Trinidad happy to advance, plans Gold Cup course

Trinidad & Tobago (pictured) celebrates after scoring against Cuba in a CONCACAF Gold Cup match on July 12, 2015, in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo: Mexsport)

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina -- Andre Boucaud leaped into the air with his right arm extended before he was corralled by teammates Sunday night. The Trinidad & Tobago midfielder was celebrating his first-half goal in a 2-0 win against Cuba at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

The 30-year-old, though, was happy about something more. His team clinched a spot in the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals. It was the first time in 15 years that Trinidad advanced in the competition after winning two group games. The Caribbean champion can win the Group C title outright Wednesday with a win or a draw against Mexico at Bank of America Stadium.

“It was important for us to have qualified,” said head coach Stephen Hart. “No one gave us any chance back home to even win a game. That’s what they were saying. It’s important to the people. It’s important for the young players at home. It’s important for football.

“I am very happy for these young players because they believed in me and I showed faith in them. They were rewarded.”

Against Mexico, Hart signaled that he will consider his options to either rest or keep his regulars in the lineup.

“I have to manage the team, the rest, the yellow cards,” the 55-year-old remarked. “I will sit down with my staff and we will discuss exactly who plays and some players need to play, they haven’t played yet, they need to play to keep them fresh.”

One player who will not be in the lineup against Mexico is Boucaud. He received his second yellow card of the tournament against the Cubans.

Trinidad also expects to be without starting goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams, who came off in the first half of the Cuba match with a hamstring injury. Hart wasn’t sure how long Williams would be on the sidelines, but didn’t sound optimistic about his return.

“We have capable goalkeeping,” finished Hart. “I am not worried, but Jan is an inspirational leader. He marshals the defense. He’s an inspiration in the dressing room. You lose something when you lose somebody like him.”

Reserve Marvin Phillip finished the match with Cuba and could be in line for a start against Mexico.