Trinidad and Tobago’s senior men’s team will be aiming to put early points on the board in the their CONCACAF Nations League qualifying campaign when they face off with Martinique in their opening League A encounter at the Stade Pierre Aliker from 6:00pm on Friday.
Head Coach Dennis Lawrence had a final run out with this players at the match venue on Thursday evening after making the short 15-minute flight over from Castries following the team three-day training camp in St Lucia.
Both teams drew 0-0 in a friendly in Fort-de-France in March of last year while the hosts came away 2-0 winners in the Caribbean Cup in 2016, eliminating T&T from Gold Cup qualification that year. Martinique also won 3-2 in another Gold Cup qualifier at Stade Pierre in 2003. But T&T also know how to secure points at the venue as a Hughtun Hector item gave the “Warriors” a 1-0 at the 2010 Caribbean Cup.
Belgium-based defender Sheldon Bateau is optimistic of T&T being able to pull out the stops to start positively away from home.
“I’m happy to be back in the boys. It was really difficult to look at the Gold Cup and disappointing to not be there to help my team. But I’m honoured and privileged to be here to lead the squad for the start of the Nations League campaign,” Bateau told TTFA Media on Thursday.
“I’m eager to show my worth. We have a good squad together. I always thought that the squad would be better off with better quality players in terms of the levels they are playing and with the situation back home at the moment. I think it’s a good opportunity for these players to gel with the ones who were here before to get better results.”
With results here having an impact on FIFA rankings towards qualification for the World Cup qualifying Hex and Gold Cup 2021, Bateau said, “It does add some pressure but the group is motivated. We owe it to the fans and the country to qualify for the Gold Cup and give ourselves a good chance of making the Hex and the World Cup in Qatar.
“But we as players need to put more pressure on ourselves and I told the boys that. We need to raise our levels Our fans back home are what i call happy fans. You win or lose there’s no problem or added pressure. Nobody wants to stone down the bus and so we therefore need to put that pressure on ourselves to get the best from the team. By applying that pressure I think you will see the quality raising. That should come from ourselves as players and not the coach or President or anybody else. The most important thing is that the players go on the field and show it.”
Looking at the opponents, the former Kazakhstan-based player said T&T will have to overcome the challenges on Friday.
“Martinique has some quality and they are at home and will be very competitive. But we have quality also and we need to put it all together to grind out a result. The group is very motivated for the game even though we are expecting a difficult game,” Bateau said.
Both teams meet again on Monday at 9:00pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain. Tickets are available at NLCB outlets nationwide.