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Thu, Sep

Soca Warriors unimpressive display, Sancho: T&T lacked energy, purpose.
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Dear Editor,

After getting by a poor Guyana outfit with a mediocre performance, we all hoped for a win and a better display against unheralded Puerto Rico on Sunday. I was left distinctly unimpressed by what was, in fact, a worse display; one in which, but for the heroics of goalkeeper Frenderup, we were very lucky to have a draw and a share of the points. Frankly, with due respect to Puerto Rico, I fully expected we would win against a country with no footballing pedigree, which had hired its coach only days earlier, and which had lost to St. Kitts. Not so in the event.

We started slowly and poorly while Puerto Rico demonstrated readiness for the battle with two attacks inside the first minute. They never let up after that. Indeed, the determination to have a result was demonstrated in their early appearance from the tunnel after the half time break, and their taking to battle stations while my team strolled out to resume battle without the look of urgency expected from a team realistically chasing a World Cup berth.

The highlight of our performance was the goalkeeping of Frenderup. Surely the number one jersey is his to lose now. He was outstanding. Not much more could be placed in the positive column. Having seen two matches now, my concerns are, briefly:

BALL POSSESSION

Our ball retention and rotation is lacking in energy and far too lethargic. We make too many unforced errors (sloppy passing), and often dangerously so. We seem uncertain how to move the ball from the back, through the lines, and into the opposing penalty area.

DEFENCE:

1. Is the selection based on a physical prototype preferred by Fenwick? Tall, big, strong. I ask because for the third match now we saw Hackshaw, who is known as a defensive midfielder, appearing as the left back. Every position has associated physical, technical, psychological, tactical characteristics, which are the basis of effective performance in that position. Our wing backs, particularly Hackshaw, do not meet the basic wing back characteristics. But he doesn't select himself. This is on the coach.

2. As ever, our defence is far too porous, and lacks a marshal. An organizer. We continue to be plagued by the twin issues of a) lapses in concentration, as evidenced in poor passing out of defence, and loose marking - the Puerto Rican scorer was surrounded by four defenders; and b) lack of cover, particularly for Hacksaw (as in the Guyana match), who was tormented by the seventeen year old Rivera all match long.

3. I don't know where the team wants to regain possession and how. Pressing is inconsistent and not effective enough.

ATTACK:

1. Compared to the Guyana match, the wing backs were more involved in the attack. But because they are not natural wingbacks they are very limited in their offensive actions. They do not make plays or combine with team mates in the attacking third, or in and around the opposing penalty area. They do not enter crosses. I do not have the match statistics but I am sure they will support my analysis.

2. The team lacks creativity in midfield. Only Muckette has the look of a natural playmaker and his play is far too laid back. He needs to demand more of himself, he needs to get on the,ball more and play progressive football (as opposed to little back and lateral passes), something which I discussed with him during 2020 USL season. An important aspect of effective attacking play is forward running out of midfield, which is virtually nonexistent at the moment.

3. Our shooting is generally very poor. Frankly, Levi Garcia's efforts on goal are unprofessional for a forward in an elite European league

4. We lack a genuine centre forward, of which there are different types, but Telfer is not mobile enough and disappears from the match and he is not a predator.

MATCH MANAGEMENT

Fenwick did not manage the match properly. After a dismal first half Muckette correctly entered but Poon-Angeron, not Phillips, should have been substituted.

Mitchell entered to replace the injured Jones and proceeded to do nothing. Why wasn't the dangerous Judah Garcia used, as he was to good effect against Guyana?

The truth is that senior players like Jones and Levi Garcia not doing enough to show their level at all. Compare their effort to that of Rivera.

So now we are looking up the table at St. Kitt's, who beat Puerto Rico, and need only to beat Guyana to put themselves even more in the driver's seat for the last match of the group. Still, we have two months to improve the team via recruitment. Whatever Fenwick does, I suggest he talk to his assistant coach, Derek King, about bringing in two of my club, FC Santa Rosa's, former players, now with Halifax Wanderers of the Canadian Premier League (CPL) - 2020 league top scorer Akeem Garcia and midfielder Andre Rampersad (club captain). Accuse me of favouritism if you will, but I cannot understand why Telfer (also CPL) is in the team while Garcia is not. Derek was assistant coach to Stephen Hart at Halifax in 2019.

So we look to June. Two months. Let's see what transpires then.

Keith Look Loy
Former chairman
TTFA Technical Committee


RELATED NEWS

Sancho: T&T lacked energy, purpose.
By Joel Bailey (T&T Newsday).


FORMER T&T footballer Brent Sancho was unimpressed with the national team’s display against hosts Puerto Rico at the Mayaguez Athletics Stadium, Mayaguez, on Sunday.

T&T and Puerto Rico played to a 1-1 draw in their 2022 FIFA World Cup Concacaf Zone Group F fixture, with Joevin Jones scoring for T&T in the 54th minute, and substitute Ricardo Rivera equalising for Puerto Rico in the 72nd.

Sancho said on Monday, “It was a disappointing result and an even more disappointing performance. I thought that the players looked tired, (they) lacked energy. From a team perspective, they lacked purpose and they looked second best for most of the afternoon. I think (goalkeeper Nicklas Frenderup) put in a Man of the Match display. I was disappointed that we never changed the course of the game.”

T&T defeated Guyana 3-0 on Thursday, at the Estadio Panamericano, San Cristobal, Dominican Republic but struggled on the artificial surface at Mayaguez on Sunday.

However, Sancho refused to blame the surface in Puerto Rico for T&T’s subpar performance.

“Both teams have to play on it,” he said. “A lot of the players, at some point of their career, would have played on artificial turf. Jones played his entire (2020) season on turf with Seattle.

“I think where the turf would have been a factor is that it does wear and tear you,” continued the ex-T&T defender.

“I was very surprised they went with the same team. The majority of them played so many minutes in the last game, to come in such a short space of time and play a next set of minutes, I thought that was strange, particularly when you have a huge travelling squad. I thought they would have tried to rotate and bring some fresh legs. That really surprised me, the team selection.”

The four substitutes used by T&T coach Terry Fenwick on Sunday against Puerto Rico – Duane Muckette, Jabari Mitchell, Willis Plaza and Andre Boucaud, were not used against Guyana.

According to Sancho, “Muckette and Plaza, I think, should have started (against Puerto Rico). It didn’t make sense bringing in a 36-year-old Boucaud and not playing him at all.”

But the Central FC owner acknowledged, “They looked very tired, especially in the middle of the park. Everything was very slow in our build-up, compared to the Puerto Ricans who were snapping about (on) the pitch and who were moving the ball faster than us.

“To add to that, throughout the whole game, we never changed our approach. We stuck with that particular formation, we never changed or tried to use some variants tactically to give the Puerto Ricans a different look. They clearly were double-teaming Levi Garcia. I would have played him through the middle at some point.”

Did he think Boucaud’s introduction was a signal that T&T were satisfied with a draw against Puerto Rico, instead of using an attacking option to seek full points?

Sancho replied, “I think we lost the impetus through the team selection. The way the game started to evolve, we wouldn’t have been able to push for a winner. It started so badly for us. If there was any time to make a change, I would have done it at half-time, play three up front or three at the back, give them a different look.

“We have to give the Puerto Ricans some credit because they did their homework, in the way they approached us. We went in with the same approach against Guyana and it didn’t work. I think the horse had already bolted the stable, later on in the game.

“In the second half, it looked like there would only be one winner. If you were a gambling man, you would have probably said Puerto Rico are the ones who would have gone on to win.”

About Frenderup’s performances against Guyana and Puerto Rico, the former Sports Minister pointed out, “I still believe that Marvin Phillip is a very talented goalkeeper, and (Adrian) Foncette for that matter. Frenderup has (come) in and done very well thus far.

“We’re truly blessed with talented goalkeepers. During the World Cup, we had three very talented goalkeepers,” he continued, referring to Kelvin Jack, Shaka Hislop and Clayton Ince. “As a former player, I would feel safe with any one of that three that I went to the World Cup with, in the goal. I think it’s a similar situation here now.

“I’m sure, during the course of this campaign, they would continue to push and strive, and give each other competition. It’s one of the few bright spots, coming out of these two games.”

T&T control their destiny.
T&T Express Reports.


Sancho points to ‘keeper Frenderup as positive in overall disappointing display.

TWO former national team players and a former manager says the T&T men’s national football team has it all to play for following a 1-1 draw away to Puerto Rico in their World Cup qualifying match Sunday.

All three said the “Soca Warrior”’s fate is in their control, with T&T needing to win their next two games against the Bahamas and group leaders St Kitts and Nevis, to advance to the next phase of Qatar 2022 World Cup Qualification.

Coach Terry Fenwick’s men are scheduled to play Bahamas, in Nassau, on June 5 before hosting St Kitts and Nevis in what could be a crucial and decisive encounter on June 8.

Former “Strike Squad” captain Clayton “JB” Morris said the team lacked chemistry while they also played against a Puerto Rican team with nothing to lose.

“They (Puerto Rico) could only gain, playing at home on a surface that they are accustomed to and that we (T&T) are not accustomed to, with youngsters who were hungry for success, with a coach who encouraged their players to go out and express themselves freely...coming up against a team like that it is always difficult to beat them,” Morris assessed, adding that our players also failed to lift their play and conduct to a professional level.

Morris suggested the team (T&T) lacked cohesion and match fitness and that the “Soca Warriors” must now adopt a similar aggressive attitude like Puerto Rico if they are to advance. “Our destiny is in our hands,” Morris said. “We now have to go beat St Kitts and win the other game against the Bahamas. So destiny is in our hands.”

Former “Soca Warrior” Brent Sancho said the performance lacked energy and purpose. “And a lot of individuals, mostly the experienced ones, would have let themselves down,” Sancho assessed, adding the “Huracan Azul” (Blue Hurricane) was not a particularly special outfit.

With a squad of 26 players to choose from and with two games within days of each other, Sancho said there was need for more rotation of the players when you consider the factors of travel, Covid-19.

“It was a bit mind-boggling that they didn’t rotate some players, change up some players in the middle of the park, where you needed a little bit more energy and desire. To be honest, playing on an artificial surface after playing Guyana on grass... the artificial surface is very taxing, so I think all those things really led to a really poor performance and to be honest if it wasn’t for our goalkeeper we would have lost that one.”

Denmark-based goalkeeper Nicklas Frenderup made crucial stops to ensure T&T came away with a point (draw). Sancho said he remains concerned about the lack of fitness in some players, who ended their international club campaigns since November but seemed short of work Sunday.

“It is strange that from a fitness perspective...it is something that it should not be because nine out of ten times a national team isn’t afforded that (amount of) training time (together), so that is an aspect that really baffles me a bit because that side of it is not there,” Sancho explained. He further highlighted that there was also a failure to make tactical, formational, and positional adjustments during the game.

Former national manager Jamaal Shabazz determined that it was always going to be a tough game for this country, coming up against a very organised and motivated “Boricua” squad.

He said after a lacklustre first half, he felt T&T only came to life in the second half when local-based player Duane Muckette was introduced to engineer a period of play the “Soca Warriors” dominated, and when Joevin Jones eventually scored (56th minute).

Shabazz said Group F leaders St Kitts & Nevis has been making steady progress over the last five years and that he had predicted before the start of the qualifiers that they would be a team to beat.

“But T&T should still be pleased with four points from two games, (Fenwick) has been under tremendous pressure from within the football fraternity and outside of it. It is something that he certainly will have to get accustomed to...graduating to international football. This pressure is very different from club football.”

While Shabazz admitted the result was cause for concern, he is still optimistic about T&T improving and advancing, as he believes T&T possesses a formidable squad, but it is up to some players to become fitter and the team to become better organised.

“In World Cup qualifiers, this is the nature of it, the ball does not bounce exactly like you want it and you have to grind out some results. It will be a test of our character, but very possible. Our destiny is still in the hands of the performances for the next two games,” Shabazz noted.

“My advice would be for coach and staff to focus on football, zero in on needs of team and not be even fazed with comments from people like me,” he concluded.