Thu, Dec

John defends team selection against Mexico.

T&T's un­der-17 foot­ballers will face Hon­duras in the round of 16 to­mor­row from 10:00 am with a re­al­is­tic chance of pro­gress­ing.

The match comes af­ter a de­mor­al­is­ing 5-0 thrash­ing at the hands of CON­CA­CAF gi­ants Mex­i­co at the IMG Acad­e­my in Flori­da, USA on Sun­day, is ex­pect­ed to be a bat­tle for the ju­nior So­ca War­riors, na­tion­al coach Stern John has said in a post-match in­ter­view.

John, the coun­try's lead­ing goalscor­er of all times, sought to de­fend his de­ci­sion to leave out more than five reg­u­lar play­ers from the start­ing team against the Mex­i­cans on Sun­day, say­ing in tour­na­ment foot­ball you have to use your en­tire bench.

"If we try to use our main play­ers, as they say, you wouldn't want to run them to the ground and get them ex­haust­ed. The knock-out stage is more im­por­tant to us. Get to the knock-out phase, win a cou­ple of games and we can be in the World Cup," John said.

He not­ed that though it was a dif­fi­cult loss, his play­ers can on­ly learn from it, ahead of an ex­treme­ly huge Hon­duras en­counter.

"Com­ing in­to that game we knew we had al­ready qual­i­fied for the round of 16 and we want­ed to fresh­en up a bit, and give the guys who were play­ing the ma­jor­i­ty of games, a bit of rest. Our main thing was to qual­i­fy for the sec­ond round and we did that. Now we look for­ward to play­ing in the knock-out on Wednes­day. I think we are re­al­ly dis­ap­point­ed with the re­sult," John ex­plained.

How­ev­er, he be­lieved his play­er did their best. "The guys gave their all and I am proud of them. It was not the re­sult I was look­ing for but it was a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for the guys, one that they will not for­get, so now we can move on from there."

"I think the guys un­der­stand what they have to do and they are up to the bat­tle. And the team is re­al­ly to­geth­er as the play­ers were re­al­ly dis­ap­point­ed by the loss." De­spite the loss, the ju­nior So­ca War­riors ad­vanced as the sec­ond place team in Group E, with six points be­hind group win­ners Mex­i­co who were un­beat­en on nine points.

Al­so on Wednes­day, Ja­maica which was third in Group E fol­low­ing their vic­to­ry over Bermu­da will take on El Sal­vador from 4 pm: Haiti faces the Do­mini­can Re­pub­lic at 10:00 am: and Mex­i­co will be up against Puer­to Ri­co from 12 noon.