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17
Mon, May

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Nicklas Frenderup takes a goalkick during World Cup qualifying action in Mayaguez on 28 March 2021. (via TTFA Media)
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“[…] Is the selection [of defenders] based on a physical prototype preferred by coach Terry Fenwick—tall, big and strong? I ask because for the third match now we saw Neveal Hackshaw, who is known as a defensive midfielder and now plays central defence for his club, appearing as the left back.

“Every position has associated physical, technical, psychological, tactical characteristics, which are the basis of effective performance in that position. Our wing-backs, particularly Hackshaw, do not meet the basic wing-back characteristics.

“But he doesn’t select himself; this is on the coach…”

The following commentary on Trinidad and Tobago’s 1-1 World Cup qualifying draw with Puerto Rico was submitted to Wired868 by former Concacaf technical study group member and Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) technical committee chairman Keith Look Loy:

After getting by a poor Guyana outfit with a mediocre performance, we all hoped for a win with a better display against unheralded Puerto Rico today.

I was left distinctly unimpressed by what was, in fact, a worse display; one in which—but for the heroics of goalkeeper Nicklas Frenderup—we were very lucky to have a draw and a share of the points.

Frankly, with due respect to Puerto Rico, I fully expected we would win against a country with no footballing pedigree, which had hired its coach only days earlier, and lost its opening qualifier to St Kitts and Nevis. Not so in the event.

We started slowly and poorly while Puerto Rico demonstrated readiness for the battle with two attacks inside the first minute. They never let up after that. Indeed, the determination to have a result was demonstrated by their early appearance from the tunnel after the half-time break.

The Puerto Rico players were already in their battle stations while my team strolled out to resume battle, without the look of urgency expected from a team realistically chasing a World Cup berth.

The highlight of our performance was the goalkeeping of Frenderup. Surely the number one jersey is his to lose now. He was outstanding. Not much more could be placed in the positive column. Having seen two matches now, my concerns are, briefly:

(Ball possession)

Our ball retention and rotation lacks energy and is far too lethargic. We make too many unforced errors through sloppy passing—often in dangerous areas too. We seem uncertain how to move the ball from the back, through the lines, and into the opposing penalty area.

(Defence)

Is the selection based on a physical prototype preferred by coach Terry Fenwick—tall, big and strong? I ask because for the third match now we saw Neveal Hackshaw, who is known as a defensive midfielder and now plays central defence for his club, appearing as the left back.

Every position has associated physical, technical, psychological, tactical characteristics, which are the basis of effective performance in that position. Our wing-backs, particularly Hackshaw, do not meet the basic wing-back characteristics. But he doesn’t select himself; this is on the coach.

As ever, our defence is far too porous, and lacks a marshal; an organiser. We continue to be plagued by the twin issues of: a) lapses in concentration, as evidenced in poor passing out of defence, and loose marking (the Puerto Rican scorer was surrounded by four defenders); and b) lack of cover, particularly for Hacksaw (as in the Guyana match), who was tormented by 17-year-old Wilfredo Rivera all match long.

I don’t know where the team wants to regain possession and how. Pressing is inconsistent and not effective enough.

(Attack)

Compared to the Guyana match, the wing-backs were more involved in the attack. But because they are not natural wingbacks, they are very limited in their offensive actions.

They do not make plays or combine with team mates in the attacking third, or in and around the opposing penalty area. They do not enter crosses. I do not have the match statistics but I am sure they will support my analysis.

The team lacks creativity in midfield. Only Duane Muckette has the look of a natural playmaker and his play is far too laid-back. He needs to demand more of himself, he needs to get on the ball more and play progressive football (as opposed to little back and lateral passes), something which I discussed with him during the 2020 USL season.

An important aspect of effective attacking play is forward running out of midfield, which is virtually nonexistent at the moment.

Our shooting is generally very poor. Frankly, Levi Garcia’s efforts on goal are unprofessional for a forward in an elite European league

We lack a genuine centre-forward, of which there are different types, but Ryan Telfer is not mobile enough, disappears from the match and is not a predator.

(Match management)

Fenwick did not manage the match properly. He never sought any tactical adjustment to assist Hackshaw in handling Rivera. After a dismal first half, Muckette correctly entered; but Michel Poon-Angeron, not Daniel Phillips, should have been substituted.

Jabari Mitchell entered to replace the injured Joevin Jones and proceeded to do nothing. Why wasn’t the dangerous Judah Garcia used—as he was to good effect against Guyana?

The truth is that senior players like Jones and Levi Garcia not doing enough to show their level at all. Compare their effort to that of Rivera.

So now we are looking up the table at St Kitts and Nevis, who beat Puerto Rico and Bahamas, and need only to defeat Guyana to entrench themselves in the driver’s seat for the last match of the group.

Still, we have two months to improve the team via recruitment. Whatever Fenwick does, I suggest he talk to his assistant coach, Derek King, about bringing in two of my club FC Santa Rosa’s former players, now with Halifax Wanderers of the Canadian Premier League (CPL).

Those are 2020 league top scorer Akeem ‘Froggy’ Garcia and club captain and midfielder Andre Rampersad. Accuse me of favouritism if you will, but I cannot understand why Telfer (also CPL) is in the team while Garcia is not. (Derek was assistant coach to Stephen Hart at Halifax in 2019.)

So we look towards June. Two months. Let’s see what transpires then.

Watch Taking A Point - Telfer looks back at WCQ weekend

Watch Puerto Rico vs. Trinidad & Tobago | Full Match