After vital wins over Curacao and El Salvador to start the 2023/24 Concacaf Nations League (CNL) A campaign, TT men's football coach Angus Eve has urged the public to not let their personal feelings about him cloud the excellence of his young team.
He said that more support should be given to the young players who are representing their country in a positive manner.
"(The fans) may not come out and support Angus Eve because they may have an issue with Angus Eve," the TT coach said, during a media briefing at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo on Friday. "Let's support these players who are trying to do something positive for their country and nation. It's extremely important that people come out and support and understand that this is a new beginning.
"The campaign has started like a house on fire, but it's a new beginning. There is a lot more work to be done but we are well-placed and we have a good platform to build on."
Eve again pointed to the spate of violence in the country, and he said the TT footballers are a beacon of hope.
"Our country is in a state where we're losing young people every day through violence and gun violence. And to see young people do something positive for the country (is great) – to see these people go out and give their hearts to their country. It may be a case where we need to come out and support that."
TT sit atop their Nations League group with a maximum six points from two matches, with matches still to come against Guatemala (October 13) and Curacao (October 17) respectively. With a win vs Guatemala, TT can book a spot into the CNL quarter-finals where they will meet one of the four seeded Concacaf nations; Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico or the US.
Eve stressed on the importance of the 12th man, and he urged the TT supporters to give their players that extra lift when they face Guatemala at the Hasely Crawford Stadium next month.
"Any team at home is dangerous. Some places don't think home advantage means anything, but it means a lot to these fans in (the Concacaf region). We need to capitalise on home advantage and we need to capitalise on this start we have gotten.
"Hopefully, the fans will come out and celebrate these kids and push them forward so they can continue to achieve excellence."
Despite their perfect start to the group, Eve says survival in Nations League A remains the first goal.
"If I ask any of you here today if you feel we would've been in this position, you'd say no. We are in a good place. We are in a place where we didn't expect to be, especially with what we're trying to do.
"Our first inclination would have been trying to stay in (Nations League) A, just like any team who (has been promoted) to the Premier League. We have to take it one game at a time. If we get a point, we are guaranteed a spot in the Nations League A. If we get three points, then who knows, the sky's the limit for us."
Following a disastrous 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup where TT made a group stage exit after heavy losses to Jamaica (4-1) and the US (6-0), team captain and playmaker Kevin Molino announced his retirement on September 1, despite being named in the provisional squad for the Nations League.
Veteran Costa Rican-based defender Aubrey David was then named as Soca Warriors captain, and was subsequently selected in the Nations League A Best XI for the September window. Eve commended David's leadership.
"Aubrey David's leadership was exemplary. You heard the things he said and you saw his actions on the pitch. You would have seen how he conducted himself."
The 51-year-old coach says his players are focused and have put the Gold Cup disappointment behind them.
"We believe in ourselves and we believe that if we go out and do the work we can do, and match these teams' intensity, we can compete at this level."