Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Stephen Hart has challenged his home-based players to set the standard in the domestic league and not allow their form to dip, as the Pro League kicks off on Friday with the Digicel Charity Shield.
North East Stars playmaker Keron “Ballpest” Cummings played for 90 minutes against Mexico and scored one goal and assisted another in an exciting 3-3 tie with the current CONCACAF Gold Cup champions in Salt Lake City, Utah. Cummings scored twice against Mexico at the July Gold Cup as well.
Central FC goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams also started against “El Tricolour” while Willis Plaza (Central FC) and Neveal Hackshaw (North East Stars) came off the bench.
Hart wants the “Soca Warriors” to maintain their form as they return to club competition.
“Those who are going back to the Pro League have to set the standard,” Hart told the TTFA Media. “They are national team players… Match fitness is going to be essential.
“Moving forward, players must know they have to be on top of their games physically and they have to be playing with their clubs if they want to be part of this (Russia 2018) World Cup campaign.”
The breakout player on Friday was Iceland-based forward Jonathan Glenn, who made his first international start and scored the Warriors’ opening goal before assisting on Cummings’ item.
Hart, who previously described Glenn as one of his best finishers, praised his work rate in the exhibition match and credited him for making use of captain Kenwyne Jones’ temporary absence.
Glenn was thrilled to get his first international goal against a team as strong as Mexico.
“The coach spoke to me and he let me know that my time will come and that I just needed to be patient and I just needed to continue working hard,” said Glenn. “With that mindset I was not worried about, once I was able to continue doing well for my club and have the right attitude, I would get my chance and it came today.”
Trinidad and Tobago led 2-0 at one point through Glenn and Cummings. And, after squandering a two goal lead, regained the initiative with a Joevin Jones free kick from the edge of the area.
But a brilliant late strike from the outside of the penalty area by Hector Herrera, after a Carlos Vela corner kick, ensured that both teams shared the spoils again.
Mexico’s interim head coach Ricardo Ferretti said he was “satisfied” with the result and complimented Trinidad and Tobago’s level of play.
“It is not easy to come back from 2-0 but we made it 2-1 and then we came back to level it,” said Ferretti. “The defence had some work to do but generally I think it was a good game and I was happy with that aspect. I am satisfied but naturally I would have liked a better result.
“I think there is the possibility we will meet again (in the World Cup qualifiers). Trinidad and Tobago has demonstrated a very high level of play…
“The level in Concacaf is higher these days and it is not easy to play teams in the region anymore, especially teams like Trinidad and Tobago.”
Hart credited his squad for its organised play and ability to recover the ball, apart from a few indecisive moments in central defence.
“I think overall I would like to see us be a bit cleaner in our possession when we win the ball and the speed in which we take that ball forward,” said Hart, “but other than that I was really pleased…
“When you go on top against a team like Mexico, you have to know how to manage the lead so they can feel the pressure. But it was a great goal to tie it up. Hats off to Herrera. Overall, I’m satisfied.”
Hart challenged his reserves to earn playing time before the serious business kicks off.
“I would have liked to make some more (substitutions against Mexico),” he said, “but I am not into rewarding players who don’t train at their best. And the players have to fight their way to get into the squad.
“I am not giving anybody anything.”
The Trinidad and Tobago coach believes he has identified the majority of his core players for the Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.
The Warriors play Panama on October 18 in what might be their last friendly international before they start their World Cup qualifying run. And, after playing Mexico without Jones (K) and defenders Sheldon Bateau and Gavin Hoyte, Hart hopes to have the bulk of his squad available.
Defender Carlyle Mitchell recently returned from injury while versatile midfielder Hughtun Hector and 2014 Player of the Year and attacker Kevin Molino are still out after suffering serious injuries earlier this year.
But, at the Gold Cup and in last Friday’s friendly, the Warriors have shown their ability to overcome the absences.
“I think there a few adjustments that need to be made but (in the Panama friendly) I would like more or less the core group of players that should be going into the World Cup,” said Hart. “Some players have cemented their positions, others are fighting for their positions and that is a healthy situation to be in.”
Hart insisted that the Warriors are still far from their peak.
“I would like to see us (be) cleaner in possession and I would like to see us push (opponents) back some more,” he said, “especially our wide players because they do have the capacity to do that.”
Trinidad and Tobago: 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK); 23.Daneil Cyrus, 6.Radanfah Abu Bakr (17.Mekeil Williams 64), 18.Yohance Marshall, 2.Aubrey David; 14.Andre Boucaud (5.Kevan George 70), 8.Khaleem Hyland; 13.Cordell Cato (11.Trevin Caesar 58), 20.Keron Cummings, 3.Joevin Jones (16.Neveal Hackshaw 86); 7.Jonathan Glenn (10.Willis Plaza 74).
Unused substitutes: 1.Marvin Phillip (GK); 12.Marcus Joseph, 19.Rundell Winchester.
Coach: Stephen Hart
Mexico: 1.Alfredo Talavera (GK); 13.Diego Reyes, 5.Javier Güemez, 6.Jorge Torres Nilo; 10.Raul Jimenez, 19.Henry Martin (9.Raul Jiminez, 54), 20.Jesus Dueñas (16.Hector Herrera 73), 8.Javier Aquino, 3.Oswaldo Alanis (15.Hector Moreno 73); 11.Carlos Vela, 21.Carlos Esquivel.
Unused substitutes: 12.Moises Muñoz (GK), 4.Rafael Marquez, 7.Miguel Layun, 14.Javier Hernandez, 18.Andrés Guardado, 22.Paul Aguilar, 23.Jose Vazquez.
Coach: Ricardo Ferretti
Referee: A Skeete (Barbados)
Hungry players must be rewarded.Cummings must sutain this level of play
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Always aim to save all and even if u don’t succeed I know u may saved at least one and that’s a job well done sir!!! Thanks for your effort Earl Mango Pierre
You can bring a horse to the water to drink and if he eh want no water eh he not drinking well I have mentored a few players in my time eh and trust me I realized I cannot save all of them Omari Billy
Good work…keep up!!!
His brother Marvin Guerra was always a good influence on him. Sadly, he was killed two years ago. I did an interview with him before the Gold Cup that I haven’t used.
Hopefully I will dust it off when I get the chance to.
In sports those who made it had the right people around them and it’s time our elders take hold of players as such and mentor them through their careers…that can be a great help to our youths holistic development
Guerra says all the right things. I think he is a great guy. But something has to click. He has to improve tactically.
Don’t think Guerra has wasted his chances…compared to where he started and his state in his earlier days he has come along way to still be relevant and still in our minds as we have seen many others just go by the way side. I believe in his ability just as u Lasana Liburd but I don’t think our local players know how to make that next step especially where professionalism on and most important off the field is concerned
You remember sometime last year, we were watching a game in Ato Boldon and I was asking about Keron Cummings? I was seeing him for the first time and I remember mentioning to you that he should be training with the National Team. I am really glad to see the progress he has made.
Yes, I remember speaking about him with Dayne Brizan and Randy Bando too. I thought it took a while for him to get that shot after the season he had with Stars. I’m happy for him too.
Yeah the corrupted TTFA also needs to hire Machel Montano to work with our defenders eh, and all he will be training them to do is move left move right eh, look behnd you uptown downtown because now that our Soca Worries are scoring goals eh our defenders are really sticking eh steeuuppss Them really good yes
We need a team where no spot is guaranteed…..that is the only way we will get true warriors #redarmy
That’s it right there Joan Layne. I’m a fan of Guerra’s but I can’t complain. I will keep hoping that he clicks and works his way back into the team on merit.
Attitude determines altitude, talent alone is just not enough when it comes to sport. I guess the coach knows best.
I wonder what response all of this will provoke from Ataulla Guerra? He has not lived up to his potential and wasted so many chances. But he remains one of our most talented players.
Cummings for one is taking his opportunity with both hands and both feet. Can’t wait to see him in the new Pro League season.
Lifting standards is a priority but much easier said than done.. Maybe Coach Hart and other key stakeholders should meet periodically to discuss strategies for short, medium and long term implementation??
I must compliment Stephen Hart for the work he has done with this team. From the performances we have seen so far, he certainly is capable of motivating this bunch to punch well above their supposed featherweight status and have a powerhouse like Mexico satisfied to escape with a draw.