By Shaun Fuentes
Just as they did in 2008, Trinidad and Tobago will host Bermuda in its opening match of the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign on Friday September 2. The “Soca Warriors” were shocked 2-1 by the Bermudans in their opening match of the 2010 campaign on June 15 at the Marvin Lee Stadium with Francisco Maturana at the helm of the team. That loss came on the heels of nine friendly internationals including two creditable draws with Jamaica, one in Kingston, a friendly international versus England as well as a 1-0 victory over El Salvador.
A proposed friendly this time around against Haiti has been cancelled and it appears Otto Pfister’s team may not have the luxury of that many warm-ups ahead of their opening qualifier set to kick off in just over a month.
But experienced midfielder Densill Theobald is not too worried. “We just have to put our minds to it and get the job done in these opening set of games. We have been in training for quite some time under the new coach and the guys are in good touch now especially with the Pro League season approaching. Then you have the overseas pros who will match-fit also coming into the team,” the Caledonia AIA man said on Saturday.
T&T’s second game is September 6 away to Barbados and they then travel to Bermuda for the away match on October 7. Four days later T&T will host Barbados before closing off away to Guyana on November 11 and at home to the latter four days later.
“It’s a hectic little schedule but definitely a round we are looking forward to. I don’t want to underestimate or bring down the value of the other teams in that second round but obviously the bigger challenge we are looking ahead to is in the semi-final round. We will have to be in prime condition to get through to the final round but the coach knows his work and he knows what has to be done and so do we as players,” Theobald ended.
T&T, ranked 88th on the FIFA World Rankings were not among the top six seeded CONCACAF teams which included Mexico, United States, Costa Rica, Honduras, Cuba and Jamaica. As such, T&T will have to contest the second round.
Round 3 is where the race becomes tougher for the “Soca Warriors” as they have been grouped with giants Mexico and Costa Rica and the winner of Group A which includes El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Suriname and Cayman Islands.
The top two teams from the four semi-final groups will advance to the final round from which the top three qualifies for the Brazil 2014. The four place team will enter in to the intercontinental playoff with Oceania.
Stoke City striker Kenwyne Jones on hearing the news of T&T’s draw, remained optimistic, saying having contest Round 2 could actually work in the team’s favour.
“Well a draw is a draw. We now know what is ahead of us in order to advance in the qualification for Brazil,” Jones added.
“No game is an easy one in international football today. Hopefully we can get a good start and build our momentum in the second round for the semi-final stages.
By then the team would have been playing together for a few matches well and we will be in tune for the semi-final which obviously is going to be a lot tougher with Mexico and Costa Rica in our group. Our aim obviously is to move to the Final round and then force our way through to the World Cup. It’s not impossible,” Jones stated.