Rivalry for Caribbean top team hots up as Soca Warriors slip-up in friendly
With Jamaica’s Gold Cup involvement reliant upon their result in El Salvador this weekend, the Reggae Boyz will be aware that Dennis Lawrence’s Trinidad & Tobago are firing blanks.
The Boyz only need to defeat hosts El Salvador on Saturday to progress to the finals of the Gold Cup this summer.
And T&T, their biggest rivals for bragging rights in the Caribbean, are looking wobbly ahead of the 16-team Gold Cup in June and July.
The Warriors, one of six sides to have already qualified for the prestigious Gold Cup finals, conceded a 93rd-minute goal at hosts Wales on Wednesday.
The sell-out crowd at the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham erupted deep into injury time, after T&T skipper Khaleem Hyland lost his concentration to allow Ben Woodburn to sneak in and scramble home the winning strike.
Warriors coach Lawrence, who turned down the opportunity to manage non-league high-fliers Wrexham – one of his former clubs – three months ago, admitted: “I’m gutted for the boys. Trinidad & Tobago is my home, it’s my country, but Wrexham is my heart.”
The priority for the friendly against Wales was to instil some much-needed confidence in front of goal, as the Warriors had suffered lacklustre back-to-back 1-0 reversals at the hands of Iran and Thailand.
Lawrence again opted for an ambitious 4-4-1-1 formation, with lone no.9 Will Plaza often chasing long balls to no avail, and paid the price for a third blank on the bounce.
Lawrence’s Warriors, FIFA-ranked no.93 and slipping way behind rivals Jamaica in the on-going battle to be the Caribbean’s top team, last scored in September when they saw off visiting minnows United Arab Emirates 2-0. And their lack of forward options is apparent, T&T urgently need to find some firepower.
Having kicked off his career as head coach with the Warriors in January 2017, Lawrence will be fully aware that he desperately needs to strengthen his squad.
T&T are one of six sides to qualify early for this summer’s Gold Cup tournament, where top teams including Mexico and the US will be vying for honours and Jamaica have finished runner-up twice in the past two competitions.
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