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Shaka HislopFormer National goalkeeper Shaka Hislop has expressed his delight over this country’s qualification for the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

The ex-Newcastle United custodian, now an ESPN football analyst, appeared in two Gold Cups for T&T, in 2002 under Rene Simoes and in 2005 under Leo Beenhakker.

“I am delighted with the team's qualification for the Gold Cup, particularly given the underlying circumstances with the funding, the TTFF, the changes and additions to the coaching staff, and the unavailability of some of the more experienced players,” Hislop told TTFF Media on Thursday.

The 2006 World Cup team member emphasized the importance of T&T reaching the CONCACAF showcase event  particularly after its early exit from the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.

“It is particularly important that the team gets the opportunity to be at such an event and that the players  gets to compete against the best in the region. It allows us to join in the recognition that the other countries in CONCACAF benefit from  when playing in the Gold Cup.”

He hopes this is just the start of a progressive run for T&T.

“The idealist in me sees this as a small but very significant step in regaining our status in the regional and international game. The ability of the game to stand on its own feet, from the Secondary Schools League through to the Pro League and the National Team, is fundamental to our continued achievements.

“The fan in me sees a team that is better than some of its parts, and gives me real hope for the future of our football. Congrats to the Warriors on a well deserved second place finish… no small feat indeed,” Hislop added.

Another one of T&T’s former English-based pros, Stern John, was equally impressed by the team’s qualification for the Gold Cup.

“I know it came down a bit close in the end in terms of us coming out of the group but over the campaign I think the boys did really well. They came from virtually being a team that hardly anyone had belief in  to now winning that belief and attention from a lot of people,” John said.

“I’ve been to the Gold Cup before and I think this will do our guys a lot of good for their exposure to the game on an international level. The Gold Cup gets a lot of attention and it’s a great stage to be on,” John continued.