Trinidad & Tobago's Levi Garcia (pictured) celebrates after scoring in a World Cup qualifier against host St. Vincent & the Grenadines on March 25, 2016, in Kingstown. (Photo: Caribbean Action Images)
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – As he glances at the results and the Group C table in the fourth round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Trinidad & Tobago head coach Stephen Hart understands the importance of Tuesday’s home game against Saint Vincent & the Grenadines.
Thanks to its 3-2 win over host SVG on Friday and Guatemala’s 2-0 triumph against the United States, T&T currently sits in first place with seven points from going unbeaten in three matches. Guatemala (6 points), the United States (4) and SVG (0) all trail the Caribbean power as they battle to advance with a top-two finish.
“Now when you look at the other result with Guatemala and the USA, it sort of throws the group wide open,” Hart said. “We don’t want to look ahead too far, but we know that as a team we have to stay focused and ensure that we keep improving in every aspect.”
Levi Garcia has given Hart every reason to believe the team can continue to progress. The 18-year-old winger struck for two goals against SVG on his international debut after impressing with the Netherlands’ AZ Alkmaar.
“He did well,” commented T&T captain Kenwyne Jones on his new teammate. “I don’t want the public to put too much pressure on him. He is being well-coached where he is and I am happy for the start that he had and hopefully he can go and become a very integral part of the team. At the same time, he still has a lot to learn and I do hope he takes those lessons well and go on and fulfill his potential.”
Jones is thankful for the three points, but knows Trinidad needs to raise its level at home against the same opponent, which held a lead for 57 minutes in their first meeting.
“It was one of those games when we weren’t at our best,” the 31-year-old finished. “We had to depend a bit on individual brilliance. I don’t think the team was at any point in danger of not winning the game. I think we were just off the pace mentally, but I don’t think we will be having that problem in this game.
“It was our hurdle which we had to cross and we crossed it and now we are looking to playing at home and getting back that style and identity that we had.”