Despite his team suffering three successive defeats, National Under 20 captain Leston Paul says he expects Trinidad and Tobago to keep its heads up and battle it out with Brazil’s National Under 20 team when both teams clash in Puerto La Cruz on Sunday.
Paul was speaking following T&T’s 4-0 loss to Paraguay on Wednesday which followed 4-1 and 1-0 losses to Costa Rica and Venezuela in the previous matches. T&T were scheduled to face Venezuela’s “B” team on Friday night.
Luiz Perez opened the scoring on seven minutes and T&T stayed within reach of the World Cup Group A opponents for much of the first half and part of the second but then conceded in the 67th when Jorge Moreira doubled the lead. Federico Santander then made it 3-0 on 73 minutes and Robin Ramírez rounded things off five minutes from the end.
The going has been tough for the Under 20s who are preparing for the upcoming FIFA Under 20 World Championship in Egypt in September and head coach Zoran Vranes, while always hopeful of better results, expects his team to continue to make progress in the lead up to Egypt.
But Paul, also the captain of the National Under 17 team which participated at the FIFA U-17 World Championship in South Korea in 2007, was not too happy with efforts of his teammates and thinks it might be blessing in disguise that the below par displays are happening now rather than close to the World Championship.
“The games have been a very good challenge for us but I’m disappointed because I think we are not playing at our best. The guys are not showing exactly what they are capable of. We have started games well but then it falls apart and our confidence drops. We need to fight for longer periods in the games,” Paul told TTFF Media.
“We know that the games were going to be tough but I think we are better than the scores are saying. Hopefully, like the coach has been saying to us to make sure and fight it out, we can keep our heads up and give a harder challenge to the teams. We concede too easily and whenever we concede a second goal then everything falls down and we end up conceding more without staying in the game.”
Looking ahead to the Brazil encounter, Paul is expecting his players to lift their game. T&T’s Under 20s, in the build up to their appearance at the 1991 FIFA Under 20 World Cup, defeated Brazil’s National Under 20 team 4-2 in a friendly in Port of Spain with the likes of Dwight Yorke, Anthony Sherwood, Angus Eve, Clayton Ince and others in that line up.
“Even if we lose all our games in this tournament before Sunday, I think it’s important that we lift our game and try to put in the best performance against Brazil. It’s always a great opportunity to play a team like Brazil because they are the big ones. It should be a great experience for us and hopefully we can learn from it and also give them a good challenge. We couldn’t have wanted a bigger game than this in the lead up to Egypt,” Paul added.
Brazil top the six-team table winning their three games so far with Costa Rica second on six, same as third placed Paraguay followed by Venezuela’s ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams respectively.
T&T will be without defender Sheldon Bateau who suffered a hamstring injury in the opener against Costa Rica.