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edwards20.jpgPuerto Rico Islanders utility player Osei Telesford was on Saturday added as a 19th player to the Trinidad and Tobago team in Havana and is scheduled here today. But the number of players that will be in camp at the Melia Cohiba Hotel went down by one after it was learnt on Sunday night that Sunderland midfielder Carlos Edwards will not journey to Havana for  Wednesday's 2010 semi-final round World Cup qualifier against Cuba.
Edwards is overcoming a family tragedy and after being granted permission by the T&T management team to delay his travel by a day, eventually asked to be excused from making the trip.

Coventry City midfielder Chris Birchall and Turkish-based striker Darryl Roberts arrived on Sunday evening. Goalkeeper Jan Michael Williams and defender Avery John, after arriving the previous night, took part in Sunday’s session at the Cerro Pelado Sports Facility. T&T head coach Francisco Maturana picked up the pace in Sunday’s session and will try to make full use of the remaining two days leading up to match time.

Joe Public defender Keyeno Thomas, one of those contesting for a central defensive position alongside Makan Hislop, with Dennis Lawrence likely to be a sure starter, described Cuba as a tricky opposition for T&T.

“This round is going to be tough and for us starting away to Cuba will be difficult. I (am) not saying we can’t get the win but it will not be as easy as people think. World Cup qualifier is a different type of game,” Thomas told TTFF Media. “Personally I will try my best once the opportunity is given to me but is all about one team being put together to get winning results. I think in the camp right now we have a kind of spirit that is making us a stronger bunch of players and from experience around the national team… that only comes with time and that (is) happening right now. The win in DC (over El Salvador) I think showed that kind of spirit that is around the team now for us to get wins like that,” Thomas added.

Storm Watch in Cuba

Cuba's Government  issued a hurricane watch for parts of the country on Saturday as Tropical Storm Fay approaches. The National Hurricane Center in Miami said that the center of the storm was moving west away from Haiti, where it dumped heavy rain.

The hurricane watch is for the provinces of Camaguey, Ciego De Avila and Sancti Spiritus in Cuba. A tropical storm warning had also been issued for other areas of Cuba and remains in effect for the southeastern Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the coast of Haiti Forecasters say Fay may turn toward the Florida Keys.

Up to mid afternoon there were no heavy showers nor winds in or around the T&T base at the Melia Cohiba Hotel, a five-star luxury high-rise hotel located near the coastline in the Vedado district of Havana.

So far the T&T contingent has not encountered any major hiccups. There has been no indication of what size of crowd is expected at Wednesday’s game which kicks off at 8pm but there has been the odd conversation about the match by guests at the Melia Cohiba which accommodates only foreign visitors and no Cuban citizens. The rest in terms of accommodation, meals and transportation to and from training has been on spot for the Team. The contingent members have taken note though of the unwillingness to accept US dollars and the use of dial up connections for very slow internet access here.

Only in March 2008 did the Cuban government lift the ban on purchasing computers and other consumer electronics including DVDs and microwaves, which is expected to  signal greater tolerance of internet use in the future. A single-page pull out on Cuban Facts here stated that  The (US) Bush administration tightened its embargo in June 2004, allowing Cuban Americans to return to the island only once every three years (instead of every year) and restricting the amount of U.S. cash that can be spent there to $50 per day. In response, Cuba banned the use of dollars, which had been legal currency in the country for more than a decade.