Tue, Mar

Ex-Strike Squad defender Brian Williams

Former Strike Squad defender Brian Williams believes Trinidad and Tobago’s senior football team must use their recent 2-1 victory over the USA as motivation ahead of their March 23 clash against Canada, for a final chance to qualify for the 2024 Copa America.

The veteran Williams applauded head coach Angus Eve’s more attacking style in Monday’s Concacaf Nations League second-leg at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

The tactical change, a total turnaround compared to the all-out defensive first leg in Texas last Thursday, generated a welcome win for the Soca Warriors.

The positive result nevertheless saw T&T miss out on advancing to the Nations League semi-final round and automatic Copa qualification, since the Aubrey David-captained squad lost on aggregate, after going down 3-0 in the first quarter-final.

Looking back at victory, Williams said it was a good result.

“A win against the US is always a good one for us. Looking at the performances over both legs, I think the second leg was an improved performance. What I like is that we took a little more risk in terms of offence.

“I still thought that after the red card (Sergino Dest, 39 minutes), we should have a little more thrust offensively, in terms of trying to get the result that would have made us automatically qualify for Copa America.”

In the first leg, T&T midfielder Noah Powder was ejected after picking up two yellow cards in the space of 20 minutes in the first half. Eve then had to take a defensive approach for the rest of the match, as the US pressed further for the opener.

Ten-man T&T held out for 80 minutes but USA broke the deadlock, and slotted three past standout goalkeeper Denzil Smith,

Williams wants the never-say-die attitude of the second leg repeated, or even amplified, when T&T face Canada in a one-match playoff.

“I know there’s a process, we’re building.

"I want to compliment Angus and his staff. I know most people, and myself sometimes, we were a bit critical about the length of time we defended. But the coach knows best on how we could get results.

“And we on the outside would like to see a little more creativity and expression of our players. But I think it’s something for us to build on. We’re one win away from qualifying for the Copa and I hope we can approach that properly. At the end of the day, the objective is to go forward and improve our football.”

On Sunday, the day before T&T’s 2-1 triumph, Williams and fellow Strike Squad teammates marked 34 years since their 1-0 defeat against the US that sent the Americans and not T&T to the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

Needing one point to secure an historic first-ever World Cup appearance, the side, coached by former national star Everald “Gally” Cummings, could not find an equaliser for Paul Caligiuri’s 30th-minute goal.

Speaking on behalf of the 1989 team, Williams said every member of that squad remains ready and willing to assist the senior team in any way possible, to improve T&T’s football at all levels.

“This is what we’re (Strike Squad members) here for, the continued support of T&T football, continued development. That’s why most of us are involved in some way or the other in coaching somewhere, or could carry some type of advice or mentorship to our youngsters.

“We celebrated 34 years as a team, and that is very unique and peculiar. Because I cannot recall any national team that stays friends and work together, after 34 years. This is our role in T&T football presently. We will continue to do that once Jah provide life.”

All four losing Concacaf Nations League quarterfinalists play one match on March 23, 2024, to decide which two final teams advances to the Copa America. T&T will play Canada while Honduras go up against Costa Rica on the same day. Venues are yet to be announced.

SOURCE: T&T Newsday