National Under 23 captain Sheldon Bateau says his teammates are taking nothing for granted as they continue their build up for the upcoming CONCACAF Final round of Olympic qualification in the US.
T&T are grouped with Mexico, Panama and Honduras for the tournament in March in California with two spots at stake for the 2012 London Olympics. Following T&T’s defeat to St Kitts/Nevis which saw the Angus Eve-led team rebound with a 9-1 beating of Suriname, Bateau says his troops must be wary of their opponents in every encounter.
“We have experienced defeat already so we know what it feels like and it’s never a pleasant feeling for any player, especially when you lose so badly to a team like St Kitts. No disrespect to them but we really shouldn’t be conceding heavily to them even though they were good on the day,” Bateau said.
“But we also went to the Pan American Games and held our own against much higher rated teams and the people didn’t expect us to do that. For this next round, I think the guys know it’s now or never. This is our chance to qualify for an Olympics and make up for some of the pain we felt when we were knocked out of Brazil 2014.
“I know some of the guys on the under-23 team felt that they could have made it into the team in 2014 but now we have to wait until 2018 for another World Cup. So, this is now the perfect chance to qualify for a major event as early as 2012,” Bateau added. The T&T under-23s will face Finland in a friendly in Tobago on January 25th.