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Trinidad and Tobago Men's U-20 Head Coach Brian Haynes (left) congratulates Michael Chaves (right) on his game-winning goal in a Concacaf U-20 Qualifier against St. Vincent and the Grenadines at Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain on Friday, February 23rd 2024.
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HEAD COACH Brian Haynes is unconvinced that Trinidad and Tobago gave their best performance, but is nevertheless thrilled with the fight shown by the National Under-20 Men’s football team in battling back from two goals down for a 3-2 win over St Vincent and The Grenadines in their opening CONCACAF Under-20 Group D qualifier on Friday night at the Hasely Crawford Stadium (HCS).

Victory kept the junior Soca Warriors alive and hoping for a better performance against Dominica tonight (7 p.m.), before meeting Canada on Tuesday night, the match likely to decide the lone team from the group which advances to the 2024 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship, to be played later this year.

Having dominated Dominica 8-0 in Friday’s opening match, Canada face the Vincy Heat in their second game today at the HCS from 4 p.m.

“Personally, I feel like we owe Trinidad and Tobago for what we did tonight,” Haynes declared at Friday’s post-match press conference.

“I think it could have been much better. Look, I’m a coach. I don’t want perfection, but I want them to work as hard as they have to, from start to finish. “And I think they showed it in the end, but it could be more consistent.”

With Canada well ahead on goals scored and topping the group, Haynes is aware that his team cannot slip up tonight against Dominica on the second matchday.

“We need to win and we need to win without giving up any goals. We’re done giving up enough goals now, with the two,” he said. “We’re going to make sure that we put the work in to come in and get a result, so we can make Canada realise that they have a game coming up next on Tuesday.”

What was outstanding for the Under-20 Soca Warriors Friday night, was the fight they showed. Rio Cardines, the England-born Crystal Palace youth was pleased with the grit shown in the face of adversity, after T&T conceded an early penalty.

He explained what area pleased him most.

“Mainly not letting that (early penalty conceded) kill our game. Keep(ing) our heads up,” stated Cardines. “It was the first minute of the game. Silly mistake, 1-0 down. Overall, the team did well to not let that drop us and to keep our spirits high. We went in at half-time, had a little chat and came out a different team. I’m proud of the guys for that really.”

Former MLS and T&T national striker Haynes added: ”We fought and we kept fighting to the end. I’ve been a part of Trinidad and Tobago football for a long time and there’s a lot of times we would have lost or drawn games like that.”

Haynes felt the difficulty of playing against a St Vincent and the Grenadines team which sat back in great numbers and counter-attacked with speed, would be a learning experience for his charges.

“For the last couple of weeks we have been putting the ball down and playing, and then all of a sudden tonight, we decided we’re going to play these long balls,” Haynes explained. “Look, they (SVG) had a strategy, they’re not as fit as they should be, so they decide they are going to sit back behind the ball and make us try to play in between them. All we had to do was keep the ball and play.

“They got their goal, they got their opportunity, and it came from, not unbelievable soccer. It came from a breakthrough, foul, and the pk (penalty kick. And then the other one (second goal) we were asleep on, and they finish their chances.”

Making substitutions, Haynes was able to bring in players who changed the rhythm, and sometimes slowed the game down when necessary.

“What disappointed me is the fact that we we played into their hands. We kept playing the balls long, when we could just put it down and play,”Haynes analysed.

”I never, ever blame the players. I tried to have time to talk to them about it, and when it didn’t happen, I had to make the changes. Put the players who understood what I wanted to do. That turned the game around.”

SOURCE: T&T Express