Belgium-based midfielder Khaleem Hyland and defender Sheldon Bateau will be the last of this country’s overseas-based players arriving home for Wednesday’s Warm up international against Peru at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.
Hyland warmed up for Wednesday’s affair with a “man of the match” type performance in Racing Genk’s 4-1 victory over Club Brugge on Sunday in the Belgium Pro League. The Carenage-born player converted a penalty in the 58th minute and then provided the assist for teammate Elyaniv Barda to score Genk’s third goal in the 88th minute.
Hyland last appeared for T&T against Guyana in November of 2011 and is hoping to make a good impression on T&T’s head coaches as well as the local public.
T&T co-head coach Jamaal Shabazz said there was no doubting Hyland’s ability after he observed the player in training with Racing Genk last month in Belgium.
“Hyland is part of the future of Trinidad and Tobago’s football. We’ve had the era of the Russell Latapys , Dwight Yorkes and David Nakhids who opened doors for Trinidad and Tobago in Europe. Those guys were the ones flying the Trinidad and Tobago flag then and now we have players Khaleem Hyland who are continuing that in the UEFA competitions,” Shabazz told TTFF Media ahead of Sunday’s training session at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
“ The players have forced themselves into the big leagues and they deserved the credit for doing that. Some people may say that a lot of negative has occurred with our football following our appearance at the 2006 World Cup Finals, but when you also look at what guys like Khaleem. Kenwyne Jones, Carlos Edwards, Darryl Roberts and now young Sheldon Bateau and Shahdon Winchester being able to break into the European market, credit must be given. These are all players who have passed through the national set up,” Shabazz added.
“Now we must use every opportunity possible to incorporate them back into the national set up after they have gained the necessary experience and training at the higher level, to not only pass on their experience to the local players but to try and elevate us to some level of success and respectability on the international stage.”
Shabazz dismissed claims that the Feb 6th friendly should not have been played, explaining that national teams can only access their best players on FIFA Dates and it so happened that this date fell during the T&T Carnival period.
“We cannot always pick and choose who we want and play and when you get the chance to play a quality opposition like Peru then you have to grab it and February 6th was the only date available. They opted to come to Trinidad and then we will go there to play in Peru for a return game before the Gold Cup. All the other teams such as Jamaica, Mexico, Costa Rica and USA also play on Wednesday in their World Cup qualifying games. Peru is bringing their top players here to play so it would be foolish to turn that down,” he added.
Hyland is anticipating a great contest on Wednesday.
“I’m thrilled to be back in the national team. I’ve been focusing on my game in Europe with Racing Genk but Trinidad and Tobago is always close to my heart. I’ve missed representing the Red,White and Black. Wednesday’s game against Peru will be a nice occasion to make a return. I think the game will be a good one but we’ve got to try and settle well and make a really good contest out of it because Peru will be coming to give it their best game,” Hyland added
Jones,Edwards and MLS-based defender Carlyle Mitchell arrived in Port of Spain on Sunday with Turkish-based forward Darryl Roberts, Bateau and Hyland coming in on Monday.
The Peru squad will arrive in Trinidad on Monday and will be based at the Hilton Trinidad. The South Americans, with Bayern Munich striker Claudio Pizarro in their squad, will train at the University of West Indies Grounds, St Augustine on Monday evening.