CONCACAF News: Can T&T Play Spoiler?
Trinidad and Tobago are the least worthy Hexagonal participant. Not only did they use a weak semifinal group and the willingness of the United States to play reserves down in Port of Spain to their advantage, but they saw Jamaica, a Caribbean rival bounced from a stronger group with more points. Then the Soca Warriors did not even qualify for the Gold Cup being beaten out by a Grenada side that did not have Jason Roberts or Shalrie Joseph.
T&T however, have gotten two huge additions for the second half of the Hex. Bobby Zamora and Jlloyd Samuel have received Trinidad and Tobago passports this week, after playing for England at the U-21 level. Both will be called into the full national side for this week’s critical World Cup qualifier versus El Salvador.
Zamora instantly becomes one of the most useful players in the region. He holds up the ball well in tight spaces and had scored a ton of goals in the English lower leagues before becoming an effective Premiership player.
Samuel was at once upon a time one of the better left sided defenders in the Premier League. This in fact led to a few England call ups under Sven Goran Eriksson, but the player was never actually fielded in a competitive international match.
His time at Aston Villa was rocky, at one time being one of the league’s best while at other times being played with the reserves. Martin O’Neil didn’t have much use for Samuel and he was free transferred to Bolton.
Since that point, under first Liverpool great Sammy Lee and now Gary Megson, Samuel has become a Premier League regular again and will upgrade Trinidad and Tobago’s defense substantially.
These additions could be too little, too late for the Soca Warriors. But they will have an affect on who does actually qualify for the World Cup.
Mexico and the United States still must travel to Port of Spain to face what is suddenly a tougher Soca Warriors side. Honduras and Costa Rica have completed their trip to the islands and must be considered a clear favorite to take all 3 points when T&T comes to Central America.
But if Trinidad can hold Mexico or the USA to a draw at home, while losing as expected away from home, these additions could be beneficial for the Ticos and Hondurans in the bigger picture of CONCACAF qualifying. Both faced a T&T side in the first half of the Hex that was substantially weaker. Additionally, Honduras without David Suazo for much of qualifying should be stronger anyway from here on out.
As for Honduras, they need to claim all three points at home versus Costa Rica on Wednesday do keep any realistic hope of finishing 3rd alive. The Hondurans, who have been unsettled by this summer’s political events at home still have a trip to Azteca and a tough home matchup with the USA after the game versus the Ticos.