Trinidad and Tobago’s senior footballers will aim to extend their three-match winning streak when they face off with a tricky Bermudan outfit at the National Sports Centre, Hamilton in a CONCACAF 2014 World Cup qualifier from 8pm (7pm T&T Time).
A near capacity crowd of 4,000 is expected to pack the venue and DirecTV North East Stars and former Sunderland forward Stern John will lead his teammates into battle knowing fully well that anything less than three points could put them under some pressure to top the current group with Guyana breathing down their necks on maximum six points as well.
Trinidadian Jamaal Shabazz is Guyana’s technical director and he will be following the match with keen interest as he prepares the Guyanese for their encounter with Barbados in Kingston. That match will finish two hours prior to the start of the clash in Hamilton.
T&T assistant coach Anton Corneal said the current T&T squad meant serious business and will look to finish off the Bermudans who are desperate for a victory to stay alive in the campaign.
The T&T squad includes Orlando City duo Devorn Jorsling and Kevin Molino, European-based trio Khaleem Hyland of Belgium giants Racing Genk, Lester Peltier and Radanfah Abu Bakr as well as Puerto Rico Islanders’ Osei Telesford, sturdy defender Seon Power and Philadelphia Union midfielder Keon Daniel among others.
“We know it’s an important game for both teams but it comes down to who wants it more and I believe this current squad, despite the fact that we are missing a few of our regular players, is hungry for success and they will give their all to get a win,” Corneal told TTFF Media.
“The surface is in excellent condition based on what we saw at our training session today (Thursday) and it means it is there for good football to be played on. Bermuda will be thinking it’s an excellent chance to get a result at home against us but we will prove otherwise on the day.”
John meantime has scored twice before against Bermuda in World Cup qualifying action. A 66th minute goal in the 2-0 win over the hosts in 2008 pushed T&T through to the semi-final stage after Bermuda upset T&T 2-1 in the first leg. And under Leo Beenhakker, T&T won a friendly at home 1-0 with John again the goalscorer in 2005.
John’s goal then came at a time when he was struggling for goals and another crucial goal followed up a week later in a 2-0 win over Panama in a World Cup qualifier.
John also netted in a previous 4-0 win over the same opponents a few days earlier with Dennis Lawrence and Kenwyne Jones also among the scorers. Former defender Marlon Rojas was also in the T&T line up that day. The former Police player is now a resident in Bermuda and stopped by to wish the team well on Thursday.
“I think we have a team that is capable of producing good football and getting results. I think once we play to plan avoid any silly mistakes as well as play hard for 90 minutes then we can win our game.
Obviously with me being one of the more experienced players on the team now I will try my best to lead by example and encourage the guys to do the right things out there,” John said.
Defender Julius James, now at John’s former club Columbus Crew, is focused on the task at hand.
“It’s the most important game for us because it’s the next game in front of us and we need three points. I’d like to help my teammates as much as I can and this is another opportunity to do this now.
It’s a blessing being in this preliminary stage. We’ve all played together at some point in our careers and this camp in Bermuda before the game would have done us well,” James said.
The Bermuda FA meantime have been granted planning permission to build a US$1 million FIFA funded headquarters to be named in honour of ex-West Ham hero Clyde Best.
The Clyde Best Centre of Excellence will be a two story building, located on the same site as BFA Field, complete with changing rooms, offices, a conference room and a storage area on the upper level. And with that news their General Secretary David Sabir said it would be ideal to celebrate it with a win over the “Soca Warriors”
“What a great result it would be for us to beat Trinidad in a World Cup qualifier. Our fans will be coming out to give us that support and we’ll be trying to make life hard for the Soca Warriors,” Sabir said.
A small group of Trinidadians living on the island including journalist Gary Moreno also intend to make their presence felt, backed by a rhythm section, in support of T&T’s attempt to get another win on the Road to Brazil.
T&T take on Bermuda in World Cup qualifier.
By Ian Prescott (Express).
The Soca Warriors are ready. The feeling in camp yesterday was that Trinidad and Tobago's Soca Warriors are ready to win three points, but expect a fight from the home team, Bermuda.
The teams meet tonight from 7 p.m. (T&T time) in a Brazil 2014 CONCACAF Zone second round World Cup football qualifier, at the National Stadium, just outside the capital, Hamilton.
Among the players "feeling it" is T&T's Columbus Crew defender Julius James, who is expected to maintain a solid partnership in central defence with athletic North East Stars man Seon Power.
"We definitely expect to win this game," James declared yesterday. "We trained pretty hard the first few days, it tapered off as we approach the game, and now we will be fresh for tomorrow (today).
"But, we are also expecting Bermuda to go for it because this is their last chance," James said. "Bermuda have no more opportunities after this because they lost their first two matches.
But, we did the scouting and everything and I think we are prepared right now, and we expect to come out with a win from this game."
T&T go into the match with a maximum six points after victories over Bermuda (1-0) and Barbados (2-0). Yesterday, the Soca Warriors' German head coach Otto Pfister held a one-hour session at the venue, beginning at 10 0'clock in the morning.
Just a two-hour flight from New York, there is a definite autumn chill in Bermuda. What the Soca Warriors have to look forward to tonight is probably slightly chilly conditions, and playing before a hostile crowd on an immaculate surface at the Bermuda National Stadium.
But, the Soca Warriors can also expect "big" support from Trinis living in Bermuda and New York.
During yesterday's session, Pfister took a final look at some of the players vying for spots made vacant by the absence of five regulars.
Stoke City striker and captain Kenwyne Jones, Darryl Roberts, Anthony Wolfe and Chris Birchall will all miss the match through injury, while Ipswich Town player Carlos Edwards is attending to a personal matter.
Pfister wanted a closed session yesterday, but eventually gave in when two T&T and three Bermudan media houses showed up.
The German seems to be looking at Puerto Rico Islander Osei Telesford to fill the right back position vacated by the injured Wolfe.
Telesford, who started in Bermuda three years ago when the Soca Warriors won 2-0, returns to the position he played in under former coach Wim Rijsbergen. Pfister also seems to be considering former French League player Kevaungn Connell and T&TEC's Akeem Adams for the left back position.
Belgium-based midfielder Khaleem Hyland, young Kevin Molino, Keon Daniel, Lester Peltier, Hayden Tinto and keeper Marvin Phillips are also possible starters.
The squad will be captained by former Birmingham City (England) striker Stern John, who is T&T's all-time top-scorer with 70 international goals in 112 matches.
With five starters missing from the T&T team that edged Bermuda 1-0 on September 2 in Port of Spain, Bermuda are counting on T&T being a weakened team. Not so, says T&T assistant coach Anton Corneal, who addressed the media in the absence of Pfister, who never speaks before matches.
"There are changes, but many of these guys have played with the national team before. So, we are not bringing in new faces to the team," Corneal said. "It's just a matter of them getting a feel for each other, but they have played with each other in the past.
"We had four, five days here and it was nice for the players to be with each other for a such a long time. This is a qualifier, and we take every qualifier seriously. This first game was just as important as this one. It's just a matter of us remaining focused now."