NATIONAL men’s senior football coach Angus Eve said it will be a balancing act whether to field his strongest team against Guatemala in their final group match of the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup or allow other players to play in a competitive environment.
TT will play Guatemala in Group A at the Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, from 10 pm TT time, on Sunday.
In their opening match, TT held Concacaf powerhouse Mexico to a 0-0 draw on July 10.
On Wednesday, TT fell 2-0 to El Salvador and now have just a slim chance of advancing past the group stage.
To advance past the group stage TT will have to defeat Guatemala convincingly and hope Mexico lose to El Salvador in a match that will be played simultaneously. Mexico have a goal difference of +3 compared to a goal difference of -2 for TT.
Speaking to TT Football Association (TTFA) media, Eve said, “It’s a double-edged sword. You can watch it two ways - either you use the game to give more players exposure or you tell yourself let’s finish the tournament on a high note.
“We are in this tournament, but we are in a developmental stage and we are in this tournament but it is a competitive tournament but really and truly we supposed to be in the developmental stage not in a tournament. It is a balancing act that you have to do, so we will have to assess. Do we give players match experience at this level or do we try to win the game to finish on a good note that we could go home a bit more comfortable?”
In a media conference on Saturday night, Eve said he expects a competitive match against Guatemala. “Very good team. They weren’t embarrassed against Mexico, they won’t embarrassed against El Salvador either. We watched both games. I thought that technically they are very good players. You can see that they are well coached and well organised. They won’t be an easy game for us.” Guatemala are at the bottom of the group on zero points after losing 2-0 to El Salvador and 3-0 to Mexico.
Several TT players have only played a limited number of competitive matches since the covid19 pandemic began in early 2020.
Kevin Molino, who captained TT against El Salvador, said, “It is difficult, some guys have not played. Eleven, 12 or 15 players have not played 90 minutes in maybe a year and some two years.” Molino was also speaking to TTFA media.
TT defeated Montserrat and French Guiana earlier this month to book a place in the Gold Cup.
“We are willing to fight for the badge on the jersey. We showed a lot of character especially with the guys coming on against Mexico. It is difficult to play four games in 12 days, but no excuse we should be better.”
Molino felt he should have made more of an impact against El Salvador.
“I made a lot of mistakes (and) I own up to it as the captain and I think (it is) the same for the guys…we deserve to give the fans more, but the good thing about life we have another opportunity to go again and we looking forward to the game on the 18th to give the best possible showing we can.”
Molino said TT football is “heading in the right direction” under the new coaching staff.
“I am proud of the guys…the effort they are giving in a short space of time, gathering all the information that the coaching staff has for us and we just need to keep going. True champions (is) the way how you learn when you fall, get up and go again. We have a bunch of guys with a lot of character and we are going to see it in the game coming up.”