Thu, May

Levi Garcia #11 of Trinidad and Tobago reacts after missing a chance to score during Play-In - Concacaf Nations League match between Canada and Trinidad & Tobago at Toyota Stadium on March 23, 2024 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images)

SOCA Warriors star striker Levi Garcia took responsibility for the team’s disappointing 2-0 loss against Canada in the Copa America play-in game in Frisco, Texas, on Saturday.

T&T conceded two second-half goals (61st and 90th+1) as they failed in their final chance to qualify for the 2024 Copa America. Garcia has been in prolific form with his club, AEK Athens, in Greece, bagging 13 goals to put his team top of the playoff standings. However, he was unable to replicate his club form on Saturday.

T&T coach Angus Eve employed a defensive strategy to start, with Garcia leading the line with some support from midfielder Ajani Fortune. Garcia had two quality chances to score, one in each half, but failed to ripple the net.

The chance in the first half was a golden opportunity to give T&T the lead from a counter in the 18th.

After a neat give-and-go, Garcia was played through on goal, but he struck his left-footed shot just wide of the target with just the goalie to beat.

The second chance, with T&T trailing 1-0 in the 85th, came when Garcia combined with substitute Real Gill and was slipped through on goal, but he failed to get power or direction on the shot, which was easily saved by Canada goalie Maxime Crepeau.

T&T had another good chance to take the lead in the first half when left back Andre Raymond pinched the ball off a Canada player and raced into the box, but his left footer also flashed wide. Garcia acknowledged that he was not clinical in front of goal.

Speaking to TT Football Association media, he said, “I came here to deliver and unfortunately, I was not that sharp today. I took responsibility for those chances and I took responsibility for lots of things because I know what the team expects from me. Hopefully, I can also learn from these mistakes and move forward.”

Any criticism he receives, Garcia said he is willing to accept. “I will take any amount of pressure that I will receive after this game, but what I can say is that I will learn from it and continue to move forward.”

The striker thanked his teammates for their spirit. “Before the game all I asked the guys was to compete and fight. I am really proud of the guys. Unfortunately, the game did not go our way and we have a lot to learn and hopefully in the future we will learn from our mistakes.”

Garcia said the loss will be on his mind for a long time. “This one is going to hurt for a while. I came here just recovering from injury and I made a lot of sacrifices and I came here and I tried my best. I gave everything for the team, but my best was not enough today. The boys’ best was not enough today, but for sure we are going to learn from this and move forward, but this one is going to hurt for a while.”

He asked the fans to not give up on the Soca Warriors. “We are really working hard and we really want them to stay behind us. That 12th man is so important. We have been longing for this type of support for years and what we have been receiving is amazing, and hopefully it could continue and that type of energy could stay positive.”

Soca Warriors head coach Angus Eve said the plan to sit back and counter worked. He was happy with the effort his players showed. “I thought for the most part the game plan went well,” Eve said. “We created some really good chances...I think we acquitted ourselves well and we had some really good chances, we could have scored first. It maybe would have settled us down, but I thought all in all it was a great performance.”