It was undoubtedly the best start for a T&T team at a World Cup Qualifying match. An impressive 2-1 victory over Guatemala in their backyard in Guatemala City on Friday night earned the young “Soca Warriors” full three points and the confidence for their next match tomorrow against the USA at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Former national captain Clayton Morris and ex T&T players Brian Williams and Ron La Forest described the result as extraordinary and congratulated coach Stephen Hart.
La Forest said that, for all his life playing football, Guatemala has been the most hostile of the Central American countries.
“They make noises at your hotel, they tap the bus that takes your team to matches and back and basically try to throw you off your game. And for the T&T team to win in the midst of all this was a magnificent achievement,” La Forrest said. He also expressed the view that the players have been responding nicely to coach Hart.
“In fact, the players are not playing for T&T but rather for coach Hart. I think he has a really good thing going with the players and they are really responding to him,” La Forrest noted.
Meanwhile, Morris said he cannot remember a T&T team getting a better start to a World Cup campaign.
“They were playing at a very high tempo which is not a customary thing with T&T teams. In fact, the way they were playing I told myself it was just a matter of time that we would have gotten a goal and we did.”
According to Morris the team also played with a certain level of confidence that was impressive.
“You can see them controlling the ball under pressure and making passes. In defence the defenders were also taking the ball in pressure situations and starting attacks which was great,” Morris explained.
Meanwhile, Morris warned against simple mistakes being made by the defence that he feels will be costly if the team does not work on it now. Morris, the ex T&T captain of the 1989 “Strike Squad”, which came within a point of qualifying for the 1990 World Cup in Italy, is warning that Hart’s men need to spend time working on defending as a unit.
“Individually I think we have great defenders but as a team there is some work to be done. For instance, the goal that we received; there was absolutely no marking and tracking. When the Guatemalan player got through the defence with the ball and went wide of the post, there was no one marking him. He even had the time to pick out a man to pass the ball to while the T&T defence was slow to track back and pick up players in the box,” Morris explained.
Morris, who played as a central defender for the Strike Squad, wants the Soca Warriors to not become complacent by the result but rather use it to go after the US at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in pursuit of a another victory in their second match.
Williams is calling on the T&T players to express themselves a bit more in the home game on Tuesday night at 7.36 pm.
After congratulating Hart for the win Williams made the observation that T&T teams tend to play too cagey when they are in front their own home crowd.
“We saw it against Nicaragua last month and we have had a history of doing this, but I think the time has come for us to build our confidence more when we are at home and go after opposing teams. We need to go after the US team because we will have nothing to lose,” Williams said.
The Trinidad and Tobago team is coming off a series of impressive showings, particularly a 4-4 draw with Concacaf giants Mexico and a 2-1 triumph over Panama in Panama. Williams explained that despite playing away from home on Friday night he always felt that T&T had the edge over their counterparts, as has always been the case for T&T teams.