Thu, May

Mar 23, 2024; Frisco, Texas, USA; Canada goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau (16) makes a save in front of Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Reon Moore (13) as defender Joel Waterman (5) looks on during the second half at Toyota Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

THERE has been a call for Trinidad and Tobago to blend defensive discipline with a more attacking output leading into the CONCACAF Zone 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign, which for the Soca Warriors begins against Grenada and Bahamas on June 5 and June 8, respectively.

This comes amid the lingering disappointment following T&T’s 2-0 loss to Canada on Saturday—the Soca Warriors missing out on a chance to compete at the 2024 Copa America.

Sharing their reactions to Saturday’s game were Brent Sancho, Densill Theobald, and Anthony Wolfe, all members of T&T’s 2006 World Cup squad, as well as coach Wayne Sheppard, who is now with Queen’s Park Cricket Club, having returned home after coaching in Taiwan for a few seasons.

With the objective being to get into the Copa America tournament, former defender Sancho said: “A disappointing result. The performances, in terms of the players, I think there were more positives than negatives. We did have a chance in the first half, maybe if that (for Levi Garcia) had scored things might have gone differently.”

Sancho also noted that the modern game of football had changed and coaches worldwide have to adjust to what is before them on the day. T&T head coach Angus Eve faced the same issue.

“It is always a dilemma as to how you set up to play in these sort of games because if we do set up offensively, some of our better offensive players have defensive liabilities. And if you set up too defensive, sometimes you give the impetus to the other team,” surmised Sancho.

Former national captain Theobald sees no problem with how coach Eve has set up his team.

“I like the direction Angus and the team are going in, meaning I like the way how we are set-up, and you can see that even when we went a goal down, we switched to a more attacking, risk-taking formation,” Theobald pointed out.

“It was just unfortunate we didn’t put away the chance we created in the 17th minute with Levi (Garcia) and then the half-chance we had through Andre Raymond in the 47th minute. That would have made the game much different in terms of result and performance. But, I am very impressed.” added Theobald.

In contrast, QPCC coach Sheppard believes T&T could have been more forward-thinking, and saw the team having had opportunities after going behind. At the same time, that opened up the match for the Canadians as well.

“We could have been a little more brave,” he assessed. “I’m not saying go toe-to-toe with them, but we could have pushed our defence farther forward and won the ball further up the field.”

As to whether there has been improvement in the Soca Warriors. “Have the results shown that?” Sheppard questions, “The jury is still out with that.”

Wolfe, still active and playing for Police FC, believes T&T need to be given more freedom to play their own football, and also that striker Levi Garcia needs to play in a role he is accustomed to. “I think we give these teams too much of respect, because I believe we could have beaten Canada. They weren’t much better than us,” Wolfe opined. “We should play our football.”

Wolfe said that Eve has to strike a balance and blend his philosophy of strong defensive structure, with giving his players freedom to express themselves. Else, he noted, that if his former teammate could not move the team up to another level, he might have to relinquish the reins before World Cup qualifying begins.

“I think he should let the team play. We have Reon Moore and those fellas who are quick. Then, you’re constantly playing Levi Garcia as a striker,” said Wolfe, who contends that Garcia has never proven himself to be a striker, able to play with his back to the goal and holding up the ball.

“He is not that type of player, that is why we will not get the effect he’s giving AEK Athens, because we are playing him in the wrong position over and over again,” argued Wolfe.

“Levi likes to run at you. On the wing, he will get room to run. We need to find a striker who will go up there and play the role of a designated striker and put Levi on the right side. How many games where we played with Levi on top and were successful?”

Should Eve get the added player resources he needs, Theobald believes T&T will continue to improve.

“You can see Angus is learning. He’s improving, and that goes for the team as well,” said Theobald, who believes the current team can get to the 2026 World Cup.

“I honestly believe this is one of our best chances in a really long time, pertaining to World Cup qualification,” said Theobald.

“I really fancy our chances, and I see us growing from strength to strength in terms of Angus and his coaching staff, and also the players too. So, the future augers well for us, in terms of qualification for the 2026 World Cup.”

SOURCE: T&T Express