TT will not be intimidated by the fact that they will face a Panama team that is coming off a World Cup appearance at Russia 2018. Both teams will face off with each other in the Group D Gold Cup 2019 opener at the Allianz Field in Minnesota, United States on Tuesday.
TT defender Alvin Jones said, “I don’t think we have anything to be intimidated by. Yes Panama went to the last World Cup but we were able to get a win against them in the home qualifier. The key to us is to take it step by step and game by game. You always want to start with a win so we will be definitely going for that.”
Jones, younger brother of TT midfielder Joevin Jones, continued, “The Japan game showed that we can match the top teams once we stay organised and disciplined. We know what we need to do in terms of our attack and we’ve been working on it. The group is going to be tough but it is not a challenge that we are not capable of overcoming. We have to work on what we need to in these next few days and take it into the match on Tuesday.”
His US-based teammate Leston Paul noted, “Everyone is fully aware of the importance of this tournament. I am looking forward to it just as any other player. We all know this is the top level tournament of the region. The preparations have been good.
“Not just the Panama game but we had some quality friendlies before where we had to test ourselves against Wales, Iran and Thailand. Now it’s just about fine tuning and having everyone on the same page,” Paul added. “My love for the sport and the national team keeps me going. Football is my motivation.”
Asked what keeps him inspired for the game, the central midfielder replied, “So far qualifying for the Under-17 World Cup in 2007 and then the Under-20s in 2009 but at the senior level it would have been the win over the US in 2017.
“This, being my first Gold Cup, I am hugely motivated as I think we can do something of great significance here. We know about the rematch with the US but we need to start strongly against Panama and I think we have what it takes to start on the right note,” he said. “We want to win this Gold Cup. That is how high we’ve set the bar for ourselves.”