THE CALL-UP of DIRECTV W Connection winger Aikim Andrews and non-selection of Bankers Insurance Central FC striker Willis Plaza, highlighted the 20-man squad chosen by Trinidad and Tobago National team senior Head Coach Stephen Hart to face Panama in an international friendly on October 8.
Captain Kenwyne Jones and central defender Sheldon Bateau return to the Trinidad and Tobago team after they were allowed to miss last month’s international friendly against Mexico in Utah due to club commitments on the European transfer deadline day.
Despite the team’s impressive showing at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, Hart stressed that he is not getting carried away as he looks ahead to the November World Cup qualifiers against Guatemala and the United States.
“Tournament football is different from World Cup qualification,” he stated yesterday at a conference held at the Football Association’s (TTFA’s) offices at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Hart continued: “When Canada won the 2000 Gold Cup they had a terrible 2002 World Cup qualifying campaign; and Holland, after doing so well in the 2014 World Cup now can’t win a game (the Netherlands are struggling in the current European Championship qualifiers).
“The challenges of playing home and away in a short pace of time, travelling and the fluctuation of players’ form over a longer period are all different. So I’m not getting carried away with our form in the Gold Cup or what the USA did.” Hart went on to rationalise the selection decisions regarding Andrews, Gavin Hoyte and Willis Plaza.
Lester Peltier, who had originally been picked, was withdrawn after the press conference when Hart was informed that the player suffered a rib injury and was unavailable to join his squad.
“It is important for us to increase our competition in the wide position and I like the things he (Andrews) has done,” explained Hart. He continued: “When players play in a league (English Championship) that doesn’t stop for FIFA dates, its always difficult.
Gavin would have missed three games if he came to both these games, so we have worked out arrangement with Barnett FC that he will play versus Panama only.” Hart explained he has no questions over Plaza’s ability as the Central FC player is in good goal scoring form, but he simply could not pick everyone in a 20-man squad.
This match is first of a double header as the “Soca Warriors” tackle Nicaragua on October 13 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. Match tickets will cost fans $100 (uncovered stands) and $200 (covered stands).
TTFA General Secretary Sheldon Phillips announced Flow channel 99 will broadcast the Panama fixture.
Squad to face Panama
Jan-Michael Williams (Central FC), Marvin Phillip (Morvant Caledonia Utd).
Gavin Hoyte (Barnet—England), Radanfah Abu Bakr (HB Koge—Denmark), Yohance Marshall (Murcielagos FC—Mexico), Sheldon Bateau (KC Krylia Sovetov—Russia), Mekeil Williams (Antigua GFC—Guatemala), Daneil Cyrus (Chicago Fire—USA), Aubrey David (Shakhter Karagandy—Kazakhstan).
Andre Boucaud (Dagenham & Redbridge—England), Khaleem Hyland (KV Westerlo—Belgium), Kevan George (Columbus Crew—USA), Neveal Hackshaw (North East Stars), Joevin Jones (Chicago Fire—USA), Keron Cummings (North East Stars), Aikim Andrews (W Connection).
Trevin Caesar (Austin Aztex—USA), Jonathan Glenn (Breioablik—Iceland), Kenwyne Jones (Cardiff City—Wales), Willis Plaza (Central FC).