Trinidad and Tobago’s senior men’s team will attempt to accomplish another goal in the Caribbean Cup finals, this time to overcome semi-final opponents Martinique and secure a spot in Sunday’s Final when both countries clash in the opening game of a double header at the Antigua Recreation Ground, St John’s from 5pm on Friday.
T&T are already assured US $30,000 for reaching the last four but they have a keen eye on the Caribbean Cup and the winners cheque valued at US$ 100,000. The other two semi-finalists Haiti and Cuba will square off from 7pm,also looking to book a place in Sunday’s Final at the Sir Vivian Richard’s Stadium.
The two losing semi-finalists will meet in the third place playoffs at the same venue. The Runners-up will take home US $75,000 with third and fourth placed teams will take away US $50,000 and US $30,000 respectively.
The team underwent a training session at the match venue on Wednesday evening but will go into Friday’s encounter short of the 20 players after the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) denied the TTFF’s request to add two replacements to the roster with Lester Peltier and Hughtun Hector injured out. Defender Aubrey David is also out on two yellow cards.
Co-head coach Hutson Charles is still optimistic that his team can contest strongly for a place in the final.
“We haven’t completed the tournament as yet. Yes, we’ve qualified for the Gold Cup but we also have an ambition to take home the Cup and so I expect we will go out fighting tomorrow against Martinique,” Charles told TTFF Media.
He had a look at Martinique in their 3-1 win over French Guiana on Wednesday as well as Cuba’s 1-0 win over Jamaica which sent the defending champions packing.
“Martinique are a very organized team and they results have proven that. They are yet to lose a game in this tournament and I expect them to be a tough opponent on the day. But we also will want to prove that we are no pushovers. We will respect them but we will also aim to show what are capabilities are.”
The other co-head coach Jamaal Shabazz believes that T&T will continue to rise further to the occasion.
“This team has proven a lot of people wrong and I think they will want to go on and do even more in this tournament. We have some teething problems. Our roster is not up to full strength but we’ve been through many battles before so this is nothing new to us. We’ve won a major battle already in qualifying for the Gold Cup and now we’ll try to win another one,” Shabazz said.
Martinique has five France-based players in its team and as well as West Ham United’s 34-year-old forward Frederic Piquionne who was granted permission by the club to play in the tournament having not made a start this season for the “Hammers”.
Martinique will no doubt remember T&T’s 1-0 win over them in the 2010 Finals under ex-head coach Russell Latapy. A goal by Hector saw T&T finish the campaign with three points.
At a press conference at the Antigua/Barbuda Football Association office on Thursday morning, CFU President Gordon Derrick announced that the CFU will hold meetings with CONCACAF and FIFA in an attempt to stage future Caribbean Cup Finals within the FIFA international calendar so as to allow countries to access its players than play in the European Leagues.
He also credited the four semi-finalists for their display of football in the tournament.
“I think we have seen some fine football and the four teams that made it through demonstrated that. We saw that it went down to the final minute of two of the games to determine exactly who the last four teams would be.
“And we also saw some surprises with Jamaica not making it and the likes of even Dominican Republic putting on a very good display. Of the four teams we have three that have played in World Cups before and that says a lot for us. We now wish them well and hope that they represent the Caribbean to the fullest at the Concacaf Gold Cup,” Derrick added.