"The Pressure won’t get to us.”
That was the indication coming from the Trinidad and Tobago camp at the Grotto Bay Hotel in Bermuda on Saturday after the “Soca Warriors” completed their final training session before Sunday’s crucial 2010 World Cup qualifier second round encounter against Bermuda at the National Sports Center.
Head coach Francisco Maturana and his team got use of the match ground for one hour and used it to fine tune their approach for the match which T&T has to aim for a win by at least two goal margin.
Click for Video T&T Soca Warriors in BermudaThe possibilities based on the home and away rules are that if T&T are to win by a 2-0 margin then they will progress to the semi-final stage. If T&T wins even by a 3-2 margin they will also progress based on scoring more goals away from home. If the score reads 2-1 in favour of T&T after regulation time then there will be thirty minutes of extra time (no golden goal) and penalty kicks if necessary. A 1-0 win for T&T or a draw will see Bermuda advance and T&T out.
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Maturana remained in good spirits over his team’s capabilities after observing his front men work on their finishing during the latter half of the session.
“I think we are ready for the game. You can see that the preparation has been serious and each players knows what is necessary at this stage. We are very focused at the moment and when the match comes then it becomes time for us to change the result around in our favour. We must not allow Bermuda to play the game at the pace which they like but we must do it in relation to what we have to achieve on the day and there is only one game for us to do this,” Maturana told TTFF Media.
Sunderland midfielder Carlos Edwards said he feeling was obvious among all the players as to what the reaction would be should T&T fail to advance.
“We would be devastated and it would be a nightmare if we were to get knocked out at this stage. It would be absolutely devastating for myself, the players, the federation and the country especially after all the hard work that has been put in since 2006. Hopefully we can live to fight another day and continue the journey after tomorrow (Sunday),’ Edwards added.
“But at the moment it’s in our hands and it makes no sense dwelling on the past. The guys are upbeat at the moment and everyone is bubbling in anticipation of the game. The vibes is second to none. We need to be ready at least a day before and I think that’s where we are right now. There’s always pressure to deliver but I relish the challenge and I’m looking forward to it.”
T&T will play in white in front of a sold out stadium where some 5,200 fans are expected to be on hand. FIFA Vice President Jack Warner along with TTFF General Secretary Richard Groden, Vice Presidents Rudy Thomas, Lennox Watson and Raymond Tim Kee all stopped by the team camp on Saturday to extend best wishes to the team.
“All I can ask is that you play the game to the best of your ability. Each player knows what he has to do and we remain confident in the ability of the team,” Warner said.
Dating back to 2001, T&T played Bermuda in a friendly at the same venue for Sunday’s match, coming away 5-0 winners with John netting a double and Dwight Yorke also among the scorers. In 2005, T&T won 1-0 and drew 2-2 in two other friendlies. When both teams met in Trinidad in 2005, T&T came out 1-0 and 4-0 winners.
Bermuda, the oldest and most populous remaining British overseas territory with a population of just over 66,000 was buzzing with activity on Saturday morning as hundreds of persons lined up near the Bermudan FA offices to grab the last set tickets on sale.
Bermuda has the world's highest acreage of golf courses as a percentage of its total landmass with its two most popular footballers being Shaun Goater and Clyde Best. Now current team captain Omar Shakir said his side was highly motivated to hold off the visitors and improve its popularity as a footballing nation.
"They have put extra pressure on themselves by not giving us any respect before the first leg and then not giving us any credit afterwards," said Shakir.
"They expected to sweep us aside. I believe they did underestimate us, but they won't make the same mistake again, so we are in for a much more difficult game.
"It would be very humbling for them to be beaten by lowly Bermuda given what they think about us at this point. They won't want to go back to Trinidad with their tails between their legs."
The game will be aired live in local radio stations 105FM, Power 102 FM and I95.5FM.
Kick off time is 6:30 pm T&T Time/7:30pm Bermudan time.(June 21, 2008)
T&T 18-man squad: Marvin Phillip, Jan Michael Williams, Dennis Lawrence,Makan Hislop, Keyeno Thomas, Michael Edwards Osei Telesford, Kern Cupid, Aurtis Whitley (captain), Carlos Edwards, Stephan David, Khaleem Hyland, Keon Daniel, Kevon Carter, Jerol Forbes, Jason Scotland, Stern John, Darryl Roberts, standby – Kareem Smith