‘Disappointed’ is how national coach Stephen Hart described the 2-0 loss to Costa Rica in the opening match in the Final round of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo on Friday night.
Despite an excellent display on the field, the ‘Soca Warriors’ missed the chance of securing at least a point when a defensive blunder in the 65th minute allowed Christian Gaboa to thread a pass to an unmarked Christian Bolanos in front goal to collect and slot home.
However, Hary said at the post-match press conference that he could not fault the T&T players in the game, saying: “When the game was 0-0, Keilor Navas pulled off a save that he should not have made. And when a goalkeeper makes a save like that it allows you to win the game. You wait for your one chance because they are so patient and as I said, they didn't punish Jan Michael Williams. Jan wasn't busy, but they waited and waited until they got a chance and they took it, but we didn't take ours.”
According to Hart: “I thought we were in control of the game for very long periods. Jan really didn't have much work to do and then we got the goal scored on us. The second goal I really can't care about because the second goal was a product of trying to come back and tie the game.”
He noted: “Costa Rica played with a set formation which included three centre backs and two wing backs. Coming into the game, what was the tactic to penetrate that very dense system? I thought we did well. What we did was we took away the pockets that they wanted to receive the ball in, which was Bolanos and Bryan Ruiz Gonzalez and made them play the ball wide first before we go to press it.
And I thought we were doing okay with that and then they tried to get Randall Azofeifa Corrales on the ball off of the three centre backs and he ended up the playmaker. Both Kenwyne Jones and Jomal James contained him quite well. But as I said, I am disappointed.”
Hart believes it was just not their day as his players functioned well in all departments of the game, but had nothing to show for it.
Quizzed specifically on whether he was satisfied with the way the team defended, Hart replied: “Yes, One mistake really cost us the goal. The second goal, you know you are trying to get back something and they scored. I won't pay much attention to that myself. But I mean really and truly I thought it was a decent team performance tonight.”
The coach admitted, however, that from the videos and details he looked at, he observed the Costa Ricans love to come down the right side, but they switched up and came down a lot on the left side. “Maybe we should have read that a little bit better, but we got away in the first half without conceding many chances. I think they got one header which went wide from a free cross and maybe as footballers, you have to sort a problem out on the field as the players could not hear me.”
Hart also scuffed at concerns of captain Kenwyne Jones’ workload up front with Jomal Williams, telling reporters the duo worked really hard for the match.
According to Hart, he wanted Jomal to play off Kenwyne and use his dribbling ability to help Joevin and Cato do some penetration, noting whether it was the right or wrong decision to play Williams, they needed someone to play that sort of #number 10 role. After the victory the Costa Ricans were whisked away to the Piarco International Airport enroute to home while the T&T team was scheduled to leave yesterday evening for San Pedro Sula for their next match with Honduras.