup stage. Dubbed the Reggae Boyz, the Jamaicans had the support of the Caribbean. CARICOM suddenly seemed to mean something and we rallied around the Jamaicans.
There was high-profile promotion of the Reggae Boyz and by the time of their first Game at the Cup in France, the world had become more knowledgeable of Jamaica and the Caribbean.