Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team captain Kenwyne Jones said the “Soca Warriors” will aim to keep their cool today against the “Vincey Heat”, as they target the second away win of their Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign in St Vincent.
The Warriors, who will wear red shirts, kick off at 3.30 pm at Arnos Vale in their third semifinal fixture, which will be broadcast live on Flow Channel 99.
A Trinidad and Tobago win, followed by a similar result next Tuesday in Port of Spain, will virtually assure Jones’ outfit of a place in CONCACAF’s final qualifying round. It would also eliminate their Caribbean neighbours.
Jones, who plays professionally in the UAE with Al Jazira, said it is key that the Warriors do not allow themselves to be rattled by their hosts.
“The key for us will be playing our game and not getting flustered, keeping our focus and not allowing them to get on top of us,” Jones told the TTFA Media. “Of course it’s an unusual time to be playing a World Cup qualifier but we can’t let that affect us. We cannot be sucked into their game but rather we have to stick to our game plan.
“I don’t think we will have to fear them but at the same time, we will respect the task at hand and ensure that we have our act together. And, like I said, do what is necessary to pull off the win on the day.”
The Warriors will not have the service of England-born midfielder John Bostock, who travelled with the team but—although he holds a Trinidad and Tobago passport—did not get international clearance from FIFA, due to an administrative oversight by the local technical staff.
Ironically, St Vincent and the Grenadines only made it this far after FIFA allowed their own England-born attacker, Gavin James, to play without a Vincentian passport in a two-legged contest with Guyana.
At the time, James had only a stamp on his British passport, which purportedly denoted citizenship. Guyana protested but were overruled by the world governing body.
The Vincey Heat have struggled at this level, though, with no points from a trip to the United States and a home outing against Guatemala. But they have traditionally been stubborn opponents for Trinidad and Tobago.
The two nation’s last meeting ended in a 1-1 draw in Tobago, three and a half years ago, while their last World Cup qualifying contests in 2004 were both tense affairs.
Trinidad and Tobago won 2-0 in Arnos Vale and 2-1 in Port of Spain with all four goals coming in the last 10 minutes of the contest, courtesy an Errol McFarlane double away and strikes from Hector Sam and Angus Eve at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
It paved the way for the country’s historic berth at the Germany 2006 World Cup.
“I do have good memories of playing here twelve years ago but it’s different times now,” said Jones “It’s a testament to the longevity that I have had in the squad and it’s an honour to be here. I think we have the right squad of players to get the job done.
“We know they will try to make it uncomfortable for us. But I believe once we apply ourselves in the right way and we have the right attitude going into the match, then we can take care of business and wrap up the victory; before heading back home to finish off the job of getting the six points in the two games.”
Hart said the Warriors will attempt to boss the match and assert themselves on what should be a dry, bouncy ground. But he noted that he was aware of St Vincent’s threat on the counter attack.
“We have to completely manage how we play, manage the speed of the game and how we play with and without the ball,” said Hart. “For me, I think they are a little bit wounded. They would like to get some results out of the qualification.
“They are very quick team and love to play on the counter attack. They are direct and then they put numbers against you and try to put pressure.
“It’s important that we manage that well.”
Hart, whose last competitive outing was a 1-0 loss to Haiti in the 2016 Copa America Centenario after narrowly avoiding a players strike over match fees, said the mood in the camp is much more positive now. And he hopes it means a better performance from the Warriors.
“We’ve come here to put ourselves in a better position as it relates to qualifying for the final round,” said Hart. “I think if we can assert ourselves and put the hosts on the backfoot and take charge of the game, then we can come away with three points from here before heading back home for Tuesday’s match in Port of Spain.
“The mood in the camp has been very good. There is a very serious sort of training aspect to it but also on the downside a very relaxed atmosphere which I like.”
(Trinidad and Tobago team)
Goalkeepers: Marvin Phillip (Morvant Caledonia United), Adrian Foncette (Police FC);
Defenders: Sheldon Bateau (FC Krylia Sovetov—Russia), Yohance Marshall (Murcielagos FC—Mexico), Daneil Cyrus (W Connection), Mekeil Williams (Colorado Rapids—USA), Aubrey David (Deportivo Saprissa—Costa Rica), Justin Hoyte (Dagenham & Redbridge—England);
Midfielders: Andre Boucaud (Dagenham & Redbridge—England), Khaleem Hyland (KVC Westerlo—Belgium), Hughtun Hector (W Connection), Neveal Hackshaw (Charleston Battery—USA);
Attacking midfielders: Levi Garcia (AZ Alkmaar—Netherlands), Trevin Caesar (Orange County Blues—USA), Sean De Silva (Central FC), Kevin Molino (Orlando City—USA), Joevin Jones (Seattle Sounders—USA), Jomal Williams (W Connection);
Forwards: Kenwyne Jones (Al Jazira—UAE), Willis Plaza (Alianza—El Salvador), Shahdon Winchester (W Connection).