FORMER TT footballer Brent Sancho was unimpressed with the national team’s display against hosts Puerto Rico at the Mayaguez Athletics Stadium, Mayaguez, on Sunday.
TT and Puerto Rico played to a 1-1 draw in their 2022 FIFA World Cup Concacaf Zone Group F fixture, with Joevin Jones scoring for TT in the 54th minute, and substitute Ricardo Rivera equalising for Puerto Rico in the 72nd.
Sancho said on Monday, “It was a disappointing result and an even more disappointing performance. I thought that the players looked tired, (they) lacked energy. From a team perspective, they lacked purpose and they looked second best for most of the afternoon. I think (goalkeeper Nicklas Frenderup) put in a Man of the Match display. I was disappointed that we never changed the course of the game.”
TT defeated Guyana 3-0 on Thursday, at the Estadio Panamericano, San Cristobal, Dominican Republic but struggled on the artificial surface at Mayaguez on Sunday.
However, Sancho refused to blame the surface in Puerto Rico for TT’s subpar performance.
“Both teams have to play on it,” he said. “A lot of the players, at some point of their career, would have played on artificial turf. Jones played his entire (2020) season on turf with Seattle.
“I think where the turf would have been a factor is that it does wear and tear you,” continued the ex-TT defender.
“I was very surprised they went with the same team. The majority of them played so many minutes in the last game, to come in such a short space of time and play a next set of minutes, I thought that was strange, particularly when you have a huge travelling squad. I thought they would have tried to rotate and bring some fresh legs. That really surprised me, the team selection.”
The four substitutes used by TT coach Terry Fenwick on Sunday against Puerto Rico – Duane Muckette, Jabari Mitchell, Willis Plaza and Andre Boucaud, were not used against Guyana.
According to Sancho, “Muckette and Plaza, I think, should have started (against Puerto Rico). It didn’t make sense bringing in a 36-year-old Boucaud and not playing him at all.”
But the Central FC owner acknowledged, “They looked very tired, especially in the middle of the park. Everything was very slow in our build-up, compared to the Puerto Ricans who were snapping about (on) the pitch and who were moving the ball faster than us.
“To add to that, throughout the whole game, we never changed our approach. We stuck with that particular formation, we never changed or tried to use some variants tactically to give the Puerto Ricans a different look. They clearly were double-teaming Levi Garcia. I would have played him through the middle at some point.”
Did he think Boucaud’s introduction was a signal that TT were satisfied with a draw against Puerto Rico, instead of using an attacking option to seek full points?
Sancho replied, “I think we lost the impetus through the team selection. The way the game started to evolve, we wouldn’t have been able to push for a winner. It started so badly for us. If there was any time to make a change, I would have done it at half-time, play three up front or three at the back, give them a different look.
“We have to give the Puerto Ricans some credit because they did their homework, in the way they approached us. We went in with the same approach against Guyana and it didn’t work. I think the horse had already bolted the stable, later on in the game.
“In the second half, it looked like there would only be one winner. If you were a gambling man, you would have probably said Puerto Rico are the ones who would have gone on to win.”
About Frenderup’s performances against Guyana and Puerto Rico, the former Sports Minister pointed out, “I still believe that Marvin Phillip is a very talented goalkeeper, and (Adrian) Foncette for that matter. Frenderup has (come) in and done very well thus far.
“We’re truly blessed with talented goalkeepers. During the World Cup, we had three very talented goalkeepers,” he continued, referring to Kelvin Jack, Shaka Hislop and Clayton Ince. “As a former player, I would feel safe with any one of that three that I went to the World Cup with, in the goal. I think it’s a similar situation here now.
“I’m sure, during the course of this campaign, they would continue to push and strive, and give each other competition. It’s one of the few bright spots, coming out of these two games.”