The Trinidad and Tobago national football team has not exactly set the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup alight just yet and, after a 2-2 draw with El Salvador and 2-0 loss to Haiti, the “Soca Warriors” face their toughest group opponent, Honduras, and possible elimination on Monday night.
But, hey, it’s not that bad, right?
If you have Trinidad and Tobago ties and hopped up and down when theWarriors stepped out at the Germany 2006 World Cup, you’re probably desperate for a reason for optimism right now. Wired868 can give you eight.
Eight: Honduras might get complacent
Honduras is already guaranteed a quarterfinal berth after successive wins against Haiti and El Salvador. So might “Los Catrachos” get complacent?
Honduras coach Luis Fernando Suarez, not to be confused with the Liverpool nibbler, already excused a clutch of first team players like midfielder Wilson Palacios and striker Carlo Costly, from the Gold Cup tournament as 2014 World Cup qualification remains the priority.
Perhaps Suarez would use the final group match to further blood some young talent that Trinidad and Tobago forward Kenwyne Jones can have for dinner.
Seven: Group C is in worse shape
The best two third-place teams from three Gold Cup groups will advance to the quarterfinal round and Cuba and Belize have zero points each in Group C.
Cuba and Belize, who were both subjected to some frightening hammerings already, face each other on Tuesday and a draw would mean that Trinidad and Tobago can sneak into the knockout stage with just one point and better goal difference. So much for CONCACAF’s high standards, eh?
If El Salvador loses by two goals more than the “Soca Warriors” tomorrow, then the Warriors will finish third in Group B by virtue of not being quite as bad as the Central American team. Then it will be left to Belize to hold Cuba to a tie.
Not that anyone is accusing Belize of possible match-fixing, of course.
Six: Hart’s birth paper
No homegrown Trinidad and Tobago coach has ever failed to return from the Gold Cup without a victory.
Edgar Vidale led the boys in red, black and white past Costa Rica in 1991 and Bertille St Clair whipped Honduras in 1998 and then took the scalps of Guatemala and Costa Rica in 2000.
True, Hart cut his coaching teeth in Canada after migrating as a young man. But he was born and bred in San Fernando and presumably enjoys Carnival and callalloo. Or did he?
A Trinidad and Tobago defeat could make Hart’s birth paper the most sought after transcript of that nature since US President Barack Obama’s.
Five: Get Carter
Granted, it doesn’t say much to tell you that the Defence Force winger can do better than his performance in Trinidad and Tobago’s opener against El Salvador when his legs looked like they were made of jello.
Carter is not the most cerebral player or a technical wonder. But play the ball into space ahead of him and suddenly he can look as breathtaking as an accelerating Ferrari.
Used properly, Carter can terrify any fullback and be a potent weapon against tired legs or if Honduras tries to play with a high defensive press.
Four: Hart’s in-depth Honduran knowledge
TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee said he chose Stephen Hart as head coach because of his superior knowledge of Trinidad and Tobago’s CONCACAF opponents.
Well, Hart’s last game as Canada boss was an 8-1 loss to Honduras when Canada only needed a draw to get into the final 2014 World Cup qualifying round. So Tim Kee clearly foresaw the importance of this final group fixture.
Still, there might be a silver lining there. After scoring eight times in one game, Honduras surely showed the full range of its goalscoring repertoire to the Trinidad and Tobago coach,
If forewarned is forearmed, then Hart is armed to the teeth for this decisive fixture.
Three: Historical Honduras hoodoo
Honduras is the only CONCACAF opponent that has never defeated Trinidad and Tobago in a Gold Cup match. Ever.
Granted, the two nations only ever met twice in this competition. A Stern John double and Jerren Nixon item saw the Warriors whip Honduras 3-1 in 1998 while Chris Birchall scored in a 1-1 draw in 2005.
Otherwise, Trinidad and Tobago has not defeated Honduras in 12 years with two draws and three losses from five clashes. But, focus Honduras, this is the Gold Cup and you don’t beat us in this competition. Stick to the script.
Two: Cornell the Grouch
Legend has it that Cornell Glen can start an argument in an empty room and more than a few coaches testified that the talented striker can be testing company at the best of times.
As luck would have it, he is even more troublesome for opposing defenders.
If not for misfortunate with injuries, Glen would probably have been in the England Premier League causing sleepless nights for his own coaching staff and opposing players alike. He was ruled out of the El Salvador match through injury while enforced substitutions might have denied him an opportunity against Haiti.
Hart should take away Glen’s toys, hide his pillow, call him names and then unleash him on Honduras.
One: Mr Jones
If the Honduran team had any respect for traditional warfare, it would send out its best warrior to face Kenwyne Jones man-to-man and Trinidad and Tobago would be booking hotel rooms for the quarterfinal stage before the fight got started in earnest.
Honduras is unlikely to accept that challenge but that should not step them having to deal with Trinidad and Tobago’s six-foot-four battle ram for 90 minutes of possible aerial bombardment.
The downside is Trinidad and Tobago’s domestic teams are not used to playing with a striker of Jones’ strengths, which partially explains his woeful international return of eight goals from 52 appearances.
But the Stoke City striker is acquitting himself better than ever at this Gold Cup and, despite leading the forward line by himself, only four players in the tournament have bettered his seven efforts on goal.
With the right service, “Me and Mr Jones” could be a mournful tune for Los Catrachos supporters on Monday night.
Cue Maximus Dan’s “Fighter”…
Editor’s Note: Share your thoughts about the looming CONCACAF Gold Cup showdown between Trinidad and Tobago and Honduras. Trinidad and Tobago’s last win against Honduras was 12 years ago and not 14 years ago as initially reported.