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Tue, Oct

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San Juan Jabloteh, midfielder, Ataullah Guerra, left, listens attentively to some words of advice from Soca Warriors coach, Russell Latapy during a national team training exercise at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar, yesterday. Photo: Anthony HarrisLATAPY KEEPS 'EM WAITING

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO head coach Russell Latapy will wait until the very last minute to name his final squad for upcoming 2010 World Cup qualifiers--against Costa Rica on June 6 and Mexico on June 10.
Latapy was speaking on Wednesday evening at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar, where he was holding his final training session in Trinidad before leaving on Sunday for a ten-day camp in Tobago, where the Soca Warriors host Costa Rica at the 7,500-seater Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet.

Following that crucial match, the national team fly to Mexico, where they have never won, to take on the Tricolor at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.

Mostly home-based professionals took part in Wednesday's session, but also participating were foreign-based Marvin Andrews, Dennis Lawrence, Silvio Spann, Stern John, Collin Samuel, Khaleem Hyland and Jason Scotland, who have all returned home at the end of the European season.

Still to join the squad are the Sunderland trio of Carlos Edwards, Kenwyne Jones and Dwight Yorke following their final English Premier League match on Sunday.

"I will wait until the last minute. What that will do is give everybody the best possible chance so that they can get themselves on the squad," Latapy declared. "I have a way that I would like them to play and the players that are playing the positions to my satisfaction, they are the ones who are going to play. I will then leave it until the last and then I will make my decision."

So far, 40-year-old Latapy is happy with the preparation of the Trinidad and Tobago senior team, having taken over as head coach last month on the resignation of Francisco Maturana.

The man fondly known as "the Little Magician" held a brisk session on Wednesday and expressed satisfaction with the effort the players were making.

"I have had nine training sessions with the boys so far and I am happy with the progression that I have seen in those nine sessions," he said. "My job is to get the best possible football team and I have to look at everybody. I have looked at quite a few players down here. I need to look at all the players that we have at our disposal so I have invited them to come down and have a look at them. I haven't picked my final squad for the next two games, but I think that will be based on the goal that we have."

Latapy, facing his first match in charge, was player/assistant coach under Colombian Maturana, who relinquished the position on April 8 following Trinidad and Tobago's 3-0 defeat in their previous qualifier against the United States, which left the Soca Warriors bottom of the six-team CONCACAF Final Round series for the 2010 World Cup, with just two points following draws against El Salvador (2-2) and Honduras (1-1) and a defeat to the USA.

Latapy, who last played during the 3-0 defeat of Cuba in the semi-final round last year, reluctantly put himself forward as a candidate for a place on the national team and suggests that he will play only if his creative passing skills are absolutely needed in the centre of the field.

"Right now I am concentrating solely on preparing the team and getting the boys to understand the way that I would like them to play. Anyway I am off the fitness level needed for international level and hopefully in the two weeks in Tobago I can get some work done... Hopefully, the team will be winning by then and I can just play around," Latapy joked.

And former Glasgow Rangers central defender Marvin "Dog" Andrews said he is happy to be back in the national team after a long absence.

Andrews, who last represented T&T before the 2006 World Cup, had a long time on the sidelines due to a knee injury. He said in his time away he has been doing God's work, but also played for his Scottish club Raith Rovers during the last two months. In that time he played the last 11 matches of the season and helped Raith Rovers to promotion from the Second Division.

"It's good now to be back in the team and try and work my way and try to get back in the team," he said. "I have recovered fantastic."