Not perfect, but certainly positive.
Three former national footballers of different generations all agree that Trinidad and Tobago’s achievement of advancing out of the group stage of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup is a big achievement, given that the team was eliminated early from 2014 World Cup qualifying and is now in a rebuilding stage.
On Monday night, the Soca Warriors advanced to the quarterfinal stage of the region’s top football competition for the first time in 13 years when beating Honduras 2-0 in Houston, Texas. The victory advanced T&T as the second-placed Group B finishers behind Honduras, who rested a couple of starters after winning opening matches against Haiti and El Salvador.
Clayton Morris, Alvin Corneal and Angus Eve all saw Trinidad and Tobago ‘s win over Honduras as highly positive and a major first step in taking the Soca Warriors back to being one of the better teams in the CONCACAF region.
The Soca Warriors drew their opener 2-2 with El Salvador and dropped a Caribbean derby 0-2 to Haiti, before beating group winners Honduras. The Soca Warriors will now meet CONCACAF giants Mexico from three p.m. (T&T time) on Saturday at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.
“I think our football needed something like this. The country needed it,” stated Eve, who, with 117 appearances, holds the record for the player with the most international caps for T&T. “We have not advanced to the quarterfinal stage since the year 2000.”
Over three preliminary matches, Eve felt that Stoke City striker Kenwyne Jones has given his best ever performance for T&T, and was passing on some of that fight and determination to other players.
“I thought the team show a lot of spirit against Honduras. Even at the times when they were a bit outclassed in the midfield, you saw where the boys never gave up,” Eve said. “Advancing to the quarterfinal is the most important thing for this country’s football. With a new president and general secretary, a quarterfinal appearance is important to this new era in Trinidad and Tobago football.”
Corneal was equally pleased.
“I would not say it was a brilliant performance because I think there is some vulnerability in our defence. But I saw some improvement in us winning the ball in midfield and holding on to it,” the former national player and coach said. “I am very pleased with the victory. But I was very pleased with this team three months ago--they just were not getting warm-up matches. Once we play with the same kind of consistency and show some improvement in certain areas, I would like to think we are capable of also giving a good performance against Mexico.”
Morris, who captained the 1989 Strike Squad, said the performance against Honduras was solid, even though the Central Americans did not field their best possible team.
“It’s a long time I have not seen a national team play with the kind of determination. It was important that we get out of the group stage because it shows that our football has the potential to move forward and maybe in the long run reach the level we have in the past.”