Experienced Trinidad and Tobago duo Sheldon Bateau and team captain Khaleem Hyland are hoping to see a continuous run of improvement by the National Senior Team as the build up continues to next June’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Both players reflected on Thursday’s 1-0 defeat to Iran in Tehran, following the match in which they pointed out that the T&T team was able to compete with the 2018 World Cup participants but now needs to put in the extra effort in order to achieve positive results against such quality opponents.
“The effort from everyone was great. It was a heavy pitch and a tough game. We all know Iran is a tough team with their participation at the last two World Cups. They have had good coach for a very long time in Carlos Queiroz and a lot of experience an they showed they had a good game today,” Hyland told TTFA Media “ We stuck with them until we conceded an easy goal. I think maybe we decided a bit later to push the throttle and go all out.
In terms of what he felt was the biggest take away from the encounter, Hyland added, “The attitude is what we can take away from this game. The willingness to fight, to help each other and be willing to sacrifice until the last minute was great and we just have to take that on board. I can see the team is getting stronger and we just have to continue until the Gold Cup.
“You can clearly see we’ve played very well. We came out victorious against UAE and then we lost to a soft goal against Thailand similar to what happened tonight versus Iran. But the work effort and the ability of players, willing to work and fight shows what the coach wants us to do. Clearly his message is being passed on to the guys and it is being picked up by them,” Hyland stated
Kazakhstan-based defender Sheldon Bateau felt there were some factors to be pleased with.
“I want to commend the team on its effort which I felt we did well with. Result wise it was disappointing because I think we have what it takes to play with these teams and get a result. Iran was definitely a good team. They play at a high level consistently. We played in spurts. For me personally I want to see the guys work more on themselves. I think if we can have some individual improvement then as a team we can do much better,” Bateau said.
Iran head coach Carlos Queiroz said after the match that he has seen growth in the T&T side since the last meeting between both teams in Sao Paolo in 2014 and the former San Juan Jabloteh player commented on that, saying “ “Before we had good players and even a good coach but I guess football is a sport where you have your moments. I think now we are in a good moment. Most of the players have been together for a while and working with coach Dennis for a while also. I think we have seen the improvement game by game and you saw it with the last three performances. It’s just for us as individuals to keep improving and working on things that needs improvement as we look ahead to the Gold Cup next year and the next World Cup qualifying campaign.”
The T&T-based contingent of the squad returned home on Saturday morning following a fourteen-hour journey from Tehran to New York via Dubai prior to the final four and half hour trip to Port of Spain.
T&T Captain Hyland reflects on Loss to Iran