WHILE PLEASED with TT’s 3-0 win over Guyana in their opening 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup qualifier, former national footballer Brent Sancho believes there’s still much to be done in preparation for the bigger competitive challenges which lie ahead.
On Thursday, TT eased past Guyana 3-0 in their Concacaf Zone Group F qualifier at the Estadio Panamericano, San Cristobal, Dominican Republic.
First half goals from in-form midfielder Levi Garcia (eighth), defender Sheldon Bateau (15th) and striker Ryan Telfer (44th) separated the two nations and earned TT three precious points in their opening first round fixture.
Sancho welcomed the squad’s improved performance which came on the heels of a 7-0 drubbing at the hands of USA, on January 31 – TT’s first official international friendly in over a year, owing to the covid19 pandemic.
“It was a good result and a good start to the campaign. I was a bit surprised how poor the Guyanese team was seeing that they’ve been quite a challenge for us throughout the years.
“Taking everything into consideration, there’s still a lot of work to be done. All of the teams in Concacaf that I’ve looked at seem a bit rusty and lack fluidity.
“It’s expected because no one in the Concacaf region outside of USA, Mexico and maybe Costa Rica have played friendlies leading up to this. So we would expect the rust what we’ve seen.
“There are things I think we can do better as it relates to building out of the back (defence) and game control,” said the defender, who was part of the TT team at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.
Sancho thinks the team needs to find ways to become more fluid and dominating on the pitch. The Central FC owner said that it’s still hard to come to terms with the fact that, in 2021, and leading up to the Guyana game, TT weighed doubts on whether they could have pulled off a victory.
According to him, TT usually brushes past Caribbean teams at this phase of the tournament in preparation for tougher opposition in the latter rounds.
“It shows you how far off we have dropped and shows you the kind of work still that needs to be put in place.
“I think a lot of the off-the-field issues did not help and it would have added to the pressure which would have fell on the shoulders of the players heading into this one.
“When we went 3-0 up, I thought we would have come out in the second half and really dominate and press home the advantage.
“I think we struggled in the second period but getting the result was more important. Guyana gifted us the result, in the way they played, because two of the goals were given to us,” he added.
Sancho, however, lauded Garcia’s ability to confidently run at defenders and create goalscoring opportunities.
The former Sports Minister called on Garcia to maintain consistency in his game if he wants to reach his fullest potential.
“I felt the younger players on the night were the ones who impressed, in particularly Levi. I think he has reached a stage in his international career that he now has to put in more consistent performances.
“He is probably playing at the highest level of any TT player and it showed in his performance last night.
“The thing is, like players of that expectation, whether a Stern John or Russell Latapy, those players that they expect to deliver, Levi has to fall into that mode of delivery like they did.
“I think that’s where he’s at now. I was happy with his performance last night. I would like to see it all the time. He has to be a consistent performer for the national team,” Sancho said.
Meanwhile TT face Puerto Rico in their second qualifier match, at home at the Mayaguez Athletics Stadium, on Sunday. They will, however, play on an artificial turf as compared to a grassy surface.
Sancho called for increased sharpness and, like the Guyana game, believes and early opening goal from TT would serve as a good mental advantage for the Terry Fenwick-coached team, playing away from home.
“I do think it is one of those games that we need to focus on and ensure there are no errors. I think the early goal against Guyana helped settle the nerves. If we can get an early goal against Puerto Rico, I think it will put us on the right pathway to get three points.
“The only thing that worried me was that the second half performance (against Guyana) was poor. Normally when you’re playing these kind of games in quick succession, your second half of your first game sets you up for the second game.
“Because that’s the momentum you take into the second game. So I’m a bit concerned that was not there going into this game, which I think would a tough game in Puerto Rico.”