Tue, Jun

Warriors ‘fired up’ for Curacao.


THERE was a “heated debate” between Jamal Gay and his Trinidad and Tobago national team captain, Cardiff City striker Kenwyne Jones, after the latter insisted the Rovaniemen Palloseura striker/midfielder was not taking training for the Caribbean Cup as seriously as he should.

Yes, the Soca Warriors are “fired up” and taking today’s opening match of the 2014 Caribbean Cup opening match seriously. Trinidad and Tobago will kick-off the 2014 Caribbean Cup this evening when they meet Curacao from 6.30 (p.m.) at St Catherine’s Hall Sporting Complex in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Later, French Guiana meet defending champions Cuba in another Group A match.

On the field, the Soca Warriors worked hard and fast. Coach Stephen Hart’s only regret was that they were not finishing the good creative work they were doing. Hart also wished he had an extended training period with his entire team, which was minus six European-based players until a day before the tournament’s opening.

“This group worked well. It would be nice, at least once, to have the entire team for an extended period to see what is possible because this group trained very, very well,” Hart said. “There was a lot of competition, good focus and it will be interesting to see how they will start the tournament.”

Captain Jones has rarely been as animated and committed to the cause. Its obvious, he wants to win the Caribbean Cup. Gay complained of Jones trying to “show him up”, while the Soca Warriors captain Jones replied: “all yuh not ready for this, yes.”

As former English Premiership player Jones demonstrated the instruction Gay should have followed, even known figher among the bunch, Daneil Cyrus, intervened telling Gay: “Boy cool it. Is yuh captain. Cool it.”

A day later, it was a mere “laughing moment” among players and staff. Like Kerwyn Jemmott some years ago, central defender Carlyle Mitchell, has long taken over the role of joker among the bunch.

“Imagine Jamal Gay want to beat people,” he commented. And everyone was grinning.

Quarrels occur occasionally, and are a normal part of team dynamics and team building. Footballers quarell. They call each other names. They throw picong. There were also the light moments when the Soca Warriors laughed with each other. Earlier, Gay, again, was centre of attention.

“It was a bad bouce”, Gay explained, as the ball flew bullet-like off his foot during a knock around. Jones, Gay, everyone was in a fit of laughter.

“Bad bounce, (just) a bad bounce,” Gay continued, himself grinning all the way.

Soca Warriors coach Hart is expecting a tough tournament and foremost wants to see the Soca Warriors play in the CONCACAF Gold Cup for a second straight tournament.

“I think the objective is to qualify for the Gold Cup. That’s the competition we want to be in. But we certainly going into the Caribbean Cup with the intention of getting into the final,” Hart said.

And Hart is also not underestimating a Curacao team containing several Netherlands-based plyers.

“A lot of coaches are happy they have gotten the squads they would like to see play. So, it will be a very competitive tournament which is good because everybody is trying to raise the standard and I think we are going to see some very good games.”

T&T men go for opener win against Curacao
T&T Express Reports.

Trinidad and Tobago’s senior men’s team will kick off their challenge for the 2014 Caribbean Cup Finals against Curacao from 5.30 p.m. (6.30 p.m. TT Time) at the Montego Bay Sports Complex, Jamaica.

The game will be the first of a double-header with defending champions and fellow Group A opponents Cuba facing French Guiana from 8 p.m.

The T&T team will have their first feel of the match pitch during the warm-up today as Stephen Hart’s team was not allowed to train there since arriving in Montego Bay on Sunday.

The reason for this from the tournament organisers was that with all matches in the tournament schedule to take place at the venue, it would be unsuitable for competing teams to use the pitch so close to the start of the tournament in order to preserve the state of the pitch.

Hosts Jamaica utilised their home advantage as they were engaged in a training camp in Montego Bay up until this past weekend and were engaged in sessions on the same field.

The CFU allowed three members of the team contingents to have a walk through at the match venue yesterday evening.

T&T had a full session at the Jarrett Park venue yesterday morning as Hart welcomed English-based duo Andre Boucaud and Justin Hoyte while European-based duo Lester Peltier and defender Radanfah Abu Bakr also trained on Monday.

Columbus Crew midfielder Kevan George arrived yesterday while Khaleem Hyland of Belgium club Racing Genk was schedule later in the evening. W Connection defender Joevin Jones missed yesterday’s training due to a slight fever.

Team captain Kenwyne Jones was optimistic about his team’s state of readiness, adding that Curacao would not be underestimated.

“We have the majority of the squad that has been working for all of the past week. We had a session this morning to refresh our minds on the way that we will play going into the tournament. So far the spirit in the camp is really good and hopefully we can start off with a win,” Jones told TTFA Media.

“The qualification for the Gold Cup is the goal but firstly for us we have to believe that we can win the tournament. We are not going to underestimate the opposition. We will go out there and give them the respect they deserve but we are also going to impose ourselves and play hard. I’ve said before that it’s about time we win the Caribbean Cup again and tomorrow is a stepping stone towards that,” the Cardiff City man said.

Iceland-based forward Jonathan Glenn is among the newcomers in the team while Shahdon Winchester and Jamal Gay are back after a lengthy lay off. Leston Paul, Hughtun Hector and Cordell Cato have also recently rejoined Hart’s squad. Jones believes these players are all beginning to mesh with the rest of the line up.

“It’s been a team effort. We had to try and integrate them and of course along with the coach in terms of he plays them and what expects from all of us. I think everyone has played a good part in trying to integrate them and we’ll continue to work on that to ensure we get the finished product the way we would like it to be.”

Hart wants to win every match, knowing that only the winners of both groups will qualify directly for the final. This means that there is no room for slipping up in either of the three group encounters against Curacao, French Guiana or Cuba.

“Of course we want to start with a win tomorrow and for all three matches and then take that into the final,” Hart said after yesterday’s session.

“Things went quite well this morning. The enthusiasm was good and the tackles were coming in. I like when the attitude is right from everybody.

“If you look at the make-up of Curacao I think this is going to be a difficult game for us. They have a number of players coming in from Holland and of course they know they are playing Trinidad and Tobago and know the significance of the game. We will have to be in full focus and concentration,” Hart added about the opponents.

Nothing but three points is what T&T will set out to achieve.

“We’ll be going into this game with every intention off coming out with a result. We have to be disciplined and play very smart position wise and if we keep shape both offensively and defensive then I think this team will do very well,” Hart concluded.