That’s how Trinidad and Tobago captain and striker Kenwyne Jones sees today’s encounter with New Zealand, which kicks off at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain at 7.15 p.m.
The “Soca Warriors” are playing their first home match since facing Peru in February--also the first local international for coach Stephen Hart, who assumed the role in June.
After their Gold Cup campaign (T&T reached as far as the quarter-finals) and an OSN Cup outing later (T&T finished third of four teams after beating hosts Saudi Arabia), the team will take the “Hasely Crawford” field looking to give their fans a reason to cheer.
Their other motivation is their tribute to ailing T&T defender Akeem Adams, who suffered a massive heart attack last month and subsequently had his lower left leg removed after suffering necrosis in the limb. (See Page 53)
Jones wants T&T to showcase their improvement in fortunes at home, after debt, a lack of finances and other off the field issues in the last few years threatened to derail national football.
“We’ve been longing for the opportunity to play before a decent crowd at home,” Jones told TTFA (T&T Football Association) Media, ”and especially after the way the team has been playing and showing improvement, we’ve been wanting to run out before the Trinidad and Tobago public.”
The dreadlocked Stoke City striker added: “Of course the game is special because of what took place with Akeem Adams, and the people want to play their part and will hopefully show up in their numbers to extend that support to Akeem and the national team.”
According to Jones, while New Zealand have their own ambitions in the match as they prepare for a World Cup qualification play-off against CONCACAF’s fourth-place team next month, T&T also have their uses for the match.
“The good thing is we had a good seven or eight days to prepare for the game and it helped the new faces that came in. Each day we got better in training and we’re looking to take that into the game.”
Coach Hart had few words on the match, but also a welcome selection headache.
“This is our first home game since February and my first home game with the team,” he said yesterday. “Preparations have gone extremely well. There is a good competition for places, I should say healthy competition for places. In general, the players have made this selection extremely difficult for me, which is a position every coach would like to be in, so I welcome it.”
T&T defender Radanfah Abu Bakr said the home players want to perform in solidarity for Adams.
“We’re hoping for the support of the Trinidad public; as the coach said we haven’t played at home for seven-eight games inclusive of the Gold Cup, so we’re looking forward to playing in front of our home fans and give a special performance, not only for Akeem, but for the public.”
The TTFA advised yesterday that advance tickets will be available only at the ticket office of the Crawford Stadium today, and that the ticket box office opens at 11 a.m.
Children under 12 will be permitted free admission if accompanied by a parent, while secondary school students in uniform can purchase a $50 ticket for the uncovered section. Gates open at five p.m.
“I support Akeem Adams” T-shirts will be on sale at the match venue.
Trinidad and Tobago - Jan-Michael Williams, Marvin Phillips (goalkeepers); Carlyle Mitchell, Justin Hoyte, Aubrey David, Curtis Gonzales, Sheldon Bateau, Mekeil Williams, Radanfah Abu Bakr (defenders); Kevan George, Densill Theobald, Hughtun Hector, Khaleem Hyland, Kevin Molino, Andre Boucaud, Marcus Joseph, Lester Peltier, Ataullah Guerra (midfielders); Willis Plaza, Cordell Cato, Kenwyne Jones (captain), Rundell Winchester (forwards).
New Zealand - Glen Moss, Tamati Williams, Glen Moss (goalkeepers); Andrew Durante, Tony Lochhead, Winston Reid (captain), Tommy Smith, Aaron Scott, Bill Tuiloma, Ivan Vicelich (defenders); Leo Bertos, Jake Butler, Aaron Clapham, Jeremy Christie, Craig Henderson, Cam Howieson, Dan Keat, Michael McGlicnchey, Cole Peverley (midfielders); Kosta Barbarouses, Kris Bright, Jeremy Brokie, Rory Fallon (forwards).
New Zealand confident against ‘strong’ T&T team.
By Kern De Freitas
For New Zealand’s football team, today’s match against Trinidad and Tobago is more than a friendly.
The teams meet from 7.15 p.m. at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain with different purposes in mind. While the visitors are preparing for next month’s qualifying play-off against the fourth-placed CONCACAF team, which is yet to be confirmed, T&T have ailing fellow “Soca Warrior” Akeem Adams on the brain, as well as their quest to win over the local fans.
Those two factors should provide enough motivation for Stephen Hart’s men, and New Zealand coach, Ricki Herbert sees T&T as worthy opponents to give his team their last international test before their play-off.
“It’s a CONCACAF team, it’s a strong team, it’s a chance to travel and fly in a day before and get used to what’s going to happen somewhere in the November window,” Herbert told the media at a pre-match press conference, yesterday, at Trotters Sports Bar, Maraval Road, Port of Spain.
“We saw them playing in Saudi Arabia and they’re a very good side.”
The “All Whites” flew in on Sunday night from a training camp in Los Angeles, USA, for their first trip to the Caribbean, short of some players who either have club commitments or are on the injured list.
“The side will look a little bit different now than how it will look in November,” Herbert admitted, “but I think it gives us a chance to try.”
With a lot at stake, though, Herbert said, the New Zealanders will give their best against T&T.
“The CONCACAF group is very strong,” he acknowledged. “We knew last time we went on to Saudi Arabia, we were undefeated and we played the reigning champions. We’ve come here because we think it will be a tough game for us.
“We’re not looking for any favours tomorrow night (today), and we’ve got things to look at and try ourselves.”
Warriors, Kiwis clash in friendly
By Andrew Gioannetti (Guardian).
Two teams with two different agendas, a rebuilding T&T and World Cup contender New Zealand, will clash in an international friendly, at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port-of-Spain, from 7.15 pm tonight.
T&T, on a high after a third-placed finish at the OSN Cup in Saudi Arabia, last month, as well as a milestone quarterfinal end to the Concacaf Gold Cup, is expected to put on a strong performance against the Kiwis, which has held no secret of its intention of preparing for the fourth-placed finisher in the Concacaf confederation group in a two-match play-off for the 2014 Fifa World Cup.
Two debutants are in for T&T, Cordell Cato of San Jose Earthquakes and Central FC’s Rundel Winchester, while Hughtun Hector returns for the first time in several matches.
On the flip side, two key defenders, Joevin Jones and Daneil Cyrus, both of W Connection have been dropped for an apparent act of indiscipline, raising some concern for the T&T back-line, which has conceded four goals in the last two matches. Leading the Soca Warriors is a seemingly revived Kenwyne Jones, who has five goals in his last six appearances.
Yesterday, at a media briefing at Trotters Sports Bar and Grill, Maraval Road, the New Zealand team, represented by coach Ricki Herbert and skipper Winston Reid of England’s West Ham United echoed similar sentiments on what it aims to achieve with today’s tie, and it is not a draw.
Reid a 25-year-old defender, who plays regularly for West Ham, is among the top players to watch. In terms of goals, however, Rory Fallon a forward of Scottish club St Johnstone, leads the team with three goals in 14 internationals.
Herbert acknowledged the T&T’s rally of support for Akeem Adams, who recently awoke from anesthesia after the removal of the lower part of his left leg, in a procedure described by his doctors as “life-saving” due to poor circulation which resulted from a massive heart attack late last month.
Herbert said his team would aide in whatever way it can. And, as part of the effort, New Zealand’s players have agreed to sport t-shirts printed in support of Adams at a ceremony prior to kickoff.
Speaking on his Concacaf warm-up test today, however, the Kiwi coach said, “We do see Trinidad (and Tobago) as an extremely tough opponent”.
Herbert would have taken notes on the Warriors as New Zealand was also present at the OSN Cup, where it lost 2-0 in the final to the UAE. Tonight’s match will be broadcasted delayed on CNC3 tonight from 10 pm.
Goalkeepers: Jan-Michael Williams, Marvin Phillips.
Defenders: Carlyle Mitchell, Justin Hoyte, Aubrey David, Curtis Gonzales, Sheldon Bateau, Mekeil Williams, Radanfah Abu Bakr.
Midfielders: Kevan George, Densill Theobald, Hughtun Hector, Khaleem Hyland, Kevin Molino, Andre Boucaud, Marcus Joseph, Lester Peltier Ataullah Guerra.
Forwards: Willis Plaza, Cordell Cato, Rundell Winchester, Kenwyne Jones (capt).
New Zealand Squad
Goalkeepers: Glen Moss, Tamati Williams.
Defenders: Andrew Durante, Tony Lochead, Winston Reid (capt), Tommy Smith, Aaron Scott, Bill Tuiloma, Ivan Vicelich.
Midfielders: Leo Bertos, Jake Butler, Aaron Clapham, Jeremy Chistie, Craig Henderson, Cam Howieson, Dan Keat, Michael McGlinchey, Cole Peverley.
Forwards: Kosta Barbarouses, Kris Bright, Jeremy Brockie, Rory Fallon.
SWO to beam todays game live.
Join Soca Warriors Online (SWO) media representatives Omar "Dinho" Romero and Andre Samuel from the Hasely Crawford Stadium as they bring you live coverage of the T&T vs New Zealand match. Click on the LINK at 6:30 pm and get pregame and post-game commentary, as well as live audio updates of the game time action.
SocaWarriors.net forumites attending the game are also welcome to serve as SWO Media Reps. for the Day and are encouraged to post pics and videos of all the action including, tailgate gatherings, the Big Flag, rhythm sections, fans in and out of the stadium, etc.
Let's show Akeem and the rest of the Warriors how the true die-hards support!