FIFA’s president, Gianni Infantino, said “football history” was made Thursday during a successful test of video replay in France’s 3-1 win over Italy.
Although the video replay during the friendly in Bari, Italy, had been labeled an off-line test, Infantino said it was used when Italy protested after a perceived hand ball by France’s Layvin Kurzawa.
“You could see that the referee stopped play for a couple of seconds, and during those seconds the two referees in the truck verified that there was no penalty,” Infantino told Rai TV.
Infantino added: “We’ve seen football history here. We’re in 2016, so it’s about time to try it.”
The only technological assistance currently used in soccer is for rulings regarding disputed goals. Infantino hopes video assistant referees will be used at the 2018 World Cup, when reviews could be expanded to cases of mistaken identity and determine if penalties should be awarded.
“Of course, we can’t resolve every problem that comes up, but let’s see if we can give the refs a hand on the key situations without interrupting play too much,” Infantino said.
Tim Howard who is set to move past former mentor and goalkeeping teammate Kasey Keller to become the USA’s all-time leader in World Cup qualifying appearances – 32 – is in goal for the US who needs only a draw to guarantee advancement to the all-important next six-team round and USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann is set to give 17-year-old rising star Christian Pulisic the iconic No10 jersey yet again as he did in the US 6-nil drubbing of St Vincent and the Grenadines Friday in Kingstown.
TT also has its experienced goalkeeper Marvin Phillips in form and coach Stephen Hart can answer Pulisic’s talent with a start for teenaged Levi Garcia whose pace and dribbling and shooting skills have been winning him raves.
The U.S. has long been dominant over Trinidad and Tobago , holding a 16 win-2-draw-4-loss all-time record and an 11-win-no draw-one-loss advantage on home soil.
Still, TT did well to hold the U.S. to a 0-0 draw during their first meeting of the round in Port of Spain and TT have already locked up their berth in the Hex by securing a 2-2 draw against Guatemala on Friday night.
“I think they’ve been playing tough,” said Howard. “They’ve played us down there 0-0, it was a tough game… We know that they’re dangerous – their pace and height and physically they match up with us well which a lot of teams don’t do, so we’ll have our work cut out for us.”
Holding a perfect 4-0-0 all-time record at Jacksonville’s EverBank Field, Howard thinks the semifinal round finale is important not only to earn first place in Group C, but to continue laying the foundation of the U.S. team’s home dominance for the final round.
“I’ve always said with qualifying, whether it’s the semifinal round or the Hex, winning your home games is paramount. Of course laying that foundation, letting people know that we don’t really get walked on at home, that’s important for us. It’s always playing in our mind, it’s always something that we’re cognizant of and we’re prepared to defend our home turf, Howard said.”