Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team defender Sheldon Bateau vowed that the Soca Warriors will try to put pressure on each other to lift their standards, as they search for their first win of 2019 away to Martinique on Friday.
Trinidad and Tobago and Martinique kick off from 6pm at the Stade Pierre Aliker on Friday.
The two nations are drawn with Honduras in Group B of League A in the inaugural Concacaf Nations League competition. The Nations League will serve as a gateway for the Qatar 2022 World Cup and Concacaf 2021 Gold Cup tournaments.
The Warriors must win Group B outright to have any chance of getting into the Concacaf Hex or face a convoluted route to Qatar via the confederation’s second tier. And they must finish at least second in the group to get an automatic spot at the Gold Cup.
Bateau, who plays professionally in Belgium and missed the June Gold Cup through club commitments, said he is happy to be back with the team and anxious to return to international action.
The Mechelen defender is one of 14 overseas-based players selected by head coach Dennis Lawrence, along with newcomers Andre Fortune Jr (North Carolina FC—USA), Daniel Carr (Apollon Limassol—Cyprus) and Ryan Telfer (York9 FC—Canada).
“It was really difficult to look at the Gold Cup and disappointing to not be there to help my team,” Bateau told the TTFA Media. “But I’m honoured and privileged to be here to lead the squad for the start of the Nations League campaign… We have a good squad together. I always thought that the squad would be better off with better quality players in terms of the levels they are playing and with the situation back home at the moment.
“I think it’s a good opportunity for these players to gel with the ones who were here before to get better results.”
The Warriors, who spent the last three days in camp in St Lucia, are still winless in 2019 after seven matches with two draws, five defeats and one goal scored to 13 conceded. Bateau insisted that the players are taking responsibility for that dismal run.
“[The qualifying scenario for the 2021 Gold Cup and 2022 World Cup] does add some pressure but the group is motivated,” said Bateau. “We owe it to the fans and the country to qualify for the Gold Cup and give ourselves a good chance of making the Hex and the World Cup in Qatar. But we as players need to put more pressure on ourselves and I told the boys that. We need to raise our levels.
“Our fans back home are what I call happy fans. You win or lose, there’s no problem or added pressure. Nobody wants to stone down the bus; and so we therefore need to put that pressure on ourselves to get the best from the team.
“By applying that pressure, I think you will see the quality raising. That should come from ourselves as players and not the coach or president or anybody else. The most important thing is that the players go on the field and show it.”
Trinidad and Tobago lost 2-0 to Martinique in overtime—after a goalless score at full time—on their last trip to the French island, under then coach Stephen Hart. That fixture was overshadowed somewhat by an internal ban on MLS star Kevin Molino for breaking curfew, days before the match.
Bateau hopes the Warriors can create happier memories on Friday, although he knows it will not be easy.
“Martinique [have] some quality and they are at home and will be very competitive,” he said. “But we have quality also and we need to put it all together to grind out a result. The group is very motivated for the game even though we are expecting a difficult game.”
Goalkeepers: Adrian Foncette (Police FC), Marvin Phillip (FC Santa Rosa), Glenroy Samuel (Terminix La Horquetta Rangers),
Defenders: Sheldon Bateau (KV Mechelen—Belgium), Daneil Cyrus (Mohun Bagan—India), Aubrey David (Deportivo Saprissa—Costa Rica), Alvin Jones (OKC Energy FC—USA), Keston Julien (AS Trencin—Slovakia), Carlyle Mitchell (San Juan Jabloteh), Ross Russell (Terminix La Horquetta Rangers),
Midfielders: Kevan George (Charlotte Independence—USA), Andre Fortune Jr (North Carolina FC—USA), Judah Garcia, Nathaniel Garcia (both Deportivo PF), Leston Paul (Memphis 901 FC—USA),
Attacking midfielders: Levi Garcia (Beitar Jerusalem FC—Jerusalem), Joevin Jones (Seattle Sounders—USA), Kevin Molino (Minnesota FC—USA), Jomal Williams (Isidro Metapan—El Salvador),
Forward: Daniel Carr (Apollon Limassol—Cyprus), Marcus Joseph (Gokulam Kerala FC—India), Jameel Perry (Police FC), Ryan Telfer (York9 FC—Canada).