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If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it: Hart and Kenwyne have mixed feelings but vow to keep succeeding

“There’s an old saying, if it’s not broken don’t try to fix it.”

This was Soca Warriors skipper Kenwyne Jones’ response when asked about possible changes to certain aspects of the team’s performances after they booked a spot into the CONCACAF hex last night. The Warriors battled to a nervy 2-2 draw with Guatemala at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, and will now travel to Jacksonville to take on an American team which has one foot in the hex themselves, having spanked St Vincent and the Grenadines 6-0 yesterday.

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team pose before kick off against Guatemala at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Friday 2 September 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team pose before kick off against Guatemala at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Friday 2 September 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Costa Rica, Panama and Central American powerhouse Mexico have also booked their spots to CONCACAF’s last stage of World Cup qualifying, but for stretches of the game in Port of Spain last night, it appeared that coach Stephen Hart’s “Red Army” would not rise to the occasion.

“It was a bittersweet moment,” said Trinidad and Tobago coach Stephen Hart. “Overall, I thought we played with a lot of nerves (…) I thought we were sloppy, it’s almost like we didn’t want the ball and we didn’t move it effectively.

Although the Warriors seemed to surrender possession for much of the first period, they were out of the blocks like a tracer bullet and should have probably scored inside the first two minutes.

“I thought the way we opened the game was extremely positive, we moved the ball very well,” said Hart. “We got into two very good positions and we sort of failed to take the opportunity.

“After that point the game was fairly evenly balanced and then Guatemala scored a goal on the back post which I was a little bit disappointed in. Because most of what we worked on as a team was the sort of runs they made coming in on the back post and us being aware of it.”

Photo: Guatemala captain Carlos Ruiz (second from left) and his teammates celebrate one of his two goals against Trinidad and Tobago at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Friday 2 September 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Guatemala captain Carlos Ruiz (second from left) and his teammates celebrate one of his two goals against Trinidad and Tobago at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Friday 2 September 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Right-back Christian Jimenez and Guatemala’s all-time leading goal scorer Carlos Ruiz combined for the visitors’ opening goal, as Mekeil Williams was culpable of being sucked into the penalty area, while Carlyle Mitchell, who was playing his first international game since the Copa America Centenario play-off match against Haiti in January, allowed the wily Ruiz to slip off his left shoulder and tap home.

Hart tried to ensure that the defensive lapse would not occur again.

“We talked about the wide players not doing their defensive duties and the two central midfielders getting stretched,” said Hart, “and because of that, Guatemala was getting space between the lines. We talked about utilising the counter attack knowing they had to come forward.

“The biggest discussion we had was really to address the lack of urgency. We lacked that sort of impetus and urgency at times.”

Seattle Sounders utility player Joevin Jones then provided some impetus with a delicious left-footed just after the hour mark and Hart possibly thought that his team were in the clear.

“I tried to pin back Guatemala by bringing on two attacking players,” said Hart. “Young Levi Garcia, he sort of upset the tone and we should have killed off the game, we had some chances to kill off the game. Of course we failed to do that and it became a game of panic after that.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (centre) takes on Guatemala midfielders Jean Marquez (left) and Rodrigo Saravia during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Friday 2 September 2016. Both teams played to a 2-2 draw. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (centre) takes on Guatemala midfielders Jean Marquez (left) and Rodrigo Saravia during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Friday 2 September 2016.
Both teams played to a 2-2 draw.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Instead, TT goalkeeper Marvin Phillip had to be wide awake as he pulled off two remarkable reflex saves in the space of a minute. And despite going a man down in the dying moments, Guatemala levelled the game at two apiece as Ruiz scored the perfect poacher’s goal after Phillip parried a shot into his path.

Hart stated that he opted for the centre-back pairing of Bateau and Mitchell due to their quickness and probability of curtailing Guatemala’s combination play, but the 36-year old Ruiz showed that he was sharper than his younger opponents in two critical moments of the game.

Did complacency cause the lack of impetus and urgency shown by the Warriors?

“No I don’t think it was complacency,” Hart said. “I just think we started the game well; we did this before in the US game. No team dominates the entire game so in their period of domination what we needed to do was get the ball and make them run a little bit because I was not worried if Guatemala could get behind us, unless it was some sort of combination or mistake made.”

Jones (K) also pointed to the lack of decisive play from his team, and admitted dissatisfaction with his own performance. But the 2006 World Cup player was ready to see the bigger picture.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Kenwyne Jones takes a breather during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Friday 2 September 2016. The Soca Warriors and Guatemala played to a 2-2 draw. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Kenwyne Jones takes a breather during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Friday 2 September 2016.
The Soca Warriors and Guatemala played to a 2-2 draw.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868

“I didn’t score so I’m not going to be satisfied.” Jones (K) said. “At the end of the day I’m satisfied that we got into the hex. The most important thing about tonight was getting that result and going to the next stage.”

The former Sunderland and Stoke City striker, who is set to link up with Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion franchise Atlanta United in the new year, gave his reasoning for his team’s hot and cold showing.

“It’s a combination of things that I think we need to deal with in-house,” Jones (K) said. “Also, I think the equation, it’s pretty tough. It’s like having a one-nil or a two-nil lead in a game. It’s the most dangerous lead that you could ever have; the most vulnerable point for you.

“I think coming up to the occasion knowing that we needed a point maybe played a part in our minds that we needed to do just enough. It’s not something that we should make a habit of really.”

If the Warriors finish in top spot in Group C they would entertain Mexico on November 7. Hart’s charges drew 4-4 and 3-3 with “El Tri” in respective Gold Cup and friendly matches last year, and the skipper does not see the need to shake things up tactically just yet.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Joevin Jones (centre) steers home his second goal while Guatemala defenders Christian Jimenez (right) and Hamilton Lopez look on during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain on 2 September 2016. Jones struck twice in a 2-2 draw between the two nations. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Joevin Jones (centre) steers home his second goal while Guatemala defenders Christian Jimenez (right) and Hamilton Lopez look on during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain on 2 September 2016.
Jones struck twice in a 2-2 draw between the two nations.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“There’s an old saying, if it’s not broken don’t try to fix it,” Jones said. “The team itself, I don’t want to say we are set up to play a certain way, but we play a certain type of football. And I don’t think that trying to change certain things going forward is going to make a massive difference…

“Being able to be at the top of that focal point to bring my other teammates in is fantastic to me. At the end of the day, every game I’m playing I will be the main focus because of my profile and I have no problem with that because it frees up other people in the team to be able to express themselves and get the job done.”

Jones (K), who is currently on loan with two-time TT Pro League champions Central FC, reiterated his team’s desire for an “advantage” when they play on home soil. On Tuesday, Trinidad and Tobago saw their scrimmage match shifted from the Hasely Crawford Stadium to the Larry Gomes Stadium in Malabar as the stadium staff tried to keep the playing surface in top condition.

“When we went to Guatemala they stuck us in the back of a field where we had to walk through a trace (…) we went through a town where one morning there was a murder, and they trained somewhere good,” said the Warriors skipper. “Anytime we play here in Trinidad and Tobago, for some reason they always take something away from us. There’s always something that is giving us less of an advantage every time.

“So that’s not for us to sort out that’s for the people behind the scenes to deal with. However they decide to at least help us out a little bit would be really nice.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland (second from right) gestures to fans after Joevin Jones' second goal against Guatemala during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Friday 2 September 2016. Both teams played to a 2-2 draw. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland (second from right) gestures to fans after Joevin Jones’ second goal against Guatemala during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Friday 2 September 2016.
Both teams played to a 2-2 draw.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868

The Warriors have qualified for the final round of 2018 World Cup qualifying undefeated, and with a game to spare. Now their towering on-field leader is pleading for that extra competitive edge going into the hex.

AboutR.Walcott

R.Walcott
Roneil Walcott is a Journalism and Public Relations student at COSTAATT and a freelancer at Wired868. Walcott is an avid sports fan and former Harvard Cricket Clinic member and ex-St. Mary’s College cricket player.

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163 comments

  1. Yes i agree kenwyne’s finishing is not great but he does things that ppl dont see… he wins alot of flick on headers from long balls for the wide players to run onto… his physical presence alone also gives others more time and space on the ball… he holds up the ball better than anyone else on the team would cuz of his strength… take him out of the team and u will see for yourself how much we miss him… i will always point out that game vs haiti late last yr to qualify for the gold cup where u can see the other strikers in glenn and shahdon not a knock on them but there was zero pressure on the haitian defence and u could clearly see kenwyne was badly missed in that game… right now our strength is wide play and u need kenwyne on the end of those crosses… obviously coach Hart is also seeing what he brings to the team otherwise he wont keep on starting him… he is serving a purpose and alot of ppl just not seeing that…. the 25 ppl that like the last comment need to sit back and look at the football in dept

  2. I dont care if we win ,loose,or draw. I want to see my boys play fearless football for 90 minutes..

  3. Do not wash your dirty linen in public coach keep the distraction away .

  4. Hannibal Najjar

    Not sure why Coach Hart finds himself bound to giving explanations or reasons to anyone for his selection and/or substitution decision!

  5. My question is how in heavens name could kenwyn Jones be the best striker we have to offer? This dude could hardly keep control of the ball,off the ball movement is zero,takes on no defenders as ah striker,misses 99 an scores 1 an starts every single game for his country. How?

  6. Earl Mango Pierre why don’t you ask why Central FC are still owed prize money from 2015? Maybe that will help you with your answers? Also for your information, players out of contract do not get “releases”. They bring a transfer request from their new club. Which he did and we signed!

  7. hey Lasana Liburd i think the next Wired868.com exposé has to be about the corporate bandwagonists ready and waiting in the wings to exploit the TTO run in the Hex.
    a great starting point would be to look at the marketing execs of corporations from the 2006 Hex campaign

    • that campaign cost Jack about TT$18m (he said)
      So a cost projection for this run would be interesting reading as well

    • Dennis Allen, I know two big companies who tried to sponsor and were frustrated by talks with TTFA. One was Carib. The reason there were no drinks at the game was not for a lack of trying by them.
      So I don’t know if it would be fair to blame the companies alone.

    • The TTFA need to employ someone with a marketing brain but when one man thinks he can do it all then we’re just spinning top in mud.

    • I would investigate those claims bro.
      last time i checked there was one brewery with exclusive rights at the HCS and they were using that deal to block other brands as well as to leverage themselves into a cheaper deal with the TTFA…it is alleged…

  8. Any body remember Richard Chinapoo ????
    Gally Cummings had to let him go eventually

  9. To be fixed: Kenwyn finishing off sitters, Mickel Williams tracking back quicker #goalswinmatches #coverthespacesquickly #warriorstimeisnow #lovemyteam

  10. Jones must be dropped now. If Hart cant see that sonethings wrong. He took too long to sub him. I thought that when we leading 2-1 in the 80th minute that Abu Bakr could have been introduced to bolster the defence or any other player to strenghten the defense. The team has lots of potential but we cant encourage and accept mediocrity

  11. T&T players must think on their feet, play a tighter brand of football if they are to advance after the next round !

  12. Time to go Hart, well that is the most dotish comment in football history. Nothing had been happening in Trinidad football since 2006 and finally we reach the last 6 with a coach who has been with us the last three years and some ignoranant fool will say time to go heart. Allyuh from hell yes

  13. We as a sporting nation accepts sub par preformance an the coach has to change this to get the desire result .jamaica goes to win we go for a sweat kenwynne should lead not follow which he is lacking latapy was a leader talk to him

  14. Kenwyn needs to be sub. He is unfit to make a starting XI. Let the younger guys get that opportunity.

  15. Joey Richardson are you really serious eh, at this stage of his life eh, you want Mr. Bound not to score do what eh, personal training to get there eh, so what was he doing all these years in England eh, and no wonder why his contract days are over in England eh, and he is heading to the MLS eh, and he needs to retire and return to our sweet country and come and be part of the Players Association to defend our players rights eh, because some players are still being exploited by the professional teams in our sweet country starting with Central F. C. eh. ah wonder if my player Manners finally was paid his thousand of monies that is owed to him by the ex- corrupted Sports Minister eh and was given his release so that he can return to his home town to represent Jabloteh eh. Them really good yes.

  16. agree but assist counts too no one scores without getting a pass

  17. Coaches allow certain things from certain players, the first question i was asked by d Coach when i landed in Portugal, ( can u score goals), now that i am a Coach the equation becomes simple, u r the leading striker, jus SCORE

  18. Joey I am in support on comment I wonder he he does it

  19. Lets all remember Kenwyne is very strong on the ball and in the air was his pass to Jones for first goal lets not be to hard on him he can work on his finishing shooting and first touch he has to do personal trainig to get there and he can i am still one of his biggest supporters so is Total Support from me no part time lover

  20. Ever heard of the ticki-racket style?

  21. Brian he giving it but they have him in d round position

  22. I have no problem with that what we supposed to be doing at r tender age at 7 years learning to control that ball and if u can’t how could pass it to another