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T&T playing for pride

By Ian Prescott

The promising National Under-23 footballers will not represent Trinidad and Tobago today in their final outing of the failed Brazil 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign as some have suggested because they have not been registered.

Instead, it is up to the players among the 20-member senior squad who lost 2-1 in Guyana on Friday night to salvage some much missing pride by beating the same opponents.

T&T's Soca Warriors play Guyana's Golden Jaguars for a second time in four days from 5 p.m. today at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in the return leg of the CONCACAF Zone qualifying tie.

What was expected to be the climax of the second round is now an exercise in restoring self-pride for the Warriors following Friday's defeat at Guyana's National Stadium.

Guyana (13 points) cannot be caught and have qualified for the third round of CONCACAF qualifying. Even if the Warriors win, they can attain maximum 12 points and finish second in Group B.

But having already achieved the dubious distinction of being the only Trinidad and Tobago national team knocked out of World Cup qualifying by Guyana, the Kenwyne Jones-captained Soca Warriors can at least win and so soothe some of the deep wounds caused by Friday's defeat.

Guyana will be the same--hard-running, tough-defending and counter-attacking. What is expected is that the Warriors will show some of the fight and grit missing four days ago.

For the older Soca Warriors such as Stern John and possibly even Carlos Edwards, it may be the last time they represent Trinidad and Tobago since in the coming months a transition to include several members of the current Under-23 squad is expected.

And even the younger ones also have something to prove to the coaching staff with the current wealth of talent on the horizon.

T&T head coach Otto Pfister led his charges onto the field at Hasely Crawford Stadium on Sunday morning for their first session since the Guyana defeat and skipper Jones stated that after the pain of their recent defeat, the aim is to end the campaign on a high.

"These last couple of days have been extremely challenging for us as players, for the staff and somewhat for the fans too who we've heard from," Jones told Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) media officer Shaun Fuentes.

"There's nothing more that we would like other than to turn this around, but unfortunately we can't. We lost a match on Friday that sent us out of the campaign and now we've had to literally pick ourselves up and put on a brave face and get on with the preparations for this game. It's the least we can do right now and go out there and try to win this match on Tuesday and look ahead to what the future holds for our football," he added.

He said there was a deep sense of sadness within the T&T camp.

"It is sad that our campaign has come to such an abrupt end in the manner that it did. I don't think we played badly at all on Friday. It was a valiant effort, but maybe it was not our best. We had chances to score goals in the game and quite a few and that's football. It's not the result anyone that has anything to do with Trinidad football wanted. We as players are hurting just as bad as the public because our football is our livelihood and our passion," stated Jones

In other T&T team news, management has allowed midfielder Chris Birchall an early departure from the team camp in order for him to return to his US club, LA Galaxy, as they prepare for the MLS Cup final against Houston Dynamo on Sunday.

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