Trinidad and Tobago will try to reverse the results from their three previous meetings with Saudi Arabia when both countries clash in the playoff for third place at the OSN Cup 2013 at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh from 1145 am (T&T Time) on Monday.
The “Soca Warriors” will be looking to maintain their solid showing from the previous encounter in which they recovered from a three-goal deficit to take the match to penalty kicks against United Arab Emirates which will face New Zealand in the final later on Monday.
“This match gives us another good chance to come together as a team for an international game and to see how well we put things into practice and perspective on the field of play,” head coach Stephen Hart told TTFA Media.
“We had a couple more days to settle in after the first match and with a couple more sessions in, it will be one of those games where we will try to start more positively and we would have known what to expect in terms of the conditions heading into the game itself.”
T&T have played Saudi Arabia three times before, losing 3-2 and 1-0 in 1994 and then 2-1 in Cannes, France in 1998 in a match the Saudi Arabians used as a warm up for the 1998 World Cup.
“We’ve had a chance to look at the Saudi Arabia team in the game against New Zealand and our preparations have been based around the game and the way we want to approach it,” said Hart.
“Of course we are building for our future engagements as well which is centered around the qualification for 2018 so we will try to maximize every opportunity to have a look at the players in our pool and at the same time try to put the best team on the pitch with the intention of finding the right combination,” Hart added.
Hart will however be without the services of left side defender Aubrey David who has been ruled out with an ankle injury while Curtis Gonzales will also miss the match with an ankle problem Both players sat out training on Sunday night as TTFA President Raymond Tim Kee witnessed the session after arriving earlier in the day. He also met with team and staff members at the Holiday Inn Olaya later on Sunday night.
Former Under 17 and Under 20 player Marcus Joseph made his competitive senior debut against the UAE, starting on the left flank while Columbus Crew midfielder Kevan George also made his debut, coming on in the second half.
Hart will be pleased that the likes of Molino and Willis Plaza can provide him with options in attack while Slovak-based winger Lester Peltier was lively in the first match on his first return since the Caribbean Cup in December.
The midfield duo of Ande Boucaud and Khaleem Hyland will no doubt want to perform their roles well while defenders Radanfah Abu Bakr, Justin Hoyte, Sheldon Bateau and Robert Primus will be keen to ensure T&T does not have to come from behind again, at least not by three goals.
Saudi coach, Juan Ramon Lopez Caro said his team prepared well for the tournament and is keen to capture third place.
“We prepared hard for this tournament. It was disappointing to lose the first match to New Zealand but our players are still eager to do well. We will like to play a good match and to win it on Monday.
Trinidad and Tobago did very well to tie the game late (on Thursday) so I expect it to be an exciting game,” said Spanish coach who took over the job from Frank Rijkaard in 2012 after previous managing Real Madrid’s B Team as well as Racing Santander and Celta de Vigo.
T&T skipper Kenwyne Jones is well aware that the hosts will want to finish the tournament with a win.
“Definitely they will want to end the tournament with a victory because they are the host country but we also did not make the trip to just come here and play just for the sake of it.
I think our current bunch of players are ambitious in terms of what they want to achieve in the game and that was demonstrated by the way we fought back to try and avoid the loss in the previous match,” Jones said.
“Every game is an additional cap and experience for us and we are working towards putting the country back into a respectable position on the world football map and a good result on Monday will obviously be boost to that effort,” said the Stoke City man who now has 57 appearances for T&T with ten goals to his name.