Trinidad and Tobago Striker Stern John is banking on the experience and current form of some the country’s players to provide an edge going into the semi-final stage of the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign.
T&T still has to get past the winner of the first round tie between Bermuda and Cayman Islands which will be played on February 6 and March 26.
The winners will then clash with T&T in a second round home and away tie on June 14/15 and June 21/22. Once through to the semi-final stage. T&T’s campaign then will kick off on August 20. The possible opponents at that stage could be the United States, Cuba and Guatemala.
John, in good form at the moment with five goals in six games for Southampton, is relishing the chance to face the Americans prior to the final round.
“I definitely think we can qualify a second time and the most important thing at the moment is getting things back in order and ensuring we have the best team prepared for the matches,” John told TTFF Media.
“I think we can make it into the semi final round and that’s where things can get tricky because those other three teams will all up be up for it. We know exactly how we have to prepare now with the draw out of the way and I think once the players and the Federation can work together as well as the stakeholders then we can come out of the group and head into the final round. I think both the Federation and the players want to work together for the benefit of the cause which is getting to South Africa and once we can get off on the right foot then we will have things in our own hands.
“If you look back at the last campaign, it took us three games to really get going and we were still able to get through to World Cup even though Russell came in and made an impact and of course we had Dwight as well. But this time around we have seasoned players, men who have played in a World Cup and know what it takes to qualify for a World Cup. We have a fair bunch of players who were in Germany who can do the job still and we have some new talent as well. It’s also a good chance to meet the US earlier on and I think I’ll really like to get a win over them before my playing days are over John added.
Another man who is no stranger to T&T football, English-based coach Ricky Hill, is firm on his belief T&T’s chances are as good as any in CONCACAF.
“Initially Trinidad will be will happy with the Bermuda/Caymans second round game but it’s at the semi-final stage where it seems to get be a little more difficult,” Hill told TTFF Media.
“But with the talent you have in the country and then overseas, I truly expect Trinidad to be one of the two advancing to the final stage and then you take it from there.”
Hill, former head coach of CL Financial San Juan Jabloteh, left Trinidad on Wednesday after being here for a few days looking at local talent for export.
“That’s the idea. Trinidad is a kind of an untapped source of real quality players. OF course now things can be a bit different because they have withdrawn workman’s holiday permit in England and unless you have the caps they you might have to through another European route such as Belgium, Holland or Denmark. They (players_ may have to go through a slower route before they go to England but they should not be disappointed because there is a lot of talent here that can make it,” explained Hill, who is a former Leicester City and Luton Town player and has three appearances for England.
Hill has been keeping tabs on T&T’s UK-based players and added that Kenwyne Jones and Stern John have continued to be a force for their respective clubs
“They are all progressing very well and they are contributing to their sides in a great way. Stern did a great deal for Sunderland and then moved to Southampton. Kenwyne’s form has been excellent and his status is climbing higher and higher and right now he’s in very good form which could see him moving again from Sunderland in due course. Carlos has been unfortunate last couple months but he’s been in fantastic form prior to that,” Hill said.