Wed, Oct

The Management Staff of the Trinidad and Tobago Senior Team got some news to feel a bit better about the day following the disappointing exit from the 2005 CONCACAF Gold Cup after it was learnt that players Chris Birchall and Avery John would be available for the next 2006 World Cup qualifier against United States despite receiving double cautions in the Gold Cup.

It was earlier thought that both players would have to sit the game out as a rule in the Gold Cup stated that if a player had not serve a suspension in the current tournament, then it would run over into the World Cup matches which would mean that the two players, having received two yellow cards and not having to play another Gold Cup match would then miss the USA clash. However, Ted Howard, Deputy General Secretary of CONCACAF informed the T&T camp late on Wednesday that the rule only applies to players who received a red card and were unable to serve the suspension in the Gold Cup. So now both Birchall and John are available to face the Americans on Connecticut on August 17.

While Panamanian and Colombian players were both walking head high in Inter-Continental Hotel on Thursday with their passages booked to the “quarters”, some T&T overseas-based players made their exits out of Miami while the contingent scheduled to return to T&T on the same day were kept back at the Hotel due to cancellation of flights caused by Tropical Storm Emily. Head coach Leo Beenhakker and the rest of the local contingent are now scheduled to leave Miami on Thursday morning for a three-hour flight to home.  Both Kelvin Jack and  Birchall headed back for London after learning via television that they had come out front in Fox Sports World’s “Play of the Day” and “Goal of the Week” ratings respectively.  

On Tuesday night, Beenhakker didn’t shy away from T&T’s disappointing end to the Cup,  making  it clear that the focus would be on getting the “Warriors” sharpened for the Americans.

The players were very well aware that the criticism would come their way again after it took  a turn for the better following their encouraging performances in the past two qualifiers against Panama and Colombia. But now it could all be back to square one regarding the views of the fans. Nigel "Tallman" Myers of the US-based crew which formed much of the T&T fan base at the matches, sent a letter to the team camp saying the fans were not just disappointed with the performance on Tuesday, but felt badly that the players did not acknowledge their presence in the stands after the loss. He said though that they were still hopeful of a rise in performance and would continue to support the team.

“We made a mess of  ourselves and I know all the guys agree it was like watching an amateur team play even though we know we are all professionals and capable of putting in a professional performance,” captain Stern John admitted to TTFF Media.

”We never earned the right to play in the quarter finals with such a performance as we had today. I’m speaking for myself and the rest of the guys. It’s the third Gold Cup I have been to and then have to go home after the first round. It’s a worse feeling when you see that the other teams aren’t better than us. It really was a case where we beat ourselves. This can only be a positive for us because we played two good games against Panama and Mexico and then the expectations went high up. This Gold Cup performance has brought us back down to earth and make us realize that we have to be more consistent and work harder in all departments of the game.”

Beenhakker added “It’s down to us and how much we really want to achieve this goal of getting to the World Cup. Now it’s just down to the World Cup and the next job is preparing for the match against the USA in a month’s time. We would have had a chance to see our wrong doings in the Gold Cup and we realize that. We will work on it and move on. We must be able to get it right as a team again and not just do relatively good but good enough to get results.”