T&T’s Senior Men’s team will be looking to pull off their first World Cup qualifying win at home to Honduras when the two teams square off at the Ato Boldon Stadium in what is a must win encounter for the two nations from 8 pm tonight.
In previous World Cup qualifiers between the two in Port-of-Spain, there have been two draws and a victory for the Central Americans. In 1988, both teams drew 0-0 at the Queen’s Park Oval, while in 2009, Khaleem land scored a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw and Honduras’ lone win came in 2001, a 4-2 victory at the Hasley Crawford Stadium. So the change in venue is hopefully going to bring a change in fortune for the hosts.
“Obvious we are hoping that the game being played at the Ato Boldon Stadium will give us a that extra home advantage. The stadium looks to be a good nick and we’ve had a couple good sessions on the surface. We know that history does not favour us but we’ve always had in the back of our minds that we have to write our own history,” said head coach Dennis Lawrence, who was on the field when Honduras won 4-2 in 2001.
“We’ve done our work but we know they have as well and we will have to ensure that we pull out all the stops to get a win,” Lawrence added.
Honduras trained at the Ato Boldon Stadium with their 26-man squad at 9.30 am on Thursday while T&T had use of the facility from 6 pm to 7 pm. The entire T&T playing contingent is fit and match ready, with defender Sheldon Bateau taking part in Thursday’s session.
Honduras head coach Jose Luis Pinto remained in a cautious mood but is not expected to have his side play to the tune of T&T’s rhythm.
“We know it will be a tough game. They are home and they need a result but we are also hoping to be positive and to go into our game after this with something to show for it,” said the Colombian-born coach.
Stern: A win is possible
National team assistant coach Stern John, who scored in the 4-2 loss to Honduras in Port-of-Spain in 2001, but also caused one of the biggest upsets in Honduran football history with his first half winner in Honduras in a 1-0 win in the return match of the 2002 campaign, is expecting T&T to give it everything on Friday.
John’s goal saw Honduras miss out on qualifying for the 2002 World Cup with just a win needed to secure qualification.
“History shows that we can defeat them. It’s a great chance now for the boys to flip the script a bit because our backs are against the wall and Honduras has a good history of playing here in that they have never lost a World Cup qualifier here. But I think once we show up ready to play from the first whistle and we can take it to them and maintain our composure and be solid for 90 minutes with the fans behind us, then there’s no reason why we can’t get three points,” John said.
Bateau ready for coach’s call
Having arrived just Wednesday night from Kazakhstan, defender Sheldon Bateau is not a sure starter in today’s qualifying match. But having settled in and trained with the team on Thursday evening, the former Jabloteh man is up to the call if needed by head coach Dennis Lawrence.
“It was a bit of a challenge getting in here so late but I played a full game for my club on the weekend and I’m on good shape at the moment. I know the boys have been hard at work this week and I’m here to contribute in whatever way necessary. The team always comes first and I’m here to give one hundred percent and more once called upon,” Bateau said.
Tickets will be on sale at the match venue as well as all NLCB Lotto Locations. Parking for patrons will be provided at the nearby National Cricket Centre and patrons are being urged to arrive early.
Gates opens at 5 pm.