Destiny Day! That’s how this country’s National Under 17 footballers have billed Wednesday February 23, 2011 as they head into what is undoubtedly the biggest game of their careers to date when they face Canada in the quarter final of the Concacaf Final Round with a place at the 2011 FIFA Under 17 World Cup at stake.
The winner of Wednesday’s match will be automatic qualifiers for the World Cup in Mexico in June as well as a place in the semi-finals of the current tournament. The losers go home. T&T defeated Canada 2-1 in a Group phase match in the 2007 edition of the World Cup qualifiers in Kingston, Jamaica.
Trinidadian Steven Hart was the Canada head coach at the time. He is also currently attached to their Federation while T&T’s head coach back then Anton Corneal is with the T&T team at present at Holiday Inn Resorts in Montego Bay.
Current T&T head coach Shawn Cooper is quietly confident of a winning performance.
“We’ve prepared for this day for some time now. We had some obstacles along the way like Jamaica and Guatemala but we overcame them and now only Canada stands in our way of a place at the 2011 World Cup,” Cooper told TTFF Media following a training session on Tuesday at the Hilton Hotel grounds.
“The boys have done us proud, they have been disciplined, organized and they have showed a level of dedication that has been pleasing. Now it’s down to another football match to determine if we progress to the bigger stage which is the world stage in Mexico.
“I recall when we hosted the finals in 2001 and then when Anton took the team to Korea in 2007. This time we have to take everything into consideration.
We’ve been there before and we know what it takes to qualify for a World Cup at all levels. We’ve had a good look at Canada and they are an organized team that hasn’t conceded a goal in the tournament. We intend to change that,” Cooper added.
Canada drew 0-0 with Honduras and topped Barbados 8-0 and their head coach Stephen Flemming is understandably also confident ahead of the encounter.
“Our boys are very eager to play,' said Fleming. “The spirit in camp has been good and everyone is raring to go.
“They (T&T) are a well organized team with some great individuals on the team. We know it will be a great match. Trinidad and Tobago has given up just one goal in free play in their two matches. We know they are going to be ready.”
The Canadians have had some support in Montego Bay with several visitors staying at the Holiday Inn Resort and Cooper is also hoping that some of the “Trinis” on the island turn up at Catherine Hall Park from midday (1pm T&T time) to show support in their Red,White and Black.
T&T’s Shackeil Henry has been the leading marksman with two goals while Adan Noel notched the winner against Guatemala. Garvin Samaroo has also been a goal getter for the T&T outfit.
“We are ready to give it our best shot,” team skipper Duane Muckette added. “It’s a very big game for us but we will give it the respect it deserves.
We will play to the best of our ability and I hope it will be enough to get the better of Canada on the day. They are a good, organized team so we cannot afford to underestimate them in any area,” the captain concluded.
Local fans can follow the action live via www.concacaf.com