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Three losses! Now the lessons

Sunday, June 5, 2016
Members of the T&T team at a training session soon after arriving in China for the international friendly match which they lost 4-2.

The question of winning matches in the three-game tour did not appear in my mind to scrutinize the final review from this journey to three countries.

Seeing that all our players are now very versed with the business of travelling from one country to another, the comments about discomfort, getting acclimatized and a reduced bunch of our quality players, should now be placed into perspective and be analyzed as far as performances were concerned.

We have all seen the way the Peruvians offer a lesson on team communication, simply because their focus has been deeply on possession, support for fellow players, and discipline within their system of play which is attached to organized football.

Uruguay also added the level of speed to that of Peru and their results were based on the fact that winning the ball back was their main target. This was met with some resistance from the Warriors, whose request to tighten up in midfield and invite aggression from the middle to the final third of the opponents half of the field.

China was different. Ranked lower than Peru, Uruguay and T&T, the Chinese did not demonstrate any outstanding display of skill and aggression, but they produced the type of game which saw them starting their build up from their penalty area, sliding passes laterally in order to open up the space that TT had to cover.

We ball watched, we accepted the fact that taking possession from the exquisite short passing game, that split delicate passes through our lost midfield. The Chinese used the flanks regularly, but their fore play was always in midfield. Penetrative passes to the flank allowed them free space to search for their attackers in the TT penalty area. 

This approach created some free headers and our central defenders were not prepared to either use a man to man defensive approach, or mark the space in which the services were likely to arrive.

It was disaster from the early period of the game, right through to the end. Admittedly, the bits of selfish traits by some players in the previous matches, improved immensely and sometimes brought some competence in getting towards the Chinese defence line. As a matter of fact, some fine passing from Marcus Joseph to smart running Hughton Hector, penetrated the opponents back four and allowed Richard Plaza to demonstrate his talent, which should have earned him a place in the starting lineup.

China scored almost as often as they wished, simply because they recognized that the talent of our defenders was individualistic, but not compatible when it came to understanding each other, especially in making decisions in and around the Warriors penalty area.

It would be unfair to say that the defenders did not play well in certain areas of the game, but it would be very fair to observe that this has been the major problem in our defensive department and one which needs maximum attention.

As to the plan of dealing with set plays on the flanks from orthodox crossed balls, the decision to mark space  as oppose to marking players has not worked despite the fact that we have three excellent aerial players in Abu Bakr, Aubrey David and Yohance Marshall. Just look at the crosses which created some easy headed goals, simply because the Chinese player were aware of where they will run even before the ball is passed. Obviously, the set play of China and in the previous games as well, dealt us some severe blows through some soft goals.

So the experiences of the three match series may have opened our eyes to what is needed on the training field, a factor which our coaching staff must recognize if they wish to make corrections.

Finally, I have watched carefully at the Americans, one time against Bolivia where they were in complete control of the game through, speed, aggression and desire to win. 

Their opening game against Columbia was filled with classroom lessons for the Yanks. Clinical accuracy in passing and the dedicated plan to support the recipient of the ball at all times, seriously in search of creating passing lanes and their analysis of the American players made the Columbians appear as though they could be hard to beat.

Admittedly, Jose Pekermann is one of the best football brains in the world. His contribution to Argentine Football since the 1994 youth tournaments, was mainly responsible for the brilliance of Messi and company.

Since his mistake in the World Cup of 2006 when Argentina was superb in their approach to winning the tournament, Jose changed Juan Requelme, the game’s super star at the time, when they were in the lead against Germany and his replacement of Estaban Cambiasso, left vacant space for the Germans who equalized and won on penalties.

He immediately resigned and left the coaching for two years until Columbia literally begged him to give them his service. The results and performance levels were obvious and excellent young players are showing up in Columbia.

My reason for the explanation of this match is to alert our national team that preparation is needed for the present USA squad. They are the stumbling block for our trip to Russia, so we must take a clinical view of their present style.


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