Trinidad and Tobago's hopes of an historic qualification to the Copa America went up in smokes, as they suffered a 0-2 loss to Canada in their 2023/24 Concacaf Nations League Play-In encounter at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, on Saturday.

Cyle Larin (61st) and Jacob Shaffelburg (90+1) struck in the second half to lift Canada, who will now join Jamaica, United States, Mexico and Panama in the prestigious CONMEBOL tournament to be hosted in the United States in June. For Angus Eve and his Soca Warriors, it is back to the rebuilding phase to challenge for FIFA World Cup qualification, which also starts in June.

 

Canada started off controlling possession, but it was Trinidad and Tobago who nearly got the first goal in the 18th, when a counterattack ended with Levi Garcia swinging a shot just wide.

Meanwhile, Canada fired a pair of warning shots when Jonathan David shot wide in the 22nd, and then Larin’s effort in the 26th, was saved by Trinidad and Tobago custodian Denzil Smith.

The chances kept coming for both sides. Trinidad and Tobago's defenders Andre Raymond swooped in to steal a pass and fired wide in the 47th, before David had a header cleared off the goal-line in the 55th.

The match was due for a goal and Canada inevitably found the go-ahead goal duly obliged, as a nice build-up from Tajon Buchanan and Ike Ugbo set up a fine strike from Larin.

Down a goal, Trinidad and Tobago were forced to open up and commit more numbers forward. Garcia proved a menace to the Canadian defence, but the Soca Warriors lacked composure in the final third.

Trinidad and Tobago mounted several late forays forward, including a chance for Garcia in the 85th, but the veteran striker watched as his effort was saved by Maxime Crepeau, in goal for Canada.

However, Canada eventually doubled the lead and confirmed victory courtesy of Shaffelburg, who drove home from close range after picking up a pass from David in time added.

If the confidence exuded by captain Aubrey David and striker Levi Garcia is anything to go by, then Trinidad and Tobago’s Soca Warriors are poised to give Canada a tough run in their Copa America playoff contest in Frisco, Texas on Saturday.

Both David and Garcia declared intentions of the Angus Eve-coached team to leave everything on the pitch in a bid to upset their more fancied opponents and book an historic spot in the prestigious CONMEBOL Copa America.

The winner of the one-off encounter, will be placed alongside Chile, Peru and reigning Fifa World Cup champions Argentina in Group A for the June 20 to July 14 tournament to be held in the United States.

David, who is expected to have his hands full against a Canadian attack which includes Mallorca forward Cyle Larin, Lille attacker Jonathan David and electric Bayern Munich flanker Alphonso Davies, is determined to lead by example from his centre back position.

"With it being a one-off game, we have to give everything. We are 90 minutes away from making history and changing our lives forever. That's motivation to give everything, to die basically on the field. Anything can happen. We just need to believe in ourselves and try to make history," David told TT Football Association (TTFA) media.

"It's very important for the country and very important for our careers personally and as a team. I think we just need to settle and get focused, and take every day as a step. I think it is a big opportunity for us as a nation to be in the Copa America. It's the biggest thing for us after World Cup (qualification),” the veteran defender, who assumed the captaincy during last year’s Concacaf Nations League A campaign, added.

Meanwhile, Garcia, who has battled numerous injuries during the ongoing season with Greek champions AEK Athens, wants to deliver on the big stage after missing several games in the twin island republic’s Nations League A campaign.

Now back in form at AEK where he has 14 goals in 20 games in all competitions this season, Levi is motivated to put the red, white and black on his broad shoulders.

"It feels good to be back. It's always a pleasure to represent our country. We know the game that's at stake. From now, I usually picture myself either scoring or celebrating," Garcia said.

"I start preparing my mind from now for 90-plus minutes, fighting for every ball. I start seeing myself winning tackles, winning duels, winning everything and trying my best to get the win,” he added.

That said, the veteran striker expressed delight that he has the opportunity to not only represent his country again, but more importantly to possibly achieve a feat that would inspire younger players.

"A lot of people don't know how grateful we are to represent our country. There are a lot of younger guys looking at us for hope and for a way out. These types of games and these types of opportunities are what we need to grasp with both hands and try to set the platform right for these guys,” Garcia noted.

 

Having selected what, he believes to be a formidable squad, Trinidad and Tobago’s Head coach Angus Eve is now hopeful that is Soca Warriors will deliver the goods when the lock horns with Canada in their Copa America playoff encounter in Frisco, Texas, next week.

In fact, Eve would love nothing more than for March 23 to mark another special day in the annals of the twin island republic’s football history by taking the Canadians scalp and, by extension, securing a spot in the prestigious CONMEBOL Copa America.

The winner of the one-off encounter will make a debut appearance at the Copa America tournament, where they will contest group A alongside Chile, Peru and reigning Fifa World Cup champions Argentina. United States, Jamaica, Mexico and Panama are the other Concacaf teams in the tournament.

“We know how important the game is, this would be one of the most prestigious tournaments to go and represent our country in, if we get the victory. (A win) will put us on a different level, on a different map. That would open up a lot of doors for our players,” Eve said during a press conference shortly after naming his 23-player squad.

However, in order to win, Eve is well aware that the first need to defend well to keep the Canadians at bay, and also showcase their attacking prowess.

“We need to defend well—it’s like David against Goliath. It’s top players that they have, so we have to be astute defensively but also offensively. We have to express ourselves so that we can come out with a victory,” Eve declared.

The tactician has included Greece-based brothers, Levi and Judah Garcia in his squad, as both recently signalled a return to form from respective injuries.

“We’re very optimistic of Levi being fit and ready to play. He’s been doing well in [the Greek] League. He’s gone through injuries but we’re very happy to see the form that he’s in. Judah had a back injury and then a groin injury, so he was not available for us. He is back playing, he’s scoring goals, and we think that he can add goals from midfield,” Eve shared.

He also welcomed the return of Atlanta United midfielder Ajani Fortune to the Soca Warriors setup after a series of injuries.

“Ajani had some injuries that affected him, also he was fighting for a place in [his] team. We left him out sometimes by mutual consent, based on injury or a particular situation that was happening at his club,” Eve revealed.

That said, Eve declared that he selected his 23-man squad with a specific skillset in mind.

“[We looked at] the flexibility of the players, players being able to play multiple positions, based on the fact that we may want to change something during the game, and also the level of competition that the players are playing in, at this point in time. Also, giving the players who brought us to this point the opportunity to finish the job,” he ended.

Soca Warriors Squad: Christopher Biggette (Defence Force), Adrian Foncette (Police FC), Denzil Smith (Club Sando FC), Aubrey David (CS Cartagines), Ross Russell Jr (La Horquetta Rangers), Jesse Williams (Chattanooga FC), Robert Primus, Alvin Jones (both Police FC), Andre Raymond (GD Vilar De Perdizes), Shannon Gomez (San Antonio FC), Justin Garcia (Defence Force), Noah Powder (Northern Colorado Hailstorm), Daniel Phillips (St Johnstone FC), Kevon Goddard (Defence Force), Neveal Hackshaw (Oakland Roots), Andre Rampersad (HFX Wanderers), Nathaniel James (Mount Pleasant FA), Kaïlé Auvray ( Mount Pleasant FA), Real Gill (Northern Colorado Hailstorm), Levi Garcia (AEK Athens) Judah Garcia (AEK Athens B), Reon Moore (Pacific FC), Ajani Fortune (Atlanta United).

 

While he welcomes a recent signal of form from Levi Garcia, Trinidad and Tobago’s senior men’s Head coach Angus Eve is not grandstanding about the striker’s return just yet. Instead, he hinted at a wait-and-see approach, as selection will be dependent on Garcia maintaining a clean bill of health.

Eve’s comments followed the 26-year-old’s brace, which assisted his club AEK Athens to a 4-0 away win over Lamia in round one of the Greece Super League playoffs, on Sunday.

Garcia, who missed two of his club's last three games with a slight injury, signalled a return to fitness with the brace after he was introduced as a 78th-minute substitute. His tally now stands on 13 goals in as many matches, as he sits third on the Greek Super League scoring chart, while the win pushed AEK Athens to the summit of the standings.

Though undecided, Eve is optimistic that Garcia will remain healthy and consistent in form, as he is still in the process of finalizing a formidable Soca Warriors squad to tackle Canada in the Copa America qualifying encounter on March 23.

“We’re cautiously optimistic about Levi maintaining his form, and hopefully staying injury-free,” Eve told T&T Newsday.

Plagued by injuries, Garcia has not played for the twin island republic since coming on as a second-half substitute in their 0-3 first-leg defeat to the United Stated in the Concacaf Nations League, late last year.

However, there is no doubt about the pace and flair that Garcia brings to the team, once he is healthy.

“As you know, we haven’t really played with Levi (recently) and we do have a number of players who are playing (consistently). When not injured, Levi has been in tremendous form for his club and we would only hope that he can maintain that level of intensity and match fitness that we can have with our ranks,” Eve shared.

“(But) Everyone has to fight for their place and once they maintain their fitness and their match fitness, which are two different things, they have the opportunity to play for the country,” he added.

Aside from Garcia, Eve pointed out that he has also been keeping tabs on Jong PSV’s Dante Gilbert, who has increased his playing time after returning from injury, along with Judah Garcia, Levi’s younger brother representing AEK Athens B.

“We keep abreast of all the players by communicating with them individually, the coaches and, for the injured ones, our medical department deals with them. We work in synchronization with the clubs,” he declared.

Having watched his team rise against the odds to secure famous victory over United States in last year’s Nations League quarterfinals, Trinidad and Tobago senior men’s Head coach Angus Eve believes there is no task too difficult for the Soca Warriors to handle.

So, while he gears up for another challenging and demanding campaign, Eve is confident in the depth of his player pool, which he expects to showcase their competitiveness and possibly rewrite the history books.

Much like it was against United States, when the Soca Warriors came away 2-1 winners, Eve knows their CONMEBOL Copa America playoff contest against Canada will be tough, but he remains optimistic about his team's ability to overcome the stiff competition on March 23, and qualify for the prestigious Copa America tournament.

“Like the US team, the Canada team is built up the same, (with) a lot of European-based players. Some of the players (are) playing in the MLS (Major League Soccer), some playing back home, but most of the players are playing in Europe and they are playing with good teams,” Eve assessed.

“But we think we can go in there; we think we can compete with anyone right now and we want to show that. We want to show that confidence that we could go out on the park and compete with anyone,” he added.

Eve incorporated new players into his training squad for a recently-concluded four-day camp, which could be a move to bring a fresh dynamic to their gameplay. Still, he believes that with the right application, the team will compete strongly against Canada and, by extension, in the Concacaf World Cup qualifiers, which promises to be both demanding and exciting.

“We just have to be tactically aware. A coach can only give instructions. When the players go out there, they have to have the mindset to play the position, to play the role that the coaches give them to the best of their ability because, a coach could never tell a player what to do for every second of every minute of a game,” he reasoned.

The Soca Warriors will have two practice games against Jamaica early next month, ahead of the Copa America qualifier against Canada. The Reggae Boyz trip to Trinidad follows the Soca Warriors tour of Jamaica last year for two friendly matches.

“They promised to return that favour to us, so these two games are supposed to be in early March. We will use those games as the final two warm-up games going into the CONMEBOL playoff match and when that happens, then we will pick that final squad,” Eve declared.

He also welcomed the fact that two players –Reon Moore of Defence Force and Real Gill of Club Sando –have been signed to play overseas in the Canadian Premier League and United Soccer League, respectively.

This, the tactician believes is another step in the right direction to not only assist in the players preparations for the challenges ahead, but more importantly, for football in the twin island republic.

“It shows that the work that we are doing (is good) and people are identifying players again, because we (once) had the same set of players getting contracts all the time. This is a new batch of players who are getting contracts, and I could tell you, when people see them playing with the national team, that is how they get that sort of exposure,” Eve shared.

“It shows that people are watching us again and watching our players and that augurs well for the country and for the team on a whole,” he ended.

Having watched the Soca Warriors parade their skills at the 2006 FIFA World Cup with tremendous amount of pride, Trinidad and Tobago’s Denmark-born Marc Gangia was inspired to push to one day boast a successful career in which he achieved a similar World Cup feat.

Fast forward 18 years later, Gangia has now found himself in the right place to possibly bring that dream to fruition, as he was invited to the Soca Warriors setup by Head coach Angus Eve.

However, Gangia, 26, who earns his Trinidad and Tobago stripes through his father, knows all too well that breaking into Eve’s final squad for the upcoming Copa America qualifying playoff against Canada on March 24 and, by extension for the World Cup qualifiers later this year, will take some doing, but he intends to make the most of the opportunity.

"It is nice to be here. It is a big opportunity hopefully to be a part of (the squad). I remember the 06 World Cup and also following the (English) Premier League (with T&T footballers) Dwight Yorke and Kenwyne Jones and players like that," Gangia said, during a meet the press hosted by TTFA on Tuesday.

"It is a big step for the country if we could qualify for the (2026) World Cup and also (for the Copa America tournament) in the summer. It is a big match ahead in Canada, so we will see if we could get through,” he added.

Though it was his first time being called to a training camp with the Soca Warriors, Gangia, who is a striker for Danish fifth-tier side Dalum IF, pointed out that he is no stranger to the twin island republic.

"This is probably my fifth time now. My dad has a lot of family here, so we have been here a couple of times,” Gangia shared.

He also revealed that his call up was only a matter of timing, as things have been in process for almost a decade.

"Approximately ten years ago it started, but it has been a long process with the passports and all those kinds of things,” he said.

With his appetite for international action now open through the just-concluded four-day camp at Larry Gomes Stadium, which launched the Soca Warriors preparation for the campaign ahead, Gangia is now ready to raise his game even further to become a staple in Eve’s side.

“The weather is hot compared to Denmark so there is a transition I have to get used to, but I think the boys have been nice and taking good care of me, so it has been good so far,” he noted.

 

With their Copa America playoff fixture against Canada fast approaching, Trinidad and Tobago’s senior men’s Head coach Angus Eve recently called a 35-man training squad of mostly local-based players which is aimed at ensuring he fields the best possible squad for that crucial encounter next month.

The four-day camp, which ends on Thursday, not only provides the opportunity for players to impress the coach and secure a spot in the team, but also serves as preparation for the playoff contest scheduled for March 24. The winner of the playoff will qualify for the prestigious CONMENOL Copa America in June.

Along with players who were a part of the Soca Warriors unit that had a successful run to the Concacaf Nations League quarter-finals, Eve extended a first-time invitation to German-born Keenon Erfuth, whose mother is Trinidadian, and Denmark-based Marc Gangia, who is eligible to represent the twin island republic through his father.

Gangia, 26, is a forward with Danish fifth-tier team Dalum IF, while 21-year-old Erfuth, also a forward, is currently with German association football club VfR Neumünster.

Having enjoyed good form last year when they also registered an historic 2-1 win over United States, Eve is keen to build on that foundation.

“It’s a great chance for us to get some of the guys together as a group again because as you would have seen, the majority of them would have returned to their clubs and have been very active in the local league since November,” Eve told TTFA Media.

“There are few regulars in this squad, but we also took the opportunity to invite some players, who we believe have been showing up and performing for their clubs in the local premier league,” he added.

Following the Copa America qualifiers, Eve’s next focus will be the 2026 Concacaf World Cup qualifiers, which is scheduled for June. The Soca Warriors will contest Group B alongside Costa Rica, St Kitts and Nevis, Grenada and Bahamas.

“There is a lot of international football coming up with the Copa America qualifier being the most urgent assignment, but of course, there are the World Cup qualifiers following soon after in June. These sort of windows where we can have some time with the players available are extremely important for us,” Eve noted.

Trinidad and Tobago Training Squad: Kaihim Thomas, Reon Moore, Jamali Garcia, Christopher Biggette, Jabari St Hillaire, Kevon Goddard, Justin Garcia, Brent Sam, Nathaniel Garcia, Justin Sadoo (all Defence Force), Duane Muckette, Michel Poon-Angeron, Liam Burns, John-Paul Rochford, Isaiah Leacock (all AC Port of Spain), Real Gill, Shervohnez Hamilton, Kai Moos, Jamal Jack (all Club Sando), Luke Phillips, Denzil Smith, Justin Cornwall, Mark Ramdeen (all Point Fortin Civic), Alvin Jones, Robert Primus, Adrian Foncette (all Police FC), David Daniel, Ross Russell Jr, Isaiah Lee (all La Horquetta Rangers), Mickaeel Jem Gordon (1976 FC Phoenix), Rhondel Gibson (Eagles FC), Keenon Erfuth (VFR Neumunster—Germany), Marc Gangia (Dalum IF—Denmark), Jonathan Assue (unattached).

With Trinidad and Tobago’s Copa America playoff against Canada fast approaching and their opponents for the 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign revealed, Head coach Angus Eve is cautiously optimistic about the way forward.

This, as he believes his senior Soca Warriors are in a much better place ahead of this year’s campaign compared to last year when they had a fairly successful run, which included an historic victory over United States in the Concacaf Nations League quarterfinals.

Should they secure an upset victory over Canada in the upcoming March 23 fixture, Trinidad and Tobago would qualify for the prestigious Copa America tournament to contest Group A alongside Argentina, Peru and Chile.

The Soca Warriors are also set to contest Group B in the second round of the Concacaf World Cup qualifiers alongside Costa Rica, St Kitts and Nevis, Grenada and Bahamas.

Eve, who views the ongoing T&T Premier Football League, as well as pre-season football for his foreign-based charges in North America as an additional boost, pointed out that they have already started plotting the way forward.

“We had a strategy meeting where we planned our way forward. We have been speaking individually with everybody in their individual roles. This is what the collective meeting (was about), to bring back in all the data and plan the way going forward,” Eve told TTFA in a recent interview.

The tactician credited T&T Premier Football League’s tier one and tier two competitions for improving his talent pool to some extent.

“It has been tremendous and refreshing for us because every (national training) camp that we would have gone in previously the locally based players weren’t playing (regularly), and we had to do a lot of work to bring (them) up to match fitness,” Eve reasoned.

“Now they are playing, the league is going well. I think it’s very competitive so we can see that the players are playing much sharper. I thought that this (second) season the boys would be playing a lot faster, and they are. So, it’s good for us and we want to bring them in,” he added.

That said, Eve welcomed the fact that surging young talents Tyrese Spicer of Toronto FC and Colorado Rapids’ Wayne Frederick II, are now among the potentials for a national call-up.

“We have some new boys who will get the opportunity to come in the camp and work with us in that environment. We have seen a lot of nice young players coming through the league.

"The players in Canada, the players in the US are already in pre-season with their clubs so they will get a lot of pre-season matches under their belt. It’s a lot more game time and also that we have the few players in Europe, they are still in action and playing,” Eve noted.

“(So) I think we’re in a better place going into this round of matches because soon after, we’ll have the World Cup campaign to start,” he ended.

Former Trinidad and Tobago representative Shaka Hislop lauded the move to keep Angus Eve at the helm of the senior men’s programme for an extended period, especially with the scheduling for what will be a busy 2024 campaign.

Eve's initial extension from September 2023 to March 2024, was merely to lead the Soca Warriors into Copa America playoff battle against Canada on March 23, but he was later awarded another contract, which will be for the duration of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualification campaign.

Hislop, the decision to keep Eve beyond the Copa America playoff was a common sense one.

Eve guided the Soca Warriors through a fairly successful 2023 campaign in which they secured League A promotion in the Concacaf Nations League. Beyond that, Eve also saw the team to a memorable 2-1 victory over United States in Nations League second-leg quarter-finals action, which followed their second-place finish in the group stage, where Trinidad and Tobago toppled Curacao, El Salvador and Guatemala.

“It sets the stage for what is needed for a campaign in terms of the qualification for World Cup 2026,” Hislop said during an interview on the i95.5 Sports programme.

“It makes a lot of sense, given how thick and fast the games are coming. I am not sure there is any sort of opportunity for any change over, if a changeover was deemed necessary. So purely from a continuity perspective, it makes a lot of sense,” he added.

Though admitting that he knew little about the country’s football association’s financial status, Hislop also believes Eve’s extension made sense from a financial perspective, even as he distanced himself from the political aspects of things.

“I don’t have many thoughts on T&T football and the reason being I don’t feel we can advance; I don’t feel with the NC, that is in charge of T&T football, there is any sense of accountability. No one can say if they are doing a good or bad job,” Hislop argued.

“They are in place, in power because of a FIFA mandate. That is the only body that they have to account to. So we have a football leadership that doesn’t have to account to the stakeholders of T&T football, to the fans of T&T football. So our failing or our success, relative as they may be, are irrelevant until they have somebody to account to,” he opined.

On that note, Hislop pointed out that the upcoming TTFA elections were necessary to restore order in how the country’s football is handled.

“It is a step in the right direction in terms of regaining that sort of normalcy and who we are—in charge of our own affairs...It is important that we at least get back to that starting point. Otherwise, I just felt that we weren’t going anywhere,” he said.

“(The new members of the executive) have to appease the fans, the greater good of T&T football. Now your primary responsibility cannot be to those men who hold the greatest power in world football and so, again, the longer lasting impact, the stagnation of our football...we can only guess at. My belief is everybody that comes in will have to recognise who their primary responsibility is (to). It is no one on these shores,” Hislop ended.

After initially being given a contract to lead Trinidad and Tobago's senior men’s team into Copa America playoff battle against Canada in March, Angus Eve was granted an extension, and will now remain at the helm until 2025.

Eve's extension, which was recently announced by the country's Football Association, will be for the duration of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualification campaign.

The tactician's initial extension from September 2023 to March 2024, resulted from a fairly successful 2023 campaign in which he guided the Soca Warriors to League A promotion in the Concacaf Nations League. Beyond that, Eve also saw the team to a memorable 2-1 victory over United States in Nations League second-leg quarter-finals action, which followed their second-place finish in the group stage, where Trinidad and Tobago toppled Curacao, El Salvador and Guatemala.

With his contract worries now out the way, Eve's immediate focus will be on their assignment against Canada on March 23, as victory against another North American powerhouse, would see the twin island republic into the CONMEBOL Copa America later this year.

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to continue to serve the country in a positive manner," Eve declared.

"Hopefully, we can develop and harness the young talent that we have, to give ourselves the best opportunity to qualify for another World Cup," he added.

Normalization Committee Chairman Robert Hadad explained how they came by the decision.

"A few months ago, Angus was given an extension as we believed he was the right individual to take us into League A and what he, his staff and the players have been able to achieve is commendable.

"The Normalization Committee’s tenure is winding down and we have been consistent with a cautious approach to the negotiation of contractual agreements with staff beyond our time (tenure). We met with Angus, explained our position, and discussed plans for the future. Angus has led the team extremely well and we believe that we have been able to (now) settle on a new agreement that is a win-win, in the best interest of the Association and Angus," Hadad shared.

“It was critical that any agreement allowed for each party to be protected and so that the Association has little to no risk of making missteps as in the past, which resulted in significant unpaid debts to coaches, team members and suppliers. We are excited for the future as we head into a World Cup qualification year,” he added.

Trinidad and Tobago’s senior men’s Head coach Angus Eve says the opportunity still exists for players that were left out of the squad last year following their subpar Gold Cup showing, to make a return for the 2024 campaign.

Eve’s declaration came as he reflected on the Soca Warriors’ fairly successful 2023 outing in which they contested the Nations League A quarterfinals, and even registered a famous 2-1 second-leg victory over United States.

For that period, Eve opted for a squad without players such as former captain Kevin Molino, who after missing out, announced his retirement from the international game.

“The door is always open to the guys. I think some of them have served Trinidad tremendously through difficult times. I think sometimes people don’t know the struggles players go through and as a past player myself, I understand. I never want somebody to go out of the game feeling that they are dissatisfied, and we didn’t treat them right and didn’t give them a proper send-off,” Eve said during a recent interview with TTFA.

That said, Eve pointed out that age was and will never factor in the selection process, provided players performance are on par.

“I have no right to retire any player. The door is open to those guys once they continue to perform. I think age is not a factor. I just believe at that point in time we needed to clean up shop and we needed to get guys to buy back into the philosophy and what we were trying to do, and the project we were building,” he explained.

With the Copa America playoff against Canada to come in March, followed by 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers later in the year, Eve reiterated his openness to give players a shot to challenge for spots in his squad, but in the same breath, stressed the need for humility in their push for more success.

“Some players took it on their own to come out and say they are retired but I would say the door is not closed for the guys, and if they do get an opportunity, then they must conform to what the team wants to do. No one man is bigger than the team, not even me,” Eve noted.

“Nobody thought we would have been here. We are now in the last eight in Concacaf and fighting in the last four for a place in the Copa America,” he ended.

Despite being pleased with how things went last year, Trinidad and Tobago’s senior men’s Head coach Angus Eve, says there is still more work to be done with sights set on this year’s Copa America and, by extension, 2026 FIFA men’s World Cup qualification.

Eve’s men will kick the year off with the Copa America playoff against Canada in March, where victory would put them into the prestigious CONMEBOL tournament scheduled to take place in the United States in June.

“We said we want to go back to where we are competing against these teams. We are now in the last eight of Concacaf, fighting in the last four for a place in the Copa America. Who would have thought in a couple of months we would have been here?” Eve asked rhetorically, during an end-of-year interview with TTFA Media.

One of the Soca Warriors’ biggest accomplishments for 2023, was their 2-1 victory over United States in the second-leg of the Concacaf Nations League A quarterfinals.

Still, Eve pointed out that the work continues.

“There is a lot more to be done. Player development, exposure for players is so important and playing at the higher levels consistently. Then, we will get more players playing outside of Trinidad and Tobago like we used to,” he said.

“The clubs have to understand that sometimes you need to take the players for four days. We have to work in tandem with each other to get the players where we want them to be,” Eve added.

Reflecting on their journey since 2021, Eve confessed that explained that much like the players, he too has benefited from exposure via coaching courses, and rubbing shoulders with top coaches in the region.

“It has motivated me even more to do well because of the level of professionalism; the type of people you’re rubbing shoulders with. You learn by having conversations (and) the most that I would have learned is when I have conversations with other coaches at the side, or with the tutors and lecturers,” Eve revealed.

Looking ahead, the tactician hopes for greater Government and corporate support, as he requested a more professional approach, improved staffing, proper processes put in place, and regular exposure for his charges.

“The local players need to be playing more. Even if we get an international game every two months,” Eve declared.

“America came down with about 35 (staff) members. They had a whole hospital set up. They had a whole technical department set up with all the analytics and things. Our department is one guy, McShine and the other department is one guy, Derek King. And the other department (medical) is one guy, doctor Danai. Everything is one guy, when other people have departments for these things,” he stressed.

Angus Eve received a contract extension to lead Trinidad and Tobago’s Soca Warriors into their crucial Concacaf Nations League playoff against Canada, as they hunt a spot in next year’s prestigious CONMEBOL Copa America tournament.

Should the Soca Warriors succeed in bettering their North American opponents in March, the possibility exists that Eve might not be the one to lead them beyond that, as he is not expected to receive a new contract before the Normalisation Committee’s term ends, also in March.

This was confirmed by the Normalisation Committee’s chairman Robert Hadad, on Saturday.

Eve, who recently blasted the twin island republic’s football fraternity for its lack of support, got his desire where signing a new contract is concerned, but Hadad ruled out another extension by the Normalisation Committee, whose own tenure will also end in March.

“His contract ends in March when our term ends, so in principle we agreed that we wanted the coach to run the same timelines as the Normalisation Committee,” Hadad said on the ISports radio programme on Saturday.

“Subsequent to that, the new in-coming president and the new in-coming ex-co (executive committee) can decide who they want to be their coach. Angus would have every opportunity with them to prove himself before (the end of his tenure) and hopefully, they would continue, and they would make that decision. But in principle, we did say all along that we do not think that we should be hiring a coach or anybody for that matter to exist beyond our term,” he added.

Hadad was also reluctant to have the Normalisation Committee extend itself more than necessary before its tenure ended.

“The Normalisation Committee has been making a lot of decisions without a technical committee in place and we believe that we need to give the new, in-coming executive committee the opportunity to set the football and Trinidad and Tobago Football Association up the way they want it,” he said, as he threw his support behind Eve.

“Angus though I would say is exceptional. He’s done a fantastic job, Angus and his entire team. I would expect him to be very professional because it is in his interest, if his desire is to continue coaching Trinidad and Tobago, to perform in that game on the 23rd,” Hadad noted.

Eve guided the Soca Warriors through a spirited Concacaf Nations League campaign, as they topped their group in League A action, and progressed to the quarterfinals where, despite losing on aggregate, they inflicted a famous second-leg defeat on United States.

Hadad pointed out that the Normalisation Committee always had confidence in Eve’s leadership.

“We were very optimistic that we would perform well all along. Angus took us to where we are today, and we had faith in Angus all the way through. We understood what his development plans were; he was very candid with us, he explained to us what he was doing and when something didn’t go right, he would not be running and hiding, he would be discussing the matter with us,” Hadad shared.

“We thought him (to be) the best option to get us to where we are today. Now that he has gotten us here, yes, it is a little uncomfortable that his term ends in March and he has this very big game, but we believe if he gets us into that game against Argentina (opening Copa America match) and we manage to defeat Canada, we think that the new executive committee would consider him,” he opined.

CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani believes next year's Copa America will serve as perfect preparation for the 2026 World Cup.

Joining the 10 South American teams in the 2024 Copa America, which will be held in the United States, will be six teams from CONCACAF.

The USA, Mexico, Jamaica and Panama are already assured of their places in the tournament, with Costa Rica or Honduras and Canada or Trinidad and Tobago to take the remaining two spots.

With the expanded, 48-team World Cup in 2026 also taking place in North America, CONCACAF president Montagliani hopes the Copa America presents the perfect opportunity for the federation's teams to prepare.

"It's evidence of when leadership and two very important confederations come together and put football first. The game is going to win here because you're going to have a great tournament next year," Montagliani told Concacaf.com.

"I think we realised early on that we needed to make sure that we made our own competitions better, like our Nations League, our Gold Cup.

"This was an opportunity, after speaking with my counterpart, Alejandro Dominguez, to come together and partner with them, not just on the men's side like we have now with Copa America, but also on the women's side with a Women's Gold Cup.

"This fits in well with our strategy to increase not only the quantity of competitions, but also the quality of competitions, and this will help our teams prepare for the World Cup in our backyard.

"FIFA is also going to have the Club World Cup here in 2025 and I think from a fan's perspective, I'm not sure we've ever had this, so it's a great time to be involved in the game, at whatever level you are.

"I think it's a bit of a coming out party for our region. Obviously, we've struggled in the past at many levels, but I think, as I said a long time ago, for the work we've done in the last six years, we deserve the right to think long-term.

"We also now deserve the right to enjoy the present and all the football that is coming our way."

Reigning Copa and world champions Argentina were placed in Group A in Thursday's draw, alongside Peru, Chile and Canada or Trinidad and Tobago. The USA will face Uruguay, Panama and Bolivia in Group C, while Brazil will go up against Colombia, Paraguay and Costa Rica or Honduras in Group D.

Two CONCACAF teams should also fancy their chances of progressing from Group B, with Mexico and Jamaica – who count the likes of Leon Bailey, Michail Antonio and Demarai Gray in their squad – going up against Venezuela and Ecuador.

The draw opened up as such that another Argentina-Brazil final could be on the cards.

Lionel Messi has been consulted by Lionel Scaloni as the Argentina head coach ponders his future in charge of the national team.

Scaloni led Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar last year, and in February, signed a contract keeping him at the helm through to the 2026 World Cup.

That tournament will be co-hosted by the United States, where next year's Copa America takes place.

Reigning Copa champions Argentina were placed in Group A in Thursday's draw. They will take on Peru, Chile, and either Canada or Trinidad and Tobago. 

However, there is doubt over Scaloni's future, with the 45-year-old unsure as to how long he will continue in his role, and he confirmed in the wake of the draw that he has held talks with Argentina captain and talisman Messi.

"I spoke with Leo, we are going to talk again in a few days and from there we are going to make a decision, the best decision for the Argentina national team which is the most important thing," Scaloni told beIN SPORTS.

"There's nothing wrong with the AFA leadership. My doubts are not in that area, but from something football-related, thinking about what's coming and feeling good and about being ready for it.

"The bar is high and we need a lot of energy and for everyone to understand what's coming. It is a personal decision and that of the coaching staff."

In an interview with TyC, Scaloni explained: "In principle, I am here because I am the coach. I said it after the match against Brazil that it is a personal moment to think. It is important after everything that we have achieved. We have to think about everything that is coming and see what we can do.

"The players are very good, the team is very good, they need a coach who is good, with all the energy. I said it and I repeat it, they need a coach who is at their level. It is time to think. I still think the same.

"It is necessary to do things well, with someone who is 100 per cent focused, who knows what is coming. Important things are coming, very demanding."

Argentina will take on either Canada or Trinidad and Tobago on June 20 in Atlanta, before heading to New Jersey to face Chile. Their final group match, against Peru, will take place in Miami, where Messi now plays, on June 29.

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