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Warriors must focus on goal-scoring
When Otto Pfister failed to get our national team into the Concacaf final six towards the Brazil World Cup 2014, it did more mental damage than the failure of Russell Latapy’s squad to make it to the Gold Cup of 2011.
Today, the picture is totally different.
The national junior and senior teams are entering the final stages of competitions Gold Cup and Under-17 World Cup finals. In their run-up to the Gold Cup, which is scheduled for July, the preparation of the senior team appeared to grab the interest of the public once more, when they not only qualified through two group engagements, but have just completed three friendlies, two against Peru, and the other against Belize.
Clearly, there was enough exposure for the teams where the technical staff would have made their observations regarding the players, their strengths and weaknesses, individually and tactically.
However, the comments from the technical staff did not elaborate upon specifics when they both alluded to the lessons which were learnt from the exercise. Having seen it all, albeit poor television coverage from Belize, the picture seemed to imply poor passing as their main deficiencies. The passing of the ball was well below what is expected from players of this calibre.
The absolute shortage of quality midfielders in the matches in Belize and in Peru, should have caused some degree of concern, knowing that the tournament is only three months away.
Statistic details of two shots at goal against Belize, and four against Peru in Lima, amounting to a further stat of no goals in 180 minutes, is not what the team expected.
On seeing the quality of play by the squad selected in the first game against Peru at the Ato Boldon stadium, it is fair to say that the quality of the midfield performances of Attula Guerra, Kareem Hyland, Darryl Roberts, and to a lesser extent Denzil Theobold, made more football sense than did the four utilised from Birchall, Theobold, Keon Daniel, Carter and Jovin Jones.
The end line was that the final two matches failed to produce a midfield which was able to string more than five to six passes consistently, especially in Belize. I am always of the belief that any team which cannot create goal scoring chances, and are week passers of the ball, are unlikely to win matches.
So the picture presents much need for some rigid and organised practice sessions. It is sad to even admit that the basic fundamentals of passing and controlling must also be addressed at this level.
However with three months to go and knowing that a cadre of quality players are likely to join the squad, there is still hope.
The European season and others, will soon be completed and this will release Carlos Edwards, Darryl Roberts, Attula Guerra, Hughton Hector, Julius James, Kevin Molino, Leston Paul, Jamal Gay, Lester Peltier, Sheldon Bateau and young Primus.
Surely when these players are added to the training squad, the team will surely take a positive step forward and only time will tell us what is the true state of our senior programme.
The youngsters in the Under-17 squad also enjoyed the benefit of adequate preparation, thanks to the Ministry of Sport.
Tournaments in Costa Rica, Colombia and more recently the USA, plus extensive training on the hills of the northern range, should have brought them closer to what they would like to be.
A defeat and a draw against the USA in Bradenton, Florida, will have opened their eyes, especially as their opponents Canada and Costa Rica were beaten by the yanks. It is more difficult to be optimistic when it relates to 16-year-olds.
They are often overawed by major competitions, and the big question will be whether they can take their game plans to the pitch without bothering too much of environment and high profile of the opponents.
Qualifying for the FIFA World Cup U-17 tournament is not unfamiliar to this country, so let us all support the country in this venture.
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