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Hart: We let the country down

Published: 
Sunday, January 10, 2016
T&T’s Jonathan Glenn, left, and Haiti's Mechak Jerome, right, fight for the ball during a qualifying playoff ahead Copa America Centenario in Panama City, on Friday night. AP Photo

WALTER ALIBEY

“We let the country down tonight.” These were the words of national football coach Stephen Hart after T&T’s disappointing performance at the Copa America Centenario berth match against regional rivals Haiti which the Soca Warriors lost 0-1 in Panama City on Friday night. 

The match was T&T’s sixth attempt at earning a spot at the Copa America Tournament in the United States. The team stumbled at yet another qualiyfing opportunity. 

The result means the Soca Warriors will shift their focus to the month of March for two World Cup Qualifying matches against St Vincent and the Grenadines, one at home and the other away. However, Friday’s contest against Haiti  was clearly disappointed for Hart, who said that his team just did not get it right on the night. 

“Eighty per cent of what we did in training over the past week or so, was to get the offence working, ball possession together, but tonight they lacked that sort of conviction. We didn’t penetrate, we didn’t move the ball around fast enough. Even though we had some chances, it was not enough to put the Haitians under pressure and then to lose on a goal of that nature, was a very bitter pill to swallow. We let down the country tonight.”

Hart’s men enjoyed the better of the exchanges in the opening 45 minutes and really should have scored when Joevin Jones delivered a pin-point cross to Jonathan Glenn inside the six yards box in the 35th minute, but with the goal at his mercy, he fired against the the small figure of the Haiti goalkeeper Steward Ceus, when the word ‘goal’ had been on the lips of many well before he had made contact with the ball. 

Hart and his troops will now move on with majors lessons to be learnt. The Canadian coach wants his men to know that there are consequences when they don’t do what they are suppose to do. 

“Every game, in spite of who the opponents may be, when you don’t do what you are suppose to do in terms of, taking charge of the game, managing the game and taking care of the ball. And you allow the other team to begin to get their confidence in, that anything can happen” Hart explained. 

He said his team is a pretty young team but it was critical for them to know that. He added “Especially if you don’t score when you get the opportunity to, because no team dominates for 90 minutes and therefore in your period of dominance you have to take your chances because you know the other team will get at least one or two chances also” Hart added. 

There was no comfort for Hart that his team played minus a number of key players such as shot midfielder Keron Cummings, striker Kenwyn Jones, Willis Plaza and Kevin Molino among others. He is expecting to have a full strength team for his next few matches. 

The Trinidadian born, Canadian resident said he welcomes a full strength team but made it clear that players have to perform or they will have to find the players that will perform, if they are to advance in the coming qualifiers. The Soca Warriors have garnered four points to date from the world cup qualifiers, following a 2-1 victory against Guatemala on November 13 and a goalless draw against the United States on November 17 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium last year. 

The top three teams from the Concacaf region will advance to the world cup and football pundits believe the Soca Warriors can qualify ahead of the USA should they continue to progress in their performances.