Trinidad and Tobago Senior Team head coach Hutson Charles announced his 20-man squad at practice on Saturday morning for the upcoming opening phase Group 5 challenge in the Caribbean Cup in St Kitts/Nevis.
The 20-man squad, Charles believes is a well- balanced one and includes six players from the T&T Under 23 squad that progressed to the final stage of 2012 Olympic qualifying earlier this year.
These players also have the experience of playing in a FIFA Under 20 and Under 17 World Cup dating back to 2007 in South Korea.
Charles will have the services of overseas-based players Keon Daniel and Carlyle Mitchell (United States), Hughtun Hector and Willis Plaza (Vietnam) and Robert Primus (Kazakhstan).
Both Khaleem Hyland, through injury and Kevin Molino, on trial in Belgium, are out. Both Hector and Plaza have been in training with the team for the past few weeks after returning home following the end of their season. Primus, Daniel and Mitchell are the overseas pros who will fly in to join the team for next week’s matches.
Charles has also included experienced midfielder Densill Theobald who helped his Caledonia AIA to the First Citizen’s Bank Cup title on Friday night at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. Theobald is back from a full season in the Indian Premier League and is the only player with 2006 World Cup experience under his belt.
W Connection’s Clyde Leon, Defence Force striker Devorn Jorsling, North East Stars defender Seon Power as well as goalkeepers Marvin Phillip and current team captain Jan Michael Williams are some of the others with relative senior international experience.
Defence Force’s Kevon Carter has also earned a recall after being sidelined from the national team through injury ahead of the 2012 Caribbean Cup Finals.
The Under 23 players selected include forward Jamal Gay, defenders Joevin Jones, Curtis Gonzales, Daneil Cyrus, Kareem Moses and Primus who was part of the provisional Olympic squad.The newcomer in the team is T&TEC’s Sylvester Teasdale.
Charles commented on his team, saying that was quite pleased with their showing in the buildup to next week’s opener against French Guyana at Warner Park.
“We believes that it’s the best group of players at this time to go forward in the tournament and continue to build with and do well into the Finals,” Charles told TTFF Media.
“I am satisfied with the 20 players selected. Of course I would have liked Khaleem (Hyland) and Kevin (Molino) but I have enough faith in the guys with us now that they can get the job done. They’ve all done very well in training and the mood in the camp, when you observe it, really shows that they are hungry for the challenge and that’s a good sign for us,” Charles added.
This is Charles third match in charge of the team following matches against Finland, Antigua and Barbuda and Canada earlier this year. Having followed the off the field run of events relating to the team’s participation in the tournament, the former Strike squad member believes this has served to motivate his players more than usual.
“We kept them focused and I think what this has done is maybe motivated them to want to do well even more. Yes they were aware of the situation but I think we dealt with the situation well and reminded everyone of what is ahead and to have them focusing on one thing. We have our business to take care of on the pitch. That’s our number one priority,” Charles added.
T&T opens against French Guyana on Wednesday and then faces Anguilla two days later and St Kitts on Sunday. The group winner advances to the next phase of the Caribbean Cup in November.
GK - Marvin Phillip (Central FC), Jan-Michael Williams (capt) (W Connection)
DF - Daneil Cyrus (W Connection), Joevin Jones (W Connection), Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force), Carlyle Mitchell (Vancouver Whitecaps), Robert Primus (FC Aktobe), Kareem Moses (North East Stars), Seon Power (North East Stars)
MF - Hughtun Hector (Song Lam Nghe), Densill Theobald (Caledonia AIA), Clyde Leon (W Connection), Kevon Carter (Defence Force), Kevon Neaves (T&TEC), Sylvester Teesdale (T&TEC), Keon Daniel (Philadelphia Union)
FW - Willis Plaza (Song Lam Nghe), Richard Roy (Defence Force), Devorn Jorsling (Defence Force), Jamal Gay (Caledonia AIA)
Staff – Hutson Charles (Head Coach), Derek King (Assistant Coach), Jefferson George (Goalkeeper Coach), Dave Isaac (Physio/Trainer), Michael Williams (Equipment Manager), Shaun Fuentes (Press Officer), William Wallace (Manager)
Warriors vow to repay fans with Caribbean title
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)
Trinidad and Tobago national football team captain and goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams promised to repay fans with success in the Digicel Caribbean Cup tournament as the “Soca Warriors” go through their final preparations for next week’s group phase.
The 20-man squad was selected today by interim head coach Hutson “Barber” Charles and will spend tomorrow bonding at the Cascadia Hotel in St Anns before flying to St Kitts on Monday morning.
The Warriors seemed uncertain to make their appointment for much of last week until, on deadline day, the Sport Ministry relented and agreed to fund the squad’s travel.
Williams, who also captains defending Digicel Pro League champions DirecTV W Connection, said the squad is grateful to the public for its support and anxious to reciprocate the love.
“The people spoke out when they heard the government wasn’t going to fund us and I want to do something for them,” Williams told Wired868.com. “They did their part to make sure we got to the Digicel cup and we want to show that appreciation…
“To be on a national team and be in a situation like that is kinda strange. But I think that gave the team extra motivation to do even better.”
Trinidad and Tobago has not advanced to the CONCACAF Gold Cup in five years. And, although the twin island republic won eight of the first 11 Caribbean Cups, the Warriors have not lifted the regional trophy since 2001.
Williams, 27, is on his first Caribbean Cup campaign and only made it to the final once in 2007 when T&T, weakened by the TTFF’s blacklist of several 2006 World Cup players, lost 2-1 to Haiti at the Port of Spain’s Hasely Crawford Stadium. Densill Theobald and Seon Power were both members of the 2007 squad.
Charles, who lifted a couple Caribbean titles himself as an influential “Strike Squad” member, is taking things one step at a time and is not looking past next week’s preliminary qualifying round just yet.
Trinidad and Tobago plays its opening game against French Guiana on Wednesday at Warner Park and then faces Anguilla on Friday and hosts St Kitts and Nevis on Sunday. The group winner advances to the next phase of the Caribbean Cup in November.
“I am satisfied with the 20 players selected,” Charles told the TTFF media. “Of course I would have liked Khaleem (Hyland) and Kevin (Molino) but I have enough faith in the guys with us now that they can get the job done. They’ve all done very well in training and the mood in the camp, when you observe it, really shows that they are hungry for the challenge and that’s a good sign for us.”
Hyland, who plays for Racing Genk in Belgium, misses out through injury as does versatile defender Julius James who represents Columbus Crew in the US Major League Soccer (MLS). Molino is on trials in Europe and was excused while striker Darryl Roberts, who recently joined Turkish second flight team Samsunspor, was allowed to remain with his team.
The Warriors are boosted by the return of former national captain and Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA playmaker Theobald, the lone 2006 World Cup player in the team.