T&T looks to reproduce WCQ effort in Caribbean Cup

Trinidad & Tobago's Cordell Cato in World Cup Qualifying action against visiting Guatemala (white jersey) on September 2, 2016, in Port of Spain. (Photo: CA-Images)

COUVA, Trinidad & Tobago – Trinidad & Tobago has won a record eight Caribbean Cup titles, but none since 2001.

That’s something the Soca Warriors want to change starting on Wednesday, when they open their 2016/17 campaign with a third-round encounter against visiting Dominican Republic at Ato Boldon Stadium.

The winners of the four groups will earn berths to the semifinals – scheduled to be played next June – and the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

“The main focus now is qualification for the two tournaments, but we also have the Hex to prepare for which gives us a good opportunity as a team to come together for these two games,” said head coach Stephen Hart, also referring to the fact that his side is competing in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. “Teams that do not have to play in competition that are in the Hex are using the dates to play international friendlies so for us we have to use these two games in a similar way.”

T&T will complete Group 4 play on October 11 at Martinique, a side that has qualified for four Gold Cups, most recently in 2013. Despite success in World Cup Qualifying that included a scoreless draw with the United States, midfielder Cordell Cato warns against complacency against Caribbean opposition.

“We know teams like Dominican Republic will not lie down, but I think we are prepared for them,” said the San Jose Earthquakes standout, who has seven goals in 101 games with the MLS side. “It’s good to have the majority of the squad available for this game. Everyone seems to be fit and ready to go, so we’ll be looking to produce the kind of performance that will be satisfying and have us in a good position at the end of this round.”

In the 2015 Gold Cup, T&T battled to a 4-4 draw with eventual-champion Mexico in group play and reached the quarterfinals, where it fell to Panama on penalty kicks after a 1-1 stalemate.