“This is where the competition begins for a pick for Egypt”
Those were the words of National Under 20 Team head coach Zoran Vranes as he looked ahead to Tuesday’s warm up encounter against United Arab Emirates’ Under 20 team at the Al Qatara Stadium on Al Ain, UAE.
Vranes put his players through their paces in a 90 minute session at the Al Ain training facility on a well kept lush green turn even under humid conditions as the temperatures reached 35 degrees for the second consecutive day.
The game will played at Al Qatara Stadium in Al Ain, (and not Al Ain Sports Complex as previously announced) from 6pm (10 am TT time) on Tuesday and the T&T team here has received confirmation from some 50 plus T&T nationals residing in Dubai that they will be at the venue to show their support to the junior “Soca Warriors” who are preparing for the 2009 FIFA Under 20 World Cup in Egypt in September.
Vranes, the man who guided the team out of the CONCACAF qualifying round, is expecting a tough contest from the UAE.
“Well we expect them to be tough. They have also qualified for the World Championship and they take their football very seriously here. We can expect them to be good technically and of course they will not want to lose at home” Vranes told TTFF Media on Monday.
“But we want these kind of matches. For our boys it could be difficult especially with the climate but this is what we need before we go to Europe. I have already told them that this period leading up to the World Cup will the hardest part for the team.”
He had a bit of a warning for the 20 players on the current tour, saying that no player should consider himself a guaranteed pick for the World Championship in Egypt where T&T will open the tournament against Egypt before facing Italy and Paraguay.
“It’s important and they have to know that not one of them can say they are sure to go to Egypt and now with this being our first international game since the World qualifiers, every player must show that he is of value to the team and is good enough to earn his pick for Egypt. Already I could probably say that we maybe are missing five starting players on this trip based on some of the players we have in mind who might be playing professionally abroad and once our plans go well then I can see them coming into the team for the tournament. But our boys now are eager to do well and everyone will have a fair chance to show that they can be part of the final team,” Vranes added.
Midfielder and team captain Leston Paul said his troops were looking forward to the match up against the hosts.
“Well it’s a bit hotter than normal here but so far today was our best day because we have settled in and we were able to have a good session under the conditions. It’s all part of the challenge in getting adapted quickly when we come out to play international matches. This is what we have to do in order to prepare for Egypt. We are looking forward to playing the UAE. I haven’t seen much of them but based on our knowledge of football in Asia we expect that they would give us a good run. I expect that they would be similar to Bahrain like when they played us in the qualification for the 2006 World Cup. We will work hard and try to get a good result to start the tour,” Paul said.