TRINIDAD Y TOBAGO: High standard - EntornoInteligente

Entornointeligente.com / Trinidad Express / Trinidad and Tobago’s senior men’s football head coach Stephen Hart thinks that the level of play at the recently-concluded 2014 Caribbean Cup was good quality and the overall tournament of a high standard. “I thought the tournament was excellent. Almost every country got the players that they wanted back,” Hart said. “The standard was quite high.” Hart also found the Caribbean Cup to be gruelling, with some players having to play four matches within a ten-day period. “Physically its difficult, but the teams handled it well. It was good quality.” Hart beleives the availibility of overseas professionals to national teams for the first time in recent times made the tournament tough and competitive, one in which losing teams like Curacao and Antigua-Barbuda still proved hard to beat. He also thinks that despite losing the final to Jamaica on penalty kicks, the short term future of the T&T national team is bright. “We are fine. We are in the Gold Cup. So, now we have to look for some international games, settle our internal problems and look for some international games and build the squad,” Hart said. “If you look, we have the nucleus of a good squad. We still have a few players to bring in, that was not available for selection. So we have till July (Gold Cup). We should be fine.” Since the former Canada national coach took charge in June 2013, the Soca Warrior have shot up 30 spots the FIFA world rankings to a creditable 49th position. They have beaten all Caribbean opponents, including Jamaica twice. And three victories and a penalty-shootout defeat in the final of the Caribbean Cup, is likely to push the Soca Warriors further up the rankings. T&T also reached the quarter-final stage of the CONCACAF Gold Cup for the first time in 13 years, and also had a good run in the OSN Cup where they beat Saudi Arabia and lost on penalties to the United Arab Emirates following a 3-3 draw. The Warriors were also not disgraced in away friendlies defeats to World Cup runners-up Argentina and Asian champions Iran, just days before both teams competed at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. “We have done well in some games, but we haven’t played in enough games to sort of be consistent in what we do,” Hart said, citing that even Jamaica had played double figure internationals while T&T had just two prior (matches) to the Caribbean Cup. Hart said long layoffs from international play was not good for building the T&T football programme. “We were behind physically and if we need to play at a higher level, at a Gold Cup level, we need to be much fitter and the players need to be playing football,’’ he said. “If you look at their (Jamaica’s) squad, they have a lot of players plying consistently with their clubs. We are the opposite,” Hart said. “We have a lot of players that are not playing 90 minutes.”

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