Kenwyne Jones (center) and Trinidad & Tobago will face Argentina and Iran in friendlies before the 2014 FIFA World Cup. (Photo: Mexsport)
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad & Tobago -- Trinidad & Tobago head coach Stephen Hart has already trained his sights on international friendlies against Word Cup-bound teams Argentina and Iran on June 4 and June 8, respectively.
Despite the magnitude of the task facing the Soca Warriors, Hart believes the two games present a wonderful opportunity for the national side top gauge its development.
“We are going into games against two international teams that are going to be fully prepared for the World Cup,” said Hart. “It’s both teams’ last games before they enter the World Cup so you have to have realistic expectations and approach.
“As far as I am concerned, the players have to understand that they are going into these games purely as a measurement of where we are at and where we need to be if you are going to play on the world stage.”
The Trinidadians have not played since November of last year, when it defeated Jamaica twice in the span of five days without conceding a goal.
Facing Argentina on its home turf, though, poses an entirely different set of challenges.
“Arguably, you are going to play one of the favorites (Argentina) to win the World Cup, which in itself, playing them at home is a very comfortable situation for them and an uncomfortable situation for us,” Hart noted. “But I think that is a healthy situation because as we build for the future, you have a potential scenario of qualification that you have to play a set amount of games away from home.”
With the actual squad not expected to be chosen until late May, Hart is well aware that preparation for the fixtures would be crucial.
“We haven’t played since November, so now we have to try and gather the team to make sure we are prepared to play against Argentina,” the 54-year-old explained. “I would like ideally to have about ten days with the players, but we have to look at the fact that some players will still be playing in their leagues and others will be off for a quite awhile, which means we have to address their standards and basically get the team in some sort of preparation mode hopefully with an international game before Argentina.”
Trinidad, which advanced to the quarterfinals of last year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, is currently the number one ranked team in the Caribbean Football Union and is 76th in the FIFA rankings.