Monday’s 1-1 tie with Nicaragua at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet, Tobago was a “game of nasty, dirty tactics” as described by national coach Angus Eve, that ensured the visitors go through to League ‘A’ of the CONCACAF Nations League as Group ‘C’ winner, as well as automatic qualification to the CONCACAF Gold Cup, next year.
However, it is not the end for the Soca Warriors qualifying for the Gold Cup. They will now have to go through the preliminary qualifying process.
Eve was in a bitter mood following the match, saying the referee was a bit lenient on the Nicaraguans.
“It was a match of nasty, dirty tactics. I thought the referee was very lenient on them, throwing a lot of football on the park, a lot of diving all over the pitch, which wasn’t good for the game today.
“I thought that we tried to play, but they definitely came here for a draw, they played with five in the back in the first half, and then they put on a defensive midfielder in the second half, and then we started to get some control of the game.
“I think, in the game for the most part, there were very limited opportunities for both teams, but we still had the better of the opportunities but we just didn’t take them.
“Now we have to qualify from the preliminary stages of the Gold Cup and we will not move up to the ‘A’ stage, instead we will stay in the ‘B’ grouping of the Nations League.”
CONCACAF released recently that 12 teams will participate in the 2023 CONCACAF Gold Cup Qualifiers based on the results of the 2022-2023 CONCACAF Nations League. These teams are the four group third-place teams of 2022-2023 CONCACAF Nations League ‘A’, the four second-place finishers from League ‘B’ and the four group winners from League ‘C’, which will be involved in a draw on April 14.
The Soca Warriors lost to Nicaragua in their opening game in Managua 2-1 in June last year, and have now held them off 1-1 in the final match of Group C. Arianger Smith gave the Nicaraguans the advantage with a 27th-minute header before captain Joevin Jones equalised in the 40th minute from the penalty spot.
Eve said it was still a good performance by his charges, having put themselves in a position to seal the win in the group.
“It is a feeling of disappointment, we worked really hard to be in this position, I thought we had put ourselves in a really good position, we had the last game at home. We felt like we had a number of players who could have taken us over that line but.
“For the most part, the boys gave a fair effort, you can’t fault any of them for trying but it was just unfortunate, we did not lose the match, but we just lose the objective that we were trying to achieve.”
“There were a lot of positives, we scored and we created chances up until the end of the match. I think it augers well for football going football, we actually didn’t lose. I thought the fighting spirit of the team, we passed the ball well, I thought we moved the ball around well.
“I think some of the players were a little bit tired because of all the travelling in a short space of time but at the end of the day I am very proud of the guys and we still have an opportunity to qualify for the Gold cup.”
Eve noted that he will continue their plans as they move forward, saying he still wants to continue to develop the local players and get matches for them outside the window, as well as still trying to qualify for tournaments that they want to qualify for.
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