Thu, Apr

Trinidad and Tobago's Rio Cardines (#7) takes on Dominica's Laquante Alphonse (#4) during a Concacaf U-20 qualifier match at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain on Sunday, February 25th 2024.

Trinidad and Tobago's under-20 men's football team will face a must-win encounter against Canada in their third and final group game in the Concacaf under-20 men's championship qualifiers at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo from 7 pm on Tuesday.

After two match days in group D, both Canada and the hosts T&T have amassed six points from two matches, with the Canadians topping the group with a +12 goal differential. T&T are in second spot with a +6 goal differential. Both Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) are now out of contention after consecutive losses.

With only the group winners advancing to the Concacaf under-20 championship in July, coach Brian Haynes' young Soca Warriors have to get three points on Tuesday to overtake Canada, who only need a draw to progress.

Speaking at the post-match briefing following T&T's comprehensive 5-0 win over Dominica on Sunday night, Haynes said beating Canada will be no easy task. However, he believes his charges have what it takes to seal their spot in the next phase of the competition.

"I am very happy they completed the task (against Dominica), " Haynes said. "We got two wins in our two games and we will be playing against Canada who also have two wins.

"Everything is to play for. We are at home so we intend to give it a good go and hopefully come up with the victory to go forward."

Despite putting five goals past their opposition, Haynes said the most pleasing aspect of Sunday's performance against Dominica was preserving a clean sheet. He also said it was important for him to ensure the players' minutes were well-managed after playing two games in three days.

After coming off a last-gasp 3-2 win over SVG in their opening game, T&T left nothing to chance against Dominica and they scored four goals in a rampant first-half performance en route to the 5-0 win.

Attacker Michael Chaves, who clinched T&T's stoppage-time win in their opener, scored after just three minutes on Sunday, while striker Larry Noel showed off his predatory instincts with two poacher's items to make it 3-0 after 35 minutes. Crystal Palace youth player Rio Cardines scored mere moments after Noel's second goal to make it 4-0, while substitute Derrel Garcia wrapped up the scoring for T&T in the second half with a rasping drive from outside the area in the 82nd minute.

"I have to apologise to the fans because we were not trying to celebrate any goals. We were trying to get as many goals as we could," Haynes said.

Noel missed an opportunity to grab a hat-trick when his 61st-minute penalty was saved by substitute goalie Anton Wyke following the sending-off of starting goalkeeper Ronny Lockhart.

The former San Juan North Secondary standout said he wants to make amends for his slip-up in the final match.

"I feel great for the victory, but I let my team down by missing the penalty and other chances," Noel said. "I will make up for that in the next game for sure.

"I think my performances were pretty good but they could be better. I am going to work on my finishing and help my team go and win the Canada game."

Canada have been ruthless in the group phase thus far, and they backed up an 8-0 thumping of Dominica on the opening day with a 4-0 whipping of SVG in their second game.

Haynes said he and his staff plan to watch extensive footage of the Canadian team to come up with the ideal strategy for the pivotal game.

"We have to find out where their strengths and weaknesses are. We will come up with a game plan which will not only test them but also make us very comfortable to win a game here at home against a formidable opponent.

"We will have to outwork them. Then, we will try our best to outplay them. And then lastly and most importantly, we will try to outscore them. There is no other way to beat an opponent who is as formidable as they are. If we do those three things, I think we will come out ahead."

From 7 pm in Mucurapo on Tuesday, Haynes' under-20s will try to silence the free-scoring Canada team and book their ticket to the Concacaf under-20 championship.

SOURCE: T&T Newsday