Canada’s football coach Stephen Hart had some words of encouragement to T&T after seeing his team pull off a 2-0 victory over the former Caribbean champions in last Wednesday’s friendly international in Fort Lauderdale. Hart, currently preparing Canada for their upcoming back to back 2014 World Cup qualifiers against Panama, had no issues with having to depend on the Hutson Charles squad for a test, despite the fact that they are already out of the 2014 campaign. Matter of fact, Hart appeared to be a bit envious of his opponents as he claimed they had time on their side while he is pressed in trying to achieve steady progress with his team for the remainder of their journey to Brazil. “I thought they (T&T) had some very good players. There were moments they moved the ball well and got into some good positions. It will take time, and to be honest, Trinidad has time,” Hart said when asked to give his impressions of the T&T team, which was captained by W Connection goalkeeper, Jan Michael Williams.
So far in the semifinal round, Hart has seen Canada defeat Cuba 1-0 away and draw 0-0 at home to Honduras in a game which they should have walked away with three points. Earlier they got past St Kitts/Nevis, Puerto Rico and St Lucia in the second round. “To be honest, I didn’t even think about that. I just saw it as a game we needed to prepare for Panama. There was no emotion, it was like playing against your brother,” Hart said about meeting T&T at the senior level for the first time since being at the helm of Canada.
“I thought we (Canada) played a little bit slow in the first half, but our ball possession was good. We picked up the tempo in the second half but the same old problem (of scoring goals) is haunting us. I was very pleased with how we created the chances. We pressed the attack and made it dynamic,” Hart added. Hart embraced T&T interim head coach Hutson Charles at the end of the match, the two knowing each other from their past playing days, adding that he expects to see T&T climb its way back up the CONCACAF ladder. Charles meantime, will set about preparing T&T for a friendly away to Puerto Rico next month and subsequent Digicel Caribbean Cup preliminary matches.
The Digicel Cup first round schedule shows T&T having to contest Group F in St Kitts/Nevis from September 24-28 against the hosts, Anguilla and St Martin. Once T&T tops the group, they will advance to round two in Cuba from October 24 from which the top two teams will advance to the Digicel Cup Finals, scheduled for Antigua/Barbuda from December 1-16. The top four finishers will advance to the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Last Wednesday, T&T went into the friendly without the likes of Stoke City striker Kenwyne Jones and Racing Genk midfielder Khaleem Hyland while the likes of Ipswich Town captain Carlos Edwards, Columbus Crew midfielder Chris Birchall, Densill Theobald, Willis Plaza, defender Julius James, midfielder Kevan George and Kazakhstan-based defender Robert Primus were not invited. Charles said these players will be considered for future selection. It is unlikely though that the European-based players will be available for the Caribbean Cup encounters. “I thought our performance was average against Canada but it was a decent match to us to prepare for the Digicel Cup,” Charles noted. “We were lacking match practice but we will get there hopefully with a couple more like these. Of course we will be looking at any player who is available. Those players that were not called for this game have not been forgotten. It’s a situation where we wanted to look at a few players to get the campaign going and now we can take it forward,” Charles added.