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Sun, Jul

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LEO BEENHAKKER has lost defender Avery John to suspension.


John picked up consecutive yellow cards against the United States and Guatemala in World Cup qualifying.

Beenhakker's plans, though, have not changed.

"We have no other solution when playing for the third and fourth place. Now, we have to play to win. We have no other choice. That'sthe consequence of the situation in the group. And once again you can see in the beginning what I said before. Forget the USA and forget Mexico. We are playing our own tournament now with Costa Rica, Panama and Guatemala."

The Warriors leave at 7.30 a.m. today aboard an American Airlines flight to Miami. After a six hour stay in Miami, they then travel to Costa Rica, arriving there at 7 .30 p.m (9.30 TT time).

Yesterday, the team had a one-hour morning stretch at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, to relax the muscles after their exertions a day earlier when scoring an exciting 3-2 win over Guatemala. Beenhakker has no injury worries, but now has to do without Avery John. The coach, however, welcomes the news of the return of lanky defender Dennis Lawrence who saw the Guatemala game from the sidelines, after picking up a red card against the Americans last month.

Beenhakker, meanwhile, has praised two-goal hero Stern John. Twice, the Dutch-born coach described the striker as a great player.

Beenhakker said that as far as he is concerned, Stern, and not captain Dwight Yorke, is his first call striker.

He added that Stern was his target man and all the other strikers (Yorke included) , though equally talented, would feed off the work Stern is doing.

"I heard a lot of critics about Stern John since I am here. I know he doesn't have a lot of friends here in Trinidad. From the beginning I gave my confidence to the guy. This is a guy who has the same right as any other player. Sometimes you play good, sometimes you play bad, sometimes you play unlucky. But once again, I am very, very thankful he could demonstrate today he is a great player. He is a fantastic player, and it's the only type of target player there is at the moment. The other strikers are as good as he, but they have different talents. They are players who play around the first striker. He is a great target player."

Beenhakker 's team go to San Jose to face a Costa Rica team that may need just four points to secure CONCACAF's third automatic qualifying spot at the World Cup, after beating Panama 3-1 on Saturday.

Not expecting to beat the Americans, Costa Rica will be looking for their remaining points against Trinidad and Tobago, who they play on Wednesday, and away to Guatemala on October 12, the final day of the CONCACAF qualifying competition.

Costa Rica would not want to leave it to the last day of the competition to qualify for Germany and so, will be going all out to beat T&T on Wednesday.

But if Trinidad & Tobago win, it opens up the possibility of grabbing the third automatic qualifying spot, and not the fourth spot, which would earn them a meeting with either Bahrain or Uzbekistan. The two Asian teams met on Saturday, and Uzbekistan edged Bahrain 1-0 in the home leg of their two-match playoff.

Both Guatemala and Trinidad and Tobago are on seven points, and contending for the fourth spot. But Guatemala may have thrown away their chances with the loss to T&T. They end their campaign against the USA on Wednesday, Mexico on October 8 and Costa Rica on October 12.

Traditionally, Guatemala have not done well against those three opponents.