Tevin Slater is celebrated as he scores against Aruba on home soil. He also came through for his team in the away leg. (IWN photo)

By E. Glenford Prescott

Striker Tevin Slater, known for his lethal finishing in front of goal, may have scored what is possibly up to this point his most important goal for his country, when he converted in the 84th minute in a 1-2 losing result against Aruba Tuesday.

Slater, who was voted the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation’s Footballer of the Year for 2014, came to the rescue of his team after they had fallen behind 0-2 and with the stark possibility of being eliminated from the CONCACAF Zone Russia 2018 World Cup Qualifiers.

The tie stood at that stage at 2-2 after “Vincy Heat” had won the first leg last Friday at the Arnos Vale Sports Complex 2-0. And with the Vincentians under a tremendous amount of pressure and looking at their most vulnerable, the fisherman from South Leeward, delivered what may be equivalent to be five fish and three loaves, with his strike six minutes from time.

The unassuming and languid striker was fed a pass midway in the Aruba half and despite being hustled and badgered by the defender and being quickly closed down by an advancing goalkeeper, he held his shape to chip the ball over the keeper.

It was a goal that was like a feast to a multitude of starving people and was greeted with glee and excusable avarice by those who had sat for almost an hour and a half, their insatiable hunger for success reaching a critical point.

The goal was enough to push “Vincy Heat”, who despite losing the match 1-2, through on a 3-2 aggregate and a place in the next round of the Qualifiers where they would take on the likes of the United States, Trinidad and Tobago and Guatemala in Group C.

The top two teams from each of four groups will advance to the final round of World Cup qualifying.

From those six advancing to the final round, the top three automatically advance to the Russia World Cup, while the fourth enters a similar inter-continental playoff with the fifth placed team from the Asian confederation, which saw Trinidad and Tobago beat Bahrain to qualify for Germany in 2006.

That next round will begin on Nov. 3.

Striker Tevin Slater. (Photo: E. Glenford Prescott)
Striker Tevin Slater. (Photo: E. Glenford Prescott)

Earlier, the hometeam had stunned the Vincentians by going ahead in the 5th minute of play taken when Erik Danso capitalising on some loose play in their defence won the ball and easily beat Winslow McDowall in the SVG goal. The Vincentians, who mystifyingly according to the analysts, had changed up their formation and tactics going into the match, had a few opportunities to draw level but were either denied by some good work by the Aruba custodian or poor shooting.

Their success up to this point powered by their strikers, the visitors coaching then chose to use a solitary striker upfront and “sit and wait” for their opponents. This proved near catastrophic as allowed to come forward at will, the hometeam dominated most of the play.

The teams went into the break with Danso strike the difference.

It became even more problematic for “Vincy Heat” when Danso got his second as he once again benefited from some poor marking by the SVG defence to beat McDowall off the upright. The Vincentians with two goals down and staring the frightening prospects of elimination got a lifeline from Slater, who came through on the crest of a wave in the nick of time.

Reports say the strike was greeted by the loud sound of conch shells and the beating of utensils in the village of Clare Valley and tears flowed from the eyes of his mother, as the community hailed their own in a way that was appreciated by all.

One report said that his mother, when reminded of the regular “cut ass” she had put on him when he sought to play football after school, replied that she had “apologised to him” about that.

On Wednesday, when the team arrived at the E.T. Joshua Airport to a VIP treatment, Slater, bag on back, sought the quietude of a corner and away from the limelight — job completed.

President Venold Coombs, who addressed the players, promised incentives for the team as he had been giving since taking office just under four years ago.

4 replies on “Striker Tevin Slater secures Vincy Heat date with USA”

  1. Excellent job Vincy Heat. In recent years we have seen an upsurge in Vincentian sporting talents, which needs to be harness and nurtured effectively. One such way in which this can be done is through modest investments in the acquisition of artificial turf for those playing fields that cannot grow grass. The advantage of an artificial turf is that it can be bought with the layout for the various sporting disciplines already marked on it. Additionally, it is very stable, durable and versatile, so for example one single artificially turfed playing field can have a soccer pitch, athletic track and a cricket pitch inscribed on it . These turf can be acquire in China for three (3) dollars per square meter, which is the equivalent of three (3) dollars for eleven (11) square feet. It can be easily laid on a base of sifted Rabacca sand. This should not be hard because the government owns Rabacca and we already have all the equipment needed to install this currently in use on the airport.

    The next point in developing our athletes is to look at utilizing a local nutritionist who can help the players eat healthy and develop a proper nutrition plan. Unfortunately, this comes at a very high cost. The government must indeed make some investment through a properly manage program that can support the athletes financially and to be able to live a healthier lifestyle once they have met a certain standard. This, I am sure will help improve their game significantly. Jamaica and Bahamas have done a great job with there athletes, who have gone on to perform excellently abroad.

    Finally, it is not my intention to diminish the ability of our local coaches or technical staffs. I think they have done an excellent job over the years with soccer. However, one area in which we can also help is to expose our coaches and technical staff to overseas training and further academic development. Another such area is to hire an additional highly skilled and qualified technical staff or coach, with international experience to help nurture the talent of our local players. We can perhaps look at South America or Europe for such expertise. The role of the overseas experts would be to work with our local soccer team, coaches and technical staff to improve their game. We should not be afraid to inject outside talent in our game. It can only make us better and improve the game of all involve.

    1. Mr Carr, points well taken. However, your ideas suggest that we have the necessary framework and mindset in Vincyland to implement such ideas.

      Here is thing though, our leaders don’t care about sports in general, so putting down artificial turf is not a priority for those holding the purse string. They rather waste money putting down a billion dollar airport, that would be of little benefit to most Vincentians. If these fools had taken a fraction of that money and put down a turf on “Pastures” or Sion Hill, in the Leeward and the Windward; it would be far more beneficial to many Vincentians, especially the younger ones; the next Messi could be somewhere in Vincyland.

      As for overseas experts, we have gone down that road before, with little or noting to show for all the money we pay to those “experts”. We have more than capable coaches in Vincyland to get our players, especially the young ones, to master the fundamentals. The biggest problem for the national team, is that the players lack the fundamentals and its very difficult to coach old players the fundamentals at the national level…we have to have a program in place where these young players in the school system are expose to coaching on a regular basis, so they get accustom to listening and following instructions. Our senior players don’t have the football acumen, because they were never expose from an early age to follow instructions. Our players play the game for a “sweat” and pick up bad habits and not until they reach to the national level that they these bad habits are identified but with little time to be rectified, If you reach the national level and you are repeatedly over touching and miss controlling the ball, by that time its too late for any meaningful progress.

      Anyway, I have no illusion about our football…this is as far as we will get to qualify for any WC. Our leaders will not invest in sports because its not a priority of theirs and so its left to the share talent, ability and dedication of our sports people to get anywhere, no thanks to those joke leaders we have in Vincyland.

  2. Mr Slater is the Savior of SVG…but really, Vincy Heat just roll stone in Aruba and was lucky to move on.

    Now onto the US, Trinidad and Guatemala…well given the performance of Vincy Heat thus far, it would be a shock if they win any of these games. However, since sports can be a game of glorious uncertainties,let me be a bit more optimistic and patriotic and say that Vincy Heat at least can win two games out of the 6 games that they have to play. I am predicting we beat TNT in Vincyland 2-1…that is as far as I can go out on a limb…beating TNT in their backyard would be a daunting task and given the performance of TNT in the recent GOLD CUP, TNT have a good team, relatively speaking. We beating the US, out of the question; Brazil just put a beating on the US and they lost the GOLD CUP; they are out for blood and I am afraid when they play these games they will be coming to prove their dominance in CONCACAF. The chance of beating beating Guatemala in Guatemala is almost impossible…but Guatemala doesn’t play so well away, ask Antigua, and could be vulnerable in Vincyland…but that is a long shot. I think we might have to put some “SALTS” in the food of these visiting teams to gain some advantage, hey, whatever it takes, right?

    The objective for these games is to get exposure for the players and the country as a whole. We do not have the resources nor the level of play to go anywhere near qualifying for any WC; this is an exercise in damage control and National pride. I cannot fault the players, it is what it is, we play for the “sweat” in Vincyland and that can get us so far. Our Administrators of the game are full of totoo and only good for cussing out people and talking a load of cloth. Our football is going nowhere and will continue to be the case for a long long time. Our leaders are only interesting in the game when we play the big boys and so they jump on the bandwagon and make all sort of empty promises to the players but as soon as we get our arses kicked…they forget about the game and simply move on.

    Congrats Vincy Heat for reaching this stage of the WC qualifiers. Enjoy the sightseeing, bask in the limelight and your five minutes of fame. Hopefully you can conduct yourselves in a manner that all Vincy would be proud of and provide some short lived moments of euphoria for the Vincy people.

    GOOD LUCK VINCY HEAT.

  3. Great comments! I especially like the statements: “Our leaders are only interesting in the game when we play the big boys and so they jump on the bandwagon and make all sort of empty promises to the players but as soon as we get our arses kicked…they forget about the game and simply move on. that the Government is only interested when the team is winning.” and ” Our leaders will not invest in sports because its not a priority of theirs and so its left to the share talent, ability and dedication of our sports people to get anywhere, no thanks to those joke leaders we have in Vincyland”. Sad but true. It says a lot about the skill of the team that they could even reach this far.

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