On the move: Trinidad and Tobago left-winger Marcus Joseph, right, takes on New Zealand’s Bill Tuiloma. The teams played to a 0-0 draw in a friendly international on Tuesday at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. —Photo: Robert Taylor
T&T coach, captain see improvement in Soca Warriors
Ian Prescott email@example.com
While New Zealand head coach Ricki Herbert is contented with his team’s performance against the “Soca Warriors” on Tuesday night at Hasely Crawford Stadium, his opposite number, Trinidad and Tobago’s Stephen Hart, would like to see more from his players.
Hart saw the home draw as another step forward in the rebuilding process towards the 2018 World Cup. He used six changes, compared to a standard three from the New Zealand coach.
At halftime, Marvin Phillip replaced Jan Michael Williams in the T&T goal.
Hart also gave USA-based midfielder Kevan George, Atuallah Guerra, Hughtun Hector, Marcus Joseph and promising Central FC striker Rundell Winchester a run at various points in the second half.
“In terms of managing the ball and moving it around, you could see (progress). But, at times it was too slow, especially if you are going to switch the ball from side to side,” Hart told the media following the match. “The objective of doing that is to open up the other team and to isolate people in one-on-one situations. When we did get into those situations, the wide players were a bit hesitant to do what was necessary, to take some risk and take players on and make them have to defend. I tried to change that by changing both wide players, but at the end of the day it didn’t happen.”
“I don’t think it’s a matter of looking for players,” he added. “I think it’s a matter of the players we have understanding their qualities and playing to those qualities,” Hart said.
Hart noted that New Zealand also made things difficult for his team by taking a set defensive posture, but felt T&T needed to be better, since they will meet similar tactics in World Cup qualifying.
“I had a feeling they would come to play the game they would need to in the qualification,” Hart said. “They are away from home. They played with a solid block and just waited for us to make any mistakes and try to probably catch us on a counterattack off a set play.”
“As for us, we didn’t move the ball side to side quick enough to isolate our players in the wide area and get some penetration from wide,” Hart said. “I don’t think we penetrated enough. I don’t think we created enough chances, I don’t think we got enough shots on goal to end up scoring.
“But, it’s really hard to play against a team that is not coming forward, and you don’t want to throw yourself forward and leave yourselves (open) to the counterattack.”
T&T captain Kenwyne Jones felt his team had a cagey start, but saw continued overall progress by the team.
“New Zealand, of course, they are preparing for the playoffs and they came prepared to play the way they were going to play,” Jones said. “I am quite pleased with the way we did some things. Hopefully in the future we can build on it and be better,” Jones said.
“The good thing about it is that we have a future and we have something to build on.”
For Herbert, choosing T&T as their lone CONCACAF opponent–they face fourth-place qualifiers Mexico in next month’s FIFA intercontinental 2014 Brazil World Cup playoff–was good because the Caribbean team has played against and beaten teams like Mexico in World Cup qualifiers.
Herbert did not yet know that Mexico would be the confirmed opponent, and after playing T&T, scurried back to the hotel to see the final CONCACAF qualification round. Apart from on the plane ride back home, he will not see his players until just before next month’s playoff against Mexico.
“I’ll jump in a car and go back and watch the conclusion of the CONCACAF round,” Herbert told reporters at the post-match press conference.
“We are off to an early start (tomorrow). I think we are departing here at four o’clock (morning). Probably got a 35-hour trip to New Zealand. You can imagine when you live in the best part of the world that you are going to travel far. It will be a quiet night,” Herbert said. “Look forward to seeing the players in three to four weeks time.”