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Hart aims to counter Honduran hoodoo, as Warriors seek opening Hex points

Coach Stephen Hart’s nationality was, curiously, listed as Canadian on the team sheets for Trinidad and Tobago’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica last Friday at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.

Hart has lived in Canada for the past three decades, after he left Trinidad as a young man for a marine geographer degree at St Mary’s University in Halifax. But, in a previous interview, he bristled at any suggestion that he was not a ‘Trini to the bone’.

Photo: Then Canada coach Stephen Hart struts before a friendly match against Argentina at the Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires, on 24 May 2010.  (Copyright AFP 2016/Juan Mabromata)
Photo: Then Canada coach Stephen Hart struts before a friendly match against Argentina at the Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires, on 24 May 2010.
(Copyright AFP 2016/Juan Mabromata)

“If a cat climbed in an oven and made kittens,” Hart asked, “would you call it bread?”

He might feel especially sensitive about his Canadian experience tomorrow at the Estadio Olimpico in San Pedro Sula, as the Soca Warriors face Honduras from 6.05pm in their second outing of the CONCACAF Hex.

Both teams lost their opening home outings last week—Honduras lost 1-0 to Panama while T&T fell 2-0 to Costa Rica—and will be desperate to get the first points of their Hex campaign.

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Bizarrely, Hart is already felt to be playing for his job, despite just two losses from seven qualifiers so far—and the first defeat came in a dead rubber away to the United States.

But it might not help that he would be forced to revisit the trauma of his trip in San Pedro Sula, four years ago, when he led Canada, who were one point away from qualifying for the hex, to a humiliating 8-1 defeat.

Hart offered the Canada Football Association his resignation after that loss and it was accepted. Tomorrow, the Warriors must ensure that history does not repeat itself. Trinidad and Tobago, according to Hart, must be ready for war.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Cordell Cato (centre) tussles with Costa Rica right wing back Christian Gamboa while T&T coach Stephen Hart looks on 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 Cordell Cato (centre) tussles with Costa Rica right wing back Christian Gamboa while T&T coach Stephen Hart looks on during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

“[Honduras] are very dynamic [and they play with] lots of hard running [and] hard tackling,” Hart told the TTFA Media. “They just put you under pressure all the time. So we have to counter that by playing quicker, playing deeper and doing the same to them.

“It’s just a matter of the mindset and the attitude towards doing what is necessary to be done.”

Trinidad and Tobago gave Costa Rica few sights of their goal at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. But, at the other end, they managed just one shot on goal and ended without a point to show for their efforts.

In San Pedro Sula, the Warriors hope to be more proactive, despite playing away from him.

“We know very well that we need to improve in the attacking third [and] how we combine our movement off the ball needs to be a lot more dynamic,” said Hart. “We will need to close down Honduras effectively. Not just close them down but try to win the ball in crucial areas of the pitch and get on top of them because that is what they are going to try to do to us in the opening minutes…

“At times we have a sort of a laid-back attitude to things, especially on the defensive end. We are not dynamic enough and aggressive to go win the ball and disrupt their style of play.”

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)

Honduras, mind you, are seeking their third straight World Cup finals berth. And Trinidad and Tobago’s last two trips there—in 2007 and 2009—ended in defeats with two goals scored and seven conceded.

It is 15 years since the Warriors prevailed in Honduras and even then there was a huge slice of luck involved.

Trinidad and Tobago, just days after the untimely death of national attacker Mickey Trotman in a vehicular accident, went down to 10 men in the 20th minute after Brent Rahim was ejected for two yellow cards. And, remarkably, Honduras hit the bar six times without scoring before Trotman’s best friend, Stern John, banged home a second half winner.

The Warriors could surely do with some good fortune tomorrow.

Hart’s memories of facing Honduras are not all bad. In his first tournament as Trinidad and Tobago coach, at the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, his troops started off with a 2-2 draw against El Salvador before crumbling to a 2-0 defeat to Haiti.

But, staring elimination in the face, the Warriors downed a weakened Honduras team 2-0 in the final group outing to qualify for the quarterfinal stage. And Hart never looked back.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Joevin Jones (centre) steers home his second goal while Guatemala defenders Christian Jimenez (right) and Hamilton Lopez look on during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain on 2 September 2016. Jones struck twice in a 2-2 draw between the two nations. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Joevin Jones (centre) steers home his second goal while Guatemala defenders Christian Jimenez (right) and Hamilton Lopez look on during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain on 2 September 2016.
Jones struck twice in a 2-2 draw between the two nations.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Tomorrow, Trinidad and Tobago must again impose themselves on Honduras—but, this time, on hostile territory against the Central American team at full strength and desperate for a result as well.

It should be a gripping affair.

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. We playing with any sort of tactics?..dont know what to say bout Cyrus either..steups

  2. Mr Bound not to score got a stupid yellow card eh and still trying to make a point to the referee steeeuppss

  3. I now realized who is our goal keeper eh and so Lord give us a helping hand eh Them really good yes.

  4. The worst f@*king performance. Time to fire Stephen Hart…

  5. folks in the USA the game is on NBC

  6. Well whenever our Soca Worries is playing any team home or abroad eh the stadium is never sold out eh, because maybe they does say “steeeuuppss” is the Soca Worries from Trinidad and Tobago, easy three points eh, because they not good at all a fete match team hahahaha Them really good yes.

  7. 2 goals conceded in quick succession. This is a must win game if you look at the context.

  8. Not going at all good, Soca Warriors down 2 : 0 to Honduras

  9. Look at the team again…my word

  10. Ah still betting Alyuh that Coach Hart will be sticking with his captain Mr. Bound not to score eh. hahaha

  11. ..Ok. Could be Joevin, Tom, Jones P., Davey – anyone but Kelvin..

  12. Yeah maybe that will work eh the same like Barcelona Neymar, Messi, and the Dracula Suarez eh and you really answer him dey Nicholas Dumplin Bhajan hahahaha

  13. ..Is JONES yuh say? Who? TOM Jones?..

  14. Why not try Levi Jones and Cato as a front 3?

  15. And just to let you know that many moons ago my writers Brian Lewis, Andre Baptiste, Fazeer Mohammed, Hugh Henderson, Keith Shepperd R.I.P,, Gregory Trujillio, R.I. P, , Lasana Liburd, Prof Jamaal Shabazz, Prof Keith Look Loy, and Alvin Corneal they all have been writing in our newspapers about what is wrong with our football/sports and do you think that the corrupted Jack Warner and his cronies was ever interested and implementing the right things eh, it was always about their own agendas eh and nothing has changed with my present dictator President and his cronies of the corrupted TTFA but good luck eh Brian Harry. Them really good yes.

  16. Brian Harry yuh preaching really great eh, yuh is ah Pastor or what hahaha Anyway I am so happy that you mentioned about Soccer !Q eh because many of our players are really lacking in that area hence the reason why when they are sent on the tryouts in the real professional leagues abroad especially the EPL eh they are sent right back to your sweet country eh and instead given a contract in the USA and other lower leagues in other parts of the World and to prove my point Mr. Bound Not to score is 31 yrs of age and why isn’t still plying his trade in the EPL or even in the Premiership division eh but instead he is representing Central F.C in our bootleg professional league and also will be representing the Atalanta new professional team for the next season in the MLS and I am starting to believe that my Coach Hart Soccer IQ is very questionable the same as ‘Dunga” eh, and he is still depending on some of our players natural talents to take us thru the Hex and when you going and lay out the unsolicited plan for the corrupted TTFF don’t forget to also send one for meh friend Mr. Live Wire the same eh so that he can finally win a game with his bootleg Argentine wearing colors team eh for his upcoming Football Festival eh hahahaha Them really good yes.

  17. Gordon Pierre, I hit send before I was finished, inadvertently. Let me go on to say as follows. I am a fully qualified soccer coach have played a lot of competitive soccer all my life. My knowledge of the game is quite deep! My point however, is that when we engaging in discourse there can be differing perspectives. I have one set and you have one set and so on. So when you start by saying that I must understand football before I seek to be a consultant, you are off the mark and being trite and insulting. I will not consult with the TTFF because you all may not pay my fees!! I have done so with several other countries and in different sports – football, cricket, rugby. I enjoy my life as a consultant and I get to see a lot! Many times when I comment, I’m commenting based on conversations I’ve been a part of elsewhere or events I’ve witnessed – not in TT because I’ve never done work in TT except with QRC. I find it very curious that as a TTFA rep and member, you didn’t seek first to understand my perspective before making such careless statements. As a nation, we need to broaden our views and become more worldly – the train is leaving us. The best run football (and sports programs in general) programs in the world employ external consultants to bring a fresh perspective about – physical preparation, psychological preparation, vision and strategy, competitive reviews. Why? Because they admit that they don’t have all the answers. In TT however the TTFF and TTFA, TTGF, TTCB etc all think that they know it all and we continue to slip further down in the rankings. The time has come for a broader view of sport in our national development, and I dare say that hearing and reading the views of our TTFF execs does not give me hope. One other point, I have worked on national surveys in 4 countries designed to assess the Soccer IQ in those countries. Three of the four countries are in FIFA Top 20 ranking – yet they are taking the time to do such work. (Why? Because they understand what high performance entails.) The purpose of doing such a survey should be obvious. Players are raised in a culture and that culture supports the player’s development implicitly and explicitly – it therefore allows a society to create an inherent culture and style of football. Players receive ongoing evaluation from their peers who are better educated about the game, the culture and the style. It is no surprise then that many Brazilians objected to Dunga from the outset, because they immediately thought that his mechanical play was not truly Brazilian. It is the strong support from the public in that nation that gave the federation the courage to hire Tite without a review of a long list of candidates – look at the result. The team confidence has risen, the results show it, the players are eager to play again. Names that the Brazilian community had been calling for years and Dunga ignored are now mainstays with excellent results. If I don’t get to down about our game tonight I might lay out an unsolicited plan for the TTFF which you can take back to them and then you guys can hire a consultant to come in and do it.

  18. Gordon Pierre, I will go further and apologize. So, I’m sorry for the “insults” i wrote in response to you.

  19. And the next thing. Coach Hart and his Assistants doesn’t think that our opponents doesn’t be watching and going over and over the videos with the Soca Worries playing the football with respect to our weaknesses and strengths and how to always beat up our team eh, so they better really come with a different plan against Honduras eh. Them really good yes. steeupss.

  20. Quite rightly so Lasana, and he has to play the players that he believes can get the job done,but put players in their strongest positions.Lasana I really don’t want to sound like I know what would make us win,but I know what has been proven that makes us lose(2 holding mids with wing backs that are not good crossers of the ball and wingers that are not on their favored foot and a confused central striker or strikers that are not sure what type of service is expected in certain Phases of play)our fitness is going to be tested every game but we must push the opposition back to get some hope of results
    I stand corrected

  21. Yeah and also so that they can always cut in and kick to the goal with their stronger foot instead of always crossing the ball but Joevin wasn’t doing that et all just looking pretty dribbling and the only time he got of a shot in the game was when he ended up in the middle of the park and instead of quickly taking the shot with his left foot, the Costa Rica defender make him take the shot with his right foot instead and you see what happened .

  22. Wait, you mean with Joevin on the left and Cato on the right, Mango? That one must have been tactical. I was surprised they didn’t switch flanks more against Costa Rica myself.
    Must be that Hart thought Cato was the more likely player to track back on Costa Rica right full back.

  23. Earl Mango Pierre, what are Joevin and Cato’s rightful positions?

  24. I don’t think that it really have to do with form and fitness playing Cato and Joevin in their rightful positions eh. Them really good yes.

  25. But a coach has to adjust too based on form and fitness. Not so Kurtwyn Baird?

  26. I was now about to say that same thing eh about Cato and Joevin playing their natural positions steeuuppps just imagine that Coach Hart and his Assistants if he does be listening to them are still experimenting eh and Gary Hector forget about TULLA because I don’t think he is really fit enough eh because he wasn’t in training eh. and Plaza who is always making the right runs on the field and is also hungry with respect to scoring goals should also start eh along with Boucard our only midfield/playmaker at this time, yeah I will really like to enjoy the game to eh Kurtwyn Baird LOL

  27. D Boss here me! Mr Hart is overthinking to much of the opposition we were never a Country of producing high scoring games in the Hex,even with our past top players,we have to fight fire with fire and let players like Jovin and Cato or who ever play in their natural position,play 1 holding mid a #10 and 2 out and out central strikers,if we lose we lose fighting the TNT way

  28. Alyuh want to bet my Coach Hart will still start with his Bound not to score captain eh. Them really good yes.

  29. Come on, I didn’t expect a win against Costa Rica but I did expect to see the ENTIRE TEAM play with some gusto. A few players rose to the occasion but the entire team, to me, didn’t display the effort necessary to make the game competitive. I expect to see a much greater effort this evening.

  30. We know what we need to do. I would actually not start Cyrus today. Play a more defensive minded RB. Maybe even Bateau and bring in another central def. Boucaud has to start as well. He brings composure on the ball to the team.

  31. Here is a crazy thought: how about utilising a striker who can strike. It’s so crazy, it just might work.

  32. I hope I get to see an energized TandT team out on the field this afternoon.

  33. Sean Powder

    Honduras was poor against Panama, they will definetly make changes but this is an opportunity for us to claim 3 points plus even out the goal difference.

    Prediction: 2-0 or better in favor of our Warriors

  34. Hart and Jones should be sent to Siberia

  35. I believe we have what it takes to get 3 points…it’s important we do NOT concede and Honduras are in a MUST WIN so the longer the game remains goal-less the more desperate they will become for a win and we may get a chance which we must be clinical and take…counter-attack with SPEED.

  36. Panama was outplayed but got the result,Honduras play very fast pace?

  37. If my memory is correct no team has beaten Honduras in the heat of San Pedro Sula in last two WCQ cycles

  38. The fast tempo of the Hondurans will definitely test the fitness of our players, which can be questioned at times. It will also be interesting to see the role Kenwyne plays with more dynamism wanted in the attacking third.

    • KJ getting dropped tmrw…wanna bet ?

    • I’m not betting against it. Just don’t know who will get the start lol

    • I don’t know who will get the nod between the trio of Plaza, Caesar and Lobo lol. I say either Plaza or Caesar

    • I think he will be rested more than dropped personally. He isn’t fully match fit and I’m not sure how far his legs can take him with such little recovery time.
      So I don’t think he will start. But I don’t think it will be because the coach lost faith in him.

    • Rested, dropped…anyhow yuh take it I doubt he starting which is to the same effect.
      And even if he Hart wanted to drop him he might frame it as a rest, lol

    • Idk boy…it all depends on what Coach Hart wants to do.
      I can’t give a suggestion unless we know the game plan.
      He did mention pressuring and winning the ball.
      I guess he’ll make his judgment based on what he worked on in training.
      So I really can’t say

    • I’d say Plaza. I still believe that Trevin is more an impact player than a starter.
      Unless he does something out of left field and maybe goes with two false 9s like Lobo and Levi. Or Levi and Jomal.
      This will be one of the most important XIs he ever picks.

    • I will be very surprised -again- if Jomal starts

    • Lasana Liburd if s player is an impact player (and I don’t know what that means) and can’t have impact when the team needs him , he shouldn’t be there. Also if has such impact then start him so we can put the other team on their back foot. Get the early advantages

    • Brian Harry, he is fast and spunky but–in my opinion–limited. More effective against tired legs and sure to be figured out by capable defenders after about 15 or 20 minutes.
      I think he is a scary and effective in a short space of time. That’s why I call him an impact player.

    • I can see Jomal tried to do what the coach wanted in terms of positioning. Lobo and Guerra are wild cards. More talented but you never know what you might be get.
      I’d expect Jomal to be fitter too.

    • Lasana Liburd if his only strength is fast and sparky and can only play in limited circumstances, my question remains “why is he in the team?”. Do we really believe that with the science going in to preparing teams today 2016, that will work? We may chose not to use the science but others do

    • Pace with a good work ethic can be useful at times. Our pool is small.

    • Lasana Liburd ok we will chat after the game. Let’s see

    • Brian Harry u ask interesting questions but impact players are just as their name suggest players that come on impact d game. Very important to teams and if u are so limited in ur football knowledge folks will find it difficult to take up ur offer of consulting to bring cooperate structure to football because they go hand in hand!!

    • Oh gorm Gordon Pierre. You don’t need to have been a horse to be a jockey. Knowledge of football terminology doesn’t have much to do with corporate skills.

    • Roneil, our players’ fitness levels can be questioned each and every time, not just sometimes.

    • Under Gally Cummings, Trinidad and Tobago would get last minute winners though. But in that era Defence Force was one of the fittest teams in CONCACAF. And they actually won the CONCACAF Cup to prove it.
      Football science might have left us behind since.
      We got late goals around the turn of the century under Beenhakker and Bertille St Clair too. But many of our players were in Europe then and fitness wouldn’t have been an issue.
      Plus I understand Bertille was a beast when it came to fitness anyway and he would always be afforded camps with his local-based team.

    • Gordon Pierre I won’t respond to that bullshit comment. Sit in a dark corner and consider the point I’m making or the question I’m asking. If you are so knowledgeable yourself, you should realize that the people who run football in Spain, USA, Brazil etc are not necessarily brilliant football minds. One of the reasons our football is going nowhere is because as a viewing population our understanding of the game is lacking. That’s reflected in your asinine comment

    • Lasana Liburd my knowledge of football tactics and strategy is nit even the issue. There is something much more fundamental which I’m asking and that c$$t is too foolish to grasp

    • Which is really obvious Brian…

    • Lasana Liburd it’s clearly not obvious …… or we won’t have stupid statements like above .

    • Brian Harry sports management is not in a vacuum if u have to ask why an impact player on a team u should be far far away from sports because d cooperate Bs u talking needs to b connected to some knowledge of sport how players react and such that’s y it’s called sports science and sports business!! Now Lasana Liburd i note u didn’t not bring Brian to heel with his insults but when i response in kind or Devon London attack him u are quick to defend!!

    • Frankly, Gordon, I came right back at you the way you came. You barely understood what I was saying yet made all those incendiary remarks. I have a very deep knowledge of football and sports psychology. Lesson, before you jump in to criticize and throw stones “seek first to understand”. Now I know exactly where our problem lies – given you as representative

    • Brian Harry they really say is better to be a dunce fool instead of an educated jackass yes!! Bc if u understand sports and is a consultant then i really know y sports in d third world where it is bc u certified asses come home and throw ur qualifications around while talking bucket loads of unfiltered shit and think ppl will be impressed!! News for u that was d Jack Warner era we ain’t so stupid now

    • Gordon Pierre and when the uncertified asses are in charge, what happens??

    • Gentlemen I do appreciate reading you contributions. Why turn the site into a dog fight. Football needs positive comments and vibes now.

    • Norris Ferguson I agree!!! 100%. When I asked my questions last night I was driving at a particular issue that has plagued this current team. At this stage in our football (as witnessed in the bigger and better teams ), niche players are a dying breed. When I did my coaching courses more than 20 yrs ago one of my Dutch lecturers used to say “there’s one specialist player on the field – goalkeeper) as such players who would dominate the modern game would have to be able to adapt their styles and natural preferences for the better of the team and as the. Inch sees fit. This gentleman without understanding the deeper implications of my question made some inflammatory remarks which I woke up to and reacted to in a very un-Brian like manner because I’m usually very positive and sometimes provocative. I take strong offense to that behavior because when we witness the state of our nation, at all levels people are not willing to listen or the first understand before rebutting. We start fights with anyone we may disagree with. Further our football is in shambles and we are being beaten by some pretty bad teams, our game has no plan and is in many way not suited to the players we have. As a nation we should have a certain style and standard towards which we manage (note manage as the modern day head coach is more of a manager). I responded to that guy in kind. I then apologized but that flew right by him and he came back again. I’m not going to be bullied! And by the way I later found out that he’s an executive of the TTFA. Go figure

    • Brian it is because I know you and the work that you have done why I intervened. Our football is at the stage where we should be taking all hands on deck who are prepared to offer their advice, even if not implemented by the powers that be, but at least the reading public would have a better understanding of the problems and solutions to correct them.

    • thanks Norris! Hope you are doing well

    • With God’s grace I am keeping the good fight.

    • I am not no ttfa executive and u should check d time of ur so call apology and my remarks but guess that flew pass ur intellect to!! Next time write ur ‘apology’ on the same response line so ppl could get d time line and not have to do CSI to see my bite back was long before ur apology!! Back to the topic in a perfect world we will have 25 total footballers in Trinidad as in most teams in the world u do with what u have so limited players with up sides are part of all teams especially national teams so ur justification of ur comment when simplified or according to u dumb down don’t hold water!! Norris Ferguson with all due respect i not standing by and have no one disrespect me because he feels his qualifications makes him qualified to do so!! Especially when he arguments don’t hold practical logic based in common sense!!

    • Gordon I think you know me well by now. I see value in ever contribution.

    • Gordon Pierre look I already apologized! Your first comment this morning started this. I responded and upon reflection I should not have so I apologized so don’t play victim. Your initial comment triggered this whole thing! I have nothing more to say. You still continue to be offensive . No worries …. yes it all flew past my intellect !

    • Ok Brian Harry i accept ur apology and we cool guess we both passionate

    • Ain’t c how my comment tripped u tho?