Trinidad and Tobago’s Senior Men’s entered official CONCACAF competition time and territory on Sunday, matchday-2 ahead of Tuesday’s CONCACAF Gold Cup 2019 opener against Panama at the Allianz Field in Minnesota.
Head coach Dennis Lawrence oversaw an afternoon training session at the Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium as the team settled back at the team hotel for the remainder of the day. The team contingent took part in CONCACAF Team Arrival meetings and passport checks. The official training will take place at the game venue on Monday evening while Lawrence will also attend the official Pre-match press conference along with a player.
“The mood is quite good and everyone is staying switched on in terms of our focus and mission for the opening match on Tuesday,” team skipper Khaleem Hyland told TTFA Media.
“We’ve had some good, solid sessions including today’s one and the vibe and focus is up at the moment. It’s now about being mentally ready, taking care of what we need to in terms of preparation and going into the game knowing what we are here for,” he added.
Israel-based winger Levi Garcia is also anticipating his first Gold Cup appearance. “It’s a huge moment for me as a young player and someone who has never been to the Gold Cup before. But all in all, I think all the players know how major this is for us. We want to make a big impression and to do that we need to play well and get good results. We are going to give it everything and hopefully we’ll make a strong start in our first game against Panama,” Garcia said.
In related news, defender Aubrey David will join the Trinidad and Tobago Men’s team for the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Following a lengthy delay, David was granted his US Visa on Friday and will link up with his teammates in the United States. He will come into the 23-man squad for Charleston Battery defender Leland Archer who will leave the camp on Wednesday following the opening group match versus Panama on Tuesday.David who plays for Deportivo Saprissa in Costa Rica, will join the T&T squad in Minnesota on Sunday and will train with the squad ahead of Tuesday’s encounter for which he is eligible.
The T&T team has a used facility which has some interesting history to it. Thanks to a generous gift of US$900,000 from Deborah Olson, given in the name of her mother Elizabeth Lyle Robbie, and $1.2 million appropriated from the Minnesota state legislature, the University of Minnesota soccer program built a home of its own in the Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium. Elizabeth Lyle Robbie became the first female owner of a professional sports franchise in the United States when she purchased the Miami Toros soccer team in the mid-’70s. The Toros then moved to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., before relocating to the Twin Cities and becoming the Minnesota Strikers between the 1983 and 1984 seasons. She owned the team until the franchise disbanded in 1988. During her ownership, the Strikers played for the MISL Championship in 1986.
T&T Goes for opening win against Panama
Trinidad and Tobago’s Senior Men will be aiming to start their 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup campaign on a winning note when they face off with Panama in the first Group D match of a double header at Allianz Field in Minnesota on Tuesday.T&T will raise the curtains from 6:30pm (7:30pm TT time) with the United States taking on Guyana from 9:00pm
Allianz is the home venue of Kevin Molino’s Minnesota United and the T&T squad got their first feel of the venue as head coach Dennis Lawrence conducted the official training session on Monday evening. A capacity crowd of 19,000 is expected for the double header.
T&T’s last Gold Cup outing was a quarter final encounter with the Panamanians in the quarter finals of the 2015 competition. T&T went out 6-5 on penalties after nine rounds of kicks following a 1-1 scoreline after extra time. T&T then won a home 2018 World Cup qualifier 1-0 on a Kevin Molino winner before losing 3-0 in Panama City.
“At this point in time I don’t think history will play a part,” Hyland told TTFA Media. “This is a new competition. There are new faces on board, new ambitions, new atmosphere, in a different country and none of us are home. It’s all up for the grabs so we have to take front before front takes us and hopefully we can get the three points,” he added.
“The mood is great and everyone is gelling and doing their tasks that they have been asked to do by the head coach and the staff. In every major tournament your first game is one of the most important and in these tournaments you have to take it game by game. This game game we know is going to be a difficult one. We know the strengths of Panama and we know they are a hardworking team but we have to match them throughout the game,” Hyland continued.
The Saudi Arabia based midfielder, formerly of Belgium side Racing Genk had a brief message for the T&T faithful, saying “I just want the fans to keep faith in us. This is your team. We believe in ourselves and you have to believe in us and it will only happen if we come together as one country, one nation and that’s the only way things will get better… by supporting each other.”
Meantime, defender Aubrey David has joined the Trinidad and Tobago Men’s team for the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Following a lengthy delay, David was granted his US Visa on Friday and linked up with teammates in the United States. He comes into the 23-man squad for Charleston Battery defender Leland Archer who will leave the camp on Wednesday following the opening group match versus Panama on Tuesday.David who plays for Deportivo Saprissa in Costa Rica, is eligible for Tuesday’s match.
Fans can view the matches on Fox Soccer Soccer Plus, Fox Sports 2, Univision or Concacafgo.com.