National striker Stern John says it’s time for this country to start presenting itself as World competitors. John was speaking on the first day of T&T’s training camp in London as the “Soca Warriors” got ready for Tuesday’s friendly international against Iceland at Loftus Road for which 7,000 tickets had been sold for up till the weekend.
Like his companions, John was eagerly awaiting the chance to take the field in T&T colours for what will officially be the first time a National Team goes into action a World Cup nation.
“I think seeing the way we approach everything certainly gives a feeling that it has a difference to it and it makes you feel good because we are in fact going to the World Cup. We are going to the big stage and it’s definitely a different time as to when we were just the team preparing to play a qualifying match or trying to get to the World Cup. Up until November 16, we were still the T&T team trying to make it,” John told sternjohn.com
“We are a team preparing for the World Cup and it’s a special feeling. The Iceland game is a very important one for us because it gives us a chance to make our mark and show the rest of the world that we are not just going to Germany on a joy ride. People must talk about us when the World Cup is over.
“It’s always nice to see the media following the team and people being curious to find out about us. But this is not time to worry about because we have a World Cup to get ready for.
T&T head coach Leo Beenhakker made the point that while it’s all well and good to be well profiled as the newcomers to the World Cup, the fact is that the smallest ever nation to do so must not just be looked at as some fairy tale team that can be easily walked over.
“We listened to the coach and he’s trying to say that the people don’t really respect us. We have done well and we qualified and we earned that respect but we must keep doing it. No one really knows much about us and some people think we shouldn’t be there but we all worked hard and deserved it as the other teams. We ended up playing more games than any other country and we went down to the wire to achieve this so that alone says something,” added the Coventry City forward.
While there will be the critics throwing obstacles in T&T’s directions, John believes that unity in the team and among the fans and a solid showing at the summer’s event will be exactly what the doctor ordered.
“We need to just stand firm as a team and as a nation and show them that we are there to display our talent and work hard at the same time. We will take each game as if it’s a final like we did in the qualifiers. Back then some people think we wouldn’t qualify even our own home fans and looked what we did in the end. We created history and this is something we could always look back on and use it a way of pushing us to give our best on every stage, not just the football field but in other areas as well,” John added.
“I think with the passion that we have created and have been showing definitely means that we are going to stand our ground but we just don’t want to be saying that. We will have a good time but we are not just going Germany to party or make up numbers. We must show the world that we deserve to be there and that we can do even bigger things,” John ended.
He will now look ahead to an early wake up call and return trip to the Queen’s Park Rangers training ground in Harlington to get ready for Tuesday’s friendly at Loftus Road.