Carlos Edwards has expressed his satisfaction after a 3-1 win over Nicaragua gave Tom Saintfiet his first win as Trinidad and Tobago coach. The Belgian replaced Stephen Hart at the reins after the Soca Warriors began the Hexagonal phase of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ with a 2-0 loss at home to Costa Rica and a 3-1 defeat in Honduras.
Saintfiet immediately raised eyebrows by dropping captain Kenwyne Jones and handing a shock recall to 38-year-old Edwards, and his first assignment ended in T&T’s first-ever defeat by Nicaragua last week. However, an admirable attacking performance – and goals from Cornell Glen, Carlyle Mitchell and Aikim Andrews – earned Trinidad and Tobago revenge in Managua on Friday.
“It felt good to get the win,” Edwards told TTFA Media. “At the same time we were under a little bit of pressure after the first game, we needed to get a victory and put in a good performance. The guys came out and rolled their sleeves up and took the game to Nicaragua, and we came away with the 3-1 victory.
“We worked on a few things and we really got into the game. We got a sucker-punch with the Nicaragua first game, but the team stuck to it, we had a game plan, and we had to improvise also, and I think by getting the equaliser it built our rhythm and we took the game to them.
“It was nice for the coach to call this camp at an early stage and we also have a few guys joining the squad for the two games against Suriname and Haiti. It’s a good bond and hopefully with the boys coming in we can complete the jigsaw puzzle.”
A passport and a pearl
Andrews missed T&T’s original flight to Managua – and consequently the first game – due to a passport issue. The 20-year-old midfielder decorated the second – and his second international – with a wonder goal.
“It was a great feeling,” said the W Connection prospect. “This was my second cap and I was glad to come out on the pitch and score with a volley like that.
“I was a little nervous, but I got into the game after about five minutes. My main aim was to impress the coach and I was happy to go out there and do that with a goal.”
Trinidad and Tobago’s Russia 2018 qualifying campaign resumes in March, with matches at home to Panama and Mexico.
T&T are the smallest nation to participate in the World Cup, with their only appearance having come at Germany 2006. In qualifying for that tournament, the Soca Warriors were bottom of the Hexagonal after three rounds, but the appointment of Dutch coach Leo Beenhakker revitalised their fortunes.
Three wins from their last four games – ones indebted to Stern John – nicked them a place in the intercontinental play-off, where they overcame Bahrain. Shaka Hislop, Edwards, Dwight Yorke, John and Co helped T&T grab an unexpected draw with Sweden in their curtain-raiser, before 2-0 losses to England and Paraguay sent them home.