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Hart: T&T were decent but…; Los Ticos sting Soca Warriors in Port of Spain

They came, they saw and they conquered.

Costa Rica’s performance last night against Trinidad and Tobago was not scintillating or jaw-breaking. But the Central Americans were measured and patient in their execution at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, and now they sit atop of CONCACAF’S Hex; albeit after one game.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones (top) climbs to head the ball during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016. (Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones (top) climbs to head the ball during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

“Los Ticos” cannot afford to rest on their laurels either, as a visit from the United States, who suffered a 2-1 home loss to Mexico yesterday, awaits them in three days time.

Last night, the visitors and their small posse were able to shrug off the combative Khaleem Hyland and the tricky Joevin Jones to leave this country’s capital smiling from ear to ear.

Substitute Joel Campbell had no small part to play in Costa Rica’s win and the visiting coach alluded to his impact in the post-match conference.

“Our game is a combination game. And that’s what we did. We tried to take advantage of [Trinidad and Tobago] being tired in the second half,” said coach Oscar Ramirez, through his translator. “And Campbell was introduced to help [our] combination play.”

Prior to Campbell’s introduction, the hosts appeared to be going toe-to-toe with Los Ticos—or at least holding them at arm’s length—as Hyland worked overtime to close down Christian Bolanos and Bryan Ruiz in the midfield while Kevan George intercepted would-be through passes at will.

Photo: Costa Rica forward Marcos Ureña (second from left) and Trinidad and Tobago defender Sheldon Bateau (centre) vie for the ball during their 2018 World Cup qualifier football match in Port of Spain, on 11 November 2016. (Copyright AFP 2016/Alva Viarruel)
Photo: Costa Rica forward Marcos Ureña (second from left) and Trinidad and Tobago defender Sheldon Bateau (centre) vie for the ball during their 2018 World Cup qualifier football match in Port of Spain, on 11 November 2016.
(Copyright AFP 2016/Alva Viarruel)

However, Trinidad and Tobago’s approach was nothing short of what Ramirez expected.

“The game was [just] what I had expected [it to be],” said Ramirez. “Trinidad and Tobago had very good transition but one of the [main] things for Costa Rica was to disrupt the ball and counter Trinidad and Tobago’s strengths.”

And after long periods of sideways passing and an apparent inside game of ‘cat and mouse’ with the hosts, Ramirez decided that it was time to go for the jugular.

“We waited for the right time to score and this was key to changing the pace of the game… In the second half, I felt as though I could change things to be more aggressive. Marcos [Ureña] is a more a forward who runs through spaces while Joel [Campbell] is more of a pivot centre forward and that made a big difference late in the game.”

Los Ticos had lulled their opponents into a false state of comfort. And all it took was an incisive Campbell pass and some sleeping down the Trinidad and Tobago left flank to break the deadlock in the 64th minute.

One week ago, Trinidad and Tobago coach Stephen Hart stressed that his team must be mindful of lapses in concentration—which he calculated to account for 60 to 70 percent of their goals conceded—against the “most balanced” team in CONCACAF.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Cordell Cato (centre) tussles with Costa Rica right wing back Christian Gamboa while T&T coach Stephen Hart looks on during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016. (Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Cordell Cato (centre) tussles with Costa Rica right wing back Christian Gamboa while T&T coach Stephen Hart looks on during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

So how would the National Senior Team coach respond the 2-0 defeat?

Though disappointed with his team’s concession of two second half goals, Hart stated that he saw an all-round decent team performance and he pointed to what worked for the boys in “Red, White and Black” on the night.

“I thought we did well,” said Hart. “What we did was we took away the pockets that they wanted to receive the ball in, which was [Bolanos] and [Ruiz]. And [we tried to] make them play the ball wide first before we [went] to press it.

“And I thought we were doing okay with that and then they tried to get [Azofeifa] on the ball off of the three centre backs. And he ended up the playmaker. And both Kenwyne and Jomal contained him quite well. But as I said, I am disappointed.”

With playmaker Kevin Molino serving a two-game internal suspension for a breach of team discipline and John Bostock still to make his Trinidad and Tobago debut, Hart was forced to look for a new ‘number 10’ option. And he went for the diminutive  Mexico-based attacking midfielder Jomal Williams.

Although Hart pointed to Williams’ good defensive work, his play on the attacking end left a lot to be desired, apart from his spectacular volleyed attempt in the 32nd minute.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago supporters pose for a photograph during a break in Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016. (Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago supporters pose for a photograph during a break in Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

But Hart was sympathetic with the former W Connection player, who usually thrives on the left flank.

“[Jomal] worked very, very hard. And unfortunately, in that position you have the least amount of space in a football field. So if you play in that position the objective is to try and get turned or try and get the ball facing the opposition goal and then make the final pass or try and get a shot.

“Costa Rica did two things very well. They took away the space which he operates in, so he was always in a tight situation [where he was] bouncing the ball back [to a teammate]. And they contained Joevin Jones coming inside with two men. So they did their homework on him.”

Hart suggested Williams was given the nod in the ‘number 10’ role to aid Joevin and Cordell Cato with dribbling penetration in the final third. But on a few occasions last night, it appeared as though Joevin had to try and break down the five-man Costa Rican defence all on his own.

Hart acknowledged the individual ability of the Seattle Sounders utility player, but he also touched on his tendency to slack off on the defensive end.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Joevin Jones (centre) is tackled by two Costa Rican players during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016. (Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Joevin Jones (centre) is tackled by two Costa Rican players during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

“I think Joevin Jones is a fantastic player when he gets the ball [but] in the first half he put us under a lot of pressure by not doing any defensive work at all. And then I had a little go at him in the dressing room because he has a lot of quality. But you only get to play with a football for three minutes out of the ninety and it was only a matter of adjusting his positioning and he did very well in the second half…”

But what about the lack of support for Joevin, who was often faced with two and three players in white shirts?

Were the fullbacks instructed to stay at home more often than not?

“No, no [the fullbacks weren’t instructed to be less attacking] but we talk a lot about getting our distances right and sometimes when Joevin gets the ball he doesn’t recognise his position when he receives the ball on the field and he just wants to go; Levi [Garcia] does it as well,” Hart said. “So it’s up to the fullbacks to get on and support them. You do those things in practices but when the game starts and [the opposition] pin you back like that and you are worried about running and having to come back…”

Trinidad and Tobago only managed one shot on goal, which came from defender Carlyle Mitchell and was dramatically stopped by goalkeeper Keylor Navas in any case. But Hart chose to see the glass as half full.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago soca legend Superblue (left) serenades Soca Warriors fans during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016. (Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago soca legend Superblue (left) serenades Soca Warriors fans during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

“If you look at how the goal scored it’s not like we were not in control of the game. We had long periods where we were in control of the game and we got chances. And they were probing and trying to make something happen…

“We look [back] at some of our games and we didn’t move the ball well or we didn’t possess the ball well. And then we come into this game—I have to watch the video again—but from my naked eye I thought we were doing quite well. And we were moving the ball and getting into dangerous parts of the field.

“And when Boucaud came on it became even more effective because Khaleem was playing a little higher up and we were getting into some good positions.”

For many, the second half insertion of Campbell, who is on loan at Sporting Lisbon from English giants Arsenal, was the game’s altering act. But Hart saw Navas’ low, diving save to deny Mitchell in the 69th minute as the real defining moment.

At the time, Trinidad and Tobago were trailing to Bolanos’ item and Hart felt the game would have been totally different if Navas did not stop the net from bulging.

Photo: Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas (top) punches the ball away from Trinidad and Tobago forward Kenwyne Jones during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016. (Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas (top) punches the ball away from Trinidad and Tobago forward Kenwyne Jones during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

But this is the Hex, and last night the hosts were not too good at turning water into wine. “Los Ticos” helped themselves to some ‘Presidential wine’ however, as Ronald Matarrita’s stoppage time item sealed a deserved 2-0 win.

Hart and his charges will need a pick-me-up quickly, as they jet off to Honduras for a match which already feels like a must-win.

About R.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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154 comments

  1. I have no idea why we are not focusing on our youth players! Those fellas quicker, hungrier and are very talented. It is no insult to the older players. Look at Thiago Silva. He was Brazil’s captain and now he comes off the bench. It isn’t an insult, it is progression.

    • If the youth fellahs are not ready yet we won’t be doing them any favours by putting them out there to be slaughtered and to become an international joke.

    • They don’t seem to be a joke though. Do they?

    • I’ve seen teams come here and tear us to shreds. And that is even teams with phenoms like Latapy and Yorke on board.
      I don’t know why everyone thinks we were a disaster. We weren’t.
      Liverpool tore Chelsea to pieces a few weeks ago. Chelsea made a tinker or two and they are at the top of the league.
      Manchester City gave Ferguson’s United team a handful and United came right back up the standings.
      This happens in football. Let’s see the reaction and judge from that.

    • the team didn play “badly”
      they made a few mistakes and were punished.
      too much standing around in D.
      i get the feeling like the back line not 100% sure what to do in all contingencies—who covers where, who fills for who, who returns from the mids to support where…
      we could have scored a couple. with some luck the game could have gone our way.

  2. Trinidad football is dead..plain talk

  3. We didn’t have the 12th man that we thought we would of had ,at least it might of motivated us a little. Anyhow ,we must get something from our home games, it’s not going to be easy playing in central America and the US.

  4. Re-examine your tactics Coach, I have no doubt in your capabilities and i believe you can eventually bring it home.

  5. Think its time we change coach or we can’t afford another one ?

  6. Lasana Liburd you know I don’t ever comment on your stiff but I just want to know why he keeps playing with a false #9. Kenwyne is the laziest forward I’ve seen in a long time. Even with his hold up play his touch is often too poor to give the midfield time to reach up in support. He never presses the opposition defense. He would pretend he’s go to tackle them but just watch them pass the ball. He does more walking around the field than the security guards. The point is though, when you have a coach continuing to play a man like that when he have other more mobile strikers then at what point is the coach the problem more than the player?

  7. Not only that eh how many shots were taken to opponents goal eh, they need to watch the game against my second sweetest country vs Mexico eh, over and over and over again and finally they might just understand the subject steeuupss. Them really good yes.

  8. Anybody not seeing the bell to put on the cat ….this is WORLD CUP football. I honestly cannot see anything from this TEAM that tells we are ready,this is not about picking out individual performances, this is about looking at a team put down a particular style,strategy ,and tactics which we will become proficient and effective at.
    Could you see a particular plan to score a goal? Or was it a hope that an opponent make a mistake and we capitalize..
    How many crosses from the left ,the right near post or far post
    Mobility at the best lethargic.
    Where were we planning to win the ball against Costa Rica?
    Naive football .

  9. Yuh see the captain sorry but he needs to go
    And no when to bring on your subs. Come on man the goal done score what yuh waiting on? We have a good side

  10. Coach Hart said that he have to look at the tapes when asked about Aubrey David so like he doesn’t be watching the players on the field and then talk to them at half time in the dressing room or what eh and what are his two Assistant Coaches there for eh steeuupss. Them really good yes.

  11. Coach Hart really serious about Bound not to score worked really hard eh what game was he looking at eh steeuppss Them really good yes

  12. We were bad. There was no sustained energy, no plan B, no threat. We generated no threat from mid field.

  13. Be real T&T could’ve played much better. We have the players to make it happen, it looked as we just laid back an wait for them to attack .Honestly we had good opportunities to score but was ineffective.. T&T needs to yes Respect Their opponents also show them they need to Fear Us.

  14. the best defense for me is proper offense,if the opponent is under sustained pressure they cannot attack an this has to be for 90mins,lastnight we played in sperts,Guerra should have started in the number 10 role an we definitely need a better striker than kenwyn if we are playing with one on top,someone that can hold the ball long enough to bring the midfield into play an someone that wont be jugging between the halfline an 18yd box when our wingers ah flying down the wing

    • Sayin dis exact thing since long time, Kenwyne is killing de wingers, last night perfect example his body language is not one hungry for goal, we aint reaching Russia if this is de plan, we shouldve won last night comfortably

  15. Steups all kinda conflicting opinions. …. gonna find a replay and watch it myself. I need to know if we were that bad or supporters just being facetious because we lost.

  16. If Hart had what was needed, he would be able to exercise more influence on those boys. I am tired of hearing the excuses … and the fact that he is only able to work with what he has. Rubbish! His duty is to turn them into champions. If he can’t do that, he is a waste of time. They didn’t play badly, my foot. They never play badly! But a successful team usually scores goals, right? He doesn’t have goal scorers on the team because he doesn’t know how to produce them.

    Rooney, Beckham, Suarez … I could go on and on … were little hooligans during their early years and look at them now. But they didn’t do it on their own. Nuff said.