Trinidad and Tobago’s head coach Russell Latapy will lace up his boots and most likely take the number 10 shirt back from Hayden Tinto for Sunday’s friendly international against St Kitts/Nevis at the Warner Stadium, Basseterre from 7pm.
Latapy took a run out in the 3-3 draw with T&T’s Under 20s on Thursday and said he will be in the squad for the friendly against the “Sugarboys”.
Not making the trip with the traveling squad was defender Makan Hislop after United Petrotrin refused to release the player. It is understood the club’s management asked Hislop not to travel at the last minute, citing that the game was not being player on a FIFA international date.
All other players selected are currently in Basseterre including Joe Public trio Keyeno Thomas, Kerry Baptiste and Tinto following Public’s Pro League encounter with St Ann's Rangers on Friday. They were on the first flight out of Piarco on Saturday and arrived in St Kitts just before midday, in time for an evening training session at the match venue.
Under 20 captain Leston Paul is not with the squad after missing his flight due to a passport mishap.
“It’s time for us to get focused again as a team with the World Cup qualifier coming up against El Salvador next month,” Latapy told TTFF Media.
“We haven’t played as a team since the Mexico match and even though the players have been back with their clubs, it’s a chance for us to use this game on Sunday as a start of our preparations for next month’s qualifying game. As such our approach will be in relation to getting ready for the next game (vs El Salvador) and I expect nothing less of the players who are available to us at the moment.”
When T&T last played St Kitts at the same venue for Sunday’s game, the hosts gave Bertille St Clair’s team a run for its money, taking a first half lead before goals by Errol McFarlane and a last minute winner by Stern John gave the “Soca Warriors a 2-1 win in the 2006 semi-final round qualifier.
There are no surviving members from that date in the squad for today’s game but it’s a chance for some of the progressing ones to impress Latapy some more.
And Devon Jorsling, who made a second half appearance against Mexico, is keen to make an impression. He was one of the scorers in T&T’s 3-1 win over St Kitts last November in a Digicel Caribbean Championships qualifier.
“I believe we cannot afford to take St Kitts easily because teams like these always see us as a powerhouse and they will come hard at us from the first whistle. That’s a good thing for us though,” Jorsling told TTFF Media. “We want a tough match because the bigger the test for us the better. We don’t want an easy win but I believe once we put our heads down then we can put on a good show and take care of them.”
Caledonia AIA’s Radanfah Abu Bakr also feels that all the current squad members need to seize every opportunity given to them when it comes to making an impression and vying for selection on the World Cup squad.
“Personally for me the experience of playing against Mexico at the Azteca was fantastic and unforgettable. That kind of experience can only serve you well as a player and make you want to become better so you can experience it again. We have to continue to work harder and try our best to get better and continue making an impression.
“And tomorrow’s game is an opportunity for a lot of us to keep knocking on the door and give the coach some extra options or something more to think about,” Abu Bakr added.
Some of the regulars in the team for Sunday’s game with prior World Cup qualifying experience include Aklie Edwards, goalkeepers Jan Michael Williams and Marvin Phillip, Trent Noel, Andre Toussaint and Clyde Leon. Midfielder Ataullah Guerra, Hughtun Hector and defender Kern Cupid as well as youngsters Trent Lougheed and Akeem Adams will also be hoping to get some playing time in order to show their worth. Noel is expected to wear the captain’s armband for the encounter.