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‘Warriors’ hunt historic Copa spot

Friday, January 8, 2016
Members of the T&T Soca Warriors listen to coach Stephen Hart prior to their final training session at the Maracana Stadium, Panama City, yesterday. Photo courtesy: TTFA Media

T&T’s Soca Warriors will have it all to play for when they face off with Haiti in a win or nothing Copa America Centenario qualifying match at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez from 6:30pm (TT time) today. Cuba takes on hosts Panama in the second game from 8pm.

At stake is a place in the historic Copa America Centenario where some of the world’s best team with their marquee players will be participating. The likes of Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, United States and Costa Rica will be awaiting the winner of the encounter. It is surely where Radanfah Abu Bakr and his teammates will want to be in June.

“Yeah, no doubt about it, our ultimate objective is to win and we are hoping to take care of business before it gets down to penalties,” Abu Bakr said, following an early morning training session at the Maracana Artificial surface stadium yesterday.

Skipper Kenwyne Jones and Sheldon Bateau are missing due to club commitments while Keron Cummings, Justin Hoyte and Willis Plaza are all out through injury. But the team has several players who have carried their weight in 2015 such as Joevin Jones, Cordell Cato, Abu Bakr, goalkeepers Jan Michael Williams and Marvin Phillip, Andre Boucaud, Kevan George, Daneil Cyrus, Aubrey David, Mekeil Williams, Khaleem Hyland and Jonathan Glenn among others with the likes Neveal Hackshaw, Jomal Williams and Shahdon Winchester capable of adding strong support.

“We’ve had some good times together and the sessions have been intense. I think we’re well prepared. One of the key aspects going for us over the last year is the player pool and the guys who have stepped in when a few other players have been injured, suspended or not available and I think it will be the same again tomorrow. We have enough talented players and the attitude is right,” Abu Bakr added.

Hart commented: “I think we have to do what we do well, be consistent with it, minimise our errors in crucial parts of the field where we could be punished and understand that this game will be a tight one and can possibly be won in the second half so we have to manage it properly.

“It’s the nature of the game and we’ve practiced the penalty kicks. We know who are the responsible shooters but in reality when it comes to that situation it’s who feels they can kick. I cannot tell somebody to go and kick and their frame of mind is not once confidence. I will try as best as possible not to reach that situation in our favour.”

T&T will play in all white and it was announced at the pre-game match coordination meeting that cautions or red cards for the winning team will carry over to the Copa America while the same will carry over to the next official international match or World Cup qualifier for the losing team from today’s encounter.