With all the threats laid at the feet of headcoach Russell Latapy over the past few weeks, and the idea of assessing matches in a win-loss manner, it would not surprise me if the Soca Warriors take the first position in the group competition which kick-off this afternoon at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella, at 5 pm. Already, I can hear a few shouts of disagreement followed by the fact that the team drew with Guyana, and lost to Jamaica recently. Having seen the game against Jamaica on October 10 in Kingston, I recognised some progress in certain elements of our game which were not addressed in previous matches. I prefer to make a judgement of the local team on the basis of what I saw in the Jamaica match. Yes, I understand inconsistency, but one must also recognise the improved features and view them as part of the overall plan. It is my hope that a member of the coaching staff is mandated to take a close look at all opponents and utilise the knowledge in order to reduce the effectiveness of opposing teams, all of which do not have a great history of toppling the Soca Warriors.
Making comments about winning and the team playing for each other are inspirational but must be accompanied by specific plans which must be implemented strategically on the field of play. Playing at home must mean an advantage for T&T, where most of the players ply their trade on a regular basis for local clubs. The selection process needs careful attention. I believe that the use of two inexperienced central defenders in an away game against a team of Jamaica's quality, had brought some indecisiveness between the two youngsters followed by some lack of confidence in each other during the course of the game. An experienced Julius James should have accompanied one of the youngsters, while a more stable defense-line in the centre of the field needs a solid deep midfield ballwinner, whose distribution of passes must control the majority of attacking plays. The experience of Trent Noel seems the appropriate choice for that job, if only because Osei Telesford has not been considered good enough for this squad.
The inclusion of the now fit Hector Sam on the right will be essential, especially as Devon Jorsling appears to be at the top of his game. What a pity the leading goalscorer of last year in the T&T Pro League Kerry Baptiste has lost his way (temporarily, we hope) which may cause coach Latapy to go in search of Jagdeosingh, the next best striker in the team. The coaching staff seems sweet on the ability of the left-footed Keon Daniel, but his performances seem insufficient to command a place in the Puerto Rico Islanders starting outfit in recent Champions League play and by extension, moderate performances for the local squad. Having said all of that, assessments of opponents and game plan will be key to defeat the opposition, together with specific instructions added to superior talent of our players to take us to the final round in Martinique. Good luck, Soca Warriors.