Stephen Hart (pictured) has been the Trinidad & Tobago head coach since June 2013. (Photo: Mexsport)
MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – Since he was named head coach of Trinidad & Tobago in June 2013, Stephen Hart emphasized that for the sake of the team’s development, it needed to play games.
A lot of them.
Just weeks after taking the job, the former Canada manager, led the Soca Warriors to the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, where it fell to Mexico by a narrow 1-0 decision.
That level success in such a short period of time, whet Hart’s appetite for even more.
So when Trinidad qualified for the 2015 Gold Cup on Thursday, earning the berth by beating French Guiana (4-2), a result that guaranteed it could finish no worse than second in Group A, the 54-year-old was delighted.
“It’s big for us,” said Hart, who was born in San Fernando, Trinidad & Tobago. “We have not played a lot. If you look at Jamaica, who we played last November, they’ve played about 12 games whereas we’ve only played two games and then we went into the (Caribbean Cup) semifinal (round), where we played three games, so five games is not enough for a national team.”
In June, the eight-time Caribbean played friendlies against 2014 FIFA World Cup participants Argentina and Iran, losing 3-0 and 2-0, respectively. Since then, it has only contested Caribbean Cup matches, going a perfect 5-0-0.
Hart sees Trinidad’s performances in the biennial regional championship as a reward that leads to even bigger occasions against CONCACAF’s best next year.
“When you get to the Gold Cup, you meet the teams that you think you should be,” he expressed.
Trinidad has participated in eight previous Gold Cup’s, advancing as far as the semifinals in 2000.
“If you think you should be in the top four of the Gold Cup, of the CONCACAF region, the Gold Cup is certainly the place to prove that,” Hart finished.