Soca Warriors captain Kenwyne Jones says for the team to qualify to the 2018 Fifa World Cup Finals in Russia, a total team effort is needed.
Jones was speaking after he set up three goals in T&T’s 4-0 defeat of Dominican Republic in their Caribbean Football Union Cup Final Group Four qualifier, at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on Wednesday night.
Scoring the goals for T&T were Kevin Molino, with a hat-trick, his second against the same opponents in two matches and Cordell Cato.
The win makes eight-time CFU champions T&T leader among the three teams which also includes Martinique with three points ahead of its final match away to the French-speaking islands tomorrow at Stade Municipal, Pierre-Aliker, Fort-de-France.
Martinique beat Dominican Republic 2-1 on Saturday at the Estadio Panamerican, San Cristobal.
At the end of the three-team series only the winner will qualify to the CFU Cup Finals and the Concacaf Gold Cup set for next year.
Asked about the team’s upcoming campaign in the Concacaf qualifiers against Costa Rica, Mexico, USA, Honduras and Panama, Jones was quick to point out it will be a new experience for most of the team.
“For 99 per cent of the players, playing in the “Hex” will be a first time experience and also a bit of anxiety. We need to work on stuff, we need to get more solid and more discipline in the way we defend. And the way that we have been letting in goals, we need to strengthen our passing game and our attacking and score consistently.
“So yes, I believe the World Cup final round campaign is on our minds at the moment and yes we are anticipating it and we are looking forward to it, but we are also anxious in getting to work and getting things right.”
Jones noted that when T&T qualified for the World Cup, the team also had one of the worst starts and ended up qualifying. “We don’t want to be in that mode any more, seeing that we have made so much progress in this Concacaf region over the last three years.
“We want to be able to start off quickly and positively and try to pick up the maximum points at home against whoever we play and try and pick up points away, because the entire campaign is about strategy.
“Going into places like Mexico, Costa Rica and Honduras are not easy for anybody. These countries are not welcoming as us and it’s a tough battle and I don’t think a lot of the players have experienced that. So it’s going to be a brand new experience and one that is going to take a lot of mental strength from us and we are looking forward to the challenge.”
Jones said it will take a total team effort for T&T to qualify. “It’s not going to take one man to make us qualify as you can tell from the last campaign that we were successful in it was a total team effort, so we are going to have that mindset going through to the “Hex”.”
The hexagonal, ten-match schedule for each of the participating countries, will be played from November through October 2017 at the end of which the top three finishers advance directly to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The fourth-placed team will play an intercontinental home-and-away playoff in November 2017, against a team from the Asian Football Confederation.
Fixtures - Home teams mentioned first.
Matchday 1: Friday, November 11, 2016:
USA vs Mexico, Honduras vs Panama, T&T vs Costa Rica
Matchday 2: Tuesday, November 15, 2016:
Costa Rica vs USA, Panama vs Mexico, Honduras vs T&T
Matchday 3: Friday, March 24, 2017
USA vs Honduras, T&T vs Panama, Mexico vs Costa Rica
Matchday 4: Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Panama vs USA, Honduras vs Costa Rica, T&T vs Mexico
Matchday 5: Wednesday, June 7 or Thursday, June 8, 2017 TBD*
USA vs T&T, Costa Rica vs Panama, Mexico vs Honduras
Matchday 6: Sunday, June 11 or Monday, June 12, 2017, TBD*
Mexico vs USA, Panama vs Honduras, Costa Rica vs T&T
Matchday 7: Friday, Sept. 1, 2017
USA vs Costa Rica, Mexico vs Panama, T&T vs Honduras
Matchday 8: Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017
Honduras vs USA, Panama vs T&T, Costa Rica vs Mexico
Matchday 9: Friday, Oct. 6, 2017
USA vs Panama, Costa Rica vs Honduras, Mexico vs T&T
Matchday 10: (*matches kickoff simultaneously) Friday, Oct. 10, 2017
T&T vs USA, Panama vs Costa Rica, Honduras vs Mexico