Crunch time is here as "the biggest game since Bahrain" in the words ofSenior Men's Head Coach Stephen Hart, is played today. Panama is the location for the showdown between Trinidad and Tobago and Haiti for a spot in the special Copa America Centenario scheduled to be played in June of this year. The home team Panama will also be in action as they play Cuba for the final spot in the prestigious tournament.
While Cuba would be disenfranchised at there being forced to be the away team in a crucial one-off playoff, the french speaking Haitian and english speaking Trinbagonians are clashin in truly neutral territory with neither having clear advantage on the day. Unfortunately, on the last two occasions that T&T has faced Haiti on neutral territory we have been unable to win. In fact, the majority of our victories over the Haitians have come on home soil.
The Soca Warriors have been in good form since the 2015 Gold Cup though while Haiti have recently replaced their manager. Under Stephen Hart, the Soca Warriors have developed an athletic, attacking brand and a deep squad. Despite missing a few first team regulars in the form of Sheldon Bateau and skipper Kenwyne Jones, the team were just as convincing in a 3-3 draw against Mexico without those two players back then. Haiti on the other hand, are now rebuilding and rebranding and as such there is no clear indication on where they are just yet.
T&T are confident in the depth of their squad and the ability of the current team to get the job done. With good luck messages from chief playmaker Kevin Molino and and main striker Kenwyne Jones ringing in the teams ears as well as the motivation of "doing this" for the tragically shot Keron Cummings the team talk for Stephen Hart is made that much easier today.
The incentive of facing the likes of Neymar, Messi and Suarez is what makes this game that much more exciting for both teams. Warrior time is now and Haiti stands in the way of our prize. This is one time we will not be sorry to inflict further misery on our Caribbean neighbours to the north.
Haiti, we're not sorry...we will defeat you.