Tue, Feb


Kern Cupid number three and Glenroy Samuel go for the ball, while team-mates Carlos Edwards, Under-20 forward Juma Clarence # 19 and Julius James # 16 look on during the Soca Warriors practice session at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. Photo: Anthony HarrisTrinidad and Tobago's Soca Warriors arrived in San Jose on Wednesday night to little fanfare ahead of tomorrow's 2010 World Cup Qualifier against Costa Rica.

The Russell Latapy-coached team flew in via Panama City with captain Dennis Lawrence and a 22-man squad along with Dwight Yorke in his capacity as assistant coach.

Unlike previous arrivals in Costa Rica, the reaction towards the Warriors was less hostile, even though the pressure is very much on the "Ticos" to get three points to keep their qualification hopes alive.

The Costa Rican media did have a presence with the usual rush for comments and better shooting positions by the television cameramen.

Latapy, Yorke, Lawrence and Carlos Edwards were among the T&T squad which lost 2-0 to Costa Rica back in 2005 under coach Leo Beenhakker at the Ricardo Saprissa Stadium, same venue for Saturday's encounter, while Densill Theobald was on the bench.

Latapy and Yorke were also there under coach Ian Porterfield when Trinidad and Tobago lost 3-0 in 2001.

One of the questions put to Latapy by the Costa Rican media was whether he was looking forward to spoiling coach Rene Simoes' debut as coach of the hosts.

"Right now I'm not here to think about what Rene Simoes will be doing with his team. Rene is someone that I have known for a long time and I think he's done a fantastic job around the Caribbean and now he's in a position with Costa Rica where they are trying to get to the World Cup.

I will wish Rene the best everytime except for when it's against Trinidad and Tobago," Latapy replied.

"Obviously I will support the development of CONCACAF football in whatever way I can and that means we always want to see the region's football improving and teams going on to do well in World Cups.

At the moment, we are now focusing on getting some of our younger talent involved at this level and we are using this opportunity to have them in the squad. This will be some valuable experience. We have two games remaining and we would like to finish the campaign in the best way possible," he added.

Edwards, having played in the loss on the artificial surface in 2005, expects tomorrow's match will be a gripping one, particularly as the hosts are in desperate need of points. Edwards also scored a scorcher to put T&T 1-0 ahead in the 3-2 loss to the same opponents earlier this year at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Tobago.

"It's no secret now that they are in a must-win situation and because of that I expect it to be an interesting game. Even though we are out of the running now, we will want to try and get a win in Costa Rica because we haven't won in World Cup qualifying here," Edwards told Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) media officer Shaun Fuentes.

"This will be a good experience for us for future games. They have beaten us on the same ground before, even though last time we did manage to have a pretty decent match. On Saturday we will try our best to make it difficult for them and to try and get our team playing the kind of football that could put us in good shape for the future," Edwards added.

One of the players back in the T&T line-up after last being in the mix at the Digicel Caribbean Championships last December is DC United defender Julius James.

The ex-national Under-17 skipper has not played a World Cup qualifier for the senior team but is relishing the possibility of getting his first piece of action.

"It's been a big ambition of mine to play for the senior team, especially in a World Cup qualifier, and even though we are not in with a chance of qualifying for South Africa I'm still very eager to play and make a good impression.

Since I've gone to DC United and been playing on a regular basis in the MLS I have seen some improvement in my game and I hope I can bring this to the national team for the future," said James.

"Saturday's match against Costa Rica is not going to be easy by any means, but I believe the games like these are what make you better and stronger as a player and I'm definitely looking forward to it."

Costa Rican officials stated that no more than 2,000 tickets had been sold up to yesterday for Saturday's game, which kicks off at 8 p.m. (10 p.m. T&T time). However, the interest is still there and Simoes wants the people to keep on believing in their qualification chances.

"We must believe in our ambition to qualify. Any team that has 12 points must consider themselves with this chance and we must try our best to make it happen...the dream of reaching South Africa," said Simoes, who took Jamaica to the 1998 World Cup, before a short stint with the T&T national team.