Trinidad and Tobago National Men’s Senior Team head coach Stephen Hart has backed his troops to overcome an expected temperature of 40 degree celsius plus second game complacency when the “Soca Warriors” face Cuba tomorrow from 3.30 pm (6.30 pm TT time) at the University of Phoenix.
The Warriors will advance to the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal round for the second successive tournament and the third third time overall with a draw and a win against the fellow Caribbean outfit.
Trinidad and Tobago gunned down Guatemala 3-1 in Chicago on Thursday night while the Cuba team was whipped 6-0 by Mexico.
However, Hart, who also led the Warriors at the 2013 edition, warned his players not to become complacent against a Cuban team troubled by visas issues and a defection.
“Traditionally (in) our second game after a win, we have a tendency to lose focus and concentration,” Hart told the TTFA Media. “Nothing comes easy in a tournament. In a tournament environment anything can happen. I keep trying to remind them about that.
“They have to play this next game as if it’s a final because this game guarantees you’re going to the knockout stage and that’s where everyone wants to be.”
The Warriors roared to a three goal lead over Guatemala within the first half hour but were on the back foot for much of the second half and were lucky to concede just one item from opposing captain Carlos Ruiz.
Hart expects his players to build on their positives and avoid repeating errors committed in the Gold Cup opener.
“It is a matter of different game, different time and different environment,” said Hart, “and what we have to do is improve on the things that we did well and cut down on the number of errors we made in crucial parts of the field.”
Warriors captain Kenwyne Jones suggested his team will get the job done.
“It’s important for us to get another good result and book our place in the next stage,” said Jones. “I think at the moment we know what it will take. And, come game time, we will take the game on its own merit and do what is required of us.”
Hart, who also took Canada to two quarterfinals and a semifinal spot, has never failed to advance past the group stage from four previous attempts.
He expects to have all 23 players at his disposal tomorrow and does not think the weather should be an excuse.
“Both teams will be accustomed to the conditions,” said Hart. “Even though it’s that hot over here, we’ll get on with it. We have no excuses.”
The University of Phoenix Stadium holds 63,400 patrons and has a retractable roof. It is designed to appear like a coiled rattlesnake.
Hopefully, it will be the Warriors who strike decisively there.
(Trinidad and Tobago Gold Cup team)
Goalkeepers: 21.Jan-Michael Williams (Central FC), 1.Marvin Phillip (Point Fortin Civic), 22.Adrian Foncette (Police FC);
Defenders: 6.Radanfah Abu Bakr (HB Koge—Denmark), 18.Yohance Marshall (Juventud Independiente—El Salvador), 4.Sheldon Bateau (KV Mechelen, Belgium), 17.Mekeil Williams (W Connection), 5.Daneil Cyrus (W Connection), 2.Aubrey David (Shakhter Karagandy—Kazakhstan), 3.Joevin Jones (Chicago Fire—USA);
Midfielders: 14.Andre Boucaud (Dagenham & Redbridge—UK), 8.Khaleem Hyland (KVC Westerlo—Belgium), 15.Dwane James (North East Stars), 19.Kevan George (Columbus Crew—USA), 11.Ataulla Guerra (Central FC), 20.Keron Cummings (North East Stars);
Forwards: 9.Kenwyne Jones (Cardiff City—UK), 13.Cordell Cato (San Jose Earthquakes—USA), 23.Lester Peltier (Slovan Bratislava—Slovakia), 10.Willis Plaza (Central FC), 16.Rundell Winchester (Portland Timbers 2—USA), 7.Jonathan Glenn (IBV—Iceland), 12.Kadeem Corbin (St Ann’s Rangers).
Gold Cup fixtures
(Sun Jun 12)
Trinidad and Tobago v Cuba, 6.30 pm, Phoenix;
Mexico v Guatemala, 9 pm, Phoenix.
2015 Gold Cup results
Panama 1 (Alberto Quintero 55), Haiti 1 (Duckens Nazon 85) in Dallas;
United States 2 (Clint Dempsey 25, 64), Honduras 1 (Carlos Discua 68) in Dallas;
Panama 1 (Luis Tejada 20), Honduras 1 (Andy Najar 81) in Boston;
United States 1 (Clint Dempsey 47), Haiti 0 in Boston;
El Salvador 0, Canada 0 in California;
Jamaica 2 (Gareth McCleary 13, Jobi McAnuff 48), Costa Rica 2 (Roy Miller 33, David Ramirez 37) in California;
Trinidad and Tobago 3 (Sheldon Bateau 11, Cordell Cato 15, Joevin Jones 25), Guatemala 1 (Carlos Ruiz 61) at Chicago;
Mexico 6 (Oribe Peralta 16, 36, 61, Carlos Vela 22, Andrés Guardado 43, Giovani Dos Santos 74), Cuba 0 at Chicago;