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