T&T aiming to score ‘double goal’
Stephen Hart, head coach of Trinidad and Tobago's men's national football team, says they are primed and ready for their first taste of action in this year's Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Men's Caribbean Cup football championship against CuraÁao, in the first game of a double-header in Group A today.
The match takes place at the Montego Bay Sports Complex, starting at 5:30 p.m.
The second match will see defending champions Cuba taking on French Guiana at 8:30 p.m.
The championship will run from today through to November 18 and all the action will be at the Montego Bay Sports Complex.
Hart told The Gleaner yesterday that while he was pleased with the facilities, his squad is not settled just yet, as some members are yet to arrive in the island, but he remains confident, nonetheless, of a positive start.
"It will be tough going in our group. Cuba, the champions, a known quantity, I think though that this CuraÁao team is really going to surprise some people," Hart noted.
"They are a good side and not much is known about them, but we will be ready for the challenge, as we are confident of starting this championship with a win in our first match," he said.
This will be the Soca Warriors' 18th appearance at the Caribbean Cup, the most by any nation. They have lifted the title a record nine times, while it will be CuraÁao's first time in the championship, as a result of the dissolution of the Netherland Antilles.
Hart identified reaching the final of the championship and qualifying for the 2015 Gold Cup - which is to be held in the United States - as twin priorities.
"We have a double goal for this tournament, really, and that is to qualify for the Gold Cup; but first, we must reach at least the final here," Hart said.
The top four teams will automatically qualify for the Gold Cup.
The Soca Warriors will be captained by Cardiff City's Kenwyne Jones, a forward of known quality. Kevin Molino (Orlando City FC), an attacking midfielder, has the most goals (nine) for the Trinidadians in this squad, and his prowess will be crucial to their prospects.
CuraÁao's Ettiene Silee, their technical director, said he likes his team's chances against the former champions.
"I think we have the potential to do well. A number of our players play abroad, and that gives us some solidity," he said.
"Against Trinidad, we must be patient and play to our strengths. They are a good team, but we are confident of doing a good job," said Silee.
A win for either country will set them up well for the remainder of the group stage, with the winner from both groups set to contest the final. The team finishing in the runner-up positions will contest the third-place game.
The best third-place team will advance directly to the Gold Cup play-offs.