Sun, Oct

Warriors gear up for Concacaf semis.

T&T Soca Warriors will play an international friendly against a Central American or African nation on October 12 or 13, before kicking off its 2018 Concacaf semifinal qualifiers.

This was confirmed by T&TFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips when contacted yesterday for an update on the team’s preparations ahead of its World Cup qualifying campaign which begins on November 13 away to Guatemala, followed by a home clash four days later versus USA.

St Vincent and The Grenadines is the other team in the group from which the top two will advance to the six-team Concacaf final round.

It was initially thought the Stephen Hart-coached Soca Warriors preparations for the World Cup qualifiers would be derailed by its home-and-away Copa America 2016 playoff matches with Haiti.

However, word reaching the T&TFA is that the Copa America tie will not be played until later in the year, giving Hart ample time to focus on his team’s World Cup qualifying Group C preparations.

Phillips said a warm-up game with Panama in Panama City was finalised for October 8 and discussions were on going with a number of associations with regards to the second Fifa international date in the month.

Pressed as to a possible opponent, Phillips hinted that Nicaragua was one of the teams with which the T&TFA was holding discussions.

“We have taken note of the performance of the Nicaraguans in their series against Jamaica and we see them as a possible warm-up for the second match in October, but we also are exploring the options of an African nation,” stated Phillips.

The son of former national goalkeeper, Lincoln Phillips, the younger Phillips confirmed that no matter which team T&T plays, the match on October 12 or 13 will be played here in Trinidad.

“It’s just a matter of us confirming which venue between the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva and the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo based on their availability,” stated Phillips.

In their recent warm-up, the Soca Warriors squandered a 2–0 lead before drawing 3–3 with Mexico in Salt Lake City, Utah, on September 4, less than two months after a 4–4 thriller at the Concacaf Gold Cup.

T&T’s drawn result has now seen coach Hart improve his overall record to 12 wins, nine loses and five  draws in 26 matches.

The winner of the T&T and Haiti home-and-away series will qualify for next year’s Copa America Championship, the 100th edition, which will be held in the USA.

The 16-nation Centenario is scheduled to run from June 3-26 and includes the ten South American teams and six invited teams from Concacaf, led by USA and Mexico, the recent Gold Cup winners.

The South American contingent includes Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay while recent Gold Cup runner-up Jamaica and Costa Rica have sealed places from Concacaf and will be joined by the winners of the T&T/Haiti, and Panama/Cuba home-and-away ties.