With National Senior team head coach Stephen Hart expected to announce his final squad today (Monday) for the March 27th Friendly International against Panama in Couva, the focus is already being placed on this country’s readiness for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup in the United States.
Hart has hinted that his team to face Panama will be made up largely of home-based professionals with a few overseas pros in the mix. This is all in an effort to expand the national pool as the team prepares for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers and the Gold Cup campaign.
Team captain Kenwyne Jones gave his reactions to T&T’s Gold Cup grouping, saying T&T would be pressing for one of the two spots up for grabs for the quarter finals.
“We are happy to be in the Gold Cup again, We have got a decent Group draw and we’ve played these teams before. We’ve been up against them in recent times and we know what they can give, moreso for us having the experience from the squad we had at the last Gold Cup, it should auger well for us. . We may have a few new players but I think our preparations would be good and we will be able to give a good showing at the Gold Cup,” Jones said.
He wants to see T&T aim for a spot in the semi-finals, going a step further than the quarter finals in 2013 where T&T lost 1-0 to Mexico, after defeating Honduras 2-0 in its final group match to advance to the knockout phase.
“I think we will be looking to do better than we did last time. Since that last Gold Cup we’ve been through quite a few growing experiences like the games against Argentina, Iran and the Caribbean Cup. I think the team now has grown stronger. We will be at least looking to get into the quarter finals again and try to get to the semi finals. We have a good bunch and I know this is what the team will aspire towards,” added the Cardiff City forward.
Jones believes T&T’s preparations and appearance at the 2015 Gold Cup will play a significant part in the team’s readiness for the Russia 2018 World Cup qualifiers which commences in November at the semi-final stage for the “Soca Warriors.
“From the time Mr Hart took over the team, we have been building and growing since then with focus on the World Cup campaign. Every game we have played since then counts as experience, no matter who the opponent is. These games coming up will be another step in preparation for us for the World Cup qualifiers because it’s against similar teams we will play in the qualifiers also.
“It’s a long way through the qualifiers and you need a decent group of players, fit and in form, for the qualifiers. It’s also the first time a lot of the players will be playing in World Cup qualifying and every bit of preparation will serve them well,” Jones concluded.
In related news, tickets for the March 27th friendly versus Panama at the Ato Boldon Stadium have been priced at $100. These tickets will be available at Fan Club Movietowne (POS, Trincity Mall, Gulf City Mall), All Out Restaurant (QP Oval), Heritage Sports Tobago, Ramsingh's Sportsworld, Couva, Econo Supermart and Kenny's Sports Shops.