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Interim Head Coach of Trinidad and Tobago Angus Eve looks on during the game between Trinidad & Tobago and French Guiana as part of CONCACAF Gold Cup 2021 preliminaries at DRV PNK Stadium on July 6, 2021 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images)

ANGUS EVE, coach of the Trinidad and Tobago men’s football team, says his squad is eager to face the challenge posed by defending Concacaf Gold Cup champions Mexico when both teams square off in their Group A opener at the AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas, United States on Saturday.

T&T guaranteed a spot in Group A, alongside Mexico, Curacao and El Salvador, when they defeated French Guiana 8-7 courtesy kicks from the penalty spot, after both teams were locked at 1-1 at the end of regulation time, in Tuesday’s Gold Cup qualification second round match, at the DRV PNK Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Eve was appointed T&T coach in June after his predecessor Terry Fenwick was fired for a first round exit in the 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign.

During Tuesday’s post-match media conference, Eve said, “This was our goal coming here. We had a very short space of time to prepare.”

The former national captain said his players were emotional after the match. “We’re doing this for our country, not just for us.

"We want to be playing against the best teams in the region, to keep testing and proving ourselves. This is our rebuilding, and we want to enjoy the group stage.”

Eve also gave credit to French Guiana, who were playing their first international match since November 2019.

“They definitely did their homework, they sat deep and tried to stifle the pace that we have up front. They played a fantastic game. What we tried to do at the half was to get some midfielders who can tackle. We were forced with the subs because of the (injuries).”

Midfielders Judah Garcia and Khaleem Hyland suffered leg muscle injuries during the first half.

Eve added, “We have a squad of players here and we believe in all of them. The local-(based) guys are lacking match fitness and you saw it a bit today against a well-organised team. We had to dig deep, it was a group effort and they kept their concentration to the end.”

The T&T coach queried the tournament’s rules concerning yellow cards which players got during the qualifying stage.

“When we got yellow cards in this phase, the cards will carry over (to the group stage), which I think is a bit unfair.”

Left-back Tristan Hodge was forced off at halftime in Friday’s game against Montserrat due to a groin injury.

Asked if he will be seeking replacement players in light of the injuries to Garcia, Hyland and Hodge, Eve replied, “We have to assess those players first. We have until 24 hours before the (Mexico) match to bring in players.

“Right now, we can’t say who could come into the squad. We’ll try to assess the ones who are injured and find adequate replacements, if possible.”  

SOURCE: T&T Newsday