Trinidad and Tobago’s Under 20 Men’s team will have final throw of the dice as they seek to push themselves through to the playoffs of the CONCACAF Finals when they take on United States at the Montego Bay Sports Complex on Wednesday from 6:30pm TT time.
Two successive defeats to Guatemala and Panama threw T&T (4 points) off course after they had played undefeated in their opening two matches and all seemed lost following the loss to Panama. However the competition rules seem to be favouring the young “Soca Warriors” as despite their inferior goal difference to the US, a win for T&T on Wednesday will push them to seven points, same as the US and T&T will advance on the better head to head.
This bit if of news brought renewed hope to the T&T camp as head coach Derek King pointed out.
“This has given us a lot of hope going into the US game,” King told TTFA Media.
“We really felt that it was all over after the loss to Panama. The players were really down and disappointed because they had high hopes of doing well here. When we heard that we can still advance into the playoffs it lifted the spirits of everyone on the team,” he added.
T&T will be without Akeem Humphrey and forward Kadeem Corbin, who were both ejected against Panama while Duane Muckette is nursing a hamstring injury and Keon Goddard is recovering from an ankle blow.
King still expects T&T to go all out in the must win encounter against a US team that has grown in confidence after their previous 2-0 win over Jamaica.
“We will be missing a couple players because of the red cards but we are still very much hopeful of giving it our best. We know what USA has to offer. I think if we can stay disciplined and compact and be smart in our approach and take our chances, then we can still pull off a win and go through,” King said.
US head coach Tab Ramos said he does not expect T&T to be easy opponents.
“We know them very well and we’ve watched all their matches. Trinidad is a very good team. I think they’ve been very unfortunate in this group, because I think they’re probably a team – just like we are – they’re a team that should be fighting for that second or third spot. I like their team. I think it’s going to be an incredibly difficult match for us. But that’s the way it goes; it’s going to be tough for both,” Ramos said.
T&T senior men’s team head coach Stephen Hart has been with the team in Jamaica and the US too have been getting advice from US Senior Men’s coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who said the team’s struggles in their opening two games was an indication of CONCACAF becoming tougher every year.
Klinsmann – who Skyped with the Under-20 team, said “It’s not an easy path,” he said. “It’s a very difficult path coming through CONCACAF. We know that, coming through World Cup qualifiers, and the Gold Cup is not easy. Everybody is pretty close to each other. [The Americans] gotta go through that.
“I think the talent pool is good,” he added. “We can only help and develop wherever we can, and then hope they get the job done. But I’m very positive they’ll get it done.”
Panama (12 pts) and Guatemala (10 pts) meet in the earlier match and a draw will qualify Panama to the FIFA Under 20 World Cup in New Zealand while a win for Guatemala will see them advance. Both teams are already guaranteed a place in the playoffs should either of them lose this match.