Simoes: I know how T&T plays
Trinidad and Tobago will go for their second victory in this current World Cup qualifying campaign when they take on home side Costa Rica at the Ricardo Saprissa Stadium in San Jose from 8 pm (10pm TT time) on Saturday.
With nothing to play for other than honour and trying to break the jinx of never winning on the road to Costa Rica, the “Soca Warriors” will also attempt to make life difficult for the Rene Simoes coached outfit who are still in with a chance of advancing to South Africa 2010.
And having coached the Caribbean team before, the Brazilian-born “Professor” will not take his former side lightly.
“I know Trinidadian football," insisted Simoes. “They will play a tough game; they will play a free game. In 2001, when I coached Trinidad, we went to Honduras after we were eliminated and we beat them in San Pedro Sula with ten men! So I will not look past them.
Simoes also wasn’t bothered about the short period he had to prepare the team since taking over from Rodrigo Kenton. "When you start talking about the weather or the surface of the field or the amount of time you have, that's an easy way to lose a game before you even kick off," he remarked. "We want to think, 'yes, we can do this.' So let's use the time we have and do it."
The new coach also stamped his authority on the squad list from the start, calling old captain Luis Marin out of retirement, recalling 35-year-old Rolando Fonseca and dismissing Gilberto Martinez. "I want only strong men in my squad," he declared. "I want winners, thinking players who understand we must win now."
Celso Borges was the double scorer in the 3-2 win in Tobago. That victory was not only Cost Rica’s last win in the final round but it was also the last time they found the net.
Dwight Yorke, now assistant coach to Russell Latapy, said on the eve of the encounter that T&T will try to weather the early storm from the homeside.
“We have come here with good intentions to get a good result. Obviously we have a one or two changes with a few under 20 players but we are here nonetheless to give the best account possible and to get a result even though we are out of the race for South Africa,” Yorke told TTFF Media.
“We have to be very careful because Costa Rica needs the points and Trinidad and Tobago needs the win just for the sake of team spirit and honour. We know it’s going to be a difficult game but we will try to have the right balance. We have a duty to the rest of the teams in the group to play our best game. And it’s vital that we just don’t come here and get beaten without giving a good fight,” Yorke said.
Yorke, asked by Costa Rican media as to why T&T were now out of the running, replied “There are a number of situations we can look back on… maybe not taking our chances against El Salvador when we were winning with ten minutes to go.
We had key players missing vital games and there are other issues we can look at. We are in a transitional period but it’s down to us now as managers and players to look at ourselves now and bring things back into perspective and plan for the future,” the ex-Manchester United star stated.
Dennis Lawrence and Carlos Edwards were among those not considered for selection when Simoes was in charge of the senior team and the duo will be keen to prove their worth in this game.
“It would be nice to get the win and to show that as a team as well we have a lot more to offer than some people think. I would love to make a contribution to help us finish the campaign with more points and get us higher up on the FIFA rankings,” Edwards said.
The likes of Kenwyne Jones, goalkeepers Marvin Phillip and Jan Michael Williams as well as DC United defender Julius James will be all too familiar with Simoes, having played under him at the 2001 FIFA Under 17 World Championship.
And the current crop of Under 20 players such as Leston Paul, Juma Clarence, Robert Primus, Glenroy Samuel, Jake Thomson and Shahdon Winchester will be overly eager for a chance to impress.
Joe Public striker Kerry Baptiste was the lone scorer in the 4-1 loss to Honduras and is hoping to continue his run on the road. “Definitely it’s a good opportunity for players like me and the other home-based pros to put in a good performance and try to help us finish on a high,” Baptiste said.
Surely Latapy would love no other result than what his players are all aiming for.
American Jair Marrufo will carry the whistle with countryman Charles Morgante and Jamaican Ricardo Morgan as his assistants.
There is also expected to be small clip of some 30 T&T supports at the Stadium, some of them having made the trip over from Port of Spain and Miami.