After missing out on their Copa America dream, Trinidad and Tobago’s Shannon Gomez is hoping they will have better fortunes in bringing their 2026 FIFA World Cup vision to fruition. However, he quickly pointed out that it will require players maintaining their work rate and never-say-die attitude to make it possible.

Gomez’s views came as he reflected on the tremendous work rate and commitment the Soca Warriors displayed throughout the 2023/24 Concacaf Nations League A campaign, which recently ended in a 0-2 play-in defeat to Canada in Frisco, Texas.

Though that loss denied them a coveted spot in the prestigious CONMEBOL Copa America tournament, Gomez, a defender, took heart from the overall Nations League outing and views it as a solid platform on which they can build heading into the Concacaf World Cup qualifiers in June.

“We need to stay focused on what’s next for T&T football. (We have to) think about the things we (dreamt) of as kids, and being able to qualify for a World Cup will be a massive achievement. There are no words to describe what that will mean for T&T and what it will mean for us as well,” Gomez said in a video interview with Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) media.

“Nobody goes out onto the field thinking that they are not going to win the game. We went to win the game and we had the opportunity to win the game. But overall, it’s about reflecting and taking the positives out of the game to push forward and continue producing great results for T&T,” he added as he reflected on the Canada defeat.

The Angus Eve-coached Soca Warriors are drawn in Group B for the second round of World Cup qualifiers, alongside Bahamas, Costa Rica, Grenada and St Kitts and Nevis. The top two teams in the group will advance to the final round where 12 teams will be split into three groups of four.

The teams will play six matches on a home-and-away basis, with the three group winners gaining automatic qualification for the 2026 World Cup to be co-hosted by Concacaf powerhouses Canada, Mexico and United States. The two best second-placed teams will then advance to an intercontinental playoff to fight for two World Cup spots.

Qualification would be the twin island republic’s second appearance at the global showpiece and Gomez is optimistic that the Soca Warriors will continue to improve both technically and tactically to accomplish the feat.

“For me personally, it’s about strengthening our strengths and working on our weaknesses to strengthen them as well,” the 27-year-old San Antonio FC player said.

“I think just focusing on that and keeping that as the focal point of the camp and from the top come down with TTFA and the continued support from the T&T fans. That will be the best thing moving forward and to be able to pick up some massive results coming up in the World Cup qualifiers,” he ended.

 

With an historic third-place finish at the Concacaf Nations League now out the way, Jamaica’s senior Reggae Boyz Head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson is hoping they can ride the momentum to an even bigger accomplishment, which is to qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

Though Hallgrimsson would have preferred the 2023/24 CNL title, as opposed to the bronze they secured with a 1-0 win over Panama, he believes the achievement represents a step in the right direction on their quest to add to the country’s 1998 World Cup feat.

“This is just a part of our journey. We were trying to build something for this tournament as there is a saying that ‘success is not a destination, success is not a date, it’s a continuous journey to the right direction’. So, we’re just working on improving this team, as our biggest goal at the moment is to try to reach the World Cup finals,” Hallgrimsson declared. 

Jamaica’s third-place battle followed a heartbreaking 3-1 extra-time loss to United States in an entertaining semi-final contest that they led from the very first minute, but lost after Corey Burke’s last-gasped own-goal brought the opponents back into the game.

Still, Hallgrimsson took the positives from the tournament, as he pointed to the psychologically importance and confidence gained heading into the prestigious CONMEBOL Copa America, which also serves as part of the Reggae Boyz preparation for the World Cup qualifiers.

“This is a good step to play important matches, to play big tournaments, and to play strong opponents like the United States and Panama. They are two of the three highest-ranked Concacaf teams and we showed that we are closing in on this gap, even with the number of players not with us. So, I have to give a lot of credit to the players for the way they presented themselves for Jamaica,” Hallgrimsson said.