Trinidad and Tobago’s senior footballers will touch the playing surface at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey for the first time on Saturday evening when they undergo the official pre-match training session ahead of Sunday’s all-important CONCACAF quarter final clash with Panama.
The team will train twice on Saturday, one in the morning at the Jets training centre and then in the evening at the MetLife which has a capacity of close to 82,000.
The team is brimming with confidence but will not let complacency get in the way of their semi-final ambitions as they seek to overcome the Panamanians, runners up in the 2013 Gold Cup when the lost to the United States.
“Staying focus and ensuring we don’t get carried away is what these next couple days are about and of course preparing in relation to Sunday’s match,” Hart told TTFA Media.
“I think the past is the past now. We achieved a very good result and I was very pleased with the way the team handled the group stage, in particular the game against Mexico but now we have to remember that we are yet to achieve anything. We said before this competition started that our ambition was to get out of the first round and go a step further. Now we need to achieve that and it means keeping our feet on the ground and taking care of business on Sunday,” Hart added.
One of the workhorses in the T&T team is midfielder Kevan George who has forced himself into being a starter and has been a piece of steel in the middle of the park for the “Soca Warriors”.
“He’s been very, very good for us. He’s given us a lot in the three matches and I think his efforts speaks for the rest of the team. We’ve had some very strong and committed performances and this is good for us going forward, especially looking down the road to a rigorous World Cup campaign,” Hart said.
George, who plays for American MLS club Columbus Crew, said he stepped up his preparations coming into the tournament and he believes team unity is the main strength of the current squad.
“The mood is high and everyone is looking forward to the game especially coming off the performance against Mexico. We are very motivated to go on in this tournament.
“I just came in fit, and ready to contribute to the team. I had no major discussions with the coach. I just wanted to compete and see if I could win a starting spot. I’ve started the past three games and I am thankful for that. I am just there to do all the dirty work and help the team progress,” George told TTFA Media on Friday.
“I think the main thing for me is with all the guys, you feel like it’s a family. You don’t get that at the club level or anywhere else so that helps me a lot. From coach Hart, again we haven’t talked about it but I can tell he believes in me and he wants me to do well. It’s rare to find coaches that wants to look out in the best interest of the players over a period of time.”
He believes the key to T&T being able to continue its unbeaten run will be maintaining a strong work ethic and staying together.
“Just stay hungry, stick to the basics. Stick to what we are good at like we’ve been doing in the past three games and just don’t take anything for granted. Panama will come out hungry and I am sure they will think they can beat us.
“Since in Fort Lauderdale, I think the main thing has been team unity. We don’t have much going for us so we have had to go out and get it for ourselves and hopefully everyone else will hop on the bandwagon. All the players are good, all of them can play but I think our unity fuels our heart to go out and play and get the performances,” George added.