New Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart is aiming for a quick-fire start to the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup when he leads the “Soca Warriors” out against El Salvador from 7 pm on Monday July 8 in New Jersey.
The Warriors managed just one first half goal in five 2012 Caribbean Cup outings and Hart, a former Canada coach, hopes to lift the pace at Gold Cup.
“I think the opening part of the game will be important in terms of how we settle down, how we fall into our rhythm of the game and try to control the entire tempo,” Hart told the TTFA Media. “The staff has worked very well with the players and I think’s it’s a matter of settling down very early.”
Hart has coached at three Gold Cups before and twice got Canada to the knockout stage of the tournament. In 12 games, Hart’s Canada team managed 15 goals with nine in the first half and three within the first half hour.
The Trinidad and Tobago team is generally considered to be a slow starter although Gold Cup statistics suggest otherwise. From 19 Gold Cup outings, T&T has scored 11 first half goals and six in the first half hour.
Former Malick schoolboy and Joe Public star Arnold Dwarika has Trinidad and Tobago’s fastest Gold Cup goal after a sixth minute opener against the United States in a thrilling 3-2 loss in the 1996 edition.
Hart, who grew up in San Fernando, said it is a special feeling to lead Trinidad and Tobago into the prestigious tournament and he is happy with the working relationships so far in the team’s build-up.
“This will be my fourth Gold Cup and this time with Trinidad and Tobago (…) and (is) definitely something I’m looking forward to,” said Hart.
The Warriors coach said he is happy about his relationship with director of football and ex-2006 World Cup coach Leo Beenhakker too.
“It’s been good,” said hart. “He has let me do my work and when he thinks we can do something he explains it to me and we discuss things very openly and freely.
“He’s very accessible and it’s great to have somebody to fall back on.”
Beenhakker coached Trinidad and Tobago at the 2005 Gold Cup but managed two draws and one loss from three group games.
Intriguingly, the 70-year-old Beenhakker, a former Real Madrid and Ajax coach, has never won a game in an international tournament after 13 attempts with the Netherlands (World Cup 1990), Trinidad and Tobago (Gold Cup 2005 and World Cup 2006) and Poland (Euro 2008).
Beenhakker and Hart replaced former joint head coaches Hutson Charles and Jamaal Shabazz last month. But Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee said he made no demands of the new pairing and insisted that he will be happy with three battling losses.
The TTFA recently signed a five-year sponsorship deal with Spanish sporting company, Joma, and the Warriors will make their competitive debuts in the kit against El Salvador.
Joma is only worn by three other international teams: Honduras, Nicaragua and Uzbekistan. But it is the choice of scores of club teams around the globe including Spain’s Valencia, Italy’s Fiorentina and Belgium’s KV Mechelen. The Spanish international pair of new Manchester City winger Jesus Navas and Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina rank among Joma’s more popular clients.
The Warriors have already selected their team numbers for the Gold Cup and are anxious to get started.
Trinidad and Tobago squad by numbers:
1.Marvin Phillip, 3.Joevin Jones, 5.Carlyle Mitchell, 6.Daneil Cyrus, 7.Chris Birchall, 8.Khaleem Hyland, 9.Kenwyne Jones, 10.Kevin Molino, 11.Carlos Edwards, 12.Darryl Roberts, 13.Cornell Glen, 14.Andre Boucaud, 16.Kevon Carter, 17.Justin Hoyte, 18.Densill Theobald (captain), 19.Keon Daniel, 20.Seon Power, 21.Jan-Michael Williams, 22.Cleon John, 23.Jamal Gay, 25.Aubrey David, 26.Curtis Gonzales, 32.Radanfah Abu Bakr.
At the Gold Cup:
Trinidad and Tobago has won four from 19 Gold Cup outings with coach Bertille St Clair managing three triumphs in 1998 and 2000 while Edgar Vidale had a solitary on in 1991.
Team captain Densill Theobald will be making his third Gold Cup appearance after featuring in the 2005 and 2007 tournaments. The only other players with Gold Cup experience are Seon Power, Jan Michael Williams, Darryl Roberts, Chris Birchall and Cornell Glen who all featured in one competition each.
T&T’s All-time Gold Cup scorers
3—Stern John, Russell Latapy,
2—Leonson Lewis, Jerren Nixon,
1—Marvin Andrews, Chris Birchall, Cornell Glen, Clint Marcelle, Errol McFarlane, David Nakhid, Silvio Spann, Alvin Thomas, Mickey Trotman, Dwight Yorke.