Soca Warriors target US in World Cup qualifier
Trinidad and Tobago's most accomplished footballer, Dwight Yorke, yesterday set sights on another piece of sporting history as he vowed to help the "Soca Warriors" achieve their first victory over the United States in a senior competitive fixture.
"We know the history about them," said Yorke, who played in the infamous November 19 qualifier against the US at the same venue 19 years ago. "They always seem to get the better of us, but I think the tables are turning."
Yorke was absent, last month, when the Warriors fell 3-0 to the US in Chicago, but the North Americans travelled with a radically different squad for their next fixture. Coach Bob Bradley left nine regular players out of his team to face Trinidad and Tobago.
But the Warriors captain and Sunderland ace does not intend to be distracted by Bradley's tinkering.
"We would be silly to underestimate the US," said the former Manchester United stand-out. "They are in a position to make those kind of changes, but we have to eradicate that from our minds.
"Our main aim is to try and get three points no matter what they put in front of us."
Yorke, 36, remained on the Hasely Crawford field yesterday evening after most of his teammates retreated to the dressing room following their work-out. He juggled the ball and traded some long passes with teammate and national record goal-scorer, Stern John.
Yorke praised the present squad but was quick to point out the influence of the more experienced players like Russell Latapy, Dennis Lawrence, John and himself in extracting the right approach from their younger colleagues.
On cue, another player from the 2006 qualifying campaign, Wrexham utility player Silvio Spann, landed at Piarco International Airport yesterday evening and can be a surprise addition tomorrow.
Spann, 27, has 34 international caps, although he has not represented his country since head coach Francisco Maturana's first game at the helm against Guadeloupe in February.
Another veteran happy to put in a shift is 36-year-old Walsall goalkeeper Clayton Ince, who set a T&T record for clean sheets in World Cup qualifying action on Saturday.
Ince's shut-out away to Guatemala was his tenth for Trinidad and Tobago, which is one more than present goalkeeper coach and former stand-out Michael Maurice and six more than retired custodians Shaka Hislop and Kelvin Barclay.
"It means a lot to me," said Ince, who was excluded since the country's opening World Cup qualifying 2-1 loss to Bermuda in June. "As a goalkeeper, the most important thing is a clean sheet I don't know what the future holds for me as in the past I lost my place to Shaka Hislop and Kelvin Jack.
"This is my opportunity to show that I have improved and learned from my mistakes and have progressed in my career."
Another clean sheet tomorrow could be priceless.
The team did several warm-up exercises yesterday before a practice match among themselves.
Cyd Gray and Anthony Wolfe, who are suspended for tomorrow's qualifier, took part and Gray expressed confidence in his teammates' ability to get the job done without him.
"I felt hard done by against Guatemala," said Gray, who said that he intentionally walked slowly off the field to give the Warriors maximum time to regroup after his controversial expulsion. "It will be hard for me to miss out but I have a lot of faith in my teammates."
Yorke was thrilled with Saturday's showing and promises similar gusto tomorrow once the players recover physically.
"I am a little battered and bruised after such a gruelling encounter," said a grinning Yorke. "But the old bones are still intact and determined to go ahead. I am blessed with good genes from my family
"I must pay tribute to the lads for an outstanding performance away from home in such a hostile situation."
The Warriors, according to Yorke, cannot wait to do even better in front of their own supporters and create some history along the way.