T&T’s senior men’s head coach Angus Eve will have only today’s practice session to work on a game plan for a clash with the United States in the return leg of Division A of the CONCACAF Nations League quarterfinal match at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo tomorrow at 8 pm.
Following Thursday’s 3-0 loss in Austin, Texas, the Soca Warriors will train at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, at 4.30 pm
Eve, who hailed the team’s performance after defender Noah Powder was red-carded in 37th-minute and kept the USA at bay for 81 minutes before the first goal was scored, has made three changes to the T&T squad with midfielders Duane Muckette and Kevon Goddard coming in for the suspended Powder and defender Neveal Hackshaw who is also out on two yellow cards. Also, goalkeeper Jabari St Hillaire comes back into the squad in place of Rushon Sandy.
Eve will focus on strengthening his defence since he no longer has the valuable and experienced services of Powder and Hackshaw which paves the way for the likes of Ross Russell Jr of La Horquetta Rangers and Jesse Williams, who plays for USL League 1 club Central Valley Fuego.
Meanwhile, former T&T forward Stern John, this country’s leading goalscorer in international football said the country’s Men’s team deserves credit for their resolute display against the United States despite the 3-0 result.
John, coach of St Lucia, saw his team draw 0-0 with St Kitts/Nevis in Concacaf Nations League B action Thursday and later watched the T&T match on television.
John said, “The team deserves a lot of credit for the way they held themselves together for such a long period in the match. To go that distance with ten men for 50-plus minutes away to a US team decorated with quality players as they possess now was no easy thing to do. That takes a lot more than luck” John told the media.
John made seven appearances against the US in his 150 matches at senior international level during which he scored 70 goals for T&T.
“No disrespect to our players. We are growing but when you compare the two squads and assess the calibre of clubs the US players are playing with and the level of the leagues, and then you watch our roster, you have to admit that it’s going to be a challenge.”
“But I thought we acquitted ourselves well and had it not been for one bad decision by a player that forces you to go a man down then we might have been able to grind out a result. And then even with ten men on the park, we didn’t concede until the 81st.”
“Now we have to keep that same energy and belief when we play them at home. We cannot lose our discipline because they will punish you,” John said.
Former National team midfielder Densill Theobald, who had the assist on Angus Eve’s goal in the 2-1 defeat to the US in a World Cup qualifier at the Queen’s Park Oval in 2005, said he was far from upset on Thursday night.
“Honestly, I slept comfortably after the game, and why? Because I felt the boys gave such a gritty performance. They played with conviction. That’s what we want ... to see them fight and show that 100 per cent commitment on the pitch and we saw that from them. It was unfortunate to concede two goals on deflections but that’s the game sometimes.”
“Usually after a 3-0 loss, one would tend to be very disappointed and upset with the manner of the performance but this time it was different. There was nothing to feel ugly or shamed about.”
“We almost completed a remarkable fight with a result but it was surely going to be hard to hold them off with ten men for that long. Denzil was excellent, Andre Raymond and Shannon Gomez were so solid and Andre Rampersad was a light for us in the middle with his composure and fight. Malcolm Shaw did a hell of a job for us as well. The effort was something we must commend,” Theobald said.
“I would even go as far to say that had we pulled off a draw, this would have ranked right up there with the World Cup draw against Sweden. This is considering different factors now in terms of the nature of this match and the way the US team is set up as a top-ten nation in world football. And we are still going through a difficult period in our football in general terms along with the fact that we played with ten men,” Theobald added.
Early Bird Tickets for Monday’s match are sold out. Tickets now cost $150 (Covered) and $80 (Uncovered). Kids 12 and under are free. Tickets are available at all Haagen-Dazs outlets, Fan Club Trincity Mall, Fan Zone (MovieTowne PoS and Price Plaza), Online at Eboxtickets.com, and the Stadium on Monday.