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Big moment for tiny Trinidad

DORTMUND, Germany -- A draw never felt so good.

Led by captain Dwight Yorke, Trinidad and Tobago players paraded around the perimeter of the field, saluting their fans and savoring a moment few thought could happen.

Last-minute starter Shaka Hislop turned aside countless chances from heavily favored Sweden, and Yorke provided a steadying influence on a besieged defense to help Trinidad post the first real surprise of this World Cup, a 0-0 draw yesterday.

``This is what football and dreams are all about," Yorke said. ``To come up against a mighty footballing country of Sweden's status and obviously being a tiny country like ours -- it's a massive result for us. Massive."

Despite playing nearly the entire second half a man down, the Soca Warriors never gave in and sent the Swedes trudging off the field in dejection.

As the final whistle blew, the Trinidad players mobbed Hislop in his goal before celebrating with their fans, who had waited years for this game.

The twin-island Caribbean nation with a population of 1.3 million is the smallest country ever to reach the World Cup and needed to beat Bahrain in a playoff just to get here.

``This is like a win for us," forward Cornell Glen said. ``We can finally get some respect from people. You have to earn it and I think we did that today."

Sweden held a decided edge in experience and world-class talent, as well as the one-man advantage after New England Revolution defender Avery John was sent off in the 46th minute. But the Swedes couldn't end their opening-match funk.

Sweden, which has more players on its current squad from the 2002 World Cup than any other team in Germany, is winless in seven opening matches since 1958, with two losses and five ties.

``I'm really disappointed," forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic said. ``We played so well for 90 minutes, created so many chances. Only the goal was missing. But this is only the first game, we have two games left."

Few gave Trinidad any chance against Sweden.

``We are not talking about mathematics, we're talking about football. And in football anything is possible," Trinidad coach Leo Beenhakker said. ``We are very proud of our team. We are the first to recognize that Sweden has more talent than us and had more opportunities to win the match. We have our eyes wide open. But don't blame us that they didn't score a goal."

Fans back in Trinidad burst into tears and danced to the thump-thump of Muslim drummers after the game, with one middle-aged man screaming, ``We just won the World Cup!"

Trinidad and Tobago's next game is Thursday against England, the small country's former colonial ruler. Sweden will play Paraguay Thursday in its second game in Group B.

Beenhakker used a defensive game plan, with Yorke playing back near the goal instead of his usual attacking spot. Trinidad got even more defensive after John was sent off for receiving his second yellow card, both for hard tackles on Christian Wilhelmsson.

But Hislop stepped up with big save after big save, including a sliding stop of Marcus Allback in the 80th minute that left the Swedes totally frustrated.

``It has been a boyhood dream come true. I don't know how to put it into words," Hislop said. ``I got the word just before the game. It worked out quite well actually. Sometimes it's easier that way."

Despite playing with 10 men, Trinidad and Tobago got its best chance of the game when Stern John sent Glen loose down the right side. Glen put a rocket of a shot off the crossbar.

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