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T&T opens Gold Cup against El Salvador
T&T have been drawn alongside Honduras, El Salvador and Haiti in Group B of the Concacaf Gold Cup and will play their opening game at the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey against El Salvador on July 8.
The groups were announced at a press conference hosted by Concacaf at Soldier Field, Chicago, yesterday, and was attended by T&T Football Federation (TTFF) president Raymond Tim Kee, co-head coach Hutson Charles and team manager William Wallace.
T&T will play its second game against Haiti at the Sunlife Stadium in Miami on July 12 before travelling to face Honduras at the BBVA Stadium in Houston. The top two teams from each of the three groups and the two best third place finishers will advance to the quarterfinals which takes place from July 20. The Gold Cup final is slated for July 28 at Soldier Field, Chicago.
T&T head coach Hutson Charles, after hearing the announcements in Chicago, expressed his optimism about T&T’s chances at the Gold Cup. “It’s a good group. These are opponents we have competed well against in the past and I feel that once we prepare well and we have our best team possible on the pitch then we can definitely fancy our chances of getting positive results and progressing beyond the group stage,” Charles said.
“It’s been over 12 years since we got out of the group stage. The team did it in 2000 and I feel the players and the supporters must believe that we can repeat that feat in 2013. The key to getting through will be good preparations and we will have to step it up to achieve a level of success that we’ve missed out on in the past. We have a program to follow with the build-up in terms of our line-up of international friendlies and the players we are looking at and we intend to stay focused and work hard towards ensuring we stick to our plans,” Charles added.
Caledonia AIA midfielder Densill Theobald feels the draw could not have been better suited for T&T.
“I remember we had El Salvador in the last Gold Cup and we made a good start against them but we couldn’t hold on. Silvio Spann scored a brilliant free kick to put us ahead. We also played USA and Guatemala. No group is an easy one but I feel good about this group with Haiti, El Salvador and Honduras,” Theobald said. Ipswich Town midfielder Carlos Edwards wants the “Soca Warriors” to approach the tournament realising from the onset the significance it holds in getting T&T back on the footballing map.
“We have a great opportunity here to raise some eyebrows with a good, solid performance at the Gold Cup. We’ve shown that we could compete against all of these teams in the past and if we can get the right squad together and prepare well then I think we can go there and compete for one of the two spots up for grabs for the quarterfinals,” said the former Sunderland player.
T&T has played in seven Gold Cup tournaments with its best ever showing being at the 2000 tournament when it advanced to the semifinal before bowing out 1-0 to Canada. T&T secured wins over Costa Rica and Guatemala at that tournament after losing the opening match to Mexico. According to Concacaf, tickets to all Gold Cup matches will be available to the general public starting next Thursday at 10 am (local time in all markets) by visiting www.GoldCup.org. Special pre-sales will be available starting today, March 14, at many of the participating Gold Cup cities.
Concacaf Gold Cup
Group A: Mexico, Panama, Canada, Martinique
Group B: Honduras, El Salvador, T&T, Haiti
Group C: USA, Costa Rica, Belize, Cuba
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