Abu Bakr: Hart instills the confidence.

National senior men’s team defender Radanfah Abu Bakr has alluded to the strong influence of head coach Stephen Hart on the recent progress made by the “Soca Warriors”.

Abu Bakr was a regular feature in the T&T team during the recent Concacaf Gold Cup during which the team produced a valiant effort in their impressive run to the quarterfinals where they were eliminated in a penalty shootout defeat to Panama.

Two weeks after the team’s campaign, Abu Bakr is now back in Denmark with his club HB Koge where he has another 18 months left on his contract. 

But while he remains somewhat disappointed that the T&T team did not make it to the final of the competition, he touched on the positives which he believes will lead the team to higher heights during the World Cup qualifying campaign for 2018 which begins in November.

“The squad was considerably younger and less experienced this time around compared to the 2013 Gold Cup. Even some of the guys who’ve been around the national team for a while like Ataulla Guerra, Lester Peltier and Yohance Marshall, were all in their first Gold Cup. That meant that I had to assume more of the tacit responsibilities like keeping the guys focused and motivated,” Abu Bakr said.

“Coach Hart always gives us his confidence and I think this time we turned that confidence into genuine belief in ourselves that we could go far in the tournament. For me that was probably the biggest difference,” said the ex-Caledonia AIA player when asked to comment on Hart’s influence.

“Overall I’m pleased, but at the same time very disappointed that we didn’t go further. The tournament was an invaluable experience, particularly for the many young guys in the squad. Despite not having had the best preparation, we showed that we could compete with the best in the region. We surprised many, and we can be proud of what was achieved. However, that’s in the past now and there’s that recognition that there are aspects of our game that can improve.

“We want to take that momentum into the qualifiers, and continue to build on those performances. We have the Mexico friendly in September, but it’s crucial that we get games on the other FIFA dates. With the right preparation and support, especially from corporate T&T, I’m confident that we will do really well. We just need to take one game at a time, as we did in the Gold Cup, focus on our individual and collective performances, and the results will take care of themselves.”