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Hart wants quality opposition for Soca Warriors
With the 2014 World Cup now something of the past, national men’s team head coach Stephen Hart is focused on preparing his team for the Caribbean Cup qualification which will see T&T entering competition at the semi-final round which will be hosted here in October.
Two international dates are scheduled in September and Hart believes it is important that the Soca Warriors play at least one international friendly. The TTFA is currently in discussions with a number of opponents from South America and Europe about possible fixtures.
Hart reflected on the two recent matches against World Cup runner-up Argentina and Iran and stressed the need for the team to continue the momentum in the build up to the Concacaf Gold Cup and 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.
He pointed out that in Concacaf, T&T would be in a situation where back-to-back matches could be played within a week. Having played Argentina and Iran four days apart was ideal for Hart to weigh his options in terms of approach and team selection.
“In Concacaf you would have to play two games within two to three days. It was important to see if the players can carry the same emotions and the same responsibilities into back to back games and I only made two changes for the Iran game instead of changing up the entire team. We were right into the game up until half time. Iran were not better than us at all but they were better prepared and they were physically better prepared and better in the air,” Hart said.
Situations like that serves to prepare a team for competition and the arduous task of World Cup qualification which is why Hart is hoping the team is afforded the opportunity to play similar matches.
Hart said he met with captain Kenwyne Jones and the rest of the squad after the two-match series, reviewing the camp and outlining the intentions and ambitions for the future of the team.
“I met with the players and I said to them that you have played the Asian champions and the South American champions. The standard set by those teams is right up a level. There are two ends of the spectrum in relation to us; Argentina is a world champion and the runner-up and clearly have much more quality than we do and on the other end Iran is a team we are not far off and we can certainly build off these two games towards the 2018 campaign.”
He added that the intensity of the match in Buenos Aires against Lionel Messi and company and having also using the facilities at Corinthians Training Complex in Sao Paulo served to give the players a fair idea of the full experience at the optimum level of international football.
Hart and his coaching staff will be keeping a close eye on the Central American Cup which is being played in the United States in September and will feature potential T&T opponents from Central America at the next Gold Cup and World Cup qualification bid.