National Under 20 coach Anton Corneal has finalized a 20-man squad to take part in the upcoming Caribbean Zone Under 20 qualifying tournament which will be played here from August 4-8.
Corneal along with assistant coach Brian Williams have been preparing a local team for the past four months towards one of the four groups which will be contested in the CFU. Each group winner will advance to a home and away two game second round series in September from which each winner of the two ties will advance to the CONCACAF Finals in January, 2005. The 2005 World Youth Championship will be held in the Netherlands.
T&Ts first game is against Guyana on August 4 with matches against Grenada and Barbados to follow in the same week all at the Marvin Lee Stadium. Corneal mentioned that players from throughout T&T were scouted and he feels the best set of players were selected to represent the country, barring the fact that four promising players have been forced to miss out due to injury. They include defender Jamal Warner (groin strain), Kezi Lara (groin strain), Marcelle Francois (instep) and Kempes Villafann (groin strain).
We have searched the country and came up with the best possible set of players. This preparation has been ongoing for the past four months and with this being our third camp currently, we are hoping to have everything in place for the competition, Corneal told TTFF Media on Thursday.
He credited the scouting system put in place by technical director Lincoln Phillips.
The system put in place by Lincoln was a great help to us because we were able to have a wider look at the talent in the country and the national under 20 league was also valuable because it allowed us to have more players at our disposal.
He added that two players campaigning in the United States are also in the team while at least four have come out of Tobago including former Under 17 player Makan Hislop, who is the nephew of goalkeeper Shaka Hislop. Canadian-based defender Kirk Hearn is also in the squad as well as Kevin Crooks out of Young Harris College. It took us a while to break it down to the final team because at first we had a squad of 37 players and only seven players from that group are in the final team which gives you an idea as to how many players were looked at. Most of our players are just under the age limit and this is a plus to us because it means we have a group of mature guys who are really just turning into young adults, Corneal added. Overall we are pretty solid in every position and what we may lack in experience, I am positive that we can make up in it with the will to succeed, he ended.
Coach Corneal has promised a display of good gamesmanship and fight from the team which has been preparing for this stage for the past four months.
He had a final session with the squad at the Marvin Lee Stadium on Tuesday evening minus Under 17 standouts Gorian Highley and Josimar Belgrave. Corneal explained that the talented duo were originally part of the training squad but were omitted due to lack of appearances in training sessions and camps.
We did have them in the team but of course for various reasons we could not include them in the final team. Just not training for whatever reasons and not being consistent up to about four weeks ago was not acceptable. Highley did not attend our camp a few weeks ago and we just could not have guys like these representing our country. I still hope that they make a change and can represent the country in the future, Corneal told TTFF Media.
T&T Under 20 Squad:
Colin Belgrave (W Connection), Thorne Holder (San Juan Jabloteh).
Ancil Farrier (South West Drillers), Devon Maxwell (North East Stars), Joel James (Defence Force), Kirk Hearn (Vanier College), Keegan Mills (Tobago United), Karlon Murray (San Juan Jabloteh), Makan Hislop (capt - University of South Carolina), Radanjah Abu Bakr (Arima Morvant Fire).
Bryan Cumerbatch (Queens Park), Clevon George (Defence Force), Gabriel Lashley (Tobago United), Keon Daniel (St Clair Coaching School), Kevon Neaves (St Anthonys College), Terrel Elwin (San Juan Jabloteh).
Abiola Sandy (Arima Morvant Fire), Christopher Sam (San Juan Jabloteh), Kevin Crooks (Young Harris College), Shane Calderon (W Connection). First Round Fixtures:
Group A In Trinidad & Tobago.
4 August: Barbados Grenada; Trinidad & Tobago Guyana 6pm and 8pm.
6 August: Guyana Barbados; Grenada Trinidad & Tobago 6pm and 8pm.
8 August: Guyana Grenada; Trinidad & Tobago Barbados 4pm and 6pm.