Soca Warriors duo, midfielder Neveal Hackshaw of Oakland Roots and Defence Force striker Reon Moore are confident of getting a positive result against the USA in their first-leg Concacaf Nations League quarterfinal at the Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas on Thursday (November 16).
The Americans, who along with Mexico, Canada and Costa Rica were handed byes into the quarterfinals based on their FIFA rankings, will then visit Port-of-Spain on November 20 for the second-leg match at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo.
The Angus Eve-coached T&T reached the quarterfinals having finished second in the six-team Group A qualifiers with nine points, with a 5-3 loss to Curacao in their final match on October 17, their only blemish and will go into the meeting with the Americans as heavy underdogs having gone under in their last two meetings 6-0 at the Concacaf Gold Cup last July, and 7-0 in January.
The USA currently holds a 21-3-4 all-time advantage against T&T, but speaking after their final training session at home at the Larry Gomes Stadium in Malabar before heading to the United States as part of the 23-man squad, both Hackshaw and Moore expressed their confidence in the team's chances.
Hackshaw, who has featured 39 times for the senior team and has netted twice first expressed satisfaction with the preparation ahead of the team's departure which included a few practice matches against some of the local T&T Premier Football League (TTPFL) clubs, who are readying themselves for the start of the second season on November 24.
The robust midfielder said, "These sessions have been very important as we try to get match fit with these games we have been playing here and I think the guys are playing and doing pretty good.
"Now we're just waiting to meet up with the rest of the guys and I think it's going to be fun."
Looking ahead to the first-leg encounter against the Americans, Hackshaw said he was feeling good and positive.
He added, "I think with the bunch of guys we have now I think we're going to give them a good fight. It's not going to be easy both ways for us and for them, and I think we are going to do good.
"This team we have here is a fighting team. It's a younger group, but I think everyone is always up for the fight, and with the addition of Levi (Garcia), I think we are going to do great."
With regards to the Texas venue, Hackshaw said, "It's going to be cold and with their fans, it's going to be a great atmosphere because the field is really nice, which is going to be nice for us as well."
With the second leg to be played at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, the following Monday, Hackshaw was also mindful that the Soca Warriors will need a positive result to give themselves a chance at home to advance.
He said, "It's not going to be easy for us, but we are going there to give them a show, and we are not going to step short and we are going to go full hundred."
The 27-year-old Moore who has scored seven goals in 24 appearances, including two in his last two matches, added: "I think we will do well in Texas.
"The training session with the boys have been high intensity so far, we are fully enthusiastic about the task at hand and we are going to go there and show that we have what it takes to beat the USA."
With regards to the Americans, Moore said he believes they have selected a good squad despite the absence of the injured Italian-based duo of Christian Pulisic (AC Milan) and Timothy Weah (Juventus).
However, the in-form T&T striker noted that at the end of the day, football is played on the day.
He boasted, "So I don't feel threatened in any way about the squad that the USA plays with."
Commenting on the return of captain Levi Garcia who missed all four matches for the Soca Warriors in the six-team League A qualifiers, Moore said: "It will be a big plus for all the guys and the technical staff to have Levi back in the team because what he brings to the table for us is great."
In the other quarterfinal match-ups, Canada faces Jamaica, Mexico battles Honduras and Panama meets Costa Rica.
At the end of the four home-and-away series, the four winners will not only advance to the Nations League final four in March next year but also will clinch their spots in next summer’s Copa America, the eminent South American competition, which will be held at venues in the USA.
The four losing quarterfinalists will still have an opportunity to qualify for Copa America 2024 via a single-match direct elimination play-in, where they will play for the two remaining slots awarded to Concacaf nations for the Copa America which will feature 10 CONMEBOL nations and six Concacaf nations.
SOURCE: T&T Guardian