Wed, Aug

U-20 coach pleads ‘keep this team together’

Trinidad and Tobago’s Men’s Under 20 Team surrendered their World Cup qualifying aspirations as they succumbed to a 1-0 defeat to the United States in their final Group A encounter at the Concacaf Championship in Montego Bay on Wednesday evening.

T&T, with the loss, finished fourth on the six-team table ahead of hosts Jamaica (2 points) and Aruba (1) with Panama topping the table followed by United States and Guatemala. The two latter teams will advance to the playoff to fight for the two remaining spots for the FIFA Under 20 World Cup in New Zealand. Panama and Mexico have qualified by virtue of topping the groups.

The winner for the US came from Bradford Jamieson in the 78th minute, soon after TT threatened to break the deadlock on a couple occasions.

Neveal Hackshaw had earlier kept USA from going ahead when he cleared off the line in the 49th. Duane Muckette had a close shave from Matthew Woo Ling’s free-kick in the 54th.

US head coach Tab Ramos, knowing his team needed at least a draw to advance, described the encounter as a difficult one.

“It was a very difficult match. We knew Trinidad had quite a few good players that we had to be careful with, and they played like it was their last game. We’re happy to get the three points,” Ramos said.

“ I know in general terms we played poorly compared to the way we’ve been playing. Having said that, we took nineteen shots which is very positive for us. Unfortunately we just couldn’t cash in. That’s kind of been the story for us in this tournament. We’ve taken a lot of shots – I think we’re leading the tournament in shots and yet we’re not getting the goals. We’ve got to do better for the next game if we’re going to go to the World Cup, that’s for sure.”

TT head coach Derek King was understandably disappointed but saw some positive points to take away from the competition.

“It wasn’t bad today. We had them on the back foot for the opening ten minutes. We did exactly what we wanted in the first half by not giving away anything and creating a couple chances,” King told TTFA Media.

“Defensively we were solid. Akeem Garcia was used as the lone striker and he did well and Matthew Woo Ling came into the team also give us a good showing. But in the end we’re disappointed to have come here with hopes of advancing and not being able to,” King added.

The former TT Senior team player and current Senior team assistant coach, said progress would continue with the right approach going forward.

“Preparation is the key. We were not outplayed by any of the teams here in this tournament but when you look at their resources and what their preparation looked like it could prove to be the difference. I’m not making excuses but teams like Canada and USA have much more in their buildups to these tournaments, and we still competed with everyone including Panama which went on to qualify for the World Cup.

“I hope we can keep this team together because they are the future players for our country’s senior team. Stephen Hart was impressed and other coaches as well who witnessed the team play.

“As a team and a nation we still have to work to get up to being comfortable playing at that level on a consistent basis.

I think the players realised the work that has to be done mentally and physically. We also have to keep working on our finishing and stop conceding soft goals.

The guys need to keep their heads up and move on from this. The plus for us here is that we were able to match these teams.” King concluded.