NATIONAL MEN'S football team coach Terry Fenwick and skipper Khaleem Hyland expressed pleasure with the squad’s overall performance following Thursday’s 3-0 triumph against Guyana in their opening 2022 FIFA World Cup Concacaf Zone Group F qualifier.
At the Estadio Panamericano, San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, a rejuvenated Trinidad and Tobago unit was led to victory by first-half goals from midfielder Levi Garcia (eighth), defender Sheldon Bateau (15th) and forward Ryan Telfer (44th).
The result serves as Fenwick’s first official win as national coach after losing 7-0 to the United States, on debut, in an international friendly in January.
“Obviously very pleased with the result," said Fenwick. "These are my players that want to make football and the football fans back in TT proud again about our performances.
“The general performance was excellent. Very professional, organised, structured. But again, one step at a time. We got another game in three days. But I’m pleased with my team and I’m hoping the public at large (backing) TT will get behind our players and support us,” he said.
Fenwick said the team stuck to its game plan and was able to precisely execute what was need for a crucial win.
The English-born coach had a good mixture of experience and youth on the pitch as he blended 20-year-old Daniel Phillips and inexperienced goalkeeper Nicklas Frenderup among the likes of seasoned starters such as Hyland, Bateau, Garcia, Joevin Jones and Aubrey David.
Jones, however, wasted a golden chance to send TT 3-0 ahead from the penalty spot in the 35th minute. Fenwick rued the missed opportunity but overshadowed Jones’ error with praise for a composed performance.
“I’m really upset that we missed a penalty, in the fashion that we did miss on the rebound. But we had to keep our composure. We were working with a very high press (attack), which we’ve done in TT over the last 12 months.
“From that high press, it’s 100 miles per hour and then we’ve got to slow it down and be composed when we’re on the ball. I thought our passing and movement were excellent.
“We were very direct and got our goals. (Our) set play worked very well with the in-swinging free kick. We’re pleased but this is just the first (win) of hopefully many. One step at a time, get behind us,” he added.
Looking ahead to Sunday’s second qualifier away to Puerto Rico, Fenwick said the team will have a chance to view some of their opponent’s playing style and statistics via WyScout, thanks to the TT Football Association normalisation committee.
Similarly, Hyland showered praises on his teammates for their effort and, more importantly, three points towards TT’s FIFA World Cup qualification campaign.
“I want to say thanks to the players," said the TT captain. "We went out with a game plan. We worked hard from the start to the end.
“It was important for us to go out fast, to get the victory. We need to come back to that standard where we belong.
"Although we missed a penalty, Joevin is a great player and I know he will bounce back from there. The guys worked their socks off and thumbs up to them, to everybody,” the captain said.
Hyland added that, for the past couple days, the team has been working smartly and trying to put their strategy into practice.
Having secured an early 2-0 lead, the skipper credited the squad’s never-say-die attitude which eventually got them over the line.
“We came out with a game plan and stuck to it and worked it until the end. We know the quality of our players. Everyone is in good shape. The local players have been working hard back at home. We just have to keep going forward and build TT going forward,” he said.
On Sunday’s encounter with Puerto Rico, Hyland added, “The next game is very important. We just want to rest up the niggling injuries we have right now.
“Hopefully we can have a safe flight to Puerto Rico and take it from there. We trying to work had to win every game. From now it’s just forward ever, backward never.”