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Hart: We experimented against Panama; Plus Warriors in stats

Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Stephen Hart said his players are still adapting to his tactical variations and learning to handle different game situations, despite their 2-1 friendly win away to Panama yesterday.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national senior team coach Stephen Hart studies his options during a 3-0 friendly defeat against Argentina in June 2014. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national senior team coach Stephen Hart studies his options during a 3-0 friendly defeat against Argentina in June 2014.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

The “Soca Warriors” were without potential flankers Cordell Cato, Lester Peltier, Rundell Winchester, Ataulla Guerra and Hughtun Hector in Panama City, so Hart swapped his trademark 4-2-3-1 formation for a 4-4-2 instead.

Trinidad and Tobago forwards Jonathan Glenn and Kenwyne Jones combined for the opening goal but playmaker Keron “Ball Pest” Cummings, who was used on the right flank, had a quiet outing and was often slow to protect right back Gavin Hoyte.

Hart, who has often pleaded with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) for more camps with his players, said they did not have enough time to adjust to the tactical alterations.

“We did a bit of experimenting on how we would play with two strikers up front,” Hart told the TTFA Media, “and then Cummings, we were hoping would come in from the right side on his left foot.

“But we didn’t have enough time to work on it and were a little confused in the defending part.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Keron Cummings (left) challenges Mexico midfielder Hector Herrera during 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup action. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Keron Cummings (left) challenges Mexico midfielder Hector Herrera during 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup action.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

Still, the Warriors allowed Panama few scoring opportunities while they created at least five good chances themselves.

Trinidad and Tobago’s last win in Panama City was in October 2005, during the Warriors’ historic 2006 World Cup campaign.

Hart said he was pleased with his team’s effort yesterday, as they prepare to start their Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying adventure.

“We went in 1-0 at the break and we could have easily gone in 3-0 if we had taken our chances and that would have put a lot of pressure on Panama,” said Hart. “Some players came on in the second half and did very well. Caesar came on and gave us a different dynamic out wide and we got some penetration. Young Hackshaw came on as well as Kevan George, which sort of solidified the midfield…

“We still have quite a bit of work to do in situations when we are on top (to be) able to manage the game. But overall I was quite pleased with the effort from the team.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago players celebrate after a goal in their opening 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup match against Guatemala. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago players celebrate after a goal in their opening 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup match against Guatemala.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

Trinidad and Tobago face Nicaragua from 7 pm on October 13 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain. It will be their final friendly match before next month’s opening qualifier away to Guatemala on November 13.

Tickets for the Nicaragua fixture cost TT$200 (covered) and TT$100 (uncovered) and are available online at www.islandetickets.com or at all Sports & Games outlets, Kenny’s Sport Shop in Port of Spain, Ramsingh’s in Couva and Fan Club at Movie Towne, Gulf City and Trincity Mall.

Hart has led Trinidad and Tobago into 27 full international matches. The Warriors won 12 of those contests with six draws and nine losses—three of those defeats came via penalties and one in extra time.

In competitive action, the former Canada head coach’s record is more impressive.

From their 15 competitive outings, Hart’s Warriors won eight, drew three and lost just once in regulation time against Haiti at the 2013 Gold Cup. The other three losses came in extra time or via kicks from the penalty mark.

Trinidad and Tobago lost the 2014 Caribbean Cup final to Jamaica on penalties and were eliminated from the 2013 Gold Cup by Mexico in extra time before bowing out on penalties to Panama at the 2015 tournament.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago players (from left) Mekeil Williams, Ataulla Guerra, Joevin Jones, Sheldon Bateau and Radanfah Abu Bakr look on during their penalty shoot out with Panama at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. (Copyright AFP 2015)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago players (from left) Mekeil Williams, Ataulla Guerra, Joevin Jones, Sheldon Bateau and Radanfah Abu Bakr look on during their penalty shoot out with Panama at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
(Copyright AFP 2015)

Captain Jones has been far and away the Warriors’ most productive attacker with 14 from the team’s total of 43 goals. Hart’s second highest scorer is Kevin Molino with eight items followed by Ataulla Guerra with four.

It is a good thing Jones keeps scoring since, with Molino injured and Guerra out-of-form, his midfield remains barren ground. His namesake, Joevin Jones, Khaleem Hyland and Andre Boucaud have played a combined 62 times under Hart but, altogether, contributed just four goals.

Hart has used 52 different players during his two year stint in charge, including the deceased Kevon Carter, who made two appearances at the 2013 Gold Cup. Out of his capped players, only 2006 World Cup midfielder Chris Birchall and Defence Force striker Devorn Jorsling have retired from international duty.

Jones, Hyland and goalkeepers Jan-Michael Williams and Marvin Phillip are the only players on Hart’s current roster with over 50 international appearances.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Marvin Phillip. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Marvin Phillip.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

Next international assignment

(October 13)

Trinidad and Tobago v Nicaragua, 7 pm, Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the managing director and chief editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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  1. I think it is a great opportunity for a confidence booster. Nicaragua should be perfect. Decent opponent but not especially dangerous and they will try to keep the ball like Guatemala and test our patience.

  2. I wish Mr Stephen Hart and the boys well…..let’s go there with a positive attitude!

  3. Keron Cummings: “We were able to bounce back from the loss from the Gold Cup. We knew we had to come out and work harder in order to get a good result. If it’s one thing you are sure about with this group is it has character to go out there and fight for each other. Once we put our heads together its something we would go out and do no matter how much pressure we may be under.

    “Sometimes it’s not always about where you want to play but you have to do it for the team. I wasn’t pleased so much with my performance in the first half but I felt I did better in the second half. And we will continue to work on what is best for the overall play of the team going forward.”

  4. Jonathan Glenn: “It’s something new for both of us (alongside Jones) because we are both usually playing alone up top for our clubs so it took a bit of adjusting, but as professionals it’s something we knew the coach wanted do so we had to go out there and do it to the best of our abilities.

    “It was good that we combined for that first goal. We are both physically strong so we were a bit of a handful for the two centre backs. I wish we would have gotten a little more crosses so we could have used our presence more but generally we are happy to have come away with the win and now we will look ahead to the Nicaragua game.”

  5. I don’t think 2022 is any more real than 2018. Mexico today has a weaker than normal team and the US is rebuilding after some major retirements. We can qualify for Russia if we go brave today.

  6. Not a bad competitive record at all

  7. If we do well this wcq is a bonus. 2022 seems more realistic. Hopefully the team proves me wrong

  8. Let’s all be patient.. Remember it’s about developing.. Improving.. 2018 is the nearest target if not then, 2022.. It’s about progress all the time. We need to be there and thereabouts. Do not forget Jamaica were terrific at the gold cup but almost lost out in the last round.. Feet on the ground and support the players.

  9. Yes – the players appear to be buying into the coach’s philosophy and game plans. It’s clear he has the respect of the players. More and more they’re playing like a unit. Individually they’re not as talented as our past greats – Latas, Dwight, etc, but they are compensating nicely by working together and for each other. I think there are a lot of Kelvin Jacks out there who are starting to believe in this group. I think corporate TnT will soon start believing as well. Hannibal Najjar – it’s looking indeed like the perfect storm. The stars are beginning to align.

  10. I’m starting to become a Hart fan. Had my doubts but I’m coming around. Not carried away yet because the business end hasn’t started yet.

  11. Carlos Lee, I suspect it is the Sir Alex philosophy, which is to sign players with balls. That is why a team with players like Darren Fletcher, Teddy Sheringham and Gary Neville were cleaning up trophies.
    I agree that this team has average players who add up to something disproportional. Anyone who followed T&T football for a long time knows that teams over the past couple decades have had more technical quality and fantasy.
    And yet…

  12. How many of them players are playing top flight football Roneil K Walcott ? La liga, italia, EPL, Bundisliga , ligue 1 ???? Just asking

  13. I wouldn’t say the players are average though

    • Objectively, this team on paper is less talented compared to some of our teams over the past 25 years. I honestly feel that the reason thus team is punching significantly above its weight is that the players for the first time in many years have full confidence in their coach and his strategies. And that makes a world of a difference when your own public has doubts about your ability to perform and achieve.
      I’m sure you will see as the rounds progress that our team will be treated very differently by Mexico, Costa Rica and USA in terms of the sincerity of preparation and approach. And, to our benefit, we have yet to play our true best eleven due to injury and travel issues. So, quite rightly, some opponents just have no idea what to expect from this motley crew, who some could say should have the cohesion of a side who only met minutes before kickoff in the car park!

    • I won’t say they’re average either. I think because he knows our culture. And to the greater extent, he doesn’t seem to accept mediocrity at all !!! Lastly, he genuinely loves Trinidad football and wants it to grow

  14. I’ve been trying to figure out coach Hart’s secret weapons. Don’t really understand why the team is doing so well with such average players. It appears that he’s been developing the players psychologically. They’re playing with such confidence – and have been in every game.

  15. Lasana Liburd – like you is coach Hart’s PR man? lol. I’ll agree that the team has shown great improvement since his arrival at the helm. And he seem to be accomplishing more with limited resources – both in terms of personnel and $$$. Imagine what he could accomplish with more consistent funding, more camps / time with the players, and more international games. Things are really looking good. We need to ride this wave and give him full support.

    • Hey Carlos Lee, as the prodigy Muhammad Ali states about his greatness, it was a matter of timing. Paraphrasing, he asserted, “Had I come at another time, met other opponents I did, I may not be who I turned out to be”. Hart is getting things accomplished when maybe, at another time, things, managers, players’ assortment and needs, other persons, moods, behaviors, and the suchlike, even the lower level interest in football by the general public, media, and business today, may see a host of different outcomes. You see Carlos, it is hard for coaches, and I include myself here, to sit back and watch something happening that they, for whatever hosts of reasons, could not achieve. And as we age and wise up and become less about US, we choose to adopt the notion as Harry Truman and others, speak – “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit”. That said, I totally agree that Hart has done a good job and with the promise to increase and increase. And yes, if he could get the $$$ support for especially the things you cited i.e. more camps / time with the players, and more international games, we can only say the gradual and projected/planned-for gains could see T&T progressing from knocking on, to opening, the “backdoor”, of WC Qualifications – we have sounded the bugle and this notion is not absurd to the “bigger guns”. Let us give our proud playing team of players, coaches, managers, trainers, and unheralded sidekicks the support and help by “tackling” idle minds and envious, naysaying, detractors. Keep the push!

  16. Pretty impressive record, wcq will make or break him. But he has done outstanding. Anything less than the hex can see any coach lose his job.

  17. Lasana Liburd..isn’t a penalty shootout loss recorded as a “draw” statistically internationally?..therefore hart’s record is even Better than stated?

  18. Yeah. But he is supposed to return before Molino. I will ask how his recovery is going. But I should think he will be back before the end of the year.
    Molino’s injury is more serious in many ways.

  19. Lasana, I see you have mentioned Hughtun Hector’s name a few times lately. Do you fully expect him to play a role in this World Cup campaign, providing that we make the Hex? I know Hart is a fan of his, but he’s been out for a while and he has quite a road ahead of him to get back to full fitness, then he has to get match fit.

  20. Hart has done well. If only we could discover a Trini out there who is a decent DM. I always think we need better centrebacks too particularly as Abu Bakr seems slow. But then you watch him play and you realise he has great instincts.

    • Hannibal Najjar

      Excellent observations steupz, excellent! Abu is slow and his instincts and intelligence, high. But, you are right and I see times where he relies too much on his trust in those instincts. This causes a lag and seeming “lazy” legs to leave unwanted gaps that make us vulnerable for a tad too long. That in turn, exposes us to accidents that could result in predator who are coming to know us and him and will pounce on us by the time those down-to-the-wire games begin next month. The other thing that is worrying is our lapses in shape-keeping with but, especially, WITHOUT, the ball. Shape keeping and attentiveness in the transition game, have to be at the fore of our preparation. All aside, Coach Hart is coming to terms with his players and is having a greater understanding of the skills and abilities of our “Warriors”, and this, in the areas of, physical and mental fitness, player skills and abilities, game awareness and intelligence, and psychological and emotional states of being. Go Stephen…… and these comments are from heart-to-Hart.