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Trinidad and Tobago versus Canada
World cup qualifier

By TERENCE HILTON CLARKE
(c)copyright

9/9/2000  

THE Trinidad and Tobago national team simply carried on from where it left off against Panama, with a confident and dominant performance against Gold Cup champions Canada in its semi-final round World Cup qualifier, last Sunday.

That 4-0 victory at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain was this country’s most emphatic win over the Canadians at full-international level and the result, coupled with Mexico’s 7-1 mauling of Panama, launched this country into the final round of the World Cup qualifying competition for the third time. The victory came courtesy of a great attacking performance, generated by the midfield, which was complimented by an efficient defensive display. With Russell Latapy having an outstanding match, and with Angus Eve in superb form in the second half, the hapless Canadians always seemed destined to be second best. Even at half-time one got the sense that the contest was already over. Once again, the home side played to the best of its ability and it simply proved too much for opponents that needed to win, but lacked the will.

Coach Ian Porterfield, who wanted his team to continue creating as wide a gap as possible over its rivals, must be satisfied with the manner in which his team did its part in eliminating Canada. With Panama also out, there are now some long-term plans to be made for the final round. The mental preparation for next year begins now. All concerned should be aware of the fact that the competition is not over as yet and that there are still twelve more games to go, including two more away games in this group: against Mexico in Mexico City on October 8 and against Panama in Panama City. The first game should be viewed as a test for Trinidad and Tobago, on whether it can survive the high-altitude confines of Mexico City. Should the national team manage to come through this game intact, then there should be even more confidence going around for the two final round engagements. For the Panama match, it is likely that coach Porterfield will be utilizing the opportunity to give his fringe players a chance to prove themselves. Still, Panama is the weakest team in the group and it will be nice to see Trinidad and Tobago wrapping up the group in emphatic style.

The next task for everyone is to accept the fact that the final round is going to be a tough one: ten games against very difficult competition. Apart from Mexico, there will also be a Jamaican team that has been in resurgent form since the Gold Cup, plus likely qualifiers in Honduras, the USA and Costa Rica. The Mexicans, Americans and Costa Ricans are likely to be designated as the three favourites to qualify, with the other three teams all in with a great chance of making it to the “Big Dance” as well. It is important that this country’s players are well conditioned for the marathon of games ahead. It is also advisable that the TTFF prepare for another round of battles to acquire players. While it is true that some of the players’ clubs are not the most fashionable of units, they all operate under a united philosophy: that it is they who pay the players and that the players’ obligation is, primarily, to them.

Thus, Manchester United coach, Alex Ferguson, will not be happy with the fact that forward Dwight Yorke has returned with an injury and there may be some repercussions to come. There are also the concerns expressed by Anthony Rougier on trying to settle in at Reading: understandable when one considers the issues surrounding his departure from Port Vale. So, all things considered, there is going to be plenty of action in the year ahead, in more ways than one.

It is now up to all concerned to rise to the challenge.
 
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