This Is Not For The Team, This Is For The Country

The Trinidad and Tobago Soca Warriors have passed the first hurdle and is now in the Group Stage of the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup. The Trinidad and Tobago team will be playing in Group A and will face Mighty Mexico on Saturday, they then play El Salvador next Wednesday and Curacao on the 18th. While the Soca Warriors, only last month could not beat Bahamas, or even score against them, a country not known for football, ranked at 201 and is known as a vacation paradise, head coach Angus Eve is confident of a good showing. He told the media after advancing, “ We want to be here, we want to play against the best in the region”. He added with the recent disappointments, the country needed some good results. “The win was for the country”.

The fact is, as recent as 6 years ago, in the 2015 edition of the Gold Cup, Trinidad and Tobago finished above Mexico in the group stage, and was eventually knocked out by Panama after Penalty Kicks in the quarter final. They exited the tournament with no losses, since a match going to penalties is counted as a draw. That team was coached by Stephen Hart, who was relieved of his duties when the TTFA changed presidents. The team went downhill from there. From reaching the quarters in 2015, they failed to qualify in 2017, in fact, they did not even qualify for the Caribbean Championships either, for the first time. A competition they dominated from between 1981 and 2001 with 10 titles in 17 editions.

Going in to the tournament proper, Eve is concerned about the yellow cards, being carried over to the tournament from the qualifiers. The team has 4 players on yellow cards, including captain Khaleem Hyland and Curtis Gonzales. Eve is not happy about that as he stated “it’s a bit unfair, I think most tournaments in the world, the cards don’t carry over from the qualifiers”.

Another concern the former Chester City FC player has, are the knocks and niggles some players are carrying. Khaleem Hyland and Judah Garcia were forced to exit the match in the first half against French Guiana, as the referee seemed to allow the game to get a bit out of hand with some rough tackling (mostly from French Guiana). Eve said they “will assess the fitness of the players” before determining if they will replace them. They have up to 24 hours before the first engagement on Saturday. He added he is confident in every one of the players and can count on any one of them to come into the mix at any time.