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Mystery Warriors: Lawrence refuses to name T&T squad before Honduras game in bid to gain advantage

Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence attempted an unusual new tactic to gain an advantage over his next opponent this afternoon when he refused to announce his team to play Honduras in Concacaf Nations League action from 7pm tomorrow at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.

The Soca Warriors need a win to have any chance of a berth in the Concacaf Hex for the Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying series while Lawrence will also set an unwanted mark for the longest win-less streak in the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s 111 year history if he fails to pick up three points.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team assistant coach Stuart Charles-Février (second from left) has a word with head coach Dennis Lawrence (centre) during training at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 15 April 2018.
(Copyright Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Trinidad and Tobago have four draws and eight losses from their last 12 matches, which tied the longest barren for the National Senior Team since 1986—when the then TTFA fielded a squad made up of amateur players who were compensated with a box of chicken and chips and a soft drink after international matches.

Lawrence suggested today that there was a benefit to be gained by keeping his 20-man squad secret—although the involvement of his key overseas players, like Kevin Molino, Ryan Telfer and even newcomer Akeem ‘Froggy’ Garcia’ was already confirmed by their respective clubs.

The lanky head coach, who has managed five wins, eight draws and 17 losses from his 30 matches in charge to date, told reporters that Martinique did not name their squad before they played Trinidad and Tobago on 6 and 10 September.

It is uncertain whether the French islanders, who had only one overseas-based player on their roster to face the Warriors, did indeed try to keep squad information from Lawrence in the build-up to their two drawn matches in Fort-de-France and Port of Spain. However, Honduras clearly could not be bothered with such shenanigans. The Central American nation named their own team on Twitter since 30 September, which was retweeted by—among others—the TTFA.

It is debatable whether Lawrence’s technical staff is as meticulous about sniffing out advantages in more traditional ways.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Ryan Telfer (left) runs at Martinique right back Karl Vitulin during Concacaf Nations League action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 9 September 2019.
(Copyright Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Last Saturday, young players and parents in St Clair looked on bemused as the Warriors unsuccessfully tried to conduct a training session at the St Mary’s College ground on Serpentine Road and then the Nelson Mandela Park. On each occasion, they were asked to leave as the venue had already been booked.

Eventually, they were permitted to conduct their workout at the St Joseph’s Convent ground.

Lawrence was nowhere to be found as he had remained in Toluca to lend support to Club Sando attacker Nion Lammy, who fell ill on their trip to Mexico last week. It was a touching gesture but one that left the Warriors without their head coach for 48 hours. Arguably, it would have been more sensible for Lawrence to have delegated the job of caregiver and travel companion to a more dispensable technical staff member.

Ace attacking midfielder Kevin Molino, who was presumably allowed to reveal his place in the squad by Lawrence, told the TTFA Media that the players are anxious to end their win-less streak.

“It’s an important game for us, mix no matters about that,” said Molino. “We’re on a run of ten or eleven games (the correct figure is 12) without a win which is never good and we owe it to the country and ourselves as a team to get something positive and try to turn the page.

“We’re coming off two draws against Martinique and obviously the desire must be to get a victory against Honduras. The boys know it’s vital and we have every reason to try and make things better for the team and local football with a positive result.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Kevin Molino (left) is congratulated for his opening goal against Martinique by teammate Daniel Carr (centre) during Concacaf Nations League action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 9 September 2019.
(Copyright Sean Morrison/Wired868)

“This game will not be easy because Honduras are a quality side and we know what they are capable of but we also have it in us a team to produce good football and it will be important for us to step things up and get it right.”

Trinidad and Tobago and Honduras last met at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 1 September when the visitors won 2-1 to end any lingering Warriors dream of qualifying for the Russia 2020 World Cup.

The Warriors have defeated Honduras just once in the last decade, which came under former head coach Stephen Hart at the 2013 Concacaf Gold Cup. Lawrence needs to emulate that success to keep Trinidad and Tobago’s hopes alive for a spot at the 2021 Gold Cup and Concacaf Hex.

The top two teams from each group qualify automatically for the next Gold Cup tournament.

Lawrence, who already has the record for most losses in a row (seven), will want to avoid another piece of unenviable history tomorrow night when he puts his mystery team on the field.

Tickets for tomorrow’s match are on sale at all NLCB lotto booths at TT$200 covered and TT$100 uncovered and will also be available at the venue on game day.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Ryan Telfer (left) tries to rifle a shot past Martinique defender Jordy Delem (centre) while his teammate Karl Vitulin looks on during Concacaf Nations League action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 9 September 2019.
(Copyright Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Trinidad and Tobago’s current winless run:

14 Oct 2018: 1-0 international friendly loss away to Thailand. (L)

15 Nov 2018: 1-0 international friendly loss away to Iran. (L)

20 Mar 2019: 1-0 international friendly loss away to Wales. (L)

5 Jun 2019: 0-0 international friendly draw away to Japan. (D)

10 Jun 2019: 2-0 international friendly loss against Canada in Los Angeles. (L)

18 Jun 2019: 2-0 Gold Cup loss against Panama in Minnesota. (L)

22 Jun 2019: 6-0 Gold Cup loss against USA in Cleveland. (L)

26 Jun 2019: 1-1 Gold Cup draw against Guyana in Kansas. (D)

11 Aug 2019: 1-0 international friendly loss away to St Vincent and the Grenadines. (L)

6 Sep 2019: 1-1 Nations League draw away to Martinique. (D)

10 Sep 2019: 2-2 Nations League draw at home against Martinique. (D)

4 Oct 2019: 2-0 international friendly loss away to Mexico. (L)

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and 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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