The mood in the Trinidad and Tobago camp at the Crowne Plaza was one of relief on being able to begin their 2010 Concacaf Gold Cup qualifying campaign on a winning note.
That was the feedback from head coach Jamaal Shabazz following T&T’s convincing 6-1 victory over St Lucia in their opening night encounter at the Marvin Lee Stadium on Monday night.
T&T, though never threatened by their opponents throughout the ninety minutes, felt it was vital to begin with a win on home soil and now Shabaaz expects the team’s performance to get even better in the remaining games against Barbados (Wednesday) and Guyana (Friday.
“It was good to start of the series with a win but the mood in the camp is more a one of relief because we are at home and the girls wanted to start on a convincing note which I think they achieved,” Shabaaz told TTFF Media.
“However we saw the need for us to work harder as a team. I know that the team only came together as a final unit for four days as the tournament progresses; we expect to play better as a team.
The nucleus of this team came together for the first time in 2000 and with ten of them now being based in the USA and one in Sweden, it is expected that they will be very eager to spend the time together off the field which is a benefit to the overall showing on the field itself.”
National Under 17 team goalkeeper Keri Myers was the first choice on Monday and National Under 20 team captain Mariah Shade also came off the bench to net T&T’s sixth goal. Shabazz says the opportunity to expose the younger players will be taken once it fits into the team’s approach.
“Every opportunity we get to stick in a couple younger players or more will be taken. Because of the intensity of which the Under 17 players are playing right now, it’s not a problem for them to come into the senior team and get the match practice.”
Shabazz did hint that the squad will be rotated for the clash with Barbados. He also mentioned that prominent attacking player Tasha St Louis is not in the squad as she has only just returned to training after recently given birth and US-based defender Katrina Meyer is out because of studies. Both he said will join the team once the team progresses to the next phase.
“The players will be rotated because of the similar standard and style of play they have. We may go with two different strikes and give one or two other players the chance to start but the main ambition at this stage is to of course book our place in the next round and go on to qualify for the Gold Cup and CAC Games.”
Commenting on the impressive showing of Guyana, where he once was at the helm of that country’s Men Senior Team, Shabazz noted that they could pose as T&T’s stiffest challenge in this series.
“The Guyana team is made up of ninety eight percent North American-based players and they played a typical North American style which was organized and aggressive football and I was quite impressed with their performance. I see them as a formidable opponent for us on Friday.”