Trinidad and Tobago’s senior footballers will have a first time face to face clash with Asian opponents United Arab Emirates when both teams meet in the opening game of the 2013 OSN Cup at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh from 11.45 a.m. TT time today.
The “Soca Warriors” under head coach Stephen Hart and captain Kenwyne Jones arrived in Riyadh on Tuesday, TT time and had their lone training session yesterday at the match venue which is expected to have a 35,000 crowd for today’s opening which also includes a match between the hosts Saudi Arabia and New Zealand.
Hart conducted a 75-minute session in 40 degrees temperature during which he had a first time opportunity to work with Willis Plaza, Lester Peltier, Ataullah Guerra, Marcus Joseph, Robert Primus, Sheldon Bateau, Glenroy Samuel and Mekeil Williams. W Connection defender Daneil Cyrus, just back from a trial with Racing Genk, did not make the trip, missing the flight out of Port of Spain on Sunday, as well as a second flight on Monday. And Orlando City midfielder Kevin Molino was delayed in Miami and is scheduled to arrive early on Thursday morning.
Inspite of some of the financial woes still being faced by the TTFA, Hart was in good spirits and pleased with the session and the look of the players at his disposal in the humid Kingdom. Some of the returning members from the Gold Cup squad include Radanfah Abu Bakr, England-based duo Andre Boucaud and Justin Hoyte, Racing Genk midfielder Khaleem Hyland, Columbus Crew’s Kevan George and T&T-based foursome Densill Theobald, Jan-Michael Williams, Curtis Gonzales and Aubrey David.
“It’s been very humid but we had a really good session today even though it was a bit short because of the fact that we had a long travel,” Hart told TTFA Media.
“But generally the attitude of the players was good and the work rate was pretty decent as well. These are the things that are always pleasing when you come together as a squad especially this far away from home. It was a good opportunity to regroup after the Gold Cup and to get some new bodies involved as well,” Hart said.
Earlier yesterday, United Arab Emirates head coach Mahdi Ali Hassan Redha, said at a press conference that he was hoping to secure a place in the final on September 9 by pulling off a win over the “Soca Warriors”.
“It will be a good tournament with some exciting football. I think all the teams are strong and they will pose a good challenge. I expect our game to be a less than easy one but we will be ready for the challenge.
We know Trinidad and Tobago have played at the World Cup in 2006 so they are a capable team. We will try to play the right kind of game to start with a victory,” he said. The UAE, World Cup finalists in 1999, defeated Uzbekistan 2-1 in March and also edged Iraq 2-1 to win the Gulf Cup in January. T&T and the UAE have never met in a senior international game before.
Jones, who will wear the captain’s armband for T&T, added that he was keen to see how the T&T team performs following their quarter-final run at the Concacaf Gold Cup in July.
“We have some new faces around which will make it interesting to see how well we can execute on the field of play. We haven’t had much time together but there are some regulars here so we will obviously try to use our experience and the time we’ve spent together in the past to ensure we put on a good performance and hopefully come away with a good result as well,” Jones said.
The winners of today’s two games will meet in the final on September 9 while the two losers will meet in the third place playoff.