T&T Footballers return home

Boatswain: I felt him pulling my shirt

Trinidad and Tobago’s senior men’s team returned home on Wednesday night following their two back to back 2018 World Cup qualifying matches in the United States and Costa Rica.

The Dennis Lawrence-led team had been out for just under 22 days as they commenced preparations at a residential camp in Boulder, Colorado on May 23rd prior to the qualifier at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park against the US National Team followed by Tuesday night’s encounter against Costa Rica in San Jose which they narrowly lost 2-1 in what has been described as probably the best showing by a national team in a qualifying match in Costa Rica.

While the technical staff and the home-based players returned to Port of Spain, some of the US-based players returned to their respective destinations with the likes of overseas-based pros Khaleem Hyland, Sheldon Bateau and Shahdon Winchester returning to Trinidad before going back out to their clubs. There as a bit of upbeat among the contingent on Wednesday morning as the team departed the Radisson hotel before checking in at the Airport in San Jose as the locals were giving the players and staff thumbs up and compliments on the team’s performance. There were even some from T&T who relayed similar sentiments on the Miami to Port of Spain leg of the trip.

Defence Force forward Jamie Boatswain, who replaced Kenwyne Jones in the starting team moments before kick off on Tuesday, reflected on the performance, recalling how he felt when Michael Umana, the Costa Rican defender, pulled him by the shirt as he made the run inside the penalty box.

“I felt it from the moment he started pulling my shirt. I tried pulling away because the ball was in a good position to run onto but he got me and I fell. I wasn’t even thinking about him pulling my shirt, all I was thinking was ball and going to goal,” Boatswain told TTFA Media.

“But the referee didn’t make the call and afterwards he (Umana) was telling me something like ‘get up, it’s nothing’.”

“”They had everything in their favour. They got the early goal and the huge crowd and the atmosphere was rough but it didn’t get to us. Watch the game over and you would see we really did battle it out with them,” he said.

Boatswain said he was prepared from to take up the responsibility after Lawrence told him he would be starting.

“I was ready because even in the warm-up I was telling myself there was that chance I could get the call. When coach spoke to me I knew I had to be ready,” he added.

“We are disappointed but we feel good at the moment because the people have been telling us good things, in Costa Rica at the airport, everyone was saying how they were impressed and I think people realised we really put on a performance,” Boatswain said.

“I am optimistic that we are still alive in this and like coach said, we will be fighting right down until the end. One win in our next game and the momentum will be back.”

The former Point Fortin Civic Centre player said he was feeling the difference in himself since training under the guidance of Lawrence and former T&T forward Stern John who has spent extra time with him on the training pitch.

“Stern has been talking to me and of course, you know, he has all the experience as a striker for the country. And coach Lawrence has believed in me and given me that opportunity to learn and grow. I will continue to work hard and hopefully develop into a better player. I think it’s the same for all of us, especially the new guys on the team. We are not happy with the results but we are feeling the improvement and just looking forward to keeping this going as a team,” Boatswain added.

Mexico leads the final round of qualifying in the North and Central American and Caribbean region with 14 points, followed by Costa Rica with 11 and the United States (eight), Panama (seven), Honduras (five) and Trinidad and Tobago (three).

The stage is now set for T&T to host Honduras on September 1st followed by a clash with Panama in Panama City on September 5th. Six points from those two games followed by a win at home to the US in the final group encounter on October 10th. T&T will be away to Mexico on October 6th with a positive result certainly not out of the question.

Photo shows Jamille Boatswain trying to get away from Michael Umana in the second half. Photo by Allan Crane for TTFA Media. (Please contact Allan Crane for editorial use)