After just one match, Trinidad and Tobago knows it is not going to the Olympics. One match! The Soca Warriors didn’t even get close enough to really dream of a trip to Rio, but the more worrying part is what this qualification means for their future.
The Trinidad and Tobago U-23’s were bounced from contention from a spot at the Olympics because of a 5-3 loss. To Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. In its opening match. When it would’ve had to win the group stage of Caribbean qualifying.
The team then would’ve had to move on to win a semifinal, which would’ve taken it to the CONCACAF U-23 Championship. Then Trinidad and Tobago would’ve had to finish in the top three in order to qualify for the Olympics. With one smackdown from St. Vincent, Trinidad and Tobago finished about four steps short of qualification.
Unfortunately for Trinidad and Tobago, this was coming. The U-20 team from three years ago got knocked out in the Caribbean preliminary round and doesn’t appear to have improved much since. Then there’s the little problem of the coach not knowing when qualifying started:
“If I knew (earlier) our qualifiers started in June, I would not have accepted,” manager Zoran Vranes told Wired868 in April, after being unveiled as coach. “I had information that it was in August. I have a month to prepare the team but I will not say that we have no chance…”
Vranes also wasn’t given the chance to properly prepare his team. He tried to schedule five friendlies against international opposition, but was told that none of them could be played because of financial reasons, although he did finally get one against Nicaragua.
Oh, and Vranes also didn’t get to call in the players he wanted. That’s because 15 of the 20 players he originally put on his qualifying roster did not get visas. When the team showed up in Puerto Rico for the opening qualifying match, it was with just 12 players.
So let’s go through the checklist for a successful team:
– Knowing when qualifying starts
– Having a manager who wants to be there
– Prepare with friendlies
– Call in your best players
– Get visas so those players can show up
Trinidad and Tobago struck out on every single one of those.
There once was a time when Trinidad and Tobago was one of the better teams in CONCACAF. And it’ll have a chance to make a run in the Gold Cup and to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. But the team probably won’t be anywhere near the top after long. Teams unable to figure out the basics are teams that get thrashed by Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and find their dreams dashed after just one game.