As the K-League draws to a close, Busan I’Park boss Ian Porterfield finds his attention, like much of the football world, drawn to the World Cup Play-Offs and the Bahrain versus Trinidad and Tobago match in particular holds special interest for the Scotsman.
As well as coaching in the region with the Oman national team and recently crowned AFC Champions League champions Al Ittihad in the mid-to-late nineties, Porterfield was the coach of Trinidad and Tobago from 2000 to 2002 and is thus well-qualified to comment on the vital game.
“It’s going to be hard for Bahrain as Trinidad and Tobago have some good and experienced players,” said the 59 year-old whose wife hails from the Caribbean republic.
“Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy are up there with the best and there are a number of players who ply their trade in lower leagues in Europe and the USA and are seasoned professionals.”
“Trinidad and Tobago have good support and the atmosphere will be intense, the team has won their last three games and confidence is high, especially after coming from behind to beat Mexico,” said the ex-Chelsea man, who then offered some advice to Bahrain’s boss Luka Peruzovic.
“Everything will depend on how Bahrain handle the first game the long flight and the climate. Bahrain must get a result of some kind. The key is concentration. The players must focus, not for short periods, but for the game as a whole.”
The Asian team has already made it through one play-off, squeezing past Uzbekistan in a controversial two-legged affair.
“I felt that Bahrain was a little fortunate but I used to play games there in the nineties with Al Ittihad and Oman and the standard of football has really improved. They have come a long way.”
The players and officials representing the tiny Gulf nation have a long way to travel over the next few days but will be desperate to board a World Cup bound plane for the first time next summer.
Bahrain and Trinidad and Tobago lock horns at the Hasley Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on November 12 before heading back to Manama for the return game four days later.