Soca Warriors captain, Kenwyne Jones says his team’s 2014 World Cup Concacaf Group B Second Round qualifier away to Guyana on Friday night is as big as when T&T played Bahrain on November 16, 2005.
Back then a second-half header from now retired defender Dennis Lawrence secured a 1-0 away win for T&T in Manama and a 2-1 win on aggregate after the first-leg in T&T ended 1-1 four days earlier to qualify for its first ever FIFA World Cup Finals in Germany 2006.
But in order for the Soca Warriors to continue its quest for a second World Cup appearance, they must avoid losing in Guyana, a place where they have played unbeaten in four previous matches since 1987.
Guyana currently leads the four-team Group B standing with ten points from four matches, one ahead of the Soca Warriors ahead of their clash at Providence Stadium, from 7 pm. Third is Bermuda with four points followed by Barbados without a point.
The winner of the four-team group will advance to the Third Round qualification group which already involves Mexico, Costa Rica and Second Round Group A winner, likely to be El Salvador from which two teams qualify for the six-team Concacaf Final Round qualifiers.
Speaking after an intense two-hour training session at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo yesterday, Jones who missed the previous two matches against Bermuda—a loss and the 4-0 win over Barbados—said, “Its moments like these as a footballer you live for.
“Against Guyana its going to be as big as when we faced Bahrain for me because its a crunch match and we need to go there and get a good result or else it will be the end for us. The Stoke City forward said his thoughts at this time were the same as the rest of the team and technical staff.
“We have two big matches and more so the first encounter on Friday which we see as a must win game. It’s a pressure situation and it’s something we as players have to deal with but we are all looking forward to it at the same time.”
With respect to the Guyana team which has never beaten T&T in 13 previous encounters (10 losses and three draws) and is coached by T&T-born Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA coach, Jamaal Shabazz, Jones said he expects a tough game.
“I’m expecting Guyana to play hard as they have been doing so far during the qualifying campaign and come out and give us a stern test because just like us they want to get to the next round of qualification.”
“But at the same time, we know what the task is ahead and as a team we need to go and impose ourselves from very early and try and win the match. Commenting on the growth of the team since its opening 1-0 win over Bermuda, Jones said he has seen steady progress.
“It’s been a steady process of progress as we have a good group of guys and over the last couple matches some new faces have also been added to the team which is gelling well. “We had a great result in the last match with Barbados (4-0) and we want to push on and impose ourselves early.
Today the local 20-man squad headed by German-born national coach Otto Pfister will depart for Georgetown, from 7.30 am. The Soca Warriors are then expected to train later today in Guyana at a venue to be determined ahead of one session at the match venue on Thursday before Friday’s clash.
Bermuda will host Barbados on Friday and Tuesday in the other remaining matches in the group.
T&T 20-man squad
Marvin Phillip, Jan-Michael Williams, Carlyle Mitchell, Seon Power , Akeem Adams, Andrei Pacheco, Anthony Wolfe, Julius James, Keon Daniel, Osei Telesford, Hughtun Hector, Hayden Tinto, Khaleem Hyland, Lester Peltier, Carlos Edwards, Kendall Jagdeosingh, Kevin Molino, Chris Birchall, Stern John and Kenwyne Jones.