The climb of T&T’s football back to the top of the Caribbean region has begun in earnest.
Coach Angus Eve is hoping to build on the team’s recent defeat of regional giant, Jamaica, who is ranked 64th on the FIFA ranking compared to T&T’s 104th, when they take on the Bahamas on Friday in Nassau and then Nicaragua on Monday at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet, Tobago, as the CONCACAF Nations League nears its end.
The end result will be a promotion for the team that wins Group C, as well as automatic qualification for the CONCACAF Gold Cup in the United States next year.
At a virtual press briefing Tuesday, Eve admitted that it has been a difficult road for him and his players who have been challenged by injuries and other personal issues, but he noted at the team’s live-in camp in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale that his players are focused on the task ahead.
“It is well documented now that there have been a lot of late pull-outs due to injuries, no fault of the players. Some players also have personal issues, but the camp has been going really well and the players here are firmly focused on the goal and objective, which is to take T&T football back to the Gold Cup proper and hopefully, to put us in a better place in the ‘A’ section of the Nations League, so we can have better opposition and better competition to play against in the future and be able to expose our players to that high level of football,” Eve said.
On Friday, the Bahamians will include five players that didn’t play in the first match against T&T which they lost 1-0 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo, Port-of-Spain.
Eve said: “They basically took us out of the World Cup and then we beat them 1-0 at home. They are a very plucky group, they have a lot of pride in their country, so they fight a lot. They brought in five new players that we can see from the roster they didn’t have before, so we are doing our due diligence on them just as they are doing on us.”
He believes the key to a successful result against them will be to be consistent in their play, professional in their play, not to take anybody lightly, and treat the games as two finals.
“That’s what we’re going to put into the minds of the players,” Eve said.
The Soca Warriors were without midfielder Kevin Molino and speedy striker Levi Garcia for the Jamaica encounters, which the Warriors won 1-0 in the first match before playing to a goalless tie in the second. In their absence, Eve has called up Marsaskala FC striker Rundell Winchester, who is said to have the ability to operate as a flanker and a number nine as well as Halifax Wanderer’s midfielder Andre Rampersad, who Eve described as a modern-day midfielder, possessing the ability of a number eight, who could play box-to-box, has a good engine and is very decent on the ball.
Eve admitted that both players were constantly monitored while they were with their respective teams.
Eve said with players possessing different abilities, his team will be built based on the strengths of the players.
“We played in Jamaica without these guys and as I said, we have full faith in all of the players we have on the roster. Molino is a different type of player than the ones we have and Levi is a different type of player than we have, so the player that we have will determine how the team plays.
“I can’t have a philosophy without having the type of players that I would want to have in a particular team so we would play to the strength of the players that we have.”
Eve, a former national midfielder himself, said from the Jamaican matches, he was pleased with the performances of the all-local players which have now raised the level his team will need to play at now.
T&T is second in Group C, having lost to the Nicaraguans in their first game of the League 2-0 in Managua in June, however, Eve said his team will be different to the one that represented us then.
Bahamas eager to face T&T.
By Walter Alibey (T&T Guardian).
Bahamas’ 22-man roster was set to be named yesterday, and was expected to include five overseas-based players in it, as they prepare to take on T&T on Friday in a key CONCACAF Nations League Group C clash at the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium in Nassau, Bahamas from 4 pm.
With just three points to date in third position in the group, the Bahamians can only reach nine points if they can win their next two matches, which will ensure that they stay in League B in the region.
Veteran ‘Swiss Knife’ Lesly St Fleur has returned to the team along with midfielder Christopher Rahming and will be hoping to guide the young squad into this next window.
Speaking after a training session Tuesday, St Fleur said: “Playing with the young guys is a pleasure – to do so with my experience and to give my knowledge to them about the game is something that I welcome. They are the future. It’s going to be an exciting game, knowing that we drew 0-0 with them the last time we played here. They have something to prove so they are coming to play hard, and we will be ready for the task ahead.”
Rahming on the other hand is anticipating a good game.
He said: “We have to win these games to stay in League B. I am hoping we get control of the game early on Friday, ensure that everyone gets a touch on the ball early and build up confidence. That is one thing that we didn’t do during the Trinidad game the last time, where it seems we were afraid to pass the ball. That is the main focus for me.”
Bahamas coach Nesly Jean said he and his coaching staff, which includes Kevin Davies and Avery Kemp, have been looking at the new players over the past few weeks, integrating them into the team’s sessions.
“We had some friendly games against Turks and Caicos, so it was good to look at them. We were able to look at the team and see how far we are, and how far we are with the new guys. I am looking forward to seeing these players come in and perform well. I want to see them step up to the level that they have been playing overseas and bring up the local guys to the same level. Once everyone is on the same page, I think we will do well,” Jean said.
He further explained: “Some of these guys felt the Gold Cup for the first time, a few years back. They are excited about the games coming up. I think we have a chance as well looking at the points in our group. I feel like if we make that step and work hard and give everything on the field these two games, we will have a chance to go through to the Gold Cup.”
The Bahamas sits in third place in the group with a 1-3 win/loss record and three points. T&T is in second place with a 3-1 record and nine points. In its second game in this window, the Bahamas will head to St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) to play that nation.
SVG sports a 0-1-3 win/draw/loss record and has one point. They sit in fourth place in the group. Bahamas’ only win in the group came against SVG, a 1-0 victory.