GUATEMALA will be no pushovers, given what they showed in a 3-0 defeat to Mexico at the CONCACAF Gold Cup on Wednesday night. But Trinidad and Tobago head coach Angus Eve is determined that the Soca Warriors end the preliminary round on a high note.
A win over Guatemala on Sunday night will move the Soca Warriors to four points. However, their progression to the next round also depends on the unlikely scenario of group leaders El Salvador knocking a few goals past giants Mexico. Defending champions Mexico hold a 32-5-win record over El Salvador and have won their last seven meetings.
“We not giving up,” Eve declared following his team’s deflating 2-0 loss to El Salvador earlier on Wednesday night.
He also expects a test against Guatemala on Sunday.
“On the Guatemala side of things, they looked a very competent team against Mexico,” Eve told the media yesterday. “They moved the ball well, typical Central American team. Mexico did not have their own way with them.
“We are expecting a tough game and we expect to put in a good shift,” Eve said.
Given that his staff only took over the national team just three weeks ago, Eve felt that despite obvious lapses, his players acquitted themselves well against an improving El Salvador, who are still in the last stage of CONCACAF zone qualifying for the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Yesterday, Eve described a subdued camp where his players were disappointed over the loss.
They are very quiet,” T&T’s head coach said. “They are very disappointed. They believe they gave everything that they had. Many of the guys out there are not playing football consistently. Kevin (Molino) himself got tired down to the end and gave away some passes, but he still gave the effort.”
Eve said it was a credit to his players to even be at the stage where they are right now and having any shot at moving to the quarter-finals.
“This is a new staff and a new team. Most of the players did not play in the World Cup qualifying. We brought this team together in a very short space of time, and we have seen the improvements.
“But,” he added, “it’s a work in progress, and to think that we could come and dominate teams who actually are in the last phase of the World Cup campaign (is unrealistic), without the likes of Sheldon Bateau, Levi (Garcia) and all these other players that we are missing.
“We think that so far it’s a good showing and we want to keep our ambition realistic, but yeah, we will go out and try to do something in the next game,” stated the former national captain.
Eve’s own analysis was that his team was not good enough in the first half against El Salvador but were the better team for most of the second. “The first half we played way too slow. We weren’t moving the ball effectively enough and I thought that we were a bit lethargic,” Eve said of the first half.
“I thought we gave away two soft goals and I thought (in the) second half we were the better team. Unfortunately, we did not take the chances. We had about three good chances.”
Eve demanded that his players improve in the second period.
“We changed the formation of the team so that we could press higher. We put on two flankers with a centre forward, and I thought we gave them a lot more problems with that formation. We probably should have scored. We didn’t, but that’s the way the game goes sometimes.”
T&T goalkeeper Nicklas Frenderup was left reaching in vain for a low shot to his far corner, after Jairo Henriquez turned on-rushing USA-based T&T defender Jelani Peters atop the penalty area and scored with a low right-footed shot for 1-0 in the 30th minute.
After surviving an improved second half T&T effort, Walmer Martinez tapped into an open net when scoring El Salvador’s insurance goal in almost farcical fashion in injury time.
With three Mexicans surrounding him, a frenzied sequence saw T&T keeper Frenderup making saves at each of his posts, but not getting the defensive assistance to keep the ball out of his goal.
Eve also paid tribute to El Salvador, who have lost once in eight matches under Hugo Perez, the legendary and creative American midfielder who had 73 caps for his country during the mid-’80s to ’90s.
“Kudos to El Salvador. I think they are a good team, so that augers well for us going forward,” Eve suggested.
Meanwhile, Perez thought T&T were a bit defensive in their approach. “I thought Trinidad and Tobago would be a little more offensive, but I realised they were playing with a line of five, like they did against Mexico,” he said. “I never thought they would be that defensive. It is not that Trinidad and Tobago took (over) the ball; we gave them the ball!” Perez said. “We started forcing things that we didn’t have to do. They were just attacking more in the second half.”
Eve did not agree with Perez. He explained having a balanced first-half selection, and said they went even more attacking in the second half.
SOURCE: T&T Express