Trinidad and Tobago was down to ten men in the 46th minuteSweden is now winless in seven World Cup opening matches since 1958
DORTMUND: Trinidad and Tobago did more than just show up at the World Cup. Despite playing nearly the entire second half with 10 men, the team played like it belongs on football's biggest stage, earning a 0-0 draw with Sweden in a Group B encounter here on Saturday.
Goalkeeper Shaka Hislop turned aside countless chances from the fancied Swedes, and veteran striker Dwight Yorke provided a steadying influence.
As the final whistle blew, the Trinidad and Tobago players mobbed Hislop in his goal. After the dejected Swedes left the field, Yorke led his teammates to the stands where they applauded their fans who had waited years for this game.
John sent off
Despite a decided edge in experience and talent, as well as the one-man advantage after Avery John was sent off in the 46th minute, Sweden couldn't end its opening-match funk.
Sweden, which has more players on its current squad from the 2002 edition than any other team in Germany, is now winless in seven opening matches since 1958, with two losses and five draws.
Trinidad and Tobago, the twin-island Caribbean nation with a population of 1.3 million, was the smallest country ever to reach the World Cup and needed to beat Bahrain in a playoff just to get here.
The team's next game is on Thursday against its former colonial ruler England. Sweden will play Paraguay in its second game in the group.
Trinidad and Tobago coach Leo Beenhakker used a defensive gameplan with Yorke playing deeper than usual.
The team got even more defensive after John was sent off after receiving his second yellow card in the 46th minute for a foul on Christian Wilhelmsson.
But Hislop stepped up with big save after big save, including a sliding stop off a shot from Marcus Allback in the 80th minute.
Despite playing a man down, Trinidad and Tobago got its best chance when Stern John sprung substitute Cornell Glen loose down the right side. Glen rocketed a shot off the crossbar.
Sweden came right back and Zlatan Ibrahimovic got another chance in front of the net but Hislop made a great reflex save to deflect it out.
Ibrahimovic, Henrik Larsson and Freddie Ljungberg created numerous scoring chances for the Swedes.
But Hislop frustrated the pro-Swedish crowd with his sparkling play and deliberate, time-wasting moves in the second half as it became clear Trinidad would be content with a draw. With starting defender Marvin Andrews sidelined with a strained left knee, Trinidad and Tobago's defence was shaky in the beginning.
But Yorke and Hislop two of the most experienced players on the team did what they needed to deny Sweden. AP