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Sunday 23 September 2018
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Stern John looks to lift TT spirits

Trinidad and Tobago’s Sheldon Bateau, left, and Honduras’ Romell Quioto vie for the ball last Friday in a World Cup qualifier at the ATo Boldon Stadium, Couva.

Trinidad and Tobago’s footballers are left with no other option but to go into tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier against Panama at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez with a positive outlook that can force nothing but a victory.

Following the teams’s last training session at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva yesterday morning before their departure for Panama City, head coach Dennis Lawrence had before him a 23-man squad that was slowly dusting themselves off and regrouping before their next assignment. The campaign has come down to this – their 2018 Russia World Cup ambitions could be officially over after 90 minutes vs Panama.

TT’s coaching staff sought to lift the spirits of the camp yesterday from the tremendous disappointment following their horrid showing in a 2-1 loss to Honduras on Friday. Assistant coach Stern John recalled in the 2006 campaign facing Guatemala at home and needing a result.

John netted a double in a memorable late 3-2 victory which saw Russell Latapy also return to the squad.

“It’s not impossible,” John told TTFA Media. “I’ve been there before, we’ve been there before as players and as a nation so we know what it is to comeback from the dead. I remember looking at the clock around the 80th minute and thinking something has to happen but it’s not looking good at all for us. But we had that belief and we didn’t throw the towel in at any point. I think it’s a similar scenario now just that we know what the situation is before the first whistle goes,” John said.

“We’ve got to go there thinking the result is within reach but we have to pull it all together and fight it out right down until the last whistle. The squad has players that can help us get the result we need in Panama. But mental strength and a desire to do it is what we’ll have to show on Tuesday,” he added. Experienced current national team defender Radanfah Abu Bakr opened the scoring for TT in a 2-1 win over Panama at the same venue in a friendly in 2015. And looking at the scenario from a team standpoint, he knows it’s make or break for the team on Tuesday.

“This could be the last World Cup campaign for a lot of us. Some of us are approaching 30 or over 30 already so we know this may be our last shot. It’s of course mathematically possible, We have to get three points against Panama and taking that momentum into the last two games. We have to recognise that this is our last chance,” he said.

Kick off tomorrow is 9:05pm (10:05pm TT time).

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