TT men’s football team coach Dennis Lawrence has blamed defensive lapses for the squad’s defeat to Panama, in their opening Group D match in the Concacaf Gold Cup, on Tuesday evening.
Panama scored two second-half goals en route to a 2-0 Gold Cup win in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
After a lacklustre first half, Panama took the lead in the 53rd minute when they intercepted a pass deep in opposition territory before Armando Cooper netted his first Gold Cup goal.
Panama doubled their advantage in the 68th minute through Edgar Barcenas after TT goalkeeper Marvin Phillip had blocked several shots in quick succession.
During the post-game media conference, Lawrence said, “I didn’t feel there was much in the game,” said Lawrence, at the post-game press conference. “The two critical moments in the game (were the) two ‘soft’ goals. We’ve dug ourselves in a bit of a hole now which means we have to start to think about getting two wins from the next two games.”
TT will face the US on Saturday and Guyana four days later.
“That’s international football,” added the TT coach. “If you don’t take your chances and you give away sloppy possession, you can get hurt.”
Kevin Molino, who plays for Minnesota United in the MLS (who uses the Allianz Field as their home ground), had a sub-par performance.
According to Lawrence, “We changed our shape today a bit, tried to be a bit more offensive (and) put in a ‘number 10’ to try and see if we could create more chances. We got in some good situations, never put the ball in the back of the net and then we made two errors which we got punished (for) and we lost the game and came away with nothing.
“Kevin has been out for a while but when we come to his home stadium, I think it would have been foolish not to try to take advantage of that situation,” noted the former TT central defender. “He got in a good goal scoring position, where if he had been a bit sharper he would have taken it a bit quicker. So Kevin did alright and he will build as the tournament goes on.”
Molino is hopeful of a change of fortunes against the US on Saturday. “I think we have what it takes in the locker room to win the game,” said the central midfielder.
Team captain Khaleem Hyland pointed out, “I believe in all the guys and the staff. We just have to work hard and leave everything up to God.”
And Levi Garcia, who started the game as the ‘false nine’ (centre forward), said, “It is a great challenge but football is played on the day. Hopefully we can come and give it our best game.”