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Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Duane Muckette in action during a 7-1 win over Bahamas in  Group B of the Second Round of FIFA CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers at the St Kitts and Nevis Football Association Technical Centre, Basseterre on Saturday, June 8th 2024.

FRESH from his double in T&T’s 7-1 mauling of the Bahamas in their 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifier in St Kitts on Saturday, central midfielder Duane Muckette says the Soca Warriors need to show greater levels of consistency and improve their passing game if they are to be one of Concacaf’s representatives for the next World Cup.

At the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo on June 5, T&T opened their qualifying campaign with a 2-2 draw against Grenada – a result which left the majority of the 8,000-strong crowd disappointed. The 28-year-old Muckette was an unused substitute against Grenada, but he was one of seven players coach Angus Eve brought in from the start against the Bahamas.

The AC PoS skipper displayed his poise and vision against the Bahamians, and he showed off his scoring touch with a pair of clinical finishes in the first half. With just over 20 international caps to his name, Muckette has been in and out of the Soca Warriors team since his debut under Dennis Lawrence in 2018. He says he’s remaining patient, though, and he’s putting in the work to make sure he’s one of the first names on the team list.

“To the people who are calling for me to be a regular on the national team, I understand and I feel the same way,” Muckette told Newsday on Monday.

“I would just try to remain positive and try to do the best I could with every opportunity I get for myself. For the people who are supporting me and want me to do well, any opportunity I get, I will put my best foot forward. I just have to try to show (my worth) until I’m playing more regularly and given more responsibility.”

In a campaign in which the playmaker sees the Soca Warriors with a realistic chance of sealing their second-ever World Cup qualification, he thinks his creativity in the middle of the park can be an asset for the national team. Muckette can play in the central midfield (number eight) position or the more advanced attacking midfield (number ten) role, and he played the latter position to a T in the 2023/24 T&T Premier Football League (TTPFL) season – scoring a combined 13 goals for AC PoS in the league and First Citizens Knockout Cup.

AC PoS narrowly won the TTPFL title ahead of Miscellaneous Police FC by two points, but they were defeated in the knockout final by Defence Force.

“Personally, my preferred position is the number eight. I think for (T&T) I will be more effective as a number eight because, in my opinion, we struggle a little bit with keeping the ball and dictating the pace of the game sometimes.

“I think I’m very effective where that is concerned. My ability to create space and dictate the pace of the game would help the team overall.”

Muckette also scored ten league goals for AC PoS in the inaugural TTPFL season last year as they were edged to the title by Defence Force. He said he’s taken the mantle of being a greater force in the attacking third.

“I think it’s a combination of playing further up the park, along with my own desire to score more and taking the responsibility for myself in a lot of the games. And just me trying to take the responsibility and not allow anything to cause (AC PoS) to not win the title this year.”

He said this desire to win and take his game to the next level has also “overlapped” to the defensive side of the game.

After two games in group B of the World Cup qualifiers, the Soca Warriors (four points) sit second behind favourites Costa Rica (six points). T&T’s remaining qualifiers in the second round will be contested in June 2025 when they face St Kitts and Nevis at home before tackling Costa Rica away from home.

With the top two teams from the group advancing to the final round of Concacaf qualifying, Muckette said T&T need “to get a couple of things right” in order to be in contention for a qualifying spot.

“I think we need to have good performances consistently. I think sometimes our performances are up and down,” he said.

“In my opinion, there was a difference in the quality of opponents (we played in the first two games), but we need to find a way to create chances against tougher opponents and pass the ball against tougher opponents. We can’t do it against weaker opponents only.

“It doesn’t matter who we’re playing against...if we want to qualify for the World Cup, for the very least, we need to be doing these things.”

Muckette said the team wanted to “set things right and get the ball rolling in the right direction” after the draw with Grenada. With the energy and atmosphere in the dressing room lifted after thumping Bahamas, he hopes the T&T players can find the consistency and do the “necessary fundamentals” to keep the 12th man firmly in their corner.

“I understand the frustration that comes with supporting football, and it’s okay to be frustrated and disappointed, but we must support the team regardless.

“Even if you’re disappointed. When we win, support us. When we lose, support us. We’re just trying to do the best for the fans and the country and we’re just trying to put the country where it needs to be again.”

Muckette and the Warriors will next answer the call with a tricky away fixture to Honduras in the 2024/25 Concacaf Nations League A campaign on September 6.

SOURCE: T&T Newsday