Eve: We were too open! T&T coach talks tactics, “Showtime” and team chemistry

“We didn’t lose, which is the most important thing—we didn’t lose,” said Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team head coach Angus Eve, in last night’s post-match press conference.

“When we qualified in 2006, it was the same thing with the Costa Rica game that we had right in the Stadium here. The campaign started the same way and we ended up qualifying.”

Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team head coach Angus Eve (right) faces the media after his team’s 2-2 draw with Grenada in their opening 2026 World Cup qualifier at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 5 June 2024.
At his side is TTFA media manager Shaun Fuentes.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

Eve tried to offer context after the Soca Warriors started their Fifa 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign with a 2-2 draw with Grenada at the Hasely Crawford Stadium last night.

However, he was factually incorrect about Trinidad and Tobago’s 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign, which actually started with a 2-0 win over the Dominican Republic on the road and a 4-0 triumph against the same team in Marabella.

The Soca Warriors went on, in the second round, to defeat Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Saint Kitts and Nevis, both home and away, while losing two legs to Mexico.

The draw against Costa Rica in the 2006 qualifying series actually happened in the final round (the Hex), and, even then, it was Trinidad and Tobago’s second home match of the round.

Trinidad and Tobago football fans react to the action during 2026 World Cup qualifying action against Grenada at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 5 June 2024.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

“This is one game,” said Eve. “The other teams in the group […] still have to play, so there is still a lot to play for.”

Costa Rica host Saint Kitts and Nevis in Group B today before Trinidad and Tobago face The Bahamas in Basseterre on Saturday.

Grenada then lock horns with Costa Rica at St George’s on Sunday while the Bahamas travel to Saint Kitts next Tuesday.

Eve noted that Trinidad and Tobago’s 2026 campaign is far from over, although he conceded that it was not the start they wanted. He suggested that Fifa’s scheduling did not give his team enough time to gel, since they played their first match just two days after the international match window opened on 3 June.

Trinidad and Tobago forward Levi Garcia (right) tries to find a way past Grenada defender Josh Gabriel during 2026 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 5 June 2024.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

“Gelling is an issue and we really did not connect with each other tonight,” said Eve. “I think the front three tried to play the ball too tight and they did not spread the ball to Levi [Garcia] and them early enough. We did not build a rhythm in the game.

“Grenada, I thought, were here since last week Wednesday or something. So they had more days [preparation] than us and you could see that from the cohesion of their group as opposed to our group.

“[…] We tried to [make them cohesive]. It didn’t happen tonight but we have a couple more days together to work with the guys and hopefully, we will get more cohesion out of the group that we were looking for.”

Trinidad and Tobago attacker Reon Moore (left) tries to get awayfrom Grenada midfielder Kwazim Theodore during 2026 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 5 June 2024.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

Eve did not say whether the fact that he worked with his entire starting XI for over a year should have been a mitigating factor against the supposed lack of chemistry.

Since taking over in 2022, Eve led Trinidad and Tobago into two Concacaf Gold Cup tournaments and two Concacaf Nations League campaigns before the current World Cup qualifying campaign.

From his starting team against Grenada, captain Aubrey David and forward Ryan Telfer are into their fifth competitions under Eve. It is tournament number four for Reon Moore, Shannon Gomez, Justin Garcia, Noah Powder and Denzil Smith.

The Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team pose before kickoff against Grenada in 2026 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 5 June 2024.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

Attacker Levi Garcia and midfielder Daniel Phillips are in their third competition with the current head coach while newcomers Andre Raymond and Ajani Fortune are in their second campaigns—with nine and seven caps respectively under Eve.

Eve did note though that his tactics were a bit different against Grenada last night. And the self-titled pragmatic coach said that, if anything, he was too attack-minded yesterday.

“I know people accuse me of being a defensive coach but you see we opened up the game today,” said Eve.

Trinidad and Tobago head coach Angus Eve watches his team warm up before their opening 2026 World Cup qualifying fixture against Grenada at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 5 June 2024.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

Trinidad and Tobago trailed 2-1 at the interval but, as Eve pointed out, enjoyed a more successful second half with an extra combative midfielder, Andre Rampersad, on the field.

He suggested that the Soca Warriors are at their best when they are in a defensive shape, looking for counterattacks.

“I am realistic about the players that we have,” said Eve. “We are more dangerous on the counterattack as opposed to when we try to play open football—and you saw that tonight again.

Grenada flanker Jermaine Francis (left) drives his shot past Trinidad and Tobago attacker Reon Moore during 2026 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 5 June 2024.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

“If anything, the midfield was a bit too open. It was only in the second half when we solidified the midfield in the second half by bringing on Rampersad, that gave us a platform for Nathaniel James, Reon Moore and Telfer to go forward and create chances.

“Sometimes you have to get the balance in the midfield because we had a lot of attacking players. We only played with one defensive midfielder to start the game with. The guys did not click today: [attacking midfielders] Powder and Fortune.”

Grenada coach Shalrie Joseph, for his part, said he was never concerned about whoever Trinidad and Tobago used in midfield.

Grenada midfielder Myles Hippolyte (right) passes for a teammate while Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Noah Powder keeps watch during 2026 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 5 June 2024.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

“I didn’t believe that they (Trinidad and Tobago) had the quality in the midfield to play through us,” said Joseph. “We stayed compact, keeping it tight, and not allowing them to play through midfield. Once you start doing that, then you know that they will look to play long.”

Joseph, a former New England Revolution stand-out player and assistant coach, lamented his team’s tactical indiscipline yesterday. For Grenada, he saw it as two points lost.

“I am very disappointed, I think we should have walked away with three points, especially going up 2-0,” said Joseph. “We needed to go into the half at 2-0 instead of giving up the late goal… We had the game in hand. We did really [well] on both sides of the ball.

Grenada Men’s National Senior Team coach Shalrie Joseph (centre) instructs his players from the sidelines during their 2-2 draw with Trinidad and Tobago at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 5 June 2024.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

“Unfortunately, we gave up two goals through things that we talked about all week.”

Joseph noted that the mentality of his Grenada team is to play on the front foot, even away from home. And he said his team’s aggressive, physical approach made the difference in the first half.

“It is my mentality; one I try to carry through the team and to the country when we train—it is something I try to instil in those players,” he said. “No matter where we are, even in Trinidad, a great country [and] a great team.

Trinidad and Tobago attacker Levi Garcia (left) is manhandled by Grenada left back Josh Gabriel during 2026 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 5 June 2024.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

“[…] It is about will, it is about determination. Size don’t matter. It’s about how bad you want [it] in that single moment. And the mentality of the players showed from the first minute.

“[…] We’ve been talking about what to do when we score the first one and what we do when we score the second one. It was crucial that we got the third one. Darius [Johnson] had an opportunity to go 3-0 up but the keeper (Denzil Smith) made the save.”

Eve, for his part, bemoaned the controversial early penalty, offered by Guatemalan referee Mario Escobar—after a cross struck Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Daniel Phillip’s hand from close range—which allowed Grenada to go ahead.

Referee Mario Escobar gestures after a decision during 2026 World Cup qualifying action between Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 5 June 2024.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

“I thought that Daniel’s hand was actually on his body and it was shocking that the referee gave a penalty for that,” he said.

Eve put the second goal down to recurring defensive problems.

“We’ve been going down 2-0 in every game that we play—I keep saying that our defence is a little bit porous and that is an area that we want to strengthen up,” said Eve, who overlooked overseas-based defenders Sheldon Bateau and Leland Archer from his match day squad.

Grenada forward Lucas Akins (foreground) holds off Trinidad and Tobago defender Justin Garcia during 2026 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 5 June 2024.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

“Our hands are tied; we can only use the players that we have. No matter what combination we play, we always seem to go down 2-0 in the first half and then come back strong in the second half.”

Eve brushed aside suggestions that veteran Morvant Caledonia United forward Kevon “Showtime” Woodley might have offered a goal from the bench—after two goals in as many exhibition matches, against an understrength Guyana team last month.

“It’s always a lot of ifs, buts and maybes,” said the Warriors coach. “We decided not to play him based on the physical nature of the game. We used quicker, sharper players; and that was the only difference.”

Trinidad and Tobago forward Kevon Woodley (right) gives Guyana defenders Quincy Adams (#19) and Amos Ramsay the slip during friendly international action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 13 May 2024.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

Eve could potentially be short of offensive firepower this weekend, as he awaits a medical assessment on star forward Levi Garcia. Garcia hurt his back last night and did not return for the second half.

In the end, both the Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago coaches accepted that the draw was a fair result.

“It’s still a point,” said Joseph. “It’s a huge point being on the road against one of the best countries in the Caribbean.

Trinidad and Tobago attacker Ryan Telfer (right) tries to get away from Grenada defender Omar Beckles during 2026 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 5 June 2024.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

“[…] For us, to get a point here is a huge commendation for our players and what they have been able to achieve.”

Eve said his team probably did not deserve better than the solitary point.

“It is always good not to lose a game but there is a lot of stuff to be disappointed in the match [last night],” he said. “I thought discipline was poor. I thought that the game was very open. There was a lot of chances on both sides—probably a draw was the best we could have got out of the game, the way we played.”

Trinidad and Tobago attacker Reon Moore (left) is denied by Grenada goalkeeper Jason Belfon during 2026 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 5 June 2024.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

Trinidad and Tobago would need to improve quickly, as they head to Basseterre for their next assignment.

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One comment

  1. What does Eve mean when he said that Fifa scheduling did not give his team enough time to gel? Since Terry Fenwick was fired all those years ago he had the team. He even got an extension when his contract ended and he still wants more time for his team to gel? What am I missing here….help me make sense out of bs!!!!

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