Angus Eve, coach of this country’s national Under-23 (Olympic) football squad will depart today at 9.45 am for Suriname on a scouting mission.
Eve, who led T&T past the first round of the Caribbean Football Union London Olympic qualifiers last month in Dominica will witness Group A action involving host Suriname, Jamaica, St Vincent and The Grenadines and Cayman Islands at the Andre Kamperveen Stadium, Paramaribo.
The four-team group which will qualify one team to the second round kicks off tomorrow until Sunday. In addition to the young Soca Warriors who won Group B after wins over Grenada (1-0) and Dominica (4-0) and a 1-1 draw with Netherlands Antilles; Cuba and St Kitts/Nevis have also booked places in the next round.
The Cubans qualified after beating Aruba (7-0) and Guyana (1-0) in Group C while St Kitts/Nevis had victories over St Lucia, Antigua & Barbuda and Haiti, all by 2-1 margins at home last week.
Speaking via telephone yesterday, Eve, a former national captain and coach at Adams’ Construction San Juan Jabloteh and Ma Pau said he has to take every opportunity on offer to better prepare his team for the next phase of the tournament which will be held in November at a venue still to be decided.
Asked what he knew of the teams that have qualified so far, Eve said Cuba is still an unknown quantity while he has some video footage of St Kitts/Nevis.
“We were not able to send any member of the technical staff to St Kitts/Nevis to have a first hand view of the team but we have arranged to get some tapes of the three matches they played.
The group in Suriname is going to be a very interesting one with the host, Jamaica and St Vincent and The Grenadines all in there.
“From seeing the senior team of St Vincent and The Grenadines in recent times we know a number of the players are eligible to play at this tournament so we expect them to have a good team while Jamaica has a number of players coming back from Colleges in the USA.”
Looking ahead to his own team’s continued preparations Eve was quick to note the current financial state of the T&T Football Federation will play a major role. “As we know the local federation is not as strong financially as we will like it to be so it’s going to be difficult for us to plan too much ahead.
“We have a very good group of about 30 players we can choose from and with time and matches under their belt they will get better.
Asked if he will be calling on any of the foreign-based players to strengthen the team, Eve said he has to be carefull with the amount of new players he brings into the team as this could throw off team chemistry.
“I’m very confident in the group of players that we currently have in training but at the same time there are a number of key positions we still have to fill, like a natural number ten to control things in midfield.
Reflecting on the first round group win, Eve said, “That was only the first phase we’ve completed and we have a lot of work to put in. “We will have a no-nonsense approach for the next stage as well. I will be looking at the discipline of the guys both on and off the pitch,” Eve said.
“We came out undefeated and it reflected in our defensively play. We only conceded one goal in three games and a lot of our defenders were only now making their international debut. The team spirit and fitness was excellent and the ball possession was phenomenal.
“This augurs well for football in T&T as a lot of coaches come in and think they need to get all the guys from overseas all the time,” said the former Joe Public, Defence Force and Chester City player.