Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Neveal Hackshaw is urging his team-mates to stick to coach Angus Eve's game plan when they face Guatemala in a crucial Concacaf Nations League A game, at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, Friday. Kick off is 9pm.
TT are top of Group A with two wins from as many matches, and only need three more points to book a spot in the quarter-finals. TT face Curacao away from home in their final group match on October 17.
Two teams from Group A will qualify for the quarterfinals, where seeded teams such as Mexico, USA, Canada and Costa Rica await. From there, six of the eight teams will qualify for the 2024 Copa America.
In a TTFA video on Tuesday, Hackshaw, known for his combative but purposeful play, urged his team-mates to stay focused on the task at hand.
"They (Guatemala) are are not coming to sit back. They want to get back on top. We are the leaders so it's very important to go out there and get the three points and stay on top."
He said it was important for the players not to deviate from Eve's tactics.
"Once coach give us the game plan, everybody must stay focused and stay on board with the game plan. No one try to switch up and do their own thing, and I think everything will be fine."
Hackshaw noted TT's slow starts in their first two matches: a listless first-half performance against Curacao followed by conceding the opening goal in El Salvador. However, he said, "Sometimes it's how you finish, not how you start. We need to start stronger now because it's only gonna get harder from here."
He called for unwavering support from the public on Friday. "We want the fans to come out and support us. We've been doing good. The support of the 12th man out there with us will be important."
Recalled defender Alvin Jones is glad to be back in the national set-up, after being absent from the squad during the last international window.
Jones, 29, was a surprise omission having been a staple in Eve's squad previously and on the heels of a strong season with Club Sando in the inaugural TT Premier Football League.
Jones was among a number of senior players dropped by Eve, including his brother Joevin Jones. Former captain Kevin Molino had also announced his retirement one week before TT's opening game of the new Nations League season. A more youthful TT did admirably in their absence, picking up a 1-0 win against Curacao on September 7 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, before a shock 3-2 victory against El Salvador in San Salvador three days later.
Jones, who boasts over 40 caps for TT, said he was happy to see the national team triumphant, but it was difficult not even being on the sideline.
"Well, representing the country is always an honour for me. I'm very grateful to be back here once more. I'm just excited to be out there Friday and to do my best...I didn't like looking on. I always like to be representing my country."
Jones said the unbeaten start to the Nations League has given the players a pep in their step.
"I think the six points did us good – you can see it in the training. A lot of guys – the confidence is there. I'm excited to be out there with the guys once more.
"For us, every game is a final. It's a very young squad. The energy will be there. I just want us to go out there and express ourselves and come out with the three points."
Concacaf Nations League Group A
Trinidad and Tobago*2*0*0*+2*6