The Turks and Caicos Islands suffered a setback to their Concacaf Men’s Nations League campaign after being beaten 1-4 at home by Bonaire in their Group C opener on Friday.
The win was courtesy of a hattrick by midfielder Ayrton Cicilia and a single strike from substitute Jonathan Libania. The TCI consolation goal was scored by substitute Karl Shand Jr.
Bonaire began threatening the TCI goal from as early as the third minute when custodian Pendieno Brooks was forced to pull off a spectacular safe from a Guillermo Montero piledriver, after capitalizing on a defensive fumble.
However, the Turks and Caicos created early chances as well, chief among them was a clear header by Billy Forbes, which agonizingly drifted wide of the target from close range, with the Bonaire goalkeeper, Jonas Lafeber, woefully out of the position.
A minute later Bonaire got the go-head goal, when Cicilia dispossessed a TCI defender and shot to Brooks’ left in the corner of the net.
Two minutes later, the TCI got the chance to level, when their number 10 player Lenford Singh headed wide from inside the box. In the 10th minute, Forbes saw his goal-bound shot spectacularly parried for a corner by Lafeber.
In the 16th minute, Bonaire doubled the lead when Cicilia headed into an empty net from a left-sided by cross by Richajier Oleana, which left an advancing Brooks in no-man’s land. Cicilia could have sealed his hattick in the 23rd minute, when he painfully saw his close-range shot sail over the crossbar.
The TCI came close to cutting the lead, but Callum Park saw his shot brilliantly turned around the post for a corner by Lefeber in the 26th minute. A minute later the TCI got another glorious opportunity to disturb the scorekeepers, but forward Makenson Cadet shot wide for the target from deep within the box.
Forbes, again, got another good chance to put the TCI on the scoresheet in the 29th minute, but with Lefeber at his mercy, shot over the crossbar from inside the box. A minute later he headed wide of the target from close range.
The TCI could consider themselves unlucky not to have been awarded a penalty, when a goal-bound Forbes was hauled down in the box by a defender, but to his dismay, Antiguan referee Ken Pennyfeather waved off the vociferous appeal.
TCI, again, almost pulled one back before the break, when Forbes saw his shot from long range, fly over the crossbar.
At the 44th minute mark, there was another loud shout for a penalty from the Turks and Caicos Players, when Forbes again appeared to have been pulled down in the box as he made a goal advance. However, Referee Pennyfeather ruled the tackle legal. Forbes’ prolonged appeal to one of the referee’s assistants earned him a booking.
Bonaire went three-up in the encounter with five minutes gone in the second half after Libania, who collected a pass out of midfield, dispossessed his attackers and shot right, past an advancing Brooks.
Substitute Corey Williams, from his introduction to the field, began to pose problems for the Bonaire defenders, with his menacing right-sided crosses, one of which, in the 60th minute, destined for the head of Billy Forbes, headed from danger in the nick of time by a scrambling defender.
Brooks, again, was called upon in the 70th minute to pull off another daring save from a ferocious Joran Knot right-footer.
But 12 minutes before regulation time, Cicilia completed his hat-trick when he slipped the ball under Brooks's sprawling body, after leaving a couple of TCI defenders in his wake.
The TCI came close to scoring again, when in the 83rd minute, Forbes’ freekick courtesy of a foul against him, was parried for a corner by Lefeber.
The TCI finally got the consolation goal when Shand kicked wide of the Bonaire goalkeeper from a Billy Forbes’ left-sided cross.
The Turks and Caicos will now turn their attention to the US Virgin Islands, who they will face on Monday, June 6 in the USVI. The USVI drew 1-1 with Sint Martin on Friday.