"Let's get ready to rumbleeeeeee!" With the inimitable words of the always resplendent Michael Buffer of Home Box Office (HBO) Sports boxing programmes, the Trinidad and Tobago "Warriors" have only 180 or so minutes separating them from history and maybe even destiny.
They certainly cannot afford to miss this chance of a lifetime!
In another fast sports forum, that of Formula One and Indianapolis 500 motor racing, the main activity to the great race is started with the screamed instruction: "Gentlemen, staaaart your engines!"
For the Warriors, all sinews must, by now, be well oiled, all egos massaged enough, all minds must be focused with the only task at hand. Speed and accuracy are now the main essences for the success that is very necessary.
The Warriors simply must now rumble and tumble, sometimes even grumble, jumble, wobble and fumble, but, come whatever the Bahrainis could offer for those 180 minutes, must not crumble, as they set out for the last double-headed hurdle to the 2006 World Cup.
There is no turning back now, no hiding behind shadows. Come Saturday, all will be revealed.
Whatever happens in two days' time, I am very sure that the country of Trinidad and Tobago will have a tremendously great hang-over come Sunday and even the rest of the next week.
Perhaps for the very first time ever, the brand of "Calypso mentality" for which the people of Trinidad and Tobago are famous will really be in full vogue, both physically and especially mentally.
I expect that many would not even be at work at all this coming week.
Many a "watering hole" would be festooned with the celebrations.
Doctors, if they themselves could be found and be made to be effective, would be giving out sick leave forms as numerously as Pizza Hut and Courts give out discount flyers!
Some, still remembering the pain of both 1974 and 1989, will want to face Saturday November 12 and Wednesday November 16 under the very heavy influence and sedation of some very serious spirits-fictional, Episcopal, and even gold and white-colored liquid, too.
Some, noting the trials and tribulations, those who have had great pains, emotionally and psychologically, over the last few years
of the qualifying period for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, would want to drown their fears and concerns in the "Devil's Brew".
Trinidad and Tobago, two of the most beautiful islands in the southern Windward Islands archipelago, will dance, mambo and even limbo, come what may on Saturday.
The country, every single inhabitant, is just too wound up for anything else.
Red, normally meaning danger, would be worn by all, hoping that the aspect of the colour would fall on the Bahrainis and intimidate them.
With the several rumblings that there have been over the last few weeks from minor earthquakes, one could be forgiven for mistaking the crescendo as the noise erupts when T&T score a goal or win the first game for some onrushing earthquake or even tsunami.
Everyone, of course, hopes that the feeling that transpires from Sunday onwards would be one of euphoria and not be funereal.
Simply, Dwight Yorke, Leo Beenhakker and their charges have no choice.
For Trinidad and Tobago to participate in the 2006 World Cup in Germany, they MUST produce at the right time...on the night.
They MUST beat Bahrain in Port of Spain before undertaking the return leg in Manama on Wednesday.
It is so strange that there is so much noise and interest for the final set of qualifying matches, not to even mention the real finals, which, of course, are still at least six months away.
That is not without precedent. The West Indies cricket team have also experienced such. As a player in the West Indies cricket team for the 1979 Cricket World Cup, I clearly remember the semi-final, not so much the final, for the same exciting element.
Some history is needed here. As returning champions after winning the inaugural 1975 Cricket World Cup, thanks to, especially, Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards, Deryck Murray, Rohan Kanhai and Andy Roberts, the West Indies cricket team of 1979, then including young pups like Joel Garner, Michael Holding, Desmond Haynes and Colin Croft, knew one outstanding fact: The team to beat in the 1979 competition would again be Pakistan, a team, had they had ratings then, that would have been rated just as highly as we were.
Had it not been for Andy Roberts and Deryck Murray, Pakistan would have beaten the West Indies in one semi-final in 1975.
With the team that the Pakistanis had in 1975, it is very possible that, had they beaten the West Indies in that semi-final, they would have beaten the Australians in the final too.
As it was, the West Indies won both the semi-final and the final. Clive Lloyd, as captain, had his finest hour in the final with a majestic century. History does repeat itself. The West Indies cricket team in 1979 also knew that to get to the final of that year's World Cup, again we would have to get through Pakistan.
Again, Pakistan were probably just as good as the West Indies were in 1979. Imran Khan, Majid Khan, Zaheer Abbas, Javed Miandad, Wasim Bari and Asiq Iqbal were some of their stalwarts. Pakistan did have a wonderful, talented cricket team then.
We all knew, in 1979, at the Kennington Oval, in London, that the semi-final against Pakistan was the game to win. We were all quite sure that if we were to win that game, then the West Indies would repeat as 1979 Cricket World Cup champions. No problem!
As expected, it was a real fight, one that allowed the West Indies, as Drew "Bundini" Brown used to tell "The Greatest", Muhammad Ali, to "rumble, young men, rumble!"
We all did exactly that-won every game played and came away as champions again.
Batting first, the West Indies managed a creditable, but not unbeatable 293 from 60 overs.
At one stage, in pursuit of 294, Pakistan were 176-1, with Zaheer and Majid pulverising our bowling everywhere. Both soon fell, to yours truly, and in the end, we won by 43 runs.
The final, against England, was so "easy" that we won by 92 runs!
Now, the Trinidad and Tobago football Warriors, rated at No.53 in the Federation Internationale de Football Associations (FIFA) rankings, will have to beat a comparably-rated team, Bahrain, rated at No.55 in the FIFA rankings, so that their passports could be stamped in Germany in the summer of 2006. Nothing could be simpler.
Another irony is that the Australians are rated between the two protagonists of the games of Saturday and next week Wednesday. They are rated at No.54 in the same FIFA ratings.
With its cricket team, with the indomitable captain Ricky Ponting at the helm, having destroyed the West Indies cricket team's hopes in the First Test in Brisbane, Australia's "Socceroos" would also be playing their final set of football qualifying games.
They will be playing against the much higher-rated Uruguayans, at No.17, on the very same days as the T&T Warriors take on Bahrain.
Somehow, the West Indies and its inhabitants seem not to be able to get the Australians out of their lives!
So, while the West Indies cricket team continue to suffer from the regular beatings that they have had at the hands of the Aussies since 1995, the latest being the loss by the massive 379 runs in the First Test at Brisbane, the Trinidad and Tobago Warriors have a chance to redeem the entire Caribbean at Australia's expense...at least in football.
I very much doubt that Australia will beat Uruguay, but the Warriors should beat Bahrain and end up in Germany next year.
Whatever happens, a great time will have been had by at least all of the supporters by the end of the two-game exercise.
Let us all hope, after Saturday and Wednesday, that the many sets of tears that are sure to flow would be tears of joy, a full redemption of the 1989 situation.
For that to become a reality, the Warriors MUST simply "rumble, young men, rumble!"