It seemed almost like yesterday that the Germans were showing the world how good they are on the football field. The years leading up to the finals in Brazil had its moments of doubt mainly through the various problems which existed in the host country. Added to that, the uneasiness which crime had brought to the citizens.
In a nutshell the issue brought several executive members of the federation of international football to be arrested, some under investigation, and the job of the US, and Swiss investigators have not yet completed their search for more culprits who may have been involved in crimes which have been identified. Nevertheless, the Soca Warriors have no real problems concerning these issues, and the focus lies squarely on the shoulders of Stephen Hart and his squad.
After a few days in camp in Florida before they travelled to Guatemala for their opening match, preparations are now in order with all the top players fit and raring to go. Everyone is now confident that the consistency which the team showed throughout the Gold Cup tournament and their two friendlies will run directly onto the stadium in Guatemala City.
Team tactics will be the most essential factor, especially when the match is played away from home.
Those who have had the experiences of playing against Guatemala amidst their home crowds will know that their fans make demands on the players to perform at their best, a feature which sometimes become so intense that there is a tendency that the shouts and chants during the match tend to influence the officials.
But, honestly, Guatemala at this time have not shown the quality of play during their qualifying series. They have had some poor results and the only teams they have really defeated recently are Bermuda and Antigua and Barbuda. They looked good in patches while in the USA, but not enough to match strides with the more advanced opponents.
It is my sincere belief that this Warrior’s squad possess the most talented bunch of players this country have produced since the German World Cup. The benefit of these guys will have come from the fact that most of them have been playing abroad in countries where professionalism is a behaviour and when you have to retain your positions in the clubs of Europe and the US, the attitude which we see so often when they are with their clubs will have sent the message to our lads.
Personally, I believe that we are better equipped than our opponents and the extraordinary ability of players like Khaleem Hyland, Andre Boucaud, Joevin Jones and Trevin Caesar will haunt the defence of the host country. It is difficult to stop the speed and skill of our wing midfielders and they have created many goal scoring opportunities during the Gold Cup.
We have a solid defence regardless of the four that are chosen, although I would like to see the quartet of Daneil Cyrus, Sheldon Bateau, Carlyle Mitchell and Mekiel Williams at the start. The key to the selection process has to be the guys who are excellent competitors throughout the matches and their desire to stay focused will be of paramount importance to each other.
Victory will put a scare on the USA on Tuesday, especially as they are well short of the talent which they had a few years ago. The Warriors must provide this country with an excellent start to the World Cup journey and together we shall all move in unison towards Russia.