NATIONAL men's football team forward Ryan Telfer believes the two-month window ahead of Trinidad and Tobago’s next FIFA World Cup qualifier against Bahamas, on June 5, should provide the men’s team with ample time to rest, recover and positively reflect on their opening two results against Guyana and Puerto Rico.
On March 25, the national team recorded a winning-start to their Concacaf World Cup qualifier campaign by defeating Guyana 3-0 at the Estadio Panamericano, San Cristobal, Dominican Republic. Three days later, they held on to a 1-1 result against hosts Puerto Rico at the Mayaguez Athletics Stadium, Mayaguez.
With Bahamas and St Kitts and Nevis (June 8th) next in line to face the T&T team in the first round of qualifying, Telfer wants his teammates and coaching staff to use the coming weeks to recuperate and better prepare for the forthcoming matches.
Telfer said, “It’s a good thing that it’s (next qualifier) not too close and not too far away. This game (Puerto Rico) will still be fresh in our minds and we will like to make amends in the next round of games. We would have a lot of time to repair and look at the teams we’re going to play.
“Having guys go back to their clubs and carrying out playing games and further training will help and boost the squad entirely. It’s just the amount of time we would have to repair is something good for us,” said Telfer.
The 27-year old got on the scoresheet against Guyana by netting T&T’s third goal in the 44th minute. He also started against Puerto Rico before he was replaced by Willis Plaza in the 69th minute.
One of the major takeaways for Telfer after the Puerto Rico fixture was not underestimating opponents for World Cup qualifiers. According to him, no matter the size of country, population and/or what sporting facilities are at their dispersal, opponents must not be taken for granted.
“It didn’t go the way we expected it to go. The team and everyone felt that we fell a little bit short in getting the three points. Looking at it from another perspective is that it’s an away game and we got away with a point. It shows a lot of things that we need to work on off the training pitch,” he added.
Telfer also pointed out that travelling to Puerto Rico on March 26, the day after the Guyana clash, may have also taken a toll on the squad. Their hectic schedule of back-to-back matches only allowed for two days of training prior to the Puerto Rico match.
“I, and some of the guys believe that, we could have prepared much better. With a short period of time playing Guyana two days prior. That space of recovery and regrouping and trying to get a sheet (team) for looking towards the Puerto Rico game was a very small amount of time.
“I believe if we had more time, a day or two days extra, a lot of things could have been put in place for what we wanted to do. But this is World Cup qualifiers and these things happen. It’s just for the team and coaching staff to be on one page and be able to have a game plan from the get-go,” Telfer added.
He, however, lauded coach Terry Fenwick’s inclusion of more experienced players to the squad for the World Cup qualifiers.
Against USA on January 31, in T&T’s first international friendly in over a year, Fenwick fielded a much younger outfit and was handed a 7-0 whipping. Several seasoned players were unavailable for the friendly and Fenwick opted to give a few debutants and inexperienced players a chance.
But with the addition of more experienced players such as captain Khaleem Hyland, Levi Garcia, Joevin Jones, Sheldon Bateau and Aubrey David to the squad, T&T displayed better composure on the pitch.
“Having a makeshift squad to play against the USA compared to a bunch of seasoned players to come back and play these World Cup qualifiers," Telfer said. "That alone is a huge difference on things off and on the pitch.
“It was better in Puerto Rico because we have guys who played Nations League games back in 2019. It was almost the same core group of players with just a few exceptions. Just from the experience alone, a couple years ago, really helps towards something as huge as World Cup qualifiers,” he added.
Watch Taking A Point - Telfer looks back at WCQ weekend