An irate Trinidad and Tobago football team coach Dennis Lawrence blasted his team’s first half display against Honduras on Friday night, describing it as poor, as the squad’s hopes for a place in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia faded badly after a 2-1 defeat, in their CONCACAF Zone Final Round qualifier, at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.
Alex Lopez (sixth minute) and Alberth Elis (16th) were the early goal-getters for Honduras to put the hosts under tremendous pressure while Joevin Jones (67th) replied for the hosts.
Also on Friday, Mexico edged Panama 1-0 while Costa Rica got the better of their hosts United States 2-0.
Currently, after seven matches, Mexico are assured of a spot in Russia with 17 points, followed by Costa Rica (14), United States and Costa Rica (eight apiece), Panama (seven) and TT (three).
With three games left, against Panama on Tuesday followed by encounters against US and Mexico, it will take a miracle for the Trinidad and Tobago team to earn a place in Russia.
“The first half we were very poor,” said Lawrence during the post-game media conference. “It’s not what I expected. I don’t understand what happened to the boys. I don’t know if the occasion got to them but it wasn’t a first half that we expected.”
He continued, “It’s no point giving away two goals and trying to get back in the second half. We gave ourselves a mountain to climb.
“Every time that Honduras got into our box, we looked like we were going to concede.”
With regular captain Kenwyne Jones out with a knee injury, goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams wore the armband. But Lawrence was displeased with the lack of leadership and inspiration on the field of play.
“In the first half, we were looking at the senior players to grab hold of the situation, calm things down and ensure we got a hold of the situation,” said the TT coach. “It was just poor in the first 45 minutes.”
Looking ahead to the Panama game he said, “We all need to have a look at ourselves and try and see if we can correct this quickly.”
The game was played in front of a crowd estimated at a mere 5,000, showing there was no need for the temporary bleachers present, while the lights on the south-eastern pylon were non-functional.
This game was moved from the customary Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo as a means to having a sold-out crowd and better atmosphere which failed to materialise.
“Lawrence, however, made it clear that “the venue was not an issue. The performance of our team, that was an issue.”
The ex-national defender also hinted at changes within the team, following the Panama fixture.
“At the moment we’ve got a squad to go into the next game. When that is over, (the technical staff) will continue to look at the local players to see if there is any available to make the squad. I’ll continue to look at the foreign players, the players that have not represented Trinidad and Tobago but hold a Trinidad and Tobago passport because we need to improve, we need to start developing players to understand what we require of them.”
Joevin’s younger brother Alvin was a half-time replacement for Aubrey David, but was sent off by referee Fernando Guerrero of Mexico for a hard tackle on midfielder Alfredo Mejia in the 57th.
Explaining the switch in personnel, the TT coach said, “(It) was a tactical substitution. I felt they were getting too much joy on that side so I brought Alvin on to see if he could stop (that).”