The “Soca Warriors” must punish Guatemala once again if they are get to CONCACAF’s final Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying round.
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.
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.”
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.
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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I will say again that a proper all encompassing budget must be prepared NOW. This budget must be discussed with the Ministry of Sport who should be able to verify the costs. The TTFA will need to identify the areas that they can fund from FIFA and CONCACAF funding, appoint a proper marketing company who can source some support from the Corporate sector, and the Ministry must be prepared to support the team.
A separate account should be opened for the SOLE PURPOSE of managing the budget and accounting for all budgeted items.
If any overruns become evident, this should be discussed with the Ministry immediately with clear reasons for this overrun.
Income and expenditure statements must be prepared for each game and presented to the TTFA, M.O.S. and published for the benefit of the fans.
It is only when such accountability becomes engrained in people who run our football, will the Corporate sector agree to support. There is presently a total lack of trust in the TTFA, and they need to rebuild that trust.
Contracts are great but the TTFA are known for not keeping their end of the bargain Brian. Is only so much a man can take when you have mouths to feed.
I too was worried that Coach Hart might leave after the Gold Cup and while its still a possibility…from the way he is talking since the team’s return, coupled with the results at the Gold Cup I imagine the TTFA is now negiotiating a new contract with him, taking us up to 2018. So keep the faith Debbie.
Like Marlon Brown i’m also wondering if we’re retaining the services of Coach Hart?
Was beginning to wonder there Earl Mango Pierre Nice to have you back.
Hahahahaha all of a sudden my laptop started giving plenty trouble as I landed in our sweet country eh so I was really unable to start any bachanal as usual eh but I was really impressed with our Soca Worries and I really believe that this will get better as you and Bruce said about the right folks, the exhibition games against top teams and proper preparations moving forward and as soon I return to my second sweet country eh I will be investing in a top of the line Mac book pad cause ah does get ah real tabanca when I am not on. Wired 868 eh and I miss you to Debbie….. lol
A a… Earl Mango Pierre, like your vacation is done and you’re checking in for pre-season. 🙂
I feel somebody hack his profile Prince. Doesn’t sound like him lol
Earl Mango Pierre where you been boy?
As Bruce said unless the right folks take over the corrupted TTFA eh, our Soca Worries won’t be seeing another World Cup any time soon Them really good yes.
Thanks for the “constructive” comment Mango
Steeuuppss the Soda Worries beating my USA team and the team only have a set a defenders taking penalties eh so what happened to our attackers eh the next thing St Vincent beat us to eh. Them really good yes.
Is that a 2 leg game or a one off fixture? If it’s one then we should be home as we placed higher(losing on penalties). If it’s 2 games that’s Octobers window sorted. The point is we need 4 games, nothing less.
We will most likely play Haiti in October for the Copa Play Off. But we need plenty games. Remember the Pro League will still be in preseason too.
Thanks Cheyenne! I could start making my travel plans early
I really hope the TTFA AND MIN OF SPORT work together to get friendlies before November. T&T face Mexico on September 4th in the USA. We need 3 more games. 1 more in September and 2 in October. Let’s get it done.
Fixtures announced btw. We open away to Guat/Antigua on November 13th. Host USA November 17th. Away to SVG/Aruba March 25th 2016, Host SVG/Aruba March 29th 2016, Host Guat/Antigua September 2nd 2016 and Away to USA September 6th 2016.
Yes we can
Guatemala doesn’t play on the front foot like most Central American teams. Not for the last few years anyway.
They can get along just fine without seeing the ball. They know Carlos Ruiz is a capable finisher and can punish a mistake.
It will be an interesting clash. I’m a fan of a few Antigua players I saw recently, especially Jarrin John.