Honourable President Maxwell Richards, Prime Minister Patrick Manning and cricket world record holder Brian Lara have accepted invitations from the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation to be among a list of dignitaries at Saturday’s crucial 2006 World Cup qualifier against Guatemala at the Hasely Crawford Stadium from 4pm.
Jack Warner, special advisor to the T&T Football Federation extended the invitations to the trio who willingly accepted to join the band of supporters for what has been described by Hislop, a National Under 12 teammate of Lara, as “so far the biggest game for the country in 16 years.”
President Richards and Lara, also good friends of captain Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy, will meet the two teams before kick off.
“This game without a doubt is one of the most important that the country will be playing for some time and as a result we are expecting the entire country to join in the support and we want them all to be part of the experience which of course is why we have decided to carry the game live on television,” Warner stated on Thursday.
On the field, head coach Leo Beenhakker put his players through their paces on Thursday morning with the second half of the session taking place under a heavy shower but it didn’t force Yorke and company off the pitch.
Beenhakker scheduled another closed door session from 5:30 pm, the same time the Guatemalans were expected in and set to check in at the Kapok Hotel. The Guatemalan media contingency were around the session on Thursday morning and keen to conduct interviews and get snap shots of the “Warriors” in preparations.
Beenhakker and his assistants Wim Rhisbergen and Theo de Jong has done their homework on the Guatemalans and the former Real Madrid coach feels T&T had only themselves to fault for the 5-1 defeat.
“We have seen the game (5-1 loss) on DVD and I feel, with all my respect, that in the first place Guatemala did not win, Trinidad lost that game because they made many errors that Guatemala took advantage of very well,” Beenhakker said.
According to skipper Yorke, T&T will respect their opponents but will be going all out to earn theirs by the end of play on Saturday.
“We will give them respect but it doesn’t mean that we will be intimidated by them in anyway,” Yorke told TTFF Media. “Everyone realizes how important this match is for us and we must go all out. I think the last match was a bad dream for us but obviously things have gone differently since then. He (Beenhakker) is a new coach with a different philosophy and way about doing things along with better organization and the same goes for the kind of team we have right now,” Yorke said.
“One thing we cannot predict is the result but I can assure you that the team will go out there and give its all the bring home a result. The vibe overall for this week has been a special one and everyone is understanding his role and how important it is to carry that on to the pitch on Saturday.
Guatemalan coach Ramon Maradiaga also held a closed door session at that country’s FIFA Goal Project facility on Wednesday. Their experienced midfielder Julio Giron told reporters that his team will hope for a repeat performance which saw them steal a late come from behind 2-1 win against Panama in the last outing.
“We will face Trinidad of the same form that to Panama, because also it is a crucial game and God wants everything comes out well", he said. And he added that the state of the field could play a part in the outcome of the match.
“The bounces that remain in the average field will be fundamental and we must take it to them to avoid that they are armed in the offensive. It will be a difficult game,” Giron added.
In the Guatemalan side is MLS-based striker Carlos Ruiz and Guillermo Ramirez who scored a double and one goal respectively in the 5-1 win while Juan Carlos Plata is also there but forward Dwight Pezzarrossi who netted a double back then is not in the line up.