TRINIDAD AND Tobago central defender Sheldon Bateau and winger Levi Garcia are both anticipating tough tasks tomorrow when the national football team oppose Costa Rica in a FIFA World Cup Final Round Qualifier at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo.
Both Bateau and Garcia joined the team on Tuesday and engaged in their first training session with the squad later that evening at the Mucurapo facility.
Before the training session got underway, the 25-year-old Bateau, who plays for Krylia Sovetov in the Russian Premier League, said in an interview, “I’m happy to be here as always. This time, (a) different task, different opponents.
I’m excited and ready to work.” With the Final Round qualifiers set to begin tomorrow, Bateau admitted, “we know it’s going to be difficult. It will be my first time playing against Costa Rica but I know what to expect. Mentally, I know the kind of work that I’ll need to do defensively. I’ll try to speak to the players about being disciplined and being ready physically.
We’re ready for the challenge.” On the topic of defending, Bateau was aware of the struggles of Trinidad and Tobago to keep clean sheets this year. But he stressed, “we want to get back to defending as a team and not basically defending four defenders alone. We need to start defending from up front and as an XI. We’re going to be working on the way we defend from the front. We have a few days left still and we’re really going to be working on that.” Since the 2-0 defeat away to Martinique last month, which dented TT ’s hopes of qualifying for the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup, Bateau stated, “I’ve been playing defensive midfield with my team (Krylia Sovetov). I’ve been playing pretty well so my confidence is high, my energy is also high because I have a good level of match fitness. I’m just ready to do a job for the (TT ) team and contribute.” Garcia has also been a regular member of the team since making his debut against St Vincent/ Grenadines in March. “It feels great because it’s always a pleasure being with the national team at the highest level,” said the 18-year-old.
“It feels good to be back.” He is also bracing for the tough road ahead in the Final Round qualifiers. “It’s much stronger (mentality) where you want to go into the game and know that it’s all heart and soul,” he said.
As far as his recent form with Dutch Eredivisie team AZ Alkmaar is concerned, the teenager noted, “it has been good playing a few games since I (went) back, learning something new everyday.” However, he is keeping his feet on the ground, as far as the public’s expectations of him are concerned.
“I take things as they come, no pressure to perform because I know performance will come once you (are) focused. So no pressure, I just do what I have to do.” If selected for tomorrow’s match, Garcia said, “I just want to do as much as it takes for a win. So whatever I have to do on Friday, I will do.”