The lack of quality playmakers within the local circuit has been noted as an area of concern by national men’s football team coach Dennis Lawrence, as he looks to continue the rebuilding phase into 2018.
In their final international match of the year, Trinidad and Tobago played to a 1-1 draw against No.165-ranked Guyana on Tuesday evening, at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva. This was the second time in four days that T&T had to fightback to earn a draw against a fellow Caribbean Football Union (CFU) nation.
On Saturday, T&T rallied from 2-0 down to finish level at 2-2 against No. 157- ranked Grenada, at the aforementioned venue.
During the post-game media conference on Tuesday, Lawrence admitted, “I think sometimes, especially in the midfield area, we don’t seem to have the players yet who are ready to make that creative pass. We now need to start working on finding the midfielders who would be able to hit diagonal passes, switch up plays and find that killer pass.”
Kevin Molino, who was the T&T captain against Grenada, was out of the Guyana fixture with an injury. As a result, Lawrence utilised Levi Garcia – a natural winger – in the playmaker role, a duty that the Dutch-based teenager struggled to adapt to.
About that strategic move, Lawrence said there are other options available to him, “We’ve still got Hashim (Arcia) who came on; we’ve got Molino who was out (vs Guyana); we’ve got (Duane) Muckette who plays with North East (Stars); we’ve got a few.
“But the idea was we had to try and utilise the players in a way to get a result, and Levi fit the bill,” continued the T&T tactician. “He played there for the last 15 minutes in the game against Grenada. He looked like he enjoyed the challenge, so we used him in that position to try and see if we can get something creative on the ball.”
Commenting overall on Tuesday’s match, Lawrence said, “I thought we were a little bit better, especially in the second half. We need to ensure that we concentrate because we can’t be in a game for 90 minutes, we’ve got most of the possession (but) the first time the ball enters your box, you go 1-nil down (and) then you need to fight to come back again.
“The mental strength the boys showed to continue to keep playing, this is which we need to improve on. We had the opportunity to use the entire squad, which was the main thing for me.”
St Ann’s Rangers winger Kathon St Hillaire (against Grenada), Point Fortin Civic FC’s central midfielder Nathaniel Garcia, brother of Levi, and Club Sando’s centre-back Josiah Trimmingham (against Guyana) all made their international debuts over the weekend.
“Josiah did well (on Tuesday), obviously he needs to grow into it,” said Lawrence. “Kathon had the opportunity on Saturday. So I’m pleased (to) have the opportunity to see all these boys. These are the ones that we’re going to try and go forward with.”