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Maylee explains what Warriors need: fitness, firepower and ruthlessness from the bench

Costa Rica didn’t do anything spectacular against Trinidad and Tobago but they were very patient. Costa Rica played close to a walking pace in the first half, and defended with five players at the back. They were playing dead to catch corbeau alive.

Trinidad and Tobago did a relatively decent job in the first half and created the better chances between the both teams. The most important thing going into the game for T&T was limiting their mistakes and errant passes. And they did that for the first 45 minutes, which in turn limited Costa Rica’s goal scoring chances and potential counter attacks.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago right back Daneil Cyrus (left) tries to hang on to Costa Rica attacker Christian Bolanos during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago right back Daneil Cyrus (left) tries to hang on to Costa Rica attacker Christian Bolanos during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Then came the second half where the opponents took advantage of Trinidad and Tobago’s lack of fitness, compactness and pressuring of the ball on defence.

Just after the half, Costa Rica inserted their strong and versatile forward Joel Campbell, who made all the difference for them. T&T were no longer capable of pressuring the ball and closing off the passing lanes by then. The first goal came from Trinidad and Tobago players being out of position due to weary legs and a total lapse in concentration.

And that all boils down to the team’s collective lack of fitness. We can kiss the 2018 World Cup goodbye if we don’t raise our level of fitness to an international standard.

As I told one of the players, as a professional you need to always maintain at least 70% fitness throughout the year because you never know when your number will be called.

Some of the players do not understand the importance of being fit. Football is a running game and, if you can’t do it at a high intensity for 90 minutes—no matter how talented your team—you will come out on the wrong side of the result every time at this level.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Jomal Williams (centre) tries hold off Costa Rica defenders Johnny Acosta (left) and Francisco Calvo during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Jomal Williams (centre) tries hold off Costa Rica defenders Johnny Acosta (left) and Francisco Calvo during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

I think we gave our opponents too much respect. The Costa Ricans came here to play on the counter with a mindset to take a point but hope for a win. We gave them the game. We allowed the game to come to us rather than us taking the game to them.

Being at home, we lacked aggression and assertiveness. We lacked offensive fire power and a true finisher up top, as well we lacked movement and finesse in the midfield—a player who can create magic would make a difference for this team.

There are so many adjustments that are needed going forward in order for us to have a chance at qualifying.

We were very much disjointed at times last night and that’s because we lacked movement on and off the ball, especially in the midfield. When the ball was passed to the wingers, sometimes the only option they had was to run with the ball because the midfielders were not showing for it and there was no outlet on top since our target forward wasn’t moving much or running into spaces effectively.

The system we have in place at the moment makes it highly unlikely that we will score goals on the run of play. At this moment, we play with Kenwyne Jones as the lone striker and with two wingers playing extremely wide and far from him.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones (top) climbs to head the ball during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016. (Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones (top) climbs to head the ball during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

If we are going with Jones as the number one striker, he needs some sort of support because he is very effective at flicking on balls for others to run on to and needs someone on top to compliment him. So our wingers and the attacking midfielder have to play a bit closer to him.

We have to be much more aggressive on offence. Apparently we don’t have the fitness to play higher up the field so, if the ball is lost, we can clamp our opponents in their half of the field and when we win the ball we’re closer to their goal which will enable us to have much more bodies in attack.

Again, goals win matches and we don’t have a lethal finisher. The one player that comes to mind is Cornell Glen. He’s the only true experienced and lethal finisher we have—even at his age.

Glen gives you speed—although not as fast as he once was—he can create his own shot, he can play with his back against defenders, he can run off the ball, and he can be a nightmare for defenders in 1v1 situations. I think he can bring that leadership that is glaringly lacking at this moment.

I admire head coach Stephen Hart but I believe he takes way too long to make changes. I don’t understand why our coaches, at most times, are opposed to making a substitution on the half.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (right) dashes past Costa Rica right wing back Christian Gamboa during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016. (Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (right) dashes past Costa Rica right wing back Christian Gamboa during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

We needed some fire power and a boost of energy entering the second half. Speed kills and we have a couple shockingly fast players with the likes of Trevin Caesar and, as we have seen, Willis Plaza.

I thought the substitutions made against Costa Rica were relatively good. The only issue I had was the length of time it took for coach Hart to make them.

I think coach Hart has done a tremendous job since taking over. I have seen when T&T were losing to the likes of Guyana and St Lucia. No disrespect to to any of those teams, but we are Trinidad and Tobago and I believe we have to always set the standard when it comes to Caribbean football.

I followed the team when he first took over and, in every tournament, they improved drastically. I have seen changes in the mindset of some players and he created a team that the powerhouses were nervous to play.

I think he does a very good job breaking down the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses and coming up with a formidable plan to counteract. Sometimes we as players don’t always execute the game plan but I think Hart is one of the main reasons the program is where it is at.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Senior National Team coach Stephen Hart (right) gestures during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016. Looking on is Trinidad and Tobago winger Cordell Cato. (Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Senior National Team coach Stephen Hart (right) gestures during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016.
Looking on is Trinidad and Tobago winger Cordell Cato.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

They are going through a spell at the moment and sometimes familiarity breathes contempt. So he may need to change the way he does things and he may need to change the way he deals with the players and be more forceful in his convictions.

Because the players aren’t playing for him the way they used to in his first year and a half.

About Maylee Attin-Johnson

Maylee Attin-Johnson
Maylee Attin-Johnson is the Trinidad and Tobago Women's Senior National Team captain and has represented her country at senior international level since the age of 15. She has a bachelor's degree in Sports Management from the Kennesaw State University in Georgia, USA.

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298 comments

  1. And also a better striker than the captain!

  2. Fitness is 95% diet . That sluggishness is coming from their diet . It may help if they are on a sustained one throughout with MINOR CHEAT MEALS and not to pop some supplement before a game and hope you have the energy to last .

  3. hmm Cornel Glen she says. Seems some of our strikers that had potential years ago are not stepping up. Winchester, Gay, where is the boy from Findland and the youngsters from the last u17 that played in Egypt. Maybe Cornel could help don’t know how fit he is now though. But I honestly think there is a problem off the field. Maylee said it they are not playing for the coach lke they did a year ago.

  4. You certainly are still in the race but too me getting more technical tactical views from different quarters …..beats the anti KJ drums that are so easy to beat …..And lends towards a discourse that we can benefit more from….Difference of views presents the final decision maker with food for thought and can be very useful in forming a decision.

  5. I have my opinion but that’s for the gaffer to decide.

  6. Well as I mentioned Cornell any votes for dragging the cat into the squad?

  7. Yeah I’m not disputing her IQ , I just personally feel for someone who is still involved in the program it’s somewhat disrespectful to speak of players & coaches in such a way .

  8. Ah come on Jason even current players today discuss and give their coaches a view point. The gal knows her football and this is what we do on Wired. Offcourse she sneak in a plug for her fellow Cocoritian Cornell Glen but that is a very valid view

  9. Ok hoss. Personally, I think pundits start somewhere. I remember Jamaal Shabazz told me once that Tasha St Louis and Maylee have high football IQs. I knew Maylee was at the game, so I asked her if she would try to break it down for our readers.
    That’s why she wrote the piece.

  10. That’s Shaka and Dwight’s job tho they are Pundit’s . I didn’t hear Birchy. Just my opinion.

  11. So what about the ex-players in the media? From Shaka, Dwight and Birchall come down?

  12. There is a reality in modern football that was brought out in the hex yesterday by the fact that all the AWAY teams won. The notion of just blaming defensive on the road has been replaced with the idea that while we need to be cautious compact and defensive we still need to try and dig out a result. Excerpts from tapes of those 3 matches would make great material to bring out these points in a coach education program.

  13. Well what I didn’t understand was why put Cato on the left flank to attack hoping to get him to shoot at the goal with his right foot and Joevin Jones on the right flank hoping for him to shoot with his left foot and both of them didn;t take not one shot to the goal eh, well joevin jones did it when he was in the middle of the goal and was suppose to take the shoot with his left foot but instead took it with his right and of course that went sky high away from the goal because he has no right foot shot eh, guess the players letting down Coach Hart with his game plan eh. Them really good yes.

  14. Then maybe at home he may have been a more balanced choice with Khaleem. Why ? Because he is also a decent ball winner

  15. Ex players should never Say what coaches or players should do. Just saying

  16. Cato ….Joevin….Levi …..all very tricky lads at home after doing such a decent job of staying compact ….then we need to try to get the points…..This is it at home is our doorstep….If not here then where. The first 7 mins of the 2nd half we were very compact and solid …..But as the article said the extra gear to go from defense to attack in numbers more than 1 (jeovin ) needs to be addressed. We will not be able to press teams at this level very effectively so as seen with Beenhakker in the past Coach Hart adopted the sensible move to stay compact

  17. The gamble was needed to create a dynamic that gets us a goal…..

  18. My real issue was with jomal. I guess i would have rather had marcus or guerra with his intl experience in that role or even cesar ……i think because of his inexperience at this level he really struggled.

    two touches in the area to score the first goal too…cyrus needs to step up his game alot.

    any views on leavin jovin at left back and playing garcia at left wing? I remember spann and edwards had a good telepathy in 2006…. i think they can both run for days and that jovin already plays there so it wont be a stretch… the left side attack would def increase

    I vote no to cornel glenn i think cesar can play a similar harrying role

    still on to Honduras tho

  19. We had some decent 1v1 on the bench Marcus Joseph …Attualah …it may have been a great gamble to bring one in instead of a third defensive midfielder.

  20. Costa Rica dropped into a 5 man back as soon as they lost the ball leaving 2 in the middle and 3 up top as a shape. However Jomal could have done a lot better in making times runs to create a 3v2 for us in midfield. This would have forced a central defender to come deep to prevent him ….The decision to leave the wingers inverted meant that our players were constantly dribbling into traffic and double team in a pack 5 man wall. I felt they could have mixed it up where the wingers went down the line on their strong feet and had a better chances of getting behind them and breaking the defensive line.

  21. They need to let that joke of a striker kenwyne jones sit hit ads on the bench

  22. The issue was that Hart wanted to train on the field where they would play to get them ready for the game. Which is what other teams do …think he was just venting but it made sense …..

  23. Well I know Hart was upset that he couldn’t train on the HC pitch. But Larry Gomes and Manny are exquisite at the moment because they have no lights so games not being played there. I know it’s a journey but surely if they booked police outriders it wouldn’t be too bad.

  24. They’re called fans Roland …. and proper preparation ….well there you got it …. why didn’t Hart think of that. Proper preparation that’s the answer …. sarcastic and dotish in one statement…..

  25. All these comments seem to have some measure of what we need. I’m also very concerned about the psychological preparation. Again the top CEO’s in the world have people who get them ready everyday. What at this stage in our development we don’t have a team psychologist? We are nit able to concentrate for 90 minutes so we lose games with teams holding us at Bay for 45 then throwing it at us in the second half – that’s mental preparation. There is an issue with how the team is prepared. The best West Indies cricket team under Lloyd had Rudy Webster as a full time member of staff- then we did away with it. Having good players is one thing but everyone does so what’s defines the winner ?

    • We in almost 2017 and we don’t have a Psychologist for our National Team ?

    • Well Brian Harry the 1989 Strike Squad had a psychologist woman I forgot her name who was very instrumental in preparing the team and getting great results but when the corrupted Jack Warner woman who was also attached to the team found that the psychologist was getting to mush attention, she got her fired eh and since then no other psychologist was ever hired because I think that she is still involved with the TTFA and still wants all the attention steeeuuppss Them really good yes.

    • Earl Mango Pierre well I’ve done consulting with many sporting bodies across the world but in TT we don’t hire consultants and people who understand performance and human development, because as one commentator on this link once told me “you are the studious kind”, so as a result we go into World Cup games under prepared. I’m not lobbying for the work but, I’ve said many times ‘we need a more corporate structure around football’. Imagine we can’t consistently beat st Vincent and Bermuda ., .., where the hell are we going?

    • Well it seems that the corrupted TTFA doesn’t really care about all that to eh, because after the U 15 Women team lost to USA 22- 0 I am positively certain that the right things will not be put in place even for all the other national teams eh but they recently got 8 million from from a sponsor for developmental purposes, so again they will only be about the monies and continue going to the banks smiling eh, or maybe they are waiting for some psychologist to offer their services for free steeuuppss Them really good yes.

    • Earl mango Pierre actually it was Gally that fired her. But that’s a different story by itself

  26. Steeuuppss We need a real Foreign Base Coach the same like Benhacker eh, because my Foreignbase Trini Coach Hart did enough but he doesn’t have what it takes to get us to the World Cup 2018 in Russia eh, imagine he is still trying out other players and doesn’t have a regular starting consistent bomb squad team steeuuppss and it seems that it is Mr bound not to score is the one that is picking the team steeuuppss. The Soca Worries needs to watch the game with the bootleg Argentine team VS the greatest team in the universe Brazil and really learn how the game is played eh, over and over again eh steeuupss. Them really good yes.

  27. They need more than that firstly the distraction from the million coaches here in Trinidad secondly proper preperation.

  28. Forget russia we going trinidad kenwynne jones needs to be dropped

  29. Costa Rica are arguably the best team in Concacaf, at the moment. They have 13 players on Champions League team rosters, so that says a lot. That said, we’ve got to get results at home.

  30. I wouldnt use the word (ruthless)…Coach Hart is nobody’s friend…especially KJ…..this is the HEX and we hav to get it right at this stage to play on the big stage…
    Her observations are spot on and i will reiterate….we hav to win games…..we havvvvvvvvvvvv to build our attack around more mobile and hungry strikers…..the HEX is bigger than any man…player or team

  31. We Trinidad people don’t have respect for older players so there for players like myself Cornell Carlos Jason don’t have a chance some times we need experience on the Pitch

  32. The T&T team appears not to know that you cannot ever win a game if during the entire 90 minutes,you can get in even one serious shot to goal…….I am thinking that it is about time Hart be given his severance pay….poor strategy!

  33. Unfortunately peeps. Hart has take this team to the furthest he can. We need some outside intervention. It’s been a while since we have reached this far and it’s only fair that the team be given all the resources it needs to maximise the opportunity. We have the talent for the first time in a while and it needs to be adequately harnessed. Our team is still lacking professionalism at many levels. We have more goal instinctiveness than we have had for many years. Unfortunately kenwayne needs to find a differnet role but definitely the sole attacker role is not working as there are more hungry guys in front of goal.

    • The new coach isn’t going to come with new players. And he cannot make party boys suddenly become monks. So how much of a difference will changing coach make if you think you already have a good guy at the helm?

    • Lasana Liburd agreed. Our player stock is no where as talented as it was in 2006. Secondly, I think Hart has done well, considering the resource constraints he faces. We can’t expect an international coach who has players for 3-4 days to focus only on fitness. That’s what the clubs are there for.

    • Nigel Roberts The first reaction foreign teams have when the players arrive from TT Pro is that they are unfit. One exception would be Yohance Marshall who is considered and often referred to as a “top professional” by his team in Mexico

    • I think that an established foreign coach of “pedigree” can improve the team (remember when Leo took over we had 1 pt from 3 games)………having said that I think that Hart has done very well with these same players (remember the 3-3 and 4-4 draws with Mexico), however in the last few months something has gone wrong.

      With respect to KJ he was very disappointing as he seemed to not be giving his all (however he was just returning from injury). IMHO if you are playing KJ you have to be playing a lot of crosses into the box and our corners and free kicks into the box were very poor.

      I hope we play a more attacking formation against Honduras with 2 strikers up top.

    • A foreign coach is a quick fix. They are in and out and you’re left on your own for the inevitable rebuilding process.
      The other thing is we have had more duds like Pfister than inspired additions like Beenhakker.
      So there is no guarantee that the foreign coach will do better.
      Just something worth noting.

    • Plus foreign coaches are expensive.

  34. How is fitness even a question in a world cup qualifying campaign this is mind-boggling. And who is this Darren Mitchell lad??

  35. She is on point. I wouldn’t hesitate go bring back Cornell Glenn too if fit. Guatemala’s leading scorer in qualification was 35…

  36. team still not up to the pace needed for this level…Costa Rica controlled the game at walking pace and we fell into the trap. For much of the game Jones was absent and appeared not to be willing to exert himself …to me Jones looked to be hiding from the ball.

  37. I’m a big advocate of work rate over skills in certain positions. We lack a box to box midfielder and I’m surprised Darren Mitchell has no been recalled. Check how many goals and assists he makes in the last 15 minutes of games. As Maylee said, fitness is key. Once you’re at that level of fitness everything becomes easier because you know you can make runs yet still recover to maintain shape and tactical discipline if required. If you’re not fit you’re not thinking of making runs coz you know it will be hard to get back. I’m surprised that the overseas players aren’t fitter. In Friday’s game there was no transition from defence to attack. Jones steamed down the wing and even if he reached KJ, there was no one to collect a pass. Harts tactics may be hampered by poor performances from players. Let’s be honest, if he’s selecting on talent, that talent is not being shown. Maybe he should look for more work horses who will at least give 100% for 90 minutes?

    • The US leagues are out for the past month except for Joevin who is in the playoffs. I think the same is true for a couple Europe-based players.
      I like Darren Mitchell’s work rate and energy and positivity. He was unlucky not to make that South America/China tour which would have been a good chance for Hart to take a closer look at him.

  38. Does off the field team building activities include boat rides? lol

  39. I listened to her last night, sounded very frustrated

  40. The killer instinct is lacking! The ‘take no prisoners’ attitude is sorely needed. They probably need to do 10 Fort George and/or 10 Chancellor runs a week for two months along with some camaraderie team-building activities off the field.