Trinidad and Tobago’s Senior Men will be looking to leave a lasting impression in China when they face off with that country’s National Senior Team in a highly billed international friendly at the Qinhuangdao Olympic Sports Center in Qinhuangdao at 7:30am TT time on Friday.
The game, which will be aired live on Flow Sports Channel 95, is serving as a build up for both teams for their 2018 Russian World Cup qualification. The Chinese team is ranked 81st while T&T slipped eleven spots to 64 on the latest FIFA rankings released today following their two defeats to Uruguay and Peru.
T&T head coach Stephen Hart’s main interest is the match itself and he is keen to see how his players match up to their rising opponents to close of the tour sponsored by Shanghai Construction Group Caribbean Limited.
‘It’s not going to be an easy game by any means. We all know what the Chinese team is capable of. They’ve been to a World Cup before and they are coming off a very good 2-0 win over Qatar plus they are at home where they are expected to be back by a very passionate home crowd,” Hart told TTFA Media.
“But this is why we are here, to get the best possible match out of them and see how it helps us in our preparations for upcoming World Cup qualifiers. The main thing for me will be to see how our players settle and adapt to the conditions and the type of affair we will face. For a lot of the players it’s a new experience traveling this far and having to play a team like China. This augers well for us.
“About the game itself, I expect they will be going for a victory and we will need to ensure we are precise and concentrating for the most part. A good result is always the aim and it is something that will be beyond us in this encounter,” Hart added.
Experienced Danish-based defender Radanfah Abu Bakr, who accompanied Hart at the pre-game press conference on Thursday, said the “Warriors” will not be up for the test.
“We’ve come a long way for the game so I think the guys will be looking to put everything out on the field of play and try to end this tour on a positive note. The mood is quite good, everyone is ready for the challenge and we’re quite excited to see what the game brings in terms of atmosphere and challenges from the China team,” he added.
Team manager William Wallace also thanked the Chinese Football Association and the Shanghai Group for hosting the team.
“Aside from the long travel, the rest of this tour has been good and has served the team well in its preparations for upcoming matches. We’d like thank the Chinese FA and Shanghai Construction for all their efforts in making the stay a pleasing and beneficial one for the team,” Wallace said.
DirecTV W Connection midfielder Hughtun Hector and Mexican-based defender Yohance Marshall have both recovered from injuries and are eligible for selection. T&T will look to the attacking duo of Shahdon Winchester and Jomal Williams who is coming off his maiden goalscoring performance in the 3-1 loss to Uruguay. The workrate of Andre Boucaud in the middle in the absence of Khaleem Hyland, will also be crucial for T&T along with the defensive efforts of Daneil Cyrus and Aubrey David. Dutch-based winger Levi Garcia is also missing due to club commitments.
China has included 19-year old forward Zhang Yuning in its squad for the match, Yuning plays for Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem. China-based Gao Lin who has 18 goals in 86 appearances is expected to feature alongside fellow striker Yang Xu who has 22 goals from 44 matches
T&T plays Guatemala in its next World Cup qualifier on September 2nd at the Hasely Crawford Stadium while China faces South Korea a day earlier.
China has advanced to the final round of Asian World Cup qualifying for the first time since 2002 when they qualified for South Korea/Japan. In a report published by SoccerEX this week, it was stated that For Team China (China’s national teams), the government’s support is a major driving force for them to improve their youth training system, management model and commercial opportunities. Team China will benefit from the country’s step-by-step schedule of sports facilities and youth training. Last month, Beijing reaffirmed its ambitious sports plan to make China a global soccer leader by 2050. In detail, the country decided to build up 20,000 soccer academies and more than 70,000 soccer pitches by 2020.