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T&T vs Costa Rica, 04-Feb-2007.
Tue Feb 6, 2007 04:41
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Soca Warriors bow heads: T&T outplayed by Costa Rica.
By: Ian Prescott (Express).


"I don't know if a lot of these players can make the next step," stated Trinidad and Tobago head coach Wim Rijsbergen.
"It was not a hard game...this is just the reality. We can see that making the next level will be a very difficult one. I guarantee that if we go with this team to Chile, for instance, it will be a much tougher game than this."
A cold dose of reality was administered on Sunday at the Morera Soto Stadium in Alajuela, Costa Rica, where the Ticos outplayed Trinidad and Tobago's Soca Warriors by a 4-0 margin, matching previous victories in 1998 and 1966. But neither of those outcomes is likely to be as comprehensive. A goal on either side of half-time by Alonso Solis (43rd and 52nd) and one apiece from Harold Wallace (31st) and Rolando Fonseca (57th) did the job for the home team.
That left Rijsbergen wondering which of these players are good enough to keep their place and vowing to continue the search for hidden talent.
At times, Sunday's match looked like a training session as the Costa Ricans ran rings around bewildered T&T players, defeating them with rudimentary one-two combinations, wall passes, or simple body movements.
The Ticos were flying at times, while the Warriors always travelled in slow motion. As Costa Rica played as though on a chess board, every move taking an opponent out of position, the technical inefficiencies of his players was not lost on Rijsbergen, a former World Cup defender with Holland.
"You see how easy people run around and go in the back of some of these players that's their level. We must be careful that guys don't just use us as training partners and then they blow us off the field. That's not what we are looking for," the Dutchman said. "That's why we need to mix these players with ones in England, to make these players better. It is very tough."
The onslaught began within the opening 30 seconds when Costa Rica had the ball in the back of the T&T net from a free-kick. But, although a home player was called offside by referee Ricardo Cerdas, a pattern was set. The Soca Warriors were always chasing shadows and conceding goals from poor defending.
Blame belonged to no one player, not even goalkeeper Jan Michael Williams, although his slippery finger-tips led to the opening goal. His defenders were taken out when Costa Rican striker Fonseca allowed a pass to run, making dummies of Osei Telesford and Nigel Daniel, and allowing overlapping midfielder Wallace to collect the ball behind them in the box. Wallace, who started the play at the half-line, then made an elementary cross into the box, which the keeper tipped into his goal.
Kerry Baptiste also never came to terms with the off-the-ball runs from Ticos left midfielder Leonardo Gonzales, who cut in-field with regularity, leaving the Jabloteh midfielder always struggling to keep up.
Anticipating Fonseca would pass the ball around the back of T&T right back Seon Power, Gonzales again left Baptiste and squared a pass to Solis for an easy second goal from the centre of the penalty area.
Seeing his right flank looking like an open highway, Rijsbergen replaced Baptiste with a fighting Kwame Wiltshire, who did marginally better.
Televison statistics showed the Soca Warriors having a paltry 40 per cent of possession, while they had not a single shot on goal in the first half.
His deceptive flair still made Kerwyn Jemmott one of the few Soca Warriors playing comfortably against the Ticos. He could not match their fitness or work-rate, but because Jemmott could also produce clever flicks and little shimmies, the Costa Rican midfielders approached him carefully.
Captain Densill Theobald also showed his World Cup experience, but once the two T&T central midfielders were not involved, the ball was lost.
Theobald said the game went beyond just the difficulty of playing a good Costa Rican team.
"The result was a disgrace to us. Especially after all the work we put in, and after so much the coach put in. Beside being quick players, they played a faster brand and there was always plenty movement off the ball. We get that from Central American players these days.
"But, life goes on. We will see this as a learning experience and, hopefully, we will be able to move on from this. I hope the boys learn from watching them and playing against them. I hope they can use it to their advantage to work on their own game. Games like these can only help us along the way. Tougher opponents and opponents we can learn from will help us to grow and move from strength to strength," Theobald added.
Assistant national coach Anton Corneal said the reality shows that T&T Pro League football is not getting local players up to international level at the moment, a statement supported wholly by Rijsbergen.
"You see the level these players come from, and the big problem they
have in coming up to the next level," said Rijsbergen. "In the Digicel Cup, we played against teams of the same level, and the next step will be very difficult. It's not just the physical part, it's the speed of the game, that's the physical fitness. There's also the mental part of the game if you want to win.
Yes or no."
Rijsbergen had no choice but to pull off Baptiste, though the Jabloteh midfielder was not the only one fooled by the blind runs. Wiltshire and Daniel allowed Gonzales to ghost between them, then lay off to Solis, who ran in and slapped a low shot past Williams for the third goal.
And later, Daniel failed to pay attention to the player sneaking up behind him and had no answer when Gonzales' teasing cross reached Fonseca at the far post. A neat stab and Costa Rica had a fourth.
Striker Darryl Roberts did better than any of the T&T forwards, getting a free header but turning over Christian Baptiste's cross, then later setting up Theobald for a shot straight at keeper Jose Francisco Poras.
However, bewildered faces and bowed heads told the Soca Warriors' story as they approached the team bus. Roberts' disappointment was no less hidden as he recounted the night's happenings.
"It was tough out there. The Central American teams do a lot of running off the ball. They really killed us with that. We needed to pay attention to holding onto our man tonight and we didn't. Hopefully, we will learn from the experience."
Rijsbergen cautioned that players who want to be part of his CONCACAF Gold Cup and 2010 World Cup squads have to be prepared to do work besides just training with the national team. He said all great players have found ways to improve themselves apart from the rest.
"We will analyse these games and say to each other which of these guys are good enough to make the next level. We will also look for some new players in the US, also in any part of the world and we need to look at the Pro League. If they drop back in the same speed and the same level in the Pro League, they will probably never make the difference," Rijsbergen pointed out, probably hoping deep down that at least one or two of the current squad still prove him wrong.

Final Score:

Costa Rica 4 (Harold Wallace 30th, Alonso Solís 44th, 54th, Rolando Fonseca 58th) v T&T 0.

Costa Rica: - 18.José Francisco Porras (1.Wardy Alfaro 71st), 3.Víctor Cordero, 4.Michael Umaña, 2.Jervis Drummond, 15.Harold Wallace (22.Tray Benneth 55th), 12.Leonardo González (17.Félix Montoya 78th), 6.Michael Barrantes, 14.Rodolfo Rodríguez, 10.Walter Centeno (16.Carlos Hernández 60th), 7.Rolando Fonseca (11.Andy Furtado 78th), 9.Alonso Solís (21.Kurt Bernard 58th).

CRC Coach: Hernán Medford.

Trinidad & Tobago: - 1.Jan Michael Williams, 5.Osei Telesford, 2.Dwayne Jack, 16.Seon Power, 17.Nigel Daniel, 14.Kerry Baptiste (8.Kwame Wiltshire 46th), 18.Densill Theobald (capt), 10.Kerwyn Jemmott (9.Scott Sealy 84th), 15.Christian Baptiste (13.Hayden Tinto 81st), 12.Gary Glasgow, 11.Darryl Roberts.

T&T Coach: Wim Rijsbergen.

CRC - TRI

60% possesion 40%
6 shots on goal 1
2 corner 2
4 offsides 1
16 fouls 11
2 yellows 2
0 reds 0
Rijsbergen- a lot more work in store.
By: Shaun Fuentes (TTFF).


National team captain Densill Theobald and his teammates will be hoping to get bouncing again and attempt to shrug off Sunday’s miserable 4-0 whipping to Costa Rica when they meet Central Americans Chile in another friendly international away on March 25.
T&T head coach Wim Rijsbergen said this would be the team’s next exercise as it continues preparations towards the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup in the USA which kicks off on June 6.
The Dutchman was reacting to Sunday’s heavy loss when he added that hopefully he will have access to some of his overseas-based talent for the upcoming internationals.
“It’s good when players themselves start to realize and talk about the difference in play,” Rijsbergen told TTFF Media.
“You hope it’s not just about playing one game but maybe a change in mentality is what is needed because they need to understand that more work is needed. When they go back to their clubs they must not be pleased too easily and that is what happens in local competition. There you can maybe do it with fifty percent of the energy and get results but you must also train harder with the idea of becoming better players. That is what I am trying to get into the heads of these guys,” Rijsbergen added.
“That is why you need the foreign talent to help them and to raise the level during training and in matches . They have to help in the process.”
“As a coach I want to improve things but the players also have to lift their standard at the local level. When we continue to just play at this level then the players might fool themselves into thinking they are at the top of their game and then when you have to play the other international teams you will see the difference. They will realize the game ask a bit more of them and that is what will happen to Darryl Roberts when he goes to Holland to join his new club but hopefully that will make him a better player when he has to come back and play for the national team and hopefully the same goes for the rest of them.”
“Our next game is March 25 against Chile and we need al the help we can get because Chile is better than Costa Rica. This will not be a fun game and we need the better players to be able to make the current crop make the jump. We will continue the process of looking for other players as well. Myself and Jan (Van Deinsen) will use the Carnival period to look at more players in Europe and also when the local League starts here again.”
Theobald meantime said his players would have hopefully received a wake up call.
“For the first game against Panama maybe the result and the performance wasn’t that bad because we didn’t get our luggage and we had to use some uniform from Panama to train with and so on. But against Costa Rica we were just very hesitant and the game may have gotten to the younger players. We didn’t get into our game and that was disappointing and the coach let us know that he wasn’t happy about that. We didn’t start playing until it was already 4-0.
“But this is definitely an experience the boys can take forward with them whether they are on the national team or not. What it makes them realize is that it takes a lot more out of you at the international level and hopefully we can all grow from it. We just have to get the best team ready to take on the other challenges,” Theobald added.

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