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Eight reasons for optimism about T&T’s Gold Cup chances

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?

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams fends away a long range missile against Haiti. (Courtesy ESPN)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams fends away a long range missile against Haiti.
(Courtesy ESPN)

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?

Photo: Soca Warriors (from left) Radanfah Abu Bakr, Cleon John, Densill Theobald and Jamal Gay can advance with just one point from three matches if results go their way. (Courtesy TTFA Media)
Photo: Soca Warriors (from left) Radanfah Abu Bakr, Cleon John, Densill Theobald and Jamal Gay can advance with just one point from three matches if results go their way.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

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?

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago coach Stephen Hart (centre) can confirm his local credentials tomorrow. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago coach Stephen Hart (centre) can confirm his local credentials tomorrow.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

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.

Photo: Defence Force attacker Kevon Carter (left) glides past T&TEC FC defender Cebastian Bailey in Pro League action. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Defence Force attacker Kevon Carter (left) glides past T&TEC FC defender Cebastian Bailey in Pro League action.
(Courtesy Wired868)

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.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago striker Cornell Glen (right) lets national coach Stephen Hart know that he is ready for tomorrow's fixture against Honduras. (Courtesy TTFA Media)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago striker Cornell Glen (right) lets national coach Stephen Hart know that he is ready for tomorrow’s fixture against Honduras.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

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.

Photo: Soca Warriors Kenwyne Jones takes on the El Salvador defence during Trinidad and Tobago's group opener. (Courtesy FoxSoccer)
Photo: Soca Warriors Kenwyne Jones takes on the El Salvador defence during Trinidad and Tobago’s group opener.
(Courtesy FoxSoccer)

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.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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9 comments

  1. Lol @ number 2

  2. Lasana well writen as usual but yuh for get to mention one thing eh, that you should have called meh uncle Jackular Warner and asked him to make a call to the Hondurans and tell them to play their weakest team eh, like when Mexico sent their 3rd string team in 2005 to play against us when Stern John scored a hatrick in order for us to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Them really good yes.

  3. Sorry but I have not an ounce of faith in these guys.

  4. Well written and faith building!

  5. Lasana, if I am not mistaken, T&T defeated Honduras in 2001 in a World Cup 2002 qualifier in San Pedro Sula, goal scorer being the legendary Stern John!!!

    • Yes, you’re absolutely correct. It was a highly emotional game too coming soon after the death of Mickey Trotman. An adjustment is on the way. Thanks Kirton.

  6. As much as getting to the next round may be a possibility there is not much to get excited about. The team,formation,tactics and coaches changes like how those guys change socks for each game. i have seen some improvement but just being a negative advocate here my question is if Honduras second string team still beat us and we don’t go through what is the next move? Do they get a new coach, revamp the team, bring back Yorke, Stern and Latapy. There is just no real consideration for the future of T&T football. Even if they do go through there is a higher probability that they would be out by next game.

    As much as i like to see the country’s talent on show and wish that T&T could go all the way and win it all. These players need to believe in themselves first and give themselves the notion that they are the best and that they can thrive on their strengths as a team.

  7. #4 makes me pessimistic