T&T's under-17 footballers will face Honduras in the round of 16 tomorrow from 10:00 am with a realistic chance of progressing.
The match comes after a demoralising 5-0 thrashing at the hands of CONCACAF giants Mexico at the IMG Academy in Florida, USA on Sunday, is expected to be a battle for the junior Soca Warriors, national coach Stern John has said in a post-match interview.
John, the country's leading goalscorer of all times, sought to defend his decision to leave out more than five regular players from the starting team against the Mexicans on Sunday, saying in tournament football you have to use your entire bench.
"If we try to use our main players, as they say, you wouldn't want to run them to the ground and get them exhausted. The knock-out stage is more important to us. Get to the knock-out phase, win a couple of games and we can be in the World Cup," John said.
He noted that though it was a difficult loss, his players can only learn from it, ahead of an extremely huge Honduras encounter.
"Coming into that game we knew we had already qualified for the round of 16 and we wanted to freshen up a bit, and give the guys who were playing the majority of games, a bit of rest. Our main thing was to qualify for the second round and we did that. Now we look forward to playing in the knock-out on Wednesday. I think we are really disappointed with the result," John explained.
However, he believed his player did their best. "The guys gave their all and I am proud of them. It was not the result I was looking for but it was a learning experience for the guys, one that they will not forget, so now we can move on from there."
"I think the guys understand what they have to do and they are up to the battle. And the team is really together as the players were really disappointed by the loss." Despite the loss, the junior Soca Warriors advanced as the second place team in Group E, with six points behind group winners Mexico who were unbeaten on nine points.
Also on Wednesday, Jamaica which was third in Group E following their victory over Bermuda will take on El Salvador from 4 pm: Haiti faces the Dominican Republic at 10:00 am: and Mexico will be up against Puerto Rico from 12 noon.