Hart cites inexperience for T&T loss
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC):
Trinidad and Tobago men's senior football team head coach, Stephen Hart, has identified inexperience as the key factor in Friday's 1-0 loss to Panama, but said he was encouraged by the performances of some of the younger players.
Hart packed the 20-man squad with as many as nine debutants, including teenagers Neveal Hackshaw, Shannon Gomez and Akeem Garcia, as he started the process of building for the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup and the subsequent 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
"I think inexperience showed. It took us the first 35 minutes or so to find our legs and get our working relationships going," Hart said.
"I asked the players to do some things and they tried to do that in the second half. In the end, Panama's experience showed and they made us chase the ball a lot, mainly because everything was new for us - new lines playing together, new players playing together.
"It was either we were playing it too quick or we were playing too slow. But when you look at some of the performances of some of the players, you can see that they can push for spots for selection."
Roman Torres scored the decisive goal in the 16th minute, heading home Ricardo Buitrago's clinical cross, to put the visitors ahead at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
They then dominated possession and chances and T&T needed the brilliance of second-choice goalkeeper Marvin Phillip to keep the 1-0 scoreline intact.
Despite the defeat, Hart said international friendlies would continue to be important in allowing team members to get more familiar playing with each other.
"That's why we played this game. The intensity of our training was different. You can see we were slow to close the ball down in comparison to them (Panama)," he explained.
"They were fast in ones and twos, especially when the ball went wide. But that's the learning. That's why you play games like this. It was a huge learning curve for our players."