Wed, Jun

Lawrence: Mexico the focus, not celebrations.

Head coach Dennis Lawrence says T&T’s celebrations over the Panama victory will be short-lived, as the side must now focus all their attention on Tuesday’s massive clash against Mexico at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo.

The hosts revived their 2018 World Cup dream when they edged Panama 1-0 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Friday night, marking their first win of the campaign after losing their opening two games against Costa Rica and Honduras last November.

But Lawrence warned his players that while they needed to enjoy the result and take confidence from it, Mexico would provide an even bigger challenge.

“We can enjoy it only for five minutes because the focus goes immediately onto Mexico,” the former national defender told a post-game media conference on Friday.

“We have to start preparing. We have to try and take advantage of the situation we are in; the boys are on a high at the moment but we need to start immediately on focussing on Mexico.”

He added: “[I feel] exactly the same as I felt going into the Panama game: optimistic, encouraged but obviously understanding that it’s not going to be easy by any means whatsoever.

“We’re going to have to work, we’ve got a short space of time to prepare for the game. The recovery is very, very important but going into the game I would like to think the boys are going with a little more confidence.”

MLS star Kevin Molino scored the only goal of the game in the 37th minute to put T&T ahead at half-time, and they defended well in the second half to come away with an important three points.

The side, which included veteran striker Kenwyne Jones along with experienced players like Khaleem Hyland and Cordell Cato, seemed to gel well on the pitch, and Lawrence said they had integrated the ideas put forward during the preparation phase.

“I think the players just took on board the work that we’ve been trying to do. The work is to be confident in what we are going to do,” he stressed.

“We have direction, we know exactly what we’re going to do, [we have to] be brave, be confident and go out and do it because you’ve got nothing to lose.”

He contiued: “We are in a situation now where we have to believe in the work that we are going to do. If we work on the training pitch and we work on certain things and then we go into the game and try and do something different, we’re defeating the purpose.”

Lawrence, in his first full international after taking over the troubled World Cup campaign in January, said the side had also sent a positive message to the country.

“I can’t fault the boys for their effort. I thought they all worked very, very hard, they worked as a group and they tried to five the public something [that said] ‘these boys are here fighting for the country.’”

Some 11,618 spectators witnessed the match. Due to the low ticket sales, the T&T Football Association did not give anyone the rights to carry the match on television.

In other CONCACAF qualifiers, Mexico defeated visiting Costa Rica 2-0 and the US won 6-0 at home against Honduras. CMC


Lawrence: No time to celebrate.
By Joel Bailey (Newsday).

TRINIDAD AND Tobago coach Dennis Lawrence said his players have little or no time to celebrate Friday evening’s 1-0 win over Panama in their 2018 FIFA World Cup CONCACAF Zone Final Round qualifier.

The 42-year-old T&T coach, during the post-game media conference at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, stressed, “We can enjoy only five minutes because the focus would be immediately on Mexico. We have to start preparing.” Mexico defeated Costa Rica 2-0 at home on Friday night, and will face the T&T squad at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Tuesday. 

He said he is taking nothing to chance with the Mexico game a couple of days away and is awaiting a report from a scout that attended Mexico’s game. 

“I’ve got an idea what Mexico (are) all about,” said Lawrence. “I managed to send somebody out to watch the Mexico game. We’ll get a report and we’ll work on Mexico immediately.” Lawrence refused to divulge the identity of the person sent to the Mexico-Costa Rica but he pointed out, “It’s one of our coaches who works with the (TT Football Association). 

It’s somebody that I trust.” He continued, “I’m not stupid, I know we’re not wealthy as a nation but there are ways to get things done. I just suggested we’ve got coaches involved in the FA, somebody who I trust, let’s send him to the Mexico game.” Kevin Molino scored in the 37th minute to guarantee full points for the hosts on Friday evening, and Lawrence lauded his forward’s performance. 

“Kevin was outstanding from a point that he was one of our players that allowed us to get up the pitch,” said Lawrence. “He was always involved in everything. It’s just unfortunate that he ran out a bit of gas (but) he was brilliant.”

Reflecting on the goal, the ex-TT defender said, “They (Panama) had one player (defender Roman Torres) off the pitch. I thought we just needed to take advantage of it so I tried to get them to get the ball forward as quick as possible because they were down to 10 men. Fortunately, the boys responded to it and we got the goal.” Asked about his captain Kenwyne Jones’ showing, Lawrence replied, “The captain led by example. 

The captain gave me all what I wanted from him. He gave me every single thing he (could). His decision-making at times could be better but as long as he gives me (effort) I’m happy.” Another shock move in the starting line-up was Daneil Cyrus moving from his usual position as right-back to centre-back, due to the unavailability of Sheldon Bateau (suspension), Radanfah Abu Bakr and Carlyle Mitchell (injury). 

“Before I left Trinidad to go abroad (to coach), that’s the position I saw him play. And I thought he was a good centre back. We tried him in training. He did well (against Panama) but he has to keep his concentration going all the way through.” About the supporters who attended Friday’s game, the TT coach urged them to not give up and urge the players forward as they seek to qualify for Russia 2018. 

“I want to thank them for their efforts. We have to start believing as a nation that it can be done. It is very difficult but it can be done. 

We just need to get away from the idea that when it looks like it’s going to happen we’ll jump on board. 

Let’s get behind the boys now,” he declared. 

Panama coach Hernan Gomez was so upset by the result that he refused all requests for interviews, by both the local and Panama journalists.