Sat, Jun

Jul 10, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Trinidad and Tobago players react after the match against Mexico in a CONCACAF Gold Cup group stage soccer match at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sport

In football, it was a Sunday night to remember for T&T football fans as they celebrated their team’s master plan against the Mexicans. I always knew T&T could not go in and fight the Mexicans toe to toe or they would be floored even before the contest really got going. So, the fact that T&T started with 5 at the back and 4 in midfield ultimately stifled their opponents. The Soca Warriors were double-tackling the gifted Mexicans and never gave them the room or allowed them to settle and when they occasionally breached the defence, Marvin Phillip was absolutely brilliant. T&T’s overall defence was excellent and I did say that all the fans can ask for is for their team to play with the right attitude, heart and determination. Well, they got that and more.

Unfortunately, on Wednesday night, T&T went down to El Salvador by two goals to nil but the team can hold their heads high. They did not play particularly well in the first half against the Salvadorians. They did not have the fluency that we have seen in other games and some players seemed to be leg-weary. However, they gave it their all in the second period and were unlucky not to score. But this El Salvador team is a good one and they took their opportunities when they were presented.

As I suggested, it is a tough group as originally Curacao was the fourth team and their football is on the rise. But when they were replaced by Guatemala as a result of some COVID-19 related issues, the Soca Warriors had to get a result against El Salvador. This result, coupled with Mexico’s win against Guatemala on Wednesday night, now makes it impossible for T&T to finish first or an unlikely second in the group as Mexico's final game is against the already qualified El Salvador. For a second-place finish, it would mean T&T must defeat Guatemala and hope that El Salvador does the unthinkable and beat Mexico. I expect El Salvador to rest some of their first-choice players which would make the task even easier for the Mexican players and their band of hooligan supporters who were absolutely disgraceful during and after the T&T match with their overt racism towards the T&T players and fans. It saddens me that racism still manages to rear its ugly head in our beautiful game.

In retrospect, at best, T&T may finish 3rd in the group but more importantly, I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. I believe coach Angus Eve and his staff have done a good job. The players are fighting for him. They are going out onto the field of play with the right attitude and the determination that T&T fans have longed to see in their national team. There is still some ironing out to do but one has to remember that the Soca Warriors went into this tournament without some of their best players and that was the main reason I felt that they were facing an uphill battle to qualify for the quarterfinals from the group stage. What a difference Levi and Judah Garcia would have made as well as skipper Khaleem Hyland and Joevin Jones. Together with some of the younger players, I can see the team’s performance improvement over the next year.

Off the field, the administration needs to give the coaching staff and the players all the support needed so they can take the football to the next level. The fans are begging out for the day when, once again, they can go to the Hasely Crawford Stadium and see the Soca Warriors take on the might of CONCACAF and not only compete against them but be in a position to get a victory. With the proper formula and right attitude, who knows? That day may come much sooner than expected.

SOURCE: T&T Guardian