Levi Garcia

WING PLAY: Trinidad and Tobago’s Levi Garcia, left, in action against St Kitts and Nevis during Tuesday’s Group F CONCACAF zone World Cup qualifier in the Dominican Republic.

—Photo: Courtesy TTFA Media.

“Will they qualify for the CONCACAF (Gold Cup)? How can I tell you yes when they can’t beat Bahamas,” stated Alvin Corneal, the former Trinidad and Tobago national team footballer and coach.

The pressure to qualify for the 2021 Gold Cup in a month’s time has increased given T&T‘s early exit from Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying.

Should T&T qualify for the Gold Cup, head coach Terry Fenwick is guaranteed a two-year contract renewal and a salary upgrade to U.S. $25,000 a month, due to controversial clauses included in his contract when he signed a deal with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA).

The Soca Warriors will play Montserrat from 9.30 p.m. on Friday, July 2 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Former Caribbean whipping boys Montserrat have adopted an organised team made up totally of England-born players and have improved significantly, drawing 1-1 recently and also three times losing by a single goal to El Salvador, while also holding Caribbean rivals Curacao, Antigua and Barbuda and St Lucia to draws in recent years.

Should T&T get by Montserrat, they will advance to a second playoff round at the same venue on Tuesday 6 July against the winners between Cuba and French Guiana. The winners of that tie go into the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup group stage, beginning with a preliminary match against giants Mexico, against whom T&T drew 4-4 with in their last Gold Cup outing in 2015. Corneal was speaking on the Alcons Recon podcast, dissecting T&T’s recent World Cup exit.

He anticipated that T&T will have to improve significantly to reach the Gold Cup. Some of hint of the needed improvement came in the final World Cup qualifier on Tuesday, a 2-0 win over St Kitts and Nevis. He said the previous 0-0 draw with the Bahamas was a huge disappointment.

“It was a horrible display of football by them. I make no apologies to say that, despite the fact that a number of these players have represented Trinidad and Tobago and they have played in various parts of Europe,” said Corneal. They did not allow the Bahamas to realise that they should not even be on the same field with them when it comes to competitive play.”

And Corneal surmised that the Caribbean had lost out by having one of its few teams that can compete with the best team in CONCACAF, knocked out at such an early stage. “The last thing the Caribbean would want to hear is that the Bahamas threw Trinidad and Tobago out of the Qatar 2022 World Cup,” Corneal said.

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Don’t doubt yourself.

Despite a heavy innings and 63-run loss against South Africa inside three days, West Indies skipper Kraigg Brathwaite said he is 100 per cent behind his team as they look to bounce back in the second Test starting Friday.