TRINIDAD AND Tobago men’s football team will need to match the desire, hunger and intensity of Panama, according to T&T coach Dennis Lawrence, ahead of tomorrow’s 2018 FIFA World Cup CONCACAF Zone Final Round qualifier at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo.
During a pre-game media conference at the Courtyard Marriott, Mucurapo yesterday, Lawrence said, “I think Panama (are) going to play exactly the way that they play. They’re going to be very well-organised, they’re going to make themselves very tough to beat.
“The first thing we need to match with them is their desire, because they’re a team that play with their heart,” emphasised Lawrence. “We’ve got to match their intensity, their hunger (and) their endeavour to try to win games.” Trinidad and Tobago will have little time to rest following tomorrow’s game, as they would be hosting Mexico in another World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.
The former T&T central defender, who was appointed as national coach in January, admitted, “I’ll love to win the game (against Panama) and I think we all understand that. If we don’t win the game, then we mustn’t lose it.
“One of the most important things is if we can come out with four points (from both fixtures).
The most important thing is we mustn’t lose (tomorrow’s) game.
Six points would be brilliant.” Kenwyne Jones served as captain during the 2013-2016 reign of Stephen Hart while Carlos Edwards, who, like Lawrence and Jones, represented the then ‘Soca Warriors’ at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, wore the skipper’s armband during the four-game reign of Tom Saintfiet.
About his choice as team leader, Lawrence said, “I’m still yet to decide on that. I’m still assessing the group. It’s not a decision that I’m in any rush to make. The captain would be announced on the day of the game.” Jones has been a polarising figure on the T&T team but Lawrence leap to the defence of the 32-year-old striker.
“Kenwyne is a player that I think everybody need to understand.
Kenwyne has been around Trinidad and Tobago football for a long while. Kenwyne has come to do what I’ve asked him to do, to represent this country again.
Kenwyne needs support from the Trinidad and Tobago fans (and) the people around him.” Lawrence added, “My job is to help Kenwyne and to prepare Kenwyne to perform on the match day. My belief is that Kenwyne has got a lot to offer Trinidad and Tobago football.
I see a part for Kenwyne to play with Trinidad and Tobago football and I think he deserves the opportunity to be given the chance. That’s why I selected Kenwyne.” He also sent a rallying call to the T&T public, despite the fact that the national squad were beaten in their previous two Final Round games, against Costa Rica (2-0) and Honduras (3-1).
“I’m trying to encourage everyone to put a positive spin on this,” stated Lawrence. “Let us try to come together as a nation and make sure (to) give Panama the understanding that they’re not in Panama and they’re here in Trinidad and Tobago.”
In related news, Panama defender Roman Torres, in an interview on CONCACAF.com, said, “It’s a difficult match. It will be a match in which Panama has to be very focused and keep a clean sheet.” Torres, who plays alongside T&T midfielder Joevin Jones at American MLS club Seattle Sounders, continued, “Trinidad and Tobago (have) their qualities. They have fast players. We cannot get overconfident.
We should be concentrated and make them respect us.” It has also been reported on CONCACAF.com that Panama forward Blas Perez will miss tomorrow’s game due to an injured left thigh.
Rally with Kenwyne.
By Ian Prescott (Express).
Back Trinidad and Tobago. Back Kenwyne Jones. And also, make Panama know that they are playing an away match when they come here for tomorrow’s FIFA World Cup qualifier, which kicks off from 7 p.m. at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Yesterday, Trinidad and Tobago head coach Dennis Lawrence spoke of making full use of playing at home and taking advantage of the home environment, for World Cup qualifiers against Panama tomorrow and against Mexico next Tuesday.
“I am encouraging everyone to try and come together as a nation and make sure and let Panama understand that they not in Panama... but they are here in Trinidad and Tobago,” Lawrence emphasised at a pre-match media conference, held at the team’s base at the Courtyard Marriot hotel.
The former T&T defender said his players are all moving in one direction and he wants the Trinidad and Tobago public and football fans to do the same. Part of that is showing love for Jones (Kenwyne), a polarising figure with fans in recent times. Some seem to love him while others don’t.
Lawrence has stoutly defended the role of the former captain in the national team but failed to reveal who would be wearing the captain’s armband in the two upcoming Russia 2018 qualifying matches at home.
Striker Jones, 32, who acquired extensive experience playing in the English Premiership in past years, had been the Warriors’ leader for almost all of the three years when former coach Stephen Hart was in charge of the local squad. But Jones was dropped during the brief 35-day stint under Belgian Tom Saintfiet, who resigned in January.
Either way, Lawrence, who was a teammate of Jones in the Trinidad and Tobago team during the 2006 World Cup campaign, made a strong case for the inclusion of the former Stoke City, Sunderland and Southampton player.
“Kenwyne has come here and he has come to do what I have asked him to do,” Lawrence said. “Kenwyne needs support from Trinidad and Tobago fans. Kenwyne needs support from the people around him.”
Lawrence continued: “My belief is that Kenwyne has a lot to offer Trinidad and Tobago football. I see a part for Kenwyne to play in Trinidad and Tobago football.”
Lawrence further stated that he had delayed naming a captain until fully assessing the group, since the foreign-based players had only joined the camp on the weekend. Teenaged midfielder Levi Garcia only arrived from Holland on Tuesday and defender Sheldon Bateau came in from Russia yesterday.
But with 26 players in camp, the newly-minted T&T head coach feels he has his bases covered for tomorrow’s key 2018 World Cup qualifier. “It’s not a decision I am in any rush to make. I will make that decision up until the last day.”
Pre-Game Press Briefing – Lawrence speaks ahead of WCQ vs Panama.
Trinidad and Tobago’s head coach Dennis Lawrence spoke to the media in the Pre-Game Press Briefing ahead of Friday’s 2018 Concacaf World Cup qualifier against Panama.
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Pre-Game Press Conference - Dennis Lawrence speaks ahead of Friday's WCQ with Panama