Former national defender Brent Sancho is warning against being fooled by the good performances and impressive results the T&T ‘Soca Warriors’ have had in the past, saying the coming World Cup qualifying encounter against Guatemala in Guatemala will be a “different kettle of fish.”
The Soca Warriors left yesterday afternoon for Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where they will have a training camp before whisking out on November 11 for their match two days later.
The T&T teams is coming off two favourable results at international friendly matches; a 4-4 draw with Concacaf giants Mexico and a 2-1 victory over Panama in Panama City followed two 90-minute periods of impressive football. But Sancho, a former Minister of Sport, is echoing similar sentiments like national coach Stephen Hart, that Guatemala will be no easy encounter.
Sancho explained yesterday that the team will definitely do well but it will all depend on the back five’s ability to compose themselves and keep possession of the ball.
He said if the back five defenders are able to keep their calm and possess the ball then it will take a lot of pressure off the midfielders because the Guatemalans will be coming all-out to unsettle the T&T team from early. “The backbone of any solid team starts from the ability of its defence to function under pressure and start new attacks,” Sancho said.
The T&T lads will face an extremely hostile environment, come Friday. Sancho is predicting that if the players can eliminate the 12th man, which is the crowd support, it will make matters simpler for them.
According to Sancho: “Apart from the hostile environment, it is critical that the team does not concede an early goal because that will destroy their game early. We need to possess the ball and not allow the hype of the Guatemalans to get the better of us. The first ten to 15 minutes will be particularly crucial for us and we must use that time to match-up with our counterparts who will be coming hard at us. We must fight fire with fire and not allow them to build any momentum.”
He told the T&T Guardian he was encouraged by the performances in the past but it has not left him confident that T&T will qualify for the World Cup. “All those matches and results account for nothing right now. What is important is our approach, our strategy and our performance on the day of matches that will determine the outcome” he said.
He noted, however, that he has been particularly encouraged by the team’s ability to play under pressure. “The ability of the team to perform as underdogs under coach Hart is an excellent factor to have now.”
Meanwhile, Sancho is impressing the need for the “Soca Warriors” to get a result from this encounter. Quizzed if we should look for at least one point, he said “You do not go into matches looking for a draw. If the game ends that way it will be good but we must believe that we can get full three points and go after it.”
He also feels that the time has come for the T&T team to be a force at home. He said the T&T team in the past has done better on the road but we were not an intimidating force when we are at home. “This is something we must work on. Teams must know that we are no push-over at home. I can tell you that a result in our second game against the United States will depend largely on how we do against Guatemala,” Sancho said.