Despite three goals in two matches of the CONCACAF Nations League, Dennis Lawrence's Soca Warriors are set to head back to the drawing board to work on their defensive tactics.
After a 1-1 tie with Martinique on Friday last in Martinique, the Soca Warriors squandered a two-goal advantage 2-0 in the return leg, to share the points in a hurtful 2-2 draw at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo on Monday night.
Supported by an appreciative crowd that included Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Shamfa Cudjoe, and former national striker and goalkeeper Dwight Yorke and Shaka Hislop, among many others, the team settled early in the match and were rewarded when Kevin Molino found himself at the end of a wayward back-kick by goalkeeper Loic Chauvet and rifled his shot back past him for the advantage. And soon after the break, Canadian based midfielder Ryan Telfer was also rewarded for a workman-like performance with a goal in the 45th minute.
But for all the chances created, the TT defence matched it in blunders and it was manifested from a 59th-minute corner from which poor tracking and marking allowed Daniel Herrelle quickly pounced on a loose ball. And later Jordy Delem waited unmarked at the back post to tap in a ball that was threaded through the TT defence twice.
Lawrence in a post-match press conference afterwards said "In terms of effort from the boys physically, you can't fault them, but we just didn't deal with the responsibility we had to deal with, which was to defend the set pieces. Tonight we scored two goals, but could not keep a clean sheet. We couldn't defend the two goals we had, so if you look at it, before we couldn't score, we were conceding, now we could score but we conceding. We need to go back to the drawing board in terms of us trying to ensure that we can keep clean sheets because if we score two at home and leading 2-0, I don't expect us to concede two goals in the manner we did."
He added, "We set ourselves targets going into these two games and it wasn't to come out with two points in two games. Our target was four or six and we had an opportunity tonight and we lost it. However, we need to refocus. We in the past would select squads based on performances for your club. We have gotten to a stage now where we selecting squads based on players just playing football, which is not ideal."
T&T will next face Honduras in the Nations League and Lawrence said we need to improve, particularly in conceding goals, saying our downfall tonight was having the right mentality to defend.
T&T throw away 2-0 lead to draw with Martinique.
By Joel Bailey (Newsday).
DENNIS Lawrence, T&T men’s football team coach, has bemoaned the team’s inability to defend set-pieces.
Lawrence was speaking in the post-game media conference at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo on Monday night, after T&T allowed Martinique to rally from two goals down to draw 2-2 in their League A Group C second-leg tie, in the Concacaf Nations League.
Kevin Molino and Ryan Telfer gave T&T a 2-0 cushion with goals in the 17th and 46th minutes respectively, but striker Daniel Carr responded with an own goal, in the 59th, and Jordy Delem tied the scores with 11 minutes of regulation time remaining.
Asked what went wrong for T&T in the second half, Lawrence replied, “We (couldn’t) defend set pieces. It’s a problem we identified in the first game. We didn’t have enough people in the box ready to put their head on it and take a cut. It’s that simple.”
T&T and Martinique drew 1-1 in their first leg contest in Fort-de-France, Martinique on Friday.
Martinique coach Mario Bocaly acknowledged that his team relied a lot on set-pieces against T&T.
“We worked on everything on T&T,” Bocaly said. “We saw (their) quality but we saw (their) faults. We (scored on set-pieces) three times during the two games.”
Monday’s result meant that T&T are yet to win an international match since a 2-0 victory over the United Arab Emirates on September 6, 2018, in Girona, Spain. Since then, T&T have drawn five games and lost seven.
Questioned about the win-less run, Lawrence responded, “I can speak about (Monday) night. We scored two goals and we couldn’t keep a clean sheet. We couldn’t defend the two-goal lead that we had.
“If you look at the overall picture, before we couldn’t score and we conceded, now we could score and we’re still conceding. We need to go back to the drawing board in terms of trying to ensure that we can keep clean sheets. We need to get set and look forward to October.”
Honduras, the other team in this three-team Group C, will meet T&T in a home-and-away tie on October 10 and 13. Lawrence was also asked if there will be changes to the T&T squad before the Honduras matches.
He replied, “Before you talk about changes, you need to have options. We need to find the options first, then start thinking about changes. There are a couple (players) that we’re working on, to bring in to represent TT.
“I’m hoping that, between now and October, that their documents would come into play so we can put some more pressure on the boys that are in the squad. I think we need competition.”
Bocaly was pleased with his team’s display on Monday.
According to the Martinique coach, “I’m proud of my players because it was so difficult (in) the beginning of the game because Trinidad were more solid than they were on Friday. They played really well in the first half. To get two goals is very good for Martinique.”
Martinique is not a member of FIFA and ineligible to enter any the FIFA World Cup or FIFA-organised competition, since it is an overseas department of France.
Delem plays in the American MLS (Major League Soccer) with Seattle Sounders and French-born striker Julio Donisa plays for Lyon-Duchere in France.
“We have so much new players in the team, only two professionals. The other ones work in the morning and train in the night,” said Bocaly. “It’s a reality of Martinique football. We work with these players. They’re proud of representing the team.”