By Shaun Fuentes
Trinidad and Tobago Men’s Senior Team head coach Otto Pfister says that the gap between international teams is changing at a rapid rate and as such this country should not fear the possibilities of a difficult Road to Brazil 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign, even if the “Soca Warriors” are ranked outside the top six nations in the CONCACAF going into the qualification bid.
The former Cameroon boss gave his reactions to T&T’s draw on Friday, making clear his intentions to give the respect due to the Caribbean opponents in the second round. T&T faces Bermuda on September 2 and will also face off with Barbados and Guyana with the top team advancing to the semi-final round. That third round will pit T&T against Mexico, Costa Rica and possibly El Salvador.
“Last time we flopped in November and we lost too much places in the FIFA rankings and now we have to face the first qualification. I think with a normal preparation we have a good chance. We have very good players outside and I can use five or six local players. Everybody has a chance and I think we have a good chance” Pfister said on Friday.
“At the same time we have to play six games, three home and three away and at the end of November, we will have a better team and we will have made progress from game to game. I am not afraid. I think we have a good chance to go to the World Cup. You see in football … not all the favourite teams advances. You look at the Copa America, not Brazil, not Argentina. All the big teams were out of the competition. You have no small teams again. You have to play every game to your best. If you play against Mexico or Costa Rica, you always have a chance. It’s a question of preparation and self confidence,” Pfister said.
T&T will play a friendly international on August 21st at the Hasely Crawford Stadium and the TTFF will host a press conference on Wednesday to officially announce the fixture. Pfister meanwhile is firm on selecting his best possible players to assemble for the World Cup qualifiers beginning with the Bermuda affair.
“I think I have my best team. I have 14 or 14 overseas players and I think I can bring them in at the end of the day and six or seven local boys and we go with full concentration in this first game. It’s also a revenge for Trinidad because we lost to this team last time. But I don’t think too much about that because it’s a new competition, a new team and a new hope.”
He is not being distracted by any off the field matters, focusing solely on the preparations of the team.
“My focus is always on my technical way. Okay, everybody has problems left and right but I don’t think about it because If I go into it like this then I lose my concentration. I concentrate on the training exercise, the preparation and the ending and then I think we have a good chance to qualify,” Pfister ended.
One of Pfister’s Belgium-based options is midfielder Khaleem Hyland. The SV Zulte Waregem player is optimistic of T&T’s chances of going forward.
“It’s not a difficult draw for the second round but we cannot take any team for granted We saw what happened last time against Bermuda and they will be thinking they can make things hard for us again. We need to take charge of the group from very early and then set ourselves up nicely for the semi-final round. That is when the matches will become a tighter. I think once we get the best team together for a few times well and get that chemistry going along then we definitely have to think that we can make it through to the World Cup,” Hyland said.