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Jan-Michael Williams vs Guatemala
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For Trinidad & Tobago goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams, the sting of being eliminated from the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup via penalties was more painful than the hamstring strain that kept him out of the Soca Warriors’ last two games in the competition, including that setback to Panama in the quarterfinals.

“The penalty kick loss against Panama still haunts me,” Williams told CONCACAF.com. “It was extremely painful. We really wanted to get into the semifinals.”

Reaching the Gold Cup semifinals for only the second time was Trinidad’s objective. Along the way, there was a thrilling 4-4 draw against Mexico that gave it the Group B title, but Williams still called the Gold Cup “almost a success” for the Caribbean runner-up.

“We had a decent enough tournament playing in a group with Guatemala and Mexico, but we have to push ourselves as a team to be better,” he commented. “Our intention is to be No. 1 or No. 2 in CONCACAF. That’s our goal as a team and a country. It may seem impossible or implausible at the moment, but if you look at our performance, especially against Mexico, we can match any team in CONCACAF.”

Williams suffered a Grade 1 hamstring strain late in the first half of a 2-0 win over Cuba in Trinidad’s second group-stage match. Marvin Phillip replaced him for the remainder of the tournament.

Since then, the 30-year-old veteran has been feverishly working to get back on the field in time for Central FC’s inaugural Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League showdown with the LA Galaxy on Thursday.

Originally, Williams was told he’d be off the field for three weeks, but that timetable would take him right up to that match. As a result, he’s taken matters into his own hands.

“I haven’t gotten the clearance from the doctor to start training yet, but saying that I have started because I’m a bit stubborn sometimes,” Williams noted. “I think I’m doing OK. I’m hoping to be alright for the game.”

It will be another chance for Williams individually, and Trinidad collectively, to show its soccer growth.

“For me personally, I always want to play the highest level of competition there is,” finished Williams, who helped lead Central to the 2015 Caribbean Club Championship title. “I’m playing domestically in Trinidad, so my goal as a player is to always push myself to play the highest level of competition. To qualify for the Champions League is massive.”