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Sweden held to goalless draw

Trinidad and Tobago, making its debut appearance this World Cup, shocked heavily favoured Swedes with 0-0 draw.

india Updated: Jun 11, 2006 00:05 IST

Shaka Hislop, Dwight Yorke and Trinidad and Tobago did more than just show up at the World Cup. Despite playing nearly the entire second half with 10 men, the Soca Warriors played like they belong on soccer's biggest stage, earning a 0-0 draw with Sweden in Group B at the World Cup.

Hislop turned aside countless chances from the heavily favoured Swedes, and Yorke provided a steadying influence. As the final whistle blew, the Trinidad 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.

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 World Cup 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.

Trinidad's next game is Thursday against England, the small country's former colonial ruler. Sweden will play Paraguay next Thursday in its second game in the group. England beat Paraguay 1-0 earlier Saturday.

Trinidad coach Leo Beenhakker used a defensive game plan with Yorke playing deeper than usual. Trinidad got even more defensive after John was sent off for 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 got its best chance of the game 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.

Hislop came through with two key saves late in the first half, deflecting a 25-meter (yard) shot from Wilhelmsson over the crossbar in the 40th minute and making a diving stop off a half-volley shot from Ibrahimovic about two minutes later.

With starting defender Marvin Andrews sidelined with a strained left knee, Trinidad's defense 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.

With Stern John often playing as the lone forward for Trinidad, the Soca Warriors had few chances against Sweden goalkeeper Rami Shaaban, playing for the injured Andreas Isaksson.

First Published: Jun 11, 2006 00:05 IST