National coach Angus Eve has credited his players for qualifying for the quarterfinal round of the CONCACAF Nations League ‘A’ Division, despite a 5-3 loss to Curacao on Tuesday night in Willemstad, Curacao.
“I think the campaign was a huge success,” Eve told the media in a post-match press conference after the loss, however, he pointed to blatant dubious calls by referee Said Martinez, who led an all-Honduran officiating team for the match.
Martinez awarded the hometeam three penalties in the encounter, two of which were converted and the other saved by T&T goalkeeper Denzil Smith.
“This is a rebuilding process that we’re going through and there will be days that you will have your ups and downs, but I thought there were a lot of questionable calls by the referee today. I mean I haven’t seen the tape and I am not one of them to talk about the referees much, but today I thought that out of the three penalties, maybe one, and the other two, and then Denzil made a save. He (the referee) said it crossed the line but it didn’t look like it, Denzil doesn’t feel that it crossed the line, but all-in-all, we had a very good campaign. We’re still alive when other people have gone home,” Eve explained.
Eve’s charges won their first three matches against Curacao 1-0 and El Salvador and Guatemala by a 3-2 margin, before stumbling to their first defeat of the campaign. The loss exposed some areas of weakness in his team which prompted the former national midfielder turned coach, to call adjustments in the local league to help their cause.
“It was difficult for some of the guys to play back-to-back. I thought we struggled, we looked a little bit ‘leggy’ playing on the turf. It seems to be a little bit too much for the guys’ legs and the turf didn’t help at all, but we still made a lot of simple mistakes in defence and that’s basically what we’re known for, defending properly,” Eve, a former national standout explained.
He noted further “ This Curacao team has players in the Dutch League and in the Championships in England, so again, it was always going to be a struggle. Our League back home is not actually going on right now and we played guys like Ross Russell Jr and Alvin Jones, and credit to them because they’re not in season. Michel Poon Angeron is not in season, Denzil is not in season, Duane Muckette and a number of the other guys are not in season, so we really need to ratify the times that we play our Leagues back home because we really need support so that the guys can continue on an upward trajectory and help the national team to go forward.”
The Warriors are now on a collision course with the USA, whom they were pounded by at the recent CONCACAF Gold Cup in the United States 6-0 and 7-1 in an international friendly match in 2021. T&T’s comfort against their challengers came from a 2-1 FIFA World Cup Qualifying win at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
The Warriors will first the US on November 16 in Austin, Texas before facing them in the second leg at home four days later on November 20.