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Tue, Oct

‘Warriors’ Arrive in China ahead of Friday’s friendly.
Typography

“At last”! Was the refrain from most of the members of the Trinidad and Tobago senior men’s football team when they arrived at their base in coastal city of Qinhuangdao on Monday for a friendly international versus China this coming Friday.

Some of the weariness resulting from the over 24-hour commute from Uruguay dissipated though when the Soca Warriors settled into the luxurious Shangri-la Hotel on China’s north-eastern coast in the Hebei province.

“The accommodations are great but to get hear was difficult, we will have to work on that part. Barring that, we will have a comfortable environment as we recover ahead of our game” according to Yohance Marshall.

“We faced some top opposition on this tour and that will continue on the final leg as we will match up against one of the rising powers in world football on their home turf,” added the warriors defender.

China is at 81st on the FIFA rankings while T&T is above at 53rd but that interesting statistic is not fooling anyone in came as the warriors are fully aware of the task ahead. That task is victory versus the host to close off a tour which so far has reaped two losses 4-0 versus Peru and 3-1 in Uruguay. The quest seems even more daunting if you consider the loss of personnel heading into China.

Coach Stephen Hart will be without captain Khaleem Hyland and the dangerous Levi Garcia as both return to their clubs to fulfill contractual duties. This coupled with the loss of outstanding W Connection defender Tristan Hodge could make for an interesting line-up in Qinhuangdao on Friday night. Hodge sustained a head injury during the match versus Uruguay and returned to Trinidad on the advice of doctors although tests showed no major concerns.

The team also lost Technical Committee Member Dr. Alvin Henderson whose contribution on the tour was immense according to coach Hart. Henderson sustain an injury in Uruguay while rushing to lend assistance to the medical team during the Hodge incident. The former Trinidad and Tobago striker also served as Head of delegation on the tour which is sponsored by Shanghai Construction Group (Caribbean), a position which will be taken up by TTFA Vice President Ewing Davis on his arrival on Wednesday.

Hart is prepared to work with what he has because late replacement Carlyle Mitchell will not be able to join the team on short notice. China on the other hand has a host of talent available, including the experienced Yang Xu who has registered some 22 goals in his 44 appearances for China and the dependable Gao Ling who recently return to play in the domestic league following stints in Europe. The home team will also be on a high with recent wins over Oman (4-1) and the formidable Saudi Arabia (1-0), plus a draw with World Cup Japan will also serve to boost their confidence.

Hart warns Warriors about club playing time.
T&T Newsday Reports.

STEPHEN HART, coach of the Trinidad and Tobago football team, has urged his squad members to be playing consistently at their respective clubs, in order to merit regular selection on the “Soca Warriors” outfit.

Hart was speaking during an interview on the TT Football Association (TTFA) website, which was uploaded to the internet yesterday.

The Soca Warriors are currently in China, in the last stop of a three-game international tour. Last Monday, they were spanked 4-0 away to Peru and, on Friday, the Warriors were beaten 3-1 by Uruguay. They will tackle China on Friday in Qinhuangdao.

Asked if he was satisfied by the display of the players, ahead of September’s World Cup qualifier at home to Guatemala, Hart responded, “I would say yes right now. What I will say is yes I know what players I’m looking for but what I will say to all those players is that they better be playing consistently for their clubs. And those whose Leagues are now starting up, I expect them to be in top physical condition.

“I’m having discussions with the president (of the TTFA David John-Williams),” he continued. “We hope to have one game in August before we play Guatemala (in a September World Cup qualifier). So it will mean all the players coming in will be at very good physical levels.” Concerning the game against China, Hart said, “we had quite a bit of injuries and plus players that are missing. But the medical staff said the players should be back into full training by (tomorrow).” Veteran centre-back Carlyle Mitchell, who plays for Seoul E-Land FC in South Korea, is unable to join the team for Friday’s contest.

“Carlyle Mitchell couldn’t make it over so that deprives us of one more player,” said Hart. “But it’s opportunities for players. These games have no real significant meaning. More importantly for me is to continue building on performances.

“We didn’t have a good performance against Peru. We did better against Uruguay and hopefully we can do even better against China.” On the current FIFA rankings, Trinidad and Tobago are in 53rd position while China are ranked 81st.

But Hart insisted, “I don’t really think about rankings at all because, if you look at it that way, we just played one of the top five teams in the world (in) Uruguay.

It’s not something that I think about. I’m using these games to look at individuals and to build team depth.” The TT coach went on to add, “I’ve already seen what I want to see out of the tour. This game is just another opportunity because, if you look at the quality of the teams we played in the last two games....

we’re playing away from home and all the aspects of travelling, I’m seeing which players are adapting, which players are having a bit of a moan about it and which players are prepared for these sort of rigours.” He was also grateful for the games which were arranged by the TTFA.