Trinidad and Tobago’s Senior Footballers will attempt to create another piece of history but moreso make their journey to South Africa a bit less bumpy when they take on the United States at the LP Field, Nashville at 7:00pm (8:00 pm TT Time) on Wednesday.
Kick off time is 6:58 pm (7:58pm TT time) with a minute silence before kick off as mark of respect for the African football family and in memory of the persons who lost their lives outside of the stadium in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire on 29 March 2009, ahead of the preliminary competition match in the same competition between Côte d'Ivoire and Malawi.
Captain Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy were members of the squad back then but on Wednesday only one will be eligible to take the field the field while the other can only add moral support in the dressing room before kick off and from the sidelines during the 90 minutes. For him though, this could just be the historic occasion he couldn’t have been an active part of.
“America always seem to be a difficult team to play especially when they are at home,” Yorke told TTFF Media. “But the gap has been closing over the years and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t think we can pull something off here on Wednesday. We need to be positive but we also have to respect America because their record speaks for itself. We need to believe that we can get a result here. We would like to get something from the game and hopefully we can play to our capabilities and go away with something,” Yorke added.
“I’m hugely disappointed to not be involved here on Wednesday but I’m here to support the players and be there in whatever way that I can.
“I’m excited about my return against Costa Rica because at one stage it didn’t look that I would be back until much later in the campaign but things went well for us and I’m really looking forward to being part of the team and involved in the matches again when we come up against Costa Rica and Mexico,” Yorke said.
The last time T&T played Honduras at home in World Cup qualifier was in 2001 when the Central Americans came away 4-2 winners. T&T also traveled to face the USA in Boston three days later and were downed 2-0, a result which virtually crashed their chances of advancing to the South Korea/Japan 2002 World Cup. This time around T&T are in the US, on the heels of a 1-1 draw with Honduras and with two points on the board.
“I remember what took place back then and it was extremely disappointing for all of us. We had lost badly to Honduras and the spirit in the camp was far from encouraging and then we lost to the US. This time though things are in better shape. We feel that we are in a way better position,” said striker Stern John, who was also part of that team in 2001.
Head coach Francisco Maturana is remaining positive even though he knows the odds may be against T&T.
“Everyone will expect the host team – USA to get the victory because they are favourites in the group. But football can bring many different results and if we can be positive and believe in our chances then the result could go our way. We do not expect anything in this game to be easy but we must also not make it easy in any way for them,” Maturana said.
Midfielder Chris Birchall thinks T&T need to frustrate the US from early on.
“Obviously they (USA) will have at the back of their minds that we were the last team to defeat them in a World Cup qualifier So I think they are going to want to come at us and we would need to frustrate them for as long as possible. We need to play well and take some points from this game,” the Brighton man said.
In the 3-0 loss in the semi-final round to the US last year, missing from the T&T team were Kenwyne Jones, Stern John, Clayton Ince, Russell Latapy, Chris Birchall and Khaleem Hyland while Dennis Lawrence and Jason Scotland never made it off the bench, This time all those names are in the squad.
T&T had to bring forward their training from 7pm to 3pm because of an anticipated thunderstorm in Nashville from around 6pm. On Monday night, the team trained at the nearby Trevecca College Ground under slightly chilly conditions.
Tonight the “Warriors” will attempt to let Soca take over in a place dubbed the Music City which is the home home of the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and many major record labels.
Some 1500 T&T red clad T&T fans are expected at the venue to offer their support to Latapy and company. Panama’s Roberto Moreno is the referee for the encounter with his countrymen Daniel Williamson and Carlos Pastrana serving as the assistants.