Trinidad and Tobago’s U-22 footballers have a fair chance of advancing to the semi-finals of the 2011 Pan American Games when they go all out for a victory in their final group stage fixture against Uruguay at the Omnilife Stadium, Guadalajara from 10 am (11am T&T time) on Tuesday.
Following T&T’s 1-1 draw with Ecuador on Sunday, Uruguay were then battered 5-2 by Mexico which left them atop the table with seven points and through to the next stage.
The South Americans meantime are on three points and T&T on two. A win will send T&T through to the “semis”.
T&T head coach Angus Eve says his ‘Warriors’ will give everything they have on Tuesday.
“Nobody expected us to be here and from the crowd’s response you can see they are warming to us. The guys are playing good football and are not just fighting the game.
We are putting the ball down and playing it around well. We have everything to play for now especially with the result in the Mexico/Uruguay game. We are in with a chance of advancing if we can get the victory against Uruguay and that is definitely what we will be trying to achieve on Tuesday,” Eve told TTFF Media.
“I think the team is building in terms of belief and understanding. Exactly what we came here to achieve is happening so far.”
Looking back at the 1-1 draw with Ecuador, he added “We were a bit tentative in the first half but we settled down and we really began to believe in ourselves and play a better game offensively in the second half. I wanted to play two up front because I thought Ecuador wasn’t that great defensively.
I thought that Jamal (gay) was winning all the headers and we needed someone nippy and sharp to run off him and that’s where the change came in and we got a goal from it that helped us to earn the point and stay alive in the competition.”
Midfielder Kevin Molino, who has been T&T’s most instrumental player in Guadalajara, is expecting a grueling contest against Uruguay, particularly as they also hold a chance of going through to the semi-finals.
“I think we have a great chance but the match will not be an easy one. But we have also shown that we can fight for a result and we just have to go there on Tuesday and fight and give it our all and hopefully things go our way and we can come away with a win,” Molino said.
“This tournament has been special for us in many ways so far because we have played good football and we are unbeaten so far. We are building towards the future and this experience here has been a very good one for us.”
Goalkeeper Andre Marchan has been solid between the uprights for T&T, showing maturity and shot stopping ability that has prevented T&T from conceding more than one a match. He put it down to a total team effort so far in Guadalajara.
“We are a real team, everyone for everyone. And when we are out there, we work for each other even when we are behind and need to pull ourselves up. The coaching staff has help up us prepare well we are giving the effort on the playing field. The defenders have done their share of the work and I have tried to do my best in goal to make sure we stay in the game,” Marchan said.
Marchan is one of the surviving members of the team that appeared at the 2009 FIFA Under 20 World Cup in Egypt as well as the 2007 FIFA Under 17 World Cup alongside Molino, Micah Lewis, Marcus Joseph, captain Sheldon Bateau, Mekeil Williams and Jamal Gay while defenders Robert Primus, Uriah Bentick, Akeem Adams and Sean De Silva among others have been involved and will be available for future selection.
But those who did not gain from the past World Cups experience have also contributed towards the team’s showing in Guadalajara and the past CFU Olympic qualifying stage including the likes of striker Trevin Caesar, defenders Aquil Selby, Joel Russell and midfielder Jayson Joseph and Kareem Moses.
“All round the team is coming together well. We have guys with a good share of experience and then we have those who have come in and worked hard toward to whole team effort and this is serving us well in the build up to the rest of the Olympic qualifiers,” Eve stated.