Lawrence: We need to get things right; T&T ponder shortcomings against Boyz with Honduras looming

“This is the right game to lose,” one spectator said, as he made his way out of the Hasely Crawford Stadium following Trinidad and Tobago’s 2-1 friendly defeat at the hands of Jamaica last night.

He and the Soca Warriors coaching staff are hoping for a turnaround in fortune by next Friday with Trinidad and Tobago’s Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying quest in the balance.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago left-back Kevon Villaroel (right) tries to escape from Jamaica midfielder Ewan Grandison during international friendly action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on 24 August 2017.
(Courtesy Matthew Lee Kong/CA-images/Wired868)

National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence admitted, on the eve of their Jamaica match-up, that they desperately needed some clinical finishing at the offensive end to break a spell of what then stood at five consecutive defeats.

But it was a familiar post-game lament last night, as his Warriors failed to take a series of presentable opportunities and Lawrence and his charges again found themselves on the wrong end of a scoreline that could have—and probably ought to have—gone their way.

“I thought the boys did well to get back into the game [but] I think we had too many chances and we need to start putting away these chances,” said Lawrence, “because, at the end of the day, goals win matches. And I think some of the chances we had were that clear-cut.”

Left-back Kevon Villaroel scored a superb item in the 11th minute, after his slow response was at least partially responsible for Jamaica’s sixth minute opener, scored by winger Jamiel Harewood. But teammates Hughtun Hector, Jared London, Hashim Arcia and striker Marcus Joseph all subsequently failed to take decent opportunities to beat Jamaica goalie Shaven Paul.

And, with pivotal World Cup qualifiers looming against Honduras and Panama on 1 and 5 September, Lawrence admitted that he was dissatisfied. Last night, he had hoped for a bit more from Joseph, who was making his first appearance under the current coach.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Dennis Lawrence (centre) makes a point to midfielder Hashim Arcia (left) during international friendly action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on 24 August 2017.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

“I thought it took [Joseph] a bit long to settle into the game,” Lawrence said. “He wasn’t himself; the ball normally comes in and sticks. He rushed things a bit but, in general, Marcus gives us a focal point…”

In fairness, Joseph, a former two-time World Youth Cup player, was not the only one who was slow getting into stride, as the Warriors’ ball movement generally lacked the zest and penetration needed to keep defences constantly on their toes.

Much of Trinidad and Tobago’s frustration on the night was directed at the man in the middle, Guyanese referee Sherwin Johnson, although Lawrence admitted that the official did get the big call right.

“We thought [Jamaica’s second goal] was handball at the time so I compliment [the referee] on that; at least he got something right,” said Lawrence, after reviewing the decisive goal. “I’m not happy with the manner in which we are conceding goals, especially [last night]. Some of the goals are a bit too soft and we are lacking that mettle to stand up and give everything to ensure that we don’t concede easy goals.”

The return of San Jose Earthquakes flanker Cordell Cato was a bonus, though, as the diminutive speedster gave a vibrant display and looked to be a cut above the rest in the final third. Lawrence had originally planned to use the winger for 70 minutes—owing to his recent inactivity with the Quakes—but left him on for the full 90.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Aubrey David (centre) leads protests to Guyanese referee Sherwin Johnson (left) about Jamaica’s winning goal during international friendly action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on 24 August 2017.
T&T coach Dennis Lawrence admitted after that the referee got it right.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

The Warriors coach also commended right-back Alvin Jones, midfielder Jared London and the central defensive pairing of Triston Hodge and Aubrey David for their performances.

On the other bench, Jamaica coach Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore admitted that the “Reggae Boyz” might easily have left the Hasely Crawford Stadium empty-handed.

“I must say hats off to Dennis and his coaching staff,” said Whitmore. “We were really fortunate tonight because I think the Trinidad and Tobago team created numerous chances and they just failed to put them away. But the good thing is that Trinidad and Tobago is getting chances.”

Whitmore, who led Jamaica to second place at the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup, only had one starter on the field from their final game against the United States. And he suggested that the Boyz have already put their recent success in the rearview mirror.

“We are in a rebuilding process [and] we are looking forward to [the] 2022 [World Cup],” said Whitmore. “[Last night] we used all local players and, as I said before, they gave a good account of themselves.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Aubrey David (centre) tries to elude Jamaica forward Shamar Nicholson (left) while his captain and goalkeeper Marvin Phillip looks on during international friendly action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on 24 August 2017.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

While Jamaica have no more competitive football in 2017, Lawrence has one week to whip his own squad into shape before they host Honduras at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.

“The [big] problem is when the international boys come, we have got more or less one training session to put in the work,” said Lawrence. “We have to go and get that [defensive organisation] right on the training pitch […] because we need to get that spot on for the Honduras game.”

Is every little thing going to be alright for Lawrence and his Warriors?

They will be hoping the right cap fits next Friday night.


Trinidad and Tobago (4-1-2-3): 1.Marvin Phillip (captain); 16.Alvin Jones, 2.Aubrey David, 18.Triston Hodge, 3.Kevon Villaroel; 15.Curtis Gonzales (12.Neil Benjamin Jr 80); 13.Hughtun Hector (10.Hashim Arcia 46), 19.Jared London; 7.Cordell Cato, 9.Marcus Joseph, 8.Nathan Lewis (11.Tyrone Charles 61).

Unused substitutes: 22.Adrian Foncette (GK), 4.Taryk Sampson, 5.Julio Noel, 6.Akeem Benjamin, 14.Nathaniel Garcia, 17.Maurice Ford, 20.Rundell Winchester.

Coach: Dennis Lawrence

Jamaica (4-4-1-1): 23.Shaven Paul (GK); 3.Javain Brown, 2.Rosario Harriott, 4.Ladale Richie, 19.Ricardo Morris; 7.Jamiel Hardware (6.Kaheem Parris 80), 9.Ewan Grandison, 12.Michael Binns (captain), 18.Marvin Morgan (8.Alex Marshall 69); 20.Fabian Reid (15.Rondee Smith 85); 10.Shamar Nicholson (16.Jermaine Johnson 71).

Unused substitutes: 13.Amal Knight (GK), 11.Vishinul Harris, 14.Leonard Rankine.

Coach: Theodore Whitmore

Referee: Sherwin Johnson (Guyana)

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  1. Point taken , I am by no means saying that the coach is beyond criticism , he is performing his job in the public domain . I am saying we need a patient approach to cleaning up the mess

  2. when was the last time we played Jamaica and they did not use one foreign born player ??..1993 ??..just checking for a friend ….24 years ??…

  3. Why did Jones touched the ball eh when it was already going in the goal steeuuppss Them really good yes.

  4. No composure in front of goal none what so ever and you can’t teach that.

  5. Ppl Dennis is not a miracle work he is trying his best let’s give our support let’s full the Ato Boldon Stadium in a sea of red on the 1st September please red white and black all the way

  6. Allyuh will make me get so accustom to losing, that when we start winning I’ll feel sad lol Smh.

  7. Bring Back Hart haven’t won non since he was sacked

  8. what they need is me is coach,,, i can surely get us to the world cup

  9. I continue to say keep getting friendlies for our locals , also we still living in denial friendlies vs the likes of Jamaica and Haiti should be welcomed. I wonder if I am the only one who smell the coffee. We are no longer the Caribbean no. 1 team

    • We beat Jamaica home and away four years ago when they had a local team. And our Pro League teams beat Jamaican club teams coming and going.
      I’d expect us to beat Jamaica once they don’t have their England born and bred players with them.
      So in that sense, I’m disappointed.

    • Well it’s about what the coach wants out of the game. That game was the Guerra show, there are some players I would never pick ahead of Guerra or Cummings but the coach needs to be given the freedom to select whom ever he thinks can do the job.

    • Travis the coach doesn’t need that from anyone. He already has it. Just like Rowley can put anyone he likes in his Cabinet.
      If you’re telling me that either person should have an unquestionable right to do as they see fit, then the answer from me will always be no.
      I’m not a fanatic. I’m a journalist.
      It’s my job to weigh the cons and offer contexts, whether it is: Keon Daniel, Keron Cummings, Keron Clarke, Cordell Cato… or whoever.

    • We LL bro as a journalist you won’t know the intricacies that contribute to a result. Something a little as a player losing a millisecond of concentration is the difference between winning and losing. A linesman or a referee switching off can also cost you. But as a journalist I guess it’s your job to report on the result as YOU see it. But I can assure you that the mess that our football in ,from primary school and academy to SSFL and the youth pro league to the pro league and national team you would realise the monumental task that Dennis and Hart before him had to get results at this level . I challenged alot of the critics to come to arima and 500 Spartans to expose them to the challenges coaches have to work with. Then all we hear is it have no good local coaches.

    • I agree with you that there are intricacies in every profession which are best understood by persons who have trained and studied in that field.
      But that doesn’t mean all criticism from outside that field are baseless. Otherwise you would need a degree in Economics or Sociology before you could tell Colm Imbert that he should spend less on National Security and more and sports and culture.
      Not so?

  10. Dennis will not be able to get things right with this group, it’s better to bring a young group(22 below) mixed with senior players like KJ and CE for these senior players to mentor the young men, the next generation. Sadly, I hate to dismiss anyone’s potential but learned behavior of many of the players being selected can not be “righted”.

  11. Against who lion faroe islands kiwi or bvi

  12. I agree with Dennis on the players he commended.Everyone else was a waste. Sounds like Lobo might get another chance though. He really looked poor in the first half, but if its uncharacteristic and I always hearing ppl rating him up. Hopefully Boatswain start to improve even further already as a pro and will give us the striker we need to sneak some wins

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