Disappointed is how national football coach Dennis Lawrence feels after his team was beaten 2-0 by Honduras in the CONCACAF Nations League at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo on Thursday night.
Speaking during a post-match press conference at the VIP Lounge of the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Lawrence said he felt that way not only because of the result but because he didn’t see a game that had anything in it to warrant seven bookings, including two red cards and a hurtful loss for his team.
He also defended Levi Garcia, who was red-carded in the match for his second bookable offence, saying he didn’t think his challenge on a player was deserving of a card. T&T’s Mekeil Williams, who came on as a second-half substitute, was also shown a straight red card for a tackle on a Honduran striker.
The result now makes T&T’s chances of progressing out of the group and qualifying for the Qatar World Cup in 2022 very slim, if not impossible.
The Soca Warriors will next face the Hondurans on November 17 in a return match, but Lawrence could potentially have to defend himself and his team again, as he again lamented the challenges he faces in producing a competitive team without a functioning T&T Professional Football League.
His troubles appear to have been exacerbated by players repeating mistakes of the past. Lawrence said this means that players are not learning and called on them to start taking responsibility for their performances.
“When I look back at the game tonight, I thought we did very well. We competed well, we managed the ball well," Lawrence said.
"And then the second half started and there was nothing in the game and then one incident where we gave away a very soft goal, from my opinion, a very poor defensive, individual decision and then we’re there, chasing the game.”
He added, “Then we get a red card and then another red card as we were chasing the game. The second goal was irrelevant because we were trying to get back into the game.”
Lawrence, who has now gone some 13 matches without a victory as the coach, believes the only way to fix the problems the team is plagued with is to work harder and bring in new and younger players while the team shifts its focus on the long term, with an encounter with Venezuela on the table.
He said the technical staff will now have to take the risk of using young players in key matches and this would have severe consequences on the country’s FIFA/CONCACAF rankings and World Cup qualifying chances.
“You’ve got short-term, medium-term and you’ve got long term goals, and the way I think we ought to look at now is long term," he said.
"Once the Nations League structure came into play we were always going to face this challenge because every game now counts for something. So the fact that there is no more international friendly match per se means giving a young player an opportunity becomes more difficult.
“This is because you need to put them in a competitive environment. Now you look at it and ask yourself is he ready or is he not?... So the only way you’re going to find out is by putting him in the situation. So we have Venezuela now and the only way you will know if somebody like Keston Julien or Andre Fortune is ready is by putting them in the situation.”