The “Soca Warriors” will aim to maintain their momentum tomorrow night when they face Mexico in their final CONCACAF 2015 Gold Cup group fixture from 8.30 pm at the 74,000-seater Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
Trinidad and Tobago, who won their earlier outings against Guatemala on Cuba, have already qualified for the quarterfinal round while they will top Group C with a win or draw against Mexico.
Head coach Stephen Hart said that the Warriors will relish the opportunity to match themselves against “El Tricolour.”
“It’s still an important match for us because of the fact that we don’t get to play teams of Mexico’s quality very often,” Hart told the TTFA Media, “so when matches like these come around, we have to make use of it.
“And by that I mean we will test our ability and also use this as an opportunity to prepare against a top team from our region for what’s to come later down the road in the World Cup qualification.
“Additionally, nobody wants to lose a match and we have a good momentum going which we want to keep. Of course our focus now is the quarter finals and getting into the last four.”
The Warriors are without vice-captain and goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams who was ruled out of the rest of the competition with a grade one hamstring strain while midfielder Andre Boucaud is suspended after picking up successive yellow cards.
However, defender Sheldon Bateau said the players are buzzing after their opening two results and anxious to maintain their run.
“I think when you look at how we’ve grown as a team and you look at the others here, you can see that we are capable of matching them and getting good results,” said Bateau. “With a good amount of time together, good preparation and the right belief, we have demonstrated what we are capable of and this is good for us looking ahead to the World Cup qualifiers later this year…
“Mexico is always a big match and a strong opponent but the group is ready for the test and we’ll be looking to keep our form and get another positive result to finish the group stage.”
Bateau, who plays in the Belgium top flight with KV Mechelen, became the fourth Trinidad and Tobago player to score in successive Gold Cup matches after Leonson Lewis (1991), Jerren Nixon (1998) and Arnold Dwarika (2000).
“I’m a bit overwhelmed with my performance and that of the team so far,” said Bateau, who represented his country at the 2007 Under-17 and 2009 Under-20 World Cups. “Especially as a defender your first job is just to keep the clean sheet but to score two in two is a great feeling.”
Team manager William Wallace told Wired868 that the technical staff discussed the ongoing feud between Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee and Sport Minister Brent Sancho. Warriors captain Kenwyne Jones also shared his opinion on social media.
But Hart assured fans that the Warriors remain focused on what they want to achieve on the field.
“The main thing is for us to stay focused on what we want to achieve,” said Hart. “Our first objective was to get out of the group stage and we’ve done that. Now we’ll focus on the next match and also prepare for the quarterfinal stage.
“Despite whatever else is happening off the field, we will remain positive. And credit to the players also for being very professional and not letting anything distract them from their focus out here.”