Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence finally got the proverbial monkey off his back with his first win in fifteen matches after thrashing minnows Anguilla 15-0 in a friendly at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
With the spectre of a record breaking winless streak no longer hovering over their heads, he believes that the Soca Warriors can now move forward with a clearer head.
“It’s always good to get positive results so hopefully that will carry us into the next few games now in a different frame of mind,” Lawrence told the media after the game. “[I don’t feel a sense of relief] personally. I’m pleased for the players, most important.
“It’s always good to get wins under your belt […] looking back some of the games that we lost, we shouldn’t lose the game. Some of the games that we drew, we shouldn’t have drawn the game.”
Anguilla, who have a population of roughly 14,000 people, are currently ranked 209th in FIFA’s 209 member association ranking and were expectedly well below usual standards but the Trinidad and Tobago head coach was adamant that the exercise was worthwhile and he was pleased with his team’s application.
“I was pleased with the mentality of the players,” said Lawrence. “Physically, I thought they pushed themselves tonight. We spoke about it before the game that we need to make sure that we get benefit from this game.”
“I was pleased with the effort and the way they conducted themselves [and] remained professional to try and maintain our discipline and shape.”
There may have been cheaper and certainly more competitive options that T&T could have suited up against on Sunday evening, but Lawrence defended TTFA’s selection of Anguilla—as he did in the pre-match build up.
“You cannot replace 90 minute competitive football,” he said. “I think you can train as much as you want but cannot replace that and I thought the boys kept going at it. We worked on a couple things in regards to getting the full backs going on the overlap and they did that a lot tonight.”
Even with the caliber of the opposition on show, T&T’s head coach used a strong line up with six of the starters on Sunday—Marvin Phillip, Alvin Jones, Daneil Cyrus, Mikhail Williams, Leston Paul and Ryan Telfer—all starting in the 2-0 loss to Honduras a month ago in the CONCACAF Nations League.
It was a move that definitely did not smack of overconfidence. But former National Under-20 midfielder Matthew Woo Ling, who was outside looking in, now appears to have booked a spot on the plane to Ecuador (14 Nov) and Honduras (17 Nov) after impressing against Anguilla.
“I think when you look at the overall it was important that we had a good detailed look at players like Matthew Woo Ling,” said Lawrence. “I think looking at him, you can see potential, you can see talent and I thought he did a lot of good things tonight.
“The way he has come in and trained with the group. His performance tonight, the mentality and the way he conducts himself. I was quite pleased for him.
“So I’ll say it now, hopefully that’s enough for him and he’ll make the trip with the boys to go to Ecuador and Honduras because the boy deserves it. “
Lawrence also credited foreign-born debutants Darius Lewis and goalkeeper Nicklas Frenderup who play in the Faroe Islands and Denmark respectively. But he kept cards closer to his chest on whether they would also make the squad for the next two games.
“Young Darius came on, he took the opportunity, he got himself a goal and I was pleased for Darius,” said Lawrence. “Nicklas, who made his debut tonight for Trinidad and Tobago, came in and had to make one save and that was pleasing for me. For as much of the ball that we had, when he was called upon, he did his job and that’s what it was all about.
“But overall I was more pleased with the group.”
However, Lawrence did confirm that the more seasoned quartet of Sheldon Bateau, Daniel Carr, Rundell Winchester and Neveal Hackshaw—who became available after his team, Indy Eleven, lost the USL Cup semi-final on Saturday—will link up with the team in Ecuador.
The Soca Warriors depart for Ecuador on Tuesday and hope for another positive result in preparation for their Concacaf Nations League tie with Honduras.
“Looking forward to Ecuador, we need to try and see how best we can get as much out of the game in terms of what we want to do against Honduras,” said Lawrence. “Regardless of how Ecuador plays, we need to play in a manner that we are going to play against Honduras. And we are going to try and do that for 90 minutes.”
Trinidad and Tobago currently sit at the bottom of Group C with two points after three games. Honduras leads the group with six points from two games while Martinique have two points from three games but hold a better goal difference than T&T.
The Warriors will be relegated to Concacaf’s second tier competition, League B, if they remain in last place. As such Lawrence, will have an eye on the outcome when Honduras take on Martinique on 14 November.
“I think we all understand that we need to wait a bit to find out what happens between Honduras and Martinique and because we need to understand, exactly what we going there to do before,” said Lawrence. “The focus is to win and try and get a win, but we also need to pay attention to what happens [with Honduras versus Martinique] without trying to detract our work.”
Winless run broken—albeit against paltry opposition—Lawrence aims to gather momentum from here on.