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Warriors pitted against USA and vengeful Guatemalans in 2018 W/Cup draw

The “Soca Warriors” must punish Guatemala once again if they are get to CONCACAF’s final Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying round.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Sheldon Bateau (centre) celebrates the opening goal against Guatemala with teammates Radanfah Abu Bakr (left) and Khaleem Hyland during their 3-1 Gold Cup win. (Copyright Jonathan Daniel/AFP 2015)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Sheldon Bateau (centre) celebrates the opening goal against Guatemala with teammates Radanfah Abu Bakr (left) and Khaleem Hyland during their 3-1 Gold Cup win.
(Copyright Jonathan Daniel/AFP 2015)

The World Cup draw today pitted Trinidad and Tobago alongside the United States and either Guatemala or Antigua and Barbuda and St Vincent and the Grenadines in Group C. Only two teams will advance to the final hex. The CONCACAF semifinal qualifying round begins in November.

“The draw is favourable on paper,” Soca Warriors coach Stephen Hart told the TTFA Media. “But home and away matches are always an  extremely difficult and complex situation. If you look at how Guatemala looked in in the Central American qualification for the Gold Cup, they were almost unbeatable at home and they went all the way to the Final.

“They can be a very tricky opponent if they get into that round. And of course we will not take any of the other opponents lightly regardless of who they are.”

Guatemala football fans have never forgiven Trinidad and Tobago for edging them to a FIFA Play Off berth in the 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign, via a 2-1 home win over a weakened Mexico team.

But, in truth, the Central American team has traditionally struggled against the “Red, White and Black” and is yet to gain revenge. It was no different at the 2015 Gold Cup, as the Warriors began their campaign with a 3-1 whipping of the Guatemalans.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland (right) tackles Guatemala captain Carlos Ruiz in 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup action. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland (right) tackles Guatemala captain Carlos Ruiz in 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup action.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

Guatemala captain Carlos Ruiz, who scored his country’s lone goal against Trinidad and Tobago and also escaped punishment for a late stamp on goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams, vowed to learn from their Gold Cup mistakes.

“We need to learn and hope for maturity in the young players that played and didn’t play in this Gold Cup,” Ruiz told CONCACAF. “We have World Cup qualifiers in two months. So we are going to try and learn from this tournament and try to mature so that we can take it with us into the qualifiers, which is the most important tournament we have.”

Hart hopes that the Warriors also prepare properly by making full use of the available FIFA dates for international games before the World Cup qualifiers get going in November.

“Hopefully we can play on every FIFA (match) date between then and now and play against similar opposition to what we will meet,” said Hart. “It’s unrealistic to look at the team’s performance at  Gold Cup and think this is just going to transfer itself unto the World Cup qualification.

“The team needs to prepare properly. If we don’t have proper preparation, things like this are a rolling the dice.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones (left) congratulates scorer Sheldon Bateau (right) after his Gold Cup goal against Cuba. Looking on is Andre Boucaud who scored the Soca Warriors' second goal in a 2-0 win in Phoenix. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones (left) congratulates scorer Sheldon Bateau (right) after his Gold Cup goal against Cuba.
Looking on is Andre Boucaud who scored the Soca Warriors’ second goal in a 2-0 win in Phoenix.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

Not that Guatemala can be assured of getting into the semifinal round.

Antigua and Barbuda, buoyed by the influx of close to a dozen Europe-based players, is a plucky outfit of late and will be no walk over.

United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann is unlikely to take anything for granted in the Caribbean either after his team’s shock Gold Cup semifinal elimination against Jamaica.

The “Reggae Boyz” got no favours in the World Cup draw, though, as they were placed squarely in the “Group of Death.”

Should Jamaica, as expected, get past Nicaragua, captain Rodolph Austin and his men must somehow emerge from a four team group that includes Costa Rica, Panama and either Haiti or Grenada.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Keron Cummings (left) challenges Mexico midfielder Hector Herrera during CONCACAF Gold Cup action. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Keron Cummings (left) challenges Mexico midfielder Hector Herrera during CONCACAF Gold Cup action.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

Mexico, who benefited from some shocking refereeing decisions to get to the 2015 Gold Cup final, enjoyed favour with the powers that be again with a fairly tranquil schedule in Group A.

Mexico faces waning Central American power Honduras, who finished bottom of their group in the Gold Cup, along with either Canada or Belize and Curaçao or El Salvador.

CONCACAF semifinal round of 2018 World Cup qualifiers

Group A: Mexico, Honduras, Curacao/El Salvador, Canada/Belize;

Group B: Costa Rica, Panama, Grenada/Haiti, Jamaica/Nicaragua;

Group C: USA, Trinidad and Tobago, St Vincent and the Grenadines/Aruba, Antigua and Barbuda/Guatemala.

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71 comments

  1. Antigua players are strong, and very fit. They can at times play like Jamaica. The policy is not to allow good passing teams to develop a rhythm, in other words stop them after three passes, anyway you have to. How many times have we seen Jamaica do that to us when we had skillful players?? Guatemala could struggle in Antigua if the Antiguan’s adopt this approach. We shall see.

  2. The old guard doesn’t fall easily San Toki. Their players are experienced, generally understand their limitations and know how to manage a game over 90 minutes.
    The Antigua and Barbuda project is still young. Experience counts for a lot in these two-legged contests especially.

  3. Jamaica’s potential group though wow!

  4. Keep your eyes on the Haitian team. If they were to play together more often, look trouble

  5. true Lasana Liburd , but Guatemala scraped through the WCQ in June against a lowly Bermuda side and were poor in Gold Cup, can see a young and energetic Antiguan side eliminating them!

  6. Who wants to be in that group with Jamaica, Haiti, Costa Rica and panama! Judgement

  7. Antigua has some good players and is a tricky opponent. But are they preparing properly? That is the question.

  8. Hannibal Najjar

    Hart knows that the run we had was a good one and he has had very good runs personally in the Gold Cup Competitions whether for Canada or T&T. Other Cups/competitions, we will have to see how the Hart-led unit showcases – his track record there is less “rosy”. What Hart also knows is that the 6 previous games before the Gold Cup, we scored 1 (one) goal and conceded 5 (five) while during the Gold Cup’s 4 games, we scored 10 and scored in all games, and conceded 6. We are not known for scoring goals (and one contributor, Darin Lewis pointed this out) and this is going to be what takes us over the next hump. We saw that Guatemala tying Mexico 0-0 and they can be a very good handful in any given tournament – indeed they have the capability. Bitterness in their mouths? Indeed! They are who we “used” to advance to play Bahrain leading up to the 2006 WC. And, they are going to also remember their silly and amateurish mistakes when they went down 1-3 in the just concluded GC. Our hands will be full with the now “relegated” USA team, led by obnoxious J. Klinsmann who is going to be furious for a many number of games to come, and Antigua, a talented team will pose to be a seriously slippery-to-the-foot wall to climb for Guatemala as they try to secure their place in Group C. Hart knows all these things and will also not take lightly the St. Vincent and the Grenadines who I predict will overcome Aruba.
    On a positive note, I believe that Hart has proven himself to the players, gained the respect of the media, and have halted any charge from the public – he has done a marvelous job even when results are nor favorable. And, to this point, it would really be classy if people like Alvin Corneal, Gally Cummings, and our Minister, Brent Sancho, would be more gracious in their writing and ushering.

  9. Lasana Liburd can you get Hart’s wish list of teams he feels would be good prep for the other 3 games ??? That would be good to post and put pressure on the TTFA

  10. lol Guatemala might not even make it that far, can’t rule out Antigua just yet!

  11. I want to see some hungry ass T&T players on the field, players with no fear.

  12. I’m a bit late but here is my view: In the on going 2015 Gold Cup both Trinidad & Jamaica proved that it is possible to beat Mexico & the US. We need to build on this breakthrough and ensure those two nations don’t improve and leave us in their wake. I was waiting for the day that Mexico and the US are no longer power houses of football, it’s time to turn the tables. God knows it’s time. I do hope Hart keep these guys and build a solid team. I believe it’s our time again only if the players want it. They have to want it more than the US and Mexico.

  13. Get the games TTFA .. we need 3 more friendlies …stop wasting our time and get off your asses

  14. T&T coach Stephen Hart: “The draw is favourable on paper. But home and away matches are always an extremely difficult and complex situation. If you look at how Guatemala looked in in the Central American qualification for the Gold Cup, they were almost unbeatable at home and they went all the way to the Final.
    “They can be a very tricky opponent if they get into that round. And of course we will not take any of the other opponents lightly regardless of who they are.”
    “Hopefully we can play on every FIFA (match) date between then and now and play against similar opposition to what we will meet.
    :It’s unrealistic to look at the team’s performance at Gold Cup and think this is just going to transfer itself unto the World Cup qualification.
    “The team needs to prepare properly. If we don’t have proper preparation, things like this are a rolling the dice.”

  15. Haha! D man need a new shirt according to uncle Earl eh

  16. Payment is probably being processed Savitri Maharaj. As always

  17. Kion S Williams, bizarrely there was no date set for that Copa play off up until even a week or so ago. It has to be within the FIFA calendar between Sept and Oct.
    It won’t be easy. The Pro League season ended in May and, as always, God knows when it will restart.

  18. Have they paid him the outstanding monies?

  19. Well that is good news. I only hope the bandwagonist can make positive contributions!!! And Hart will have all the necessary support he needs to take our football to the world cup and hopefully out the group stage.

  20. Staying as coach of Trinidad has to be all “heart” cause it ain’t for the money….. Whenever they do receive it

  21. Serious people need to organize this campaign. A LOC accountable to the people and people with integrity who can bring sponsors on board. This team can make it with the right support and proper preparation. We must start NOW.

  22. Understood.. Hopefully after that JA win, we can build the momentum to do the same when that time comes.. I’m sure the U.S going to be an entirely beast at qualifiers..

  23. start working on getting some more games under our belt

  24. I heard tere are doubts whether that tournament may continue because of the FIFA corruption

  25. The Azteca is only one game though. USA and Costa Rica have always been our toughest opponents.

  26. When is the playoff for Copa 2016 with Haiti scheduled?

  27. Isn’t that sad! We are telling a good coach that’s trini lol to shop around. I don’t him if he leaves though

  28. With our consistency, we should be working on getting past St. Vincent first.

  29. I feel I would have been shopping around if I was him. But then I lived abroad and preferred home. So I can’t blame him on one hand.

  30. They offered Hart a new contract already and I know he wants to stay.

  31. This is going to be tough. Trinidad have to play attacking football home and win their games. Away we need to be cautious and play counter attacking football and hope for the best result possible.

  32. Once we continue how we are going for sure!!!

  33. Anything but Mexico.. I think it’s easier for us to get a win against all these teams as opposed to going to azteca..

  34. Yea thanks, I was looking at the start of the hex by mistake

  35. Ok! But are we retaining the services of Stephan Hart???

  36. It is November this year Xavier.

  37. Yes we CAN but there MUST be PROPER PREPARATION

  38. yes we can but we need good preparation because guatemala will be gunning for us they probably hate us by now

  39. Yes. We have to make sure that no one improves while we stand still.

  40. Was trying to watch the draw Lasana but the spanish commentary was getting to me. Couldn’t believe not an english speaking sports channel carried the draw live. I surfed through all the channels on FLOW. That doesn’t say much for FIFA.

  41. Get some more fitness and games in …. I like our chances against the U.S. ….. Time to stop being afraid of these teams ….. Their reputations shrouds their mediocrity!!

  42. ..Yes. History and current form are with us – never mind the TTFA..

  43. I don’t see why not but we Need to keep improving . these fixtures are November next year so we have a decent amount of time to put in a some work

  44. 4 FIFA dates available to get ready to hit the ground running…we MUST utilize properly..