Head coach Dennis Lawrence says T&T’s celebrations over the Panama victory will be short-lived, as the side must now focus all their attention on Tuesday’s massive clash against Mexico at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo.
The hosts revived their 2018 World Cup dream when they edged Panama 1-0 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Friday night, marking their first win of the campaign after losing their opening two games against Costa Rica and Honduras last November.
But Lawrence warned his players that while they needed to enjoy the result and take confidence from it, Mexico would provide an even bigger challenge.
“We can enjoy it only for five minutes because the focus goes immediately onto Mexico,” the former national defender told a post-game media conference on Friday.
“We have to start preparing. We have to try and take advantage of the situation we are in; the boys are on a high at the moment but we need to start immediately on focussing on Mexico.”
He added: “[I feel] exactly the same as I felt going into the Panama game: optimistic, encouraged but obviously understanding that it’s not going to be easy by any means whatsoever.
“We’re going to have to work, we’ve got a short space of time to prepare for the game. The recovery is very, very important but going into the game I would like to think the boys are going with a little more confidence.”
MLS star Kevin Molino scored the only goal of the game in the 37th minute to put T&T ahead at half-time, and they defended well in the second half to come away with an important three points.
The side, which included veteran striker Kenwyne Jones along with experienced players like Khaleem Hyland and Cordell Cato, seemed to gel well on the pitch, and Lawrence said they had integrated the ideas put forward during the preparation phase.
“I think the players just took on board the work that we’ve been trying to do. The work is to be confident in what we are going to do,” he stressed.
“We have direction, we know exactly what we’re going to do, [we have to] be brave, be confident and go out and do it because you’ve got nothing to lose.”
He contiued: “We are in a situation now where we have to believe in the work that we are going to do. If we work on the training pitch and we work on certain things and then we go into the game and try and do something different, we’re defeating the purpose.”
Lawrence, in his first full international after taking over the troubled World Cup campaign in January, said the side had also sent a positive message to the country.
“I can’t fault the boys for their effort. I thought they all worked very, very hard, they worked as a group and they tried to five the public something [that said] ‘these boys are here fighting for the country.’”
Some 11,618 spectators witnessed the match. Due to the low ticket sales, the T&T Football Association did not give anyone the rights to carry the match on television.
In other CONCACAF qualifiers, Mexico defeated visiting Costa Rica 2-0 and the US won 6-0 at home against Honduras.