Trinidad and Tobago football head coach Angus Eve is hoping love and support from the home crowd on Monday will inspire T&T against Nicaragua in what he calls a "final" at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet, Tobago. The Concacaf Nations League match kicks off at 8 pm.
A win for T&T will see them qualify automatically for the 2023 Gold Cup. Nicaragua only need a draw to advance to the Gold Cup as the Central Americans lead Group C of League B with 13 points, followed by T&T with 12 points.
T&T held their final training session ahead of the match at Dwight Yorke Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
T&T defeated Bahamas on Friday 3-0 to keep their chances alive of advancing as the top team in the group. "The boys are raring to go," Eve said. "We've been on a good run, but it all means nothing if we can't win tomorrow. It is a literal final for us. That's how we have been taking these last Nations League games."
Eve said victory will put T&T into Nations League Group A as well as book a Gold Cup spot.
He added, "Gold Cup qualification will put us in a better (Nations League) group and also (set up) qualifying for Copa America (2024), so there is a lot at stake in this game."
On playing at home, Eve said, "I love Trinidad and Tobago. We are one country...the guys are up for it and they really want to win for their country."
Striker Rundell Winchester and midfielder Noah Powder are the two members in the squad with Tobago roots. Winchester was born and grew up in Tobago, while Powder's father is Tobagonian.
Eve also expects a lot of people to travel from Trinidad to Tobago for the match. "We are going to get a good T&T loving today (Monday), definitely, because there are a lot of people coming up and they should want to come out and watch the boys.
"Rundell is a son of the soil and he is going to be in the side tomorrow, so it will be good for them to support him, but the total team as well."
T&T's defence has been solid and stingy over the past three matches, not conceding a goal. T&T defeated Jamaica 1-0 in an international friendly, which was followed by a 0-0 draw against the same team days later. After those matches, T&T kept another clean sheet against Bahamas.
Eve knows Nicaragua will be a more formidable opponent and they will be a cohesive team as all the players are home-based.
England-based central midfielder Daniel Phillips is questionable for Monday's match due to a leg injury, but the team has welcomed the return of defender Keston Julien.
Julien, who plays professionally in Moldova, had visa issues and could not travel with the team to Bahamas.
Trinidad and Tobago flagman confident in Soca Warriors
SOME fans go the extra mile to support their favourite sports teams. Joey "Posh" Richardson, also known as the T&T flag man, is definitely one man who travels miles to cheer on local and regional teams.
The Soca Warriors will face Nicaragua in a Concacaf Nations League match at Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet, Tobago on Monday at 8 pm. A win for T&T will see them earn an automatic spot at the 2023 Gold Cup.
Richardson boarded the Buccoo Reef vessel on Sunday morning at the Port of Port of Spain headed for Tobago.
Richardson, who is from El Socorro, is always glued to a sporting event. Before and during the trip, he was streaming the West Indies vs South Africa T20 match on his phone.
In an interview with Newsday, Richardson said he is looking forward to the match against Nicaragua.
"I feeling confident. (Head coach) Angus (Eve) has a good team and we are playing good defence so far. We played a lot of games without conceding a goal...although Nicaragua will be a tough fight, but I giving home field advantage (to us). We suppose to do it in Tobago tomorrow."
T&T have played three matches this month without allowing a goal. T&T defeated Jamaica 1-0 in an international friendly in Montego Bay and days later earned a 0-0 draw against the same team in Kingston. On Friday, T&T eased to a 3-0 victory over Bahamas in the Nations League in Nassau.
Richardson, wearing a West Indies t-shirt and a T&T bandana, has been a die-hard fan since 1989, when the Strike Squad took T&T by storm.
"(I am) patriotic to the bone. The bone still hard at age 67. That's part of me giving back to the country that I grew up in and live in and love too bad. T&T all the way."
Richardson is hoping Tobagonians turn up in their numbers to support.
"I hope the Tobago people come out tomorrow. We have to beat them...total support for the Soca Warriors."