The Trinidad and Tobago national football team has promised not to be overawed when it faces the six-time CONCACAF Gold Cup champion and present title holder, Mexico, in tomorrow’s quarterfinals from 6.30 pm at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
The “Soca Warriors” have only advanced to the knockout stage of the Gold Cup once before, at the 2000 edition, and they then went on as far as the semifinal round. But the Warriors have never defeated Mexico in this competition.
Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Keon Daniel, who plays for US Major League Soccer (MLS) team Philadelphia Union, said the Warriors will be focused on their own game.
“I think we have to worry about our style of play and our game,” Daniel told the TTFA Media. “We just have to face up to whatever Mexico brings on the day. I know we’re looking forward to it and we know the country and the fans back home are also a bit excited but we will not get carried away by what we’ve done here so far.
“The result of a game is determined on the day itself.”
Mexico has not selected its first team players for the Gold Cup after their exertions at last month’s FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil and their replacements got off to the worst possible start with a group opening loss to Panama. But “El Tricolor” managed successive victories over Canada and Martinique since then and eight members of the current Mexico team were champions at the 2012 London Olympics when they beat Brazil to the gold medal.
Striker Marco Fabian was a key part of Mexico’s Olympic story and he scored four times during his last contest against Trinidad and Tobago in the 2012 qualifying series.
Mexico coach Jose Manuel De La Torre insisted that his team will not be happy with anything but a seventh Gold Cup title.
“We have come here to defend our title and we will play for this in every game,” said De La Torre. “We do not expect it to be easy but our ambitions are always the same. And that is to win the tournament. Our feelings about the game against Trinidad and Tobago will be no different…
“Pressure or no pressure, that’s the way it is. That’s the way it is with the Mexican national team. You have to understand that and know that.”
Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart said the Warriors will not be caught off-guard by Mexico tomorrow.
“Regardless of their position and what people may say about them, Mexico is Mexico and we have to prepare well for them and be on top of our game in order to get the result we desire,” said Hart. “At these tournaments teams come into their own the longer the tournament goes on and just like we’ve done better by the time the Honduras game came along, the same may apply to our opponents.
“It’s a match where both teams will surely being going at each other because a place in the semi-finals is at stake.”
Former Trinidad and Tobago striker Jerren Nixon, who was a part of the 2000 Gold Cup team, now lives in Atlanta and visited the Warriors’ training session on Thursday.
Kenwyne Jones, who captained the Warriors during Monday’s 2-0 win over Honduras, hopes to give Nixon plenty to cheer for tomorrow.
“We know what our approach has to be (and) we will not let the hype surrounding the game affect that,” said Jones. “… I know the country is expecting us to give a good showing and we are hoping to just that on the day. We’ll see just how far our efforts can take us.”
Trinidad and Tobago last defeated Mexico in 2005 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain en route to a historic appearance at the 2006 World Cup.
Tomorrow at the 71,000-seater Georgia Dome, Trinidad and Tobago will have the chance to make Gold Cup history.