The Trinidad and Tobago national football team is gearing up for a thriller on Friday night in a potentially decisive CONCACAF Gold Cup Group B match against Haiti at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami.
The “Soca Warriors” played to a 2-2 draw with El Salvador on Monday while Haiti fell 2-0 to Honduras in the other Group B encounter.
Both teams need a result on Friday to have any realistic chance of advancing from the group. The Warriors might feel they have their hardest game last with Honduras lurking and coach Stephen Hart confirmed the importance of three points against the French-speaking Islanders.
“We know how important a good result is for us on Friday,” Hart told the TTFA Media, “and I think the game is going to be another exciting one and a closely contested one because Haiti will also come with everything.
“These two countries have always fought closely in the past and it’s going to be no different on Friday. We will try to play some exciting football for our fans also because we know they are desperate to see the team make some progress also.”
Former 2006 World Cup coach Leo Beenhakker, who serves as director of football in the present technical staff, served notice that Haiti will not be an easy adversary.
“Haiti will be a very difficult team to beat,” said Beenhakker. “They are a very athletic team and their players are quick and strong. It will not be easy tomorrow night but we will go there and try to get the best result for the team to try and advance in this Gold Cup.”
Vancouver Whitecaps defender Carlyle Mitchell limped off the field during the clash with El Salvador while I-League-bound striker Cornell Glen did not feature at all due to a calf strain. But both players resumed full training in Florida on Wednesday morning, which means that Hart has 22 players at his disposal with Central FC goalkeeper Marvin Phillip being the only unavailable Warrior.
Phillip is still recovering from a medial ligament injury that he picked up before the tournament.
National team captain and Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA midfielder Densill Theobald played in a 0-0 draw against Haiti in the 2012 Caribbean Cup and hopes his charges can do even better on Friday.
“I’ve looked at them and they have brought a few new faces to the Gold Cup,” said Theobald. “In saying that our team is also a bit different and we will be ready for whatever they throw at us.
“The boys are feeling good at the moment. The opening game is out of the way and we were able to put a point on the board and now we will aim to move to four points and hopefully see ourselves through to the next stage of the tournament.”
The first two teams from the three Gold Cup groups will automatically qualify for the quarterfinals along with the two best third placed outfits. A win against Haiti would virtually book the Warriors place to the knockout stage for the first time in 13 years while a draw means Trinidad and Tobago would need at least one point from its final group match against Honduras on Monday July 15.
Hart said the Warriors will not only seek a win but would also try to do it in style.
“We will try to play some exciting football for our fans also,” said Hart, “because we know they are desperate to see the team make some progress.”
Trinidad and Tobago team
Goalkeepers: 1.Marvin Phillip, 21.Jan-Michael Williams, 22.Cleon John;
Defenders: 3.Joevin Jones, 5.Carlyle Mitchell, 6.Daneil Cyrus, 17.Justin Hoyte, 20.Seon Power, 25.Aubrey David, 26.Curtis Gonzales, 32.Radanfah Abu Bakr;
Midfielders: 7.Chris Birchall, 8.Khaleem Hyland, 10.Kevin Molino, 11.Carlos Edwards, 12.Darryl Roberts, 14.Andre Boucaud, 16.Kevon Carter, 18.Densill Theobald (Captain), 19.Keon Daniel;
Forwards: 9.Kenwyne Jones, 13.Cornell Glen, 23.Jamal Gay;
Stephen Hart (head coach), Leo Beenhakker (director of football), Hutson Charles (assistant coach), Derek King (assistant coach), David Muhammad (manager), William Wallace (manager), Peter Rampersad (assistant manager), Dave Isaac (physiotherapist), Jefferson George (goalkeeping coach), Michael Williams (equipment manager), Terrance Babwah (team doctor), Shaun Fuentes (media officer).