ANGUS EVE, coach of the Trinidad and Tobago football team, is baffled over the long break in the 2022-23 Concacaf Nations League.
T&T played their first four matches, in Group C, League B earlier this month, but would have to wait until March 2023 to complete the group stage.
T&T were beaten 2-1 away to Nicaragua on June 3, but followed up with a trio of victories – versus Bahamas (1-0 at home on June 6) and against St Vincent/Grenadines (2-0 away on June 10 and 4-1 at home on Monday). The final pair of matches in the group will see T&T away to the Bahamas (March 24) and at home to Nicaragua (March 27).
Nicaragua sit atop the group with ten points from four games, followed by T&T (nine), Bahamas (three) and St Vincent/Grenadines (one).
The group winners will gain promotion to League A as well as a spot in the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup. The runners-up will participate in the Gold Cup preliminary round, the third-placed team will remain in League B but the cellar-placed team will be relegated to League C.
Nonetheless, Eve is wondering why the Nations League could not have been completed in September.
During the post-game media conference on Monday, at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Eve said, “It baffles me why we couldn’t finish the next two games in September, in the next (FIFA) window, while everybody is fresh and the competition is still in our minds.
“I don’t understand the big lay-off,” he added. “I think we could have just played in September and finish off the last two games.”
The next FIFA window runs from September 19-27, and that will be the last window before the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which takes place in Qatar from November 21 to December 18.
United States, Mexico, Canada and Costa Rica are the Concacaf representatives at the World Cup, and there is a likelihood that, in the September window, those teams may prefer to focus on the World Cup rather than the Nations League.
Monday’s game at St Vincent/Grenadines was T&T’s most convincing in this Nations League campaign.
Eve commented, “It feels good when you can win 4-1 at home. I think the score could have easily been 10 or 11 (with) the chances we had. We have to give (their) goalkeeper (Lemus Christopher) a lot of credit, but I thought we missed a lot of easy chances to kill off the game a lot earlier.”
Asked for his assessment of the Nations League campaign, the T&T coach replied, “We started really badly, losing the game to Nicaragua and then we had to dig ourselves out of a hole. I think we’ve done that successfully so far. We’re treating each game that we play as a final.”
Utility player Noah Powder scored twice for T&T, while Judah Garcia and John-Paul Rochford contributed one apiece.
The United States-born Powder notched his maiden international goals and Eve pointed out, “(There) are a lot of players that are multi-faceted, who can play different positions.
“When you’re in a country like ours, where you don’t have a big cadre of international players who can play at this level, you have to maximise the players that you actually have. Noah is one of those players.”
Concerning the T&T team’s plans ahead of the Nations League resumption, Eve mentioned, “The guys would go back to their clubs and we’ll monitor them. It’s going to be a little bit difficult for us because a lot of our players are based in the United States and (their leagues) don’t start until April. We have a difficult task to try to get the players to be match-fit in time for those matches.”