HEAD coach of the national men’s senior football team Angus Eve said the statement he made last month saying Guadeloupe is one of the most challenging opponents in the Gold Cup qualifying tournament was not made in an effort to make an excuse for underperforming against their Caribbean opponents.
Eve was speaking during a media conference at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Balmain, Couva on Wednesday.
T&T will play Guadeloupe on June 16 in Ft Lauderdale, Florida in the first round of the Gold Cup qualifying tournament. If T&T defeat Guadeloupe they will play the winner of the Grenada-Guyana match. If T&T win their second match in the qualifying tournament they will qualify for the Gold Cup starting on June 24.
When the draw was announced a few weeks ago, Eve said Guadeloupe will prove to be a handful but he was just being realistic.
“They say I am making an excuse (when I talk about tough opposition) and in other quarters they say we not playing difficult teams and that I am making an excuse. It is a fact. The fact is that they (Guadeloupe) have a number of players playing in the French first division and they do have a number of players playing in the French second division.”
Eve said research is being done on Guadeloupe to help in their preparation for the match which includes hiring a new member of staff.
“We are dissecting the way they play and to that end we do have an additional member of staff which I have brought on – an additional data analyst. We just finalising so I don’t want to call his name right now, but he will do a lot of work in that regard.”
Eve said two warm-up matches are planned to be held in June. The opposition is uncertain because a new Gold Cup rule states that any city or state that Gold matches are being played in, competing teams can’t play their warm-up matches in those areas.
T&T were only notified of the rule change last week and now have to make changes in their build-up campaign. T&T were scheduled to play Qatar on June 8 and Guatemala on June 11.
Eve said T&T will definitely not play Qatar as the latter will go to Spain for matches, but other practice matches are being planned.
Eve also said experienced midfielder Kevin Molino is now fit again to play after battling an injury which forced him to miss the Nations League matches in March.