Sat, Jul


Tobago Sees Red.

Tobago will have their first chance to show what hosting tomorrow evening's crucial 2010 World Cup qualifier between Trinidad and Tobago and Costa Rica means to the Sister Isle and it should make for splendid viewing.
Theophilus Trim, Director of Sport for the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), told the Express yesterday that Tobago are ready to host the "Soca Warriors" and player/coach Russell Latapy and his troops should have visual proof today as the THA urged residents to turn out in red attire.

"There will be a day of red in Tobago (today)," said Trim. "All school children and teachers were asked to wear red as a means of showing support to the national football team. We are asking citizens to do the same and to put the (national) flags on their cars and so on."

The defiant mood in Tobago is already shared by the Warriors.

On Wednesday night, Costa Rica produced a magnificent performance at home to swamp the United States 3-1 in World Cup qualifying action. The result saw the "Ticos" leapfrog the US to first place in the CONCACAF standings with nine points from four matches, while Trinidad and Tobago are bottom of the table with two points from three outings.

But 36-year-old national goalkeeper Clayton Ince, who has a national record of ten World Cup qualifying clean sheets, insisted that tomorrow's clash will not resemble the standings.

"Costa Rica's result (against the United States) could be a mixed one for us," said the England-based custodian. "They might come thinking that they will roll over us because they beat America, whereas we know we have to be at our best because of that result.

"We know we have our job to do and we are fully focused on that."

There was an air of excitement and industry in Bacolet yesterday.

At the Dwight Yorke Stadium, workmen applied the finishing touches on the covered stands and marked the playing field while make-shift bleachers were already in place behind each goalpost and merely awaiting the final inspection. The new stands will increase the ground capacity from 7,500 to 9,000 patrons.

Trim told the Express the new scoreboard was up and the facility was in top condition. The dressing rooms were upgraded, air-condition units were replaced, the lighting was improved and the plumbing and stand-by generator were also tested.

"We are ready," said Trim. "Over time, there will be little issues that arise at any venue but everything has to be done by our stadium manager and the project manager to ensure that things run smoothly tomorrow."

A big screen television in Scarborough will offer a live broadcast of the World Cup qualifier, which is the first staged by Tobago, while pubs across the island are also inviting Tobagonians to come out and add to the atmosphere.

"This is a hugely-important event for Tobago," said Trim. "It is also the first competitive game for Dwight (Yorke) in the stadium named after him."

Yorke, the national captain and T&T's most accomplished player, is one of three Tobagonians in Latapy's 22-man squad, along with playmaker Keon Daniel, who is Trinidad and Tobago's leading scorer in this campaign, and defender Makan Hislop.

The game also marks Latapy's international coaching debut and Ince and company are eager to provide him with a victorious start.

"We all know Latapy as a player," said Ince, "but he has a different role now and we understand that and are looking forward to doing our best for him."

Tobago expect nothing less.
...not taking 'Ticos' for granted
T&T Express reports.

Trinidad and Tobago will have a final training session at 4.30 p.m. today on the eve of their all-important 2010 World Cup Qualifier against Costa Rica at the Dwight Yorke Stadium tomorrow.

Head coach Russell Latapy is expecting the encounter to be a very tactical one and has urged his players to pay particular attention to the calculated style of the Costa Ricans, who will go into the encounter on a high following their convincing 3-1 win over the United States on Wednesday night in San Jose.

"We expect the game to be a very tactical one and we have the respect for Costa Rica because right now they are on top of the group. They have always been a difficult side to break down and the results show that because we have never beaten them in a World Cup qualifier before," Latapy told Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) media officer Shaun Fuentes yesterday.

"Our approach will also have to be sound and good tactically because they will obviously consider themselves favourites in this one," Latapy added.

Sunderland midfielder Carlos Edwards echoed similar sentiments, but he still wants to see the Soca Warriors take the game to the Costa Ricans.

Already, Mexican and Costa Rican media have started arriving on the island. A couple Mexican reporters cleverly checked in unannounced at the Blue Haven Hotel where the Warriors are based and had to be warned about their filming of the T&T contingent on the premises.

Trinidad and Tobago will be off to Mexico for their next qualifier on Wednesday.

In Tobago, the spirit among the T&T faithful has been upbeat, with Trinidadians arriving in their red gear. Even some of Latapy's fans and former teammates from Scotland and Portugal have touched down on the sister isle to support the "Little Magician" and his troops.

"Things are shaping up quite well. Russell has had a fair amount of time for us to come together for such a crucial game and for it to be Russell's first as a manager...things are definitely looking positive," Edwards told Fuentes.

"They are one of the favourites and coming away with a  3-1 win over the USA is a big boost for them. We will have to try our best to get on top of them. We know what we are capable of at this stage."

Looking back at the 0-0 draw with Costa Rica in Port of Spain in 2005, the former Defence Force and Wrexham star says he believes the hosts can end tomorrow's game on a brighter note.

"There's no reason why we shouldn't believe we can do it. We were in a similar position back then and we have to keep level heads. I  will be satisfied with nothing less than a win on Saturday," Edwards stated.

And in light of Steve Bruce's appointment as manager of Sunderland, Edwards said: "Managers and players come and go. It's going to be a new challenge for Steve Bruce and the rest of the players like Kenwyne (Jones) and myself. We've never played under him so we don't know what to expect. But I will hope it's a bright future for Sunderland and myself as a player.

"It was good to survive for a second successive season in the Premiership and we did it in nail-biting style. Hopefully the squad can kick forward from here on. Money has a lot to play in the football, but then it's down to the players to make it happen on the pitch," he said, adding that Dwight Yorke will be missed at the club.

"He's one that will be badly missed because of his experience and the way that he gets on with the rest of the guys. And I'm not saying this as a countryman but because I think all the other players feel that way about him," Edwards concluded.

The Costa Ricans, who arrived yesterday afternoon, are scheduled to train after T&T at the match venue this evening.