Preparation underpins T&T’s Copa America plans

Trinidad & Tobago (pictured) trained at the Estadio Maracana in Panama City, Panama, on January 7, 2016. (Photo: Trinidad & Tobago Football Association)

PANAMA CITY, Panama -- Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart is leaving nothing to chance in advance of his team’s Copa America Centenario play-in match on Friday against Haiti at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez.

His strict attention to detail is necessary, especially since only the winner will advance to the historic competition, which will be contested June 3-26, 2016, in the United States.

“I think we have to do what we do well, be consistent with it, minimize our errors in crucial parts of the field where we could be punished and understand that this game will be a tight one and can possibly be won in the second half so we have to manage it properly,” said Hart. “It’s the nature of the game and we’ve practiced the penalty kicks. We know who are the responsible shooters, but in reality, when it comes to that situation it’s who feels they can kick. I cannot tell somebody to go and kick and their frame of mind is not one of confidence. I will try as best as possible not to reach that situation in our favor.”

None of the above is to say that the Soca Warriors are expecting a penalty-kick shootout to decide matters.   Quite the contrary. They just want to be equipped for any and all eventualities.

“Yea, no doubt about it, our ultimate objective is to win tomorrow’s match and we are hoping to take care of business before it gets down to penalties,” defender Radanfah Abu Bakr said.

On Thursday morning, Hart had his squad train at the Estadio Maracana. It will gather again for one final session later in the afternoon.

“We’ve had some good time together and the sessions have been intense,” Abu Bakr finished. “I think we’re well prepared. One of the key aspects going for us over the last year is the player pool and the guys who have stepped in when a few other players have been injured, suspended or not available and I think it will be the same again tomorrow. We have enough talented players and the attitude is right.”