Central FC forward Willis Plaza is setting his sights on playing in his first CONCACAF Gold Cup when T&T challenges the best in the region in the July showcase event in the United States and Canada.
Plaza has been recalled to the national team for next Friday’s friendly international against Panama at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, making his return to the team for the first time since last June when he was selected by Stephen Hart for the away matches to Argentina and Iran in which he came off the bench in both matches in the build up to the 2014 World Cup Finals
The 27-year-old Plaza has scored five goals in 12 appearances for T&T. Before joining Central FC for the current T&T Pro League season, Plaza had a stint with Belgian club CS Vise and also appeared in Vietnam with Song Lam Nghe and Sai Gon FC. He first made a name for himself while at San Juan Jabloteh under Terry Fenwick.
“The experience in Belgium was good because I think for players like us coming out of the Pro League, once you get to a big football country like Belgium then there is a lot you can learn and the standard is always higher. Now I am back in Trinidad and hoping to help Central get some success,” Plaza said.
But the taking the Gold Cup field tops his list of priorities at the moment.
“I’ve never been to the Gold Cup and I think this year it’s going to happen. I know competition is always tough for selection but I really have my eyes on the Gold Cup. That’s the big stage for me and hopefully I can make the coach’s cut and go out and impress.”
Looking ahead to the Panama match, in which the Central Americans are coming with full force as they also are preparing for the Gold Cup and 2018 World Cup qualifiers, Plaza said: “Panama is a strong team. I think this game is a really good test for us and some of the other players based in Trinidad will have to rise to the call and put on a good showing. This a great chance for a lot of them to impress and try to make the squad for the Gold Cup.”
Kick off time on March 27 is 7pm. T&T meantime will face off with Guatemala, Cuba and Mexico at the CONCACAF Gold Cup in the United States in July.