Trinidad and Tobago’s senior team will be looking to gain some momentum ahead of the upcoming 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup when they take to the field against Belize in a friendly international at the FFB Stadium in Belmopan from 8pm (10pm T&T time) on Saturday.
Both teams are preparing the region’s showcase football event in July but the game carries significance for T&T’s players as they try to do the necessary in their attempt to seal a place in T&T’s Gold Cup squad.
The tournament will allow teams to enter with twenty three players but a pool of 35 players can be registered. Following the opening group phase, teams will be allowed to replace four players on its 23-player roster with another four from the pool of thirty five if so desired.
Currently there are 19 players in Belize for Saturday’s match as well next Tuesday’s clash with Peru in Lima. Missing from here are quite a few names such as Carlos Edwards, Seon Power, Khaleem Hyland, Sheldon Bateau, Darryl Roberts, Hughtun Hector, Robert Primus, Willis Plaza as well as other English-based player such as Andre Boucaud and Justin Hoyte who are all eager and likely to press for selection in the coming weeks. No doubt there will be a few in T&T also hoping to catch the eyes of the coaches.
Co-head coach Hutson Charles is keen to see his players make an impression against Belize.
“This game is a good opportunity for the players to go out there and perform, not only to try and bring home a good result for the country but to also try and stake a claim for themselves for the final squad that will be going to the Gold Cup,” Charles told TTFF Media on the eve of Saturday’s friendly.
“The game itself is one we will be using to see how some of the new players coming back into the squad fit into our plans and then we will know how we can move forward from here. But the opportunity is there for the players here with us at the moment and I expect every man to bring his best game. Whether it’s good enough to keep them in the team and get us a positive result at the same time is something we will be very eager to see,” Charles added.
North East Stars striker Cornell Glen will get his first chance to line up for the national team since November 2010 in a Caribbean Cup encounter against Martinique. He wants to add to his goal tally of 23 goals in sixty-two matches.
“It’s good to be back in the national team. It’s always a privilege to wear the national colours,” Glen told TTFF Media.
“Personally I will like to get among the goals again but most importantly I want to bring something to the team that can help take us back up because we’ve been suffering for some time. The team did good at the Caribbean Cup and now I want to be part of the effort to lift the level, especially in our attacking play as we look ahead to the Gold Cup.”
Belize have qualified for their first Gold Cup and team manager Dean Flowers said on Thursday that T&T can expect a stiff contest from the hosts.
“The Belize team is very excited about this game. We had some pretty good performances in the UNCAF tournament and now we want to put on a good show and get a good result at home against Trinidad and Tobago. You will see a lot of energy and pressing. I think (T&T) can expect a good, strong game from Belize on Saturday,” Flowers said.
He said the change in venue, forced by T&T’s refusal to play at the dilapidated MCC Ground in Belize City, would benefit both teams.
“I will like to apologise to the Trinidad and Tobago team for the mishap. This is our best venue in Belmopan and I think it’s better for both teams to play the match here,” he added.
T&T’s opening Gold Cup opponents El Salvador received a 5-0 beating from Ecuador on Thursday. The T&T coaching staff viewed the game on television at the Princess Hotel. Other games that were shown on television here included the Honduras vs Mexico World Cup qualifier as well as Chile versus Peru which was played at the same venue for next Tuesday’s friendly in Lima.
“We had a chance to see El Salvador again after we looked at them in Central America a few weeks ago. They lost the game but they are preparing. We are doing the same thing at the moment which is trying to get it right for the Gold Cup,” Charles ended.