Carlos Edwards (pictured) is expected to captain Trinidad & Tobago in its Scotiabank CFU Men's Caribbean Cup fifth-place playoff match against Haiti on January 8, 2017, in Couva, Trinidad & Tobago. (Photo: CA-Images)
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad & Tobago – In order for Trinidad & Tobago (0W-0D-1L, 0 points) to maintain any hope of qualifying for this year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, it has to beat visiting Haiti (1-0-0, 3) by two goals in the last match of the 2016/17 Scotiabank CFU Men’s Caribbean Cup fifth-place playoff on Sunday at Ato Boldon Stadium.
Both have played eliminated Suriname (1-0-1, 3), with T&T dropping a 2-1 decision to the northern South American side on Wednesday and Haiti posting a 4-2 win two days later.
The Soca Warriors reached the quarterfinals of the last two Gold Cups, but now find themselves in a difficult situation. It is the biggest challenge of head coach Tom Saintfiet’s short tenure in charge. He was named to the post only one ago as a replacement for Stephen Hart.
“Obvious the boys did hurt because of the loss (to Suriname),” said T&T captain Carlos Edwards. “I personally didn’t like the result because I felt there was no reason for us to me losing these kind of games at home especially with it being a qualifier for the Gold Cup.
“We have to play our best game yet under the new coach if we want to advance out of this stage.”
It won’t be easy.
From a player personnel perspective, many national team veterans – such as forward Kenwyne Jones, midfielder Kevin Molino and goalkeeper Jan-Michael Willliams -- are not on the current roster.
History will also have to be overcome. In their last meeting, Haiti defeated T&T, 1-0, in a single-game Copa America Centenario qualifying playoff on January 8, 2016 (same date as Sunday’s match), in Panama City, Panama
“I believe in the squad even though we have some very young players who have not really found themselves as yet on the international level but the squad has the quality…I believe…to make us get results,” Edwards finished. “Every player must bring their best game to the Ato Boldon Stadium on Sunday and then we can take things from the next day looking ahead to the final playoff and the (World Cup) qualifiers coming up in March.”
The team that tops the Caribbean Cup fifth-place playoff table will advance to a decisive Gold Cup qualifying playoff against the fifth-place squad in this month’s Copa Centroamericana.