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“The idea is to become a possession-based team”; Lawrence shares his philosophy before Japan friendly

Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team coach Dennis Lawrence is aiming for more creativity in the final third of the field away to Japan tomorrow morning as the Soca Warriors enter their penultimate fixture before the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup.

The Warriors meet Japan from 6.30am tomorrow at the Toyota Stadium in Aichi and Lawrence gave some insight into his philosophy before the exhibition match.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago coach Dennis Lawrence (centre) gives instructions to team captain Khaleem Hyland (left) and winger Levi Garcia during 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 10 October 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“What I’ve tried to do over the time since I took over [is] to see if we can keep a little more possession of the ball and become a more possession-based football team that will allow us to stay in games a lot longer,” Lawrence told the Japanese media. “We still have the same talent [as the 2006 World Cup team]. We will always have skilful, quick players that would allow us to be an exciting group. We just want to try and manage the ball a lot better.

“[We want] to be a bit more composed in games, home and away, and I think we’ve done that in the last two years. Now we just need to be a bit more creative in front of goal, which we hope to display tomorrow; but the idea is try and become a possession based team.”

At present, Trinidad and Tobago are on a three-game losing streak after successive losses to Thailand, Iran and Wales. It is unlikely to get easier tomorrow against a Japan team ranked 26th in the world by FIFA, which is 67 places higher than the Warriors.

Leicester City forward Shinji Okazaki will spearhead the attack of the ‘Blue Samarai’ and his international career tally stands at a notable 50 goals from 116 appearances.

Lawrence, who traveled without the MLS duo of Joevin Jones and Kevin Molino who were unavailable for varying reasons, credited the strength of the host team, who made it to the knockout stage of the Russia 2018 World Cup.

“They are technically very good players [and] I think they are a very aggressive group and work together as a unit which […] makes them very, very difficult to compete against,” said Lawrence. “Our expectations are to go in and compete. We need to withstand the aggressiveness of the Japanese team. They are on the front foot and they want to be in your faces so we need to match that and we need to now be brave and show our quality by keeping possession of the ball when the pressure is on.

Photo: Japan defender Yuya Osako (centre) celebrates his decisive World Cup goal against Colombia with teammates on 19 June 2018.
(Copyright Carl Court/Getty/FIFA)

“Then at the same time we need to maintain a very good defensive structure which is important… We are expecting it will be a very, very stern test for us because we have full respect for Japan. We are fully aware of how good this Japan team can be and the quality that they got.

“We are here in preparation for the Gold Cup and will use the opportunity to get something out of it to take into our first game against Panama on the 18th.”

Warriors midfielder Kevan George, a US second tier player with Charlotte Independence, concurred.

“This is probably the most important match for us ahead of the Gold Cup,” George told the TTFA Media. “We have to make the progress little by little, working on certain tactical aspects of the game that we need to implement going into our first game. They will be a very strong opponent so I believe this game will be very important for us.

“While we want to win every game, we need to think about the bigger picture and sharpen up on our game going into the first match against Panama. The main thing for me is to focus mentally, physically and even emotionally.”

Lawrence’s 19-man team assembled in Aichi on Monday night. Following tomorrow’s contest, their next stop is Los Angeles on 10 June to face Canada in their final warm-up affair before the Gold Cup.

Photo: Mexico forward Javier Hernandez (right) tries unsuccessfully to evade a tackle from Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Kevan George during 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on 28 March 2017.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Alfredo Estrella)

(Trinidad and Tobago squad to face Japan)

Goalkeepers: Marvin Phillip (Central FC), Adrian Foncette (Police FC);

Defenders: Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force), Carlyle Mitchell (Terminix La Horquetta Rangers), Mekeil Williams (OKC Energy FC—USA), Alvin Jones (OKC Energy FC—USA), Daneil Cyrus (Al Orobah FC—Saudi Arabia);

Midfielders: Khaleem Hyland (Al-Faisaly FC—Saudi Arabia), Judah Garcia (Unattached), Kevan George (Charlotte Independence), Akeem Humphrey (Club Sando), Leston Paul (Memphis 901 FC), Duane Muckette (Memphis 901 FC—USA), Neveal Hackshaw (Indy Eleven FC—USA);

Attacking midfielders: Nathan Lewis (Lansing Ignite—USA), Jomal Wiliams (W Connection FC), Lester Peltier (Al-Orobah FC—Saudi Arabia), Levi Garcia (Ironi Kiryat Shmona—Israel);

Forward: Shahdon Winchester (W Connection).

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21 comments

  1. u need to have the ball to have possession. no creativity jus kick d ball and run it down.

  2. Fox Sports 2 and Fox Soccer Plus covering Gold Cup

  3. Anyone know which channel is covering the Gold Cup in T&T?

    Terence William Fenwick, Flow Sports??

  4. Great result, will certainly boost rankings. I expected the worse after the 65th minute due to fitness, concentration and preparation but true Warriora today. Well done. Levi looked good nearly scoring with a right foot effort at near post and his crosses.

  5. I watched the last thirty minutes:

    .Japan dominated possession but we put too many bodies between them and our goal so the Japanese looked impotent in the penalty area.
    .When they did break through Marvin Phillips proved himself to be the match MVP.
    .Our lack of fitness showed in the number of players who went to ground.
    .We also looked impotent on the ball, with the occasional long ball forward in the attempt to counter attack.
    .All in all a good result but, to be redundant, winning requires goals.

    Let’s see what the friendly against a CONCACAF nation (Canada) brings in a few days.

  6. Thank God for the draw. This will help our ranking, but I hipe to see drastic improvements in the back and front. The possession needs a lot of work. We gave the ball away too eaaily, and attempted the long ball too many times with no success.

  7. Stream #2: Japan vs Trinidad and Tobago


  8. Im waiting to see d creativity

  9. Are their any streams available for the game vs Japan

  10. I humbly await the Gold Cup games. Praying for good performances and results.

  11. So does DL mean getting back to being a possession-based team? Because that’s a philosophy that both Beenhakker and Stephen Hart espoused.

    • The trend under DL has been to decrease possession, he took over a team that had 55% possession over the USA 9 June 2017, 54 % possession over Costa Rica 14 June2017 since then our possesion has dropped as he has tried to get results. Ironically, his most notable victory against the USA saw him with about 40% possession in October 2017. He could return to Beenhakker and Hart philosophy if he believes he has the requiste talent but not sure he selecting the players he talking about.