HARRISON, NJ - Rejuvenated Trinidad & Tobago faces a young and hungry El Salvador tonight at the Red Bull Arena to kick-start Group B of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The Soca Warriors are bolstered by new coach Stephen Hart, who guided Canada to the 2011 Gold Cup semifinals, and led by their best-known player -- Kenwyne Jones of English Premier League side Stoke City.
Jones told CONCACAF.com that he and his teammates are ready for the challenges the confederation competition will pose.
“We are quietly confident within ourselves. We all know that football games are never easy and each game presents a different challenge, so we are just going out there and do what we know to do.”
The forward did not play in Trinidad’s 2012 Caribbean Cup campaign, which ended with a 1-0 loss to Cuba in the final. He’s delighted to be participating in the Gold Cup, though. “The Gold Cup is extra motivation for me, it’s a bigger tournament and we get to play against the strongest teams of the CONCACAF region and on this stage you want to do well.”
El Salvador is hoping that its young squad can be as successful in this year’s Gold Cup as it was in January’s UNCAF Copa Centroamericana, where it finished in third place.
The team will be without the services of the talented Jose Isidro Gutierrez Isidro Gutiettez. Head coach Agustin Castillo explained that, “Isidro has been through a tough time lately and I have called him to come and support us. At the moment he is not ready to go, but as soon as he is I am confident he will be back into the team.”
The main striking duties could possibly fall on the shoulders of Rodolfo Zelaya, who told CONCACAF.com that his team is ready to play.
““I know that we are not favorites in this tournament, but I am happy with my team and my coach,” he said. “We will ask God to help us and we want to achieve what we are looking for. We all know that it will be hard, but we are ready to give of our best.”
Trinidad and El Salvador have met twice before in Gold Cup play. The Central Americans won both matches (1996: 3-2, 2007: 2-1). Past history will matter little on Monday for two teams looking towards brighter futures.