Bolton Wanderers defender Jlloyd Samuel was the new face among Soca Warriors contingent which arrived in San Pedro Sula and settled into the Hilton Princess Hotel just around 10pm, midnight T&T time on Monday ahead of Saturday’s crucial 2010 World Cup qualifier.
Samuel was among the quota of overseas-based players which met up with the rest of the T&T team in Miami en route to Honduras. The only missing face was LA Galaxy midfielder Chris Birchall who is out because of injury. Honduran striker David Suazo and four of his teammates were also on the same American Airlines flight to San Pedro Sula.
And Samuel, formerly of Aston Villa, got an early taste of the hostility that comes with World Cup qualification in these parts of the world as the T&T team were welcomed on their way out of customs by a group of 25 or more Honduran fans with their national flags and just as much media correspondents who mobbed the players and coach Russell Latapy on their way to the team bus.
Veteran Dwight Yorke took some of the heat off the players as he addressed the Honduran media for five minutes which allowed the players to get to the bus without much hassle. The focus then changed to Latapy as he made his way through with reporters tugged their way, pushing microphones in the coach’s face as cameramen jostled for positions.
Fans with large Honduran flags positioned themselves behind Yorke and Latapy while they were being interviewed shouting “Honduras… Honduras.”
“It’s obviously going to be a difficult game but I expect it will be the same for the two teams. We haven’t lost to them in this campaign and they haven’t had much success at home in World Cup football,” said Yorke. “But I think it’s going to be a very exciting game and a tough one for either team.”
Latapy was asked firstly why the T&T team had arrived so far in advance to Saturday’s encounter to which he replied :” I’m here because I think it’s a beautiful country and there are some lovely people here”
And when asked if he would be happy for a draw: “A good result is what I would be happy with. I expect it to be a difficult game but no game is an easy one. Honduras has some good players and they are coming off a good result as well. We have some work to do because there is a game to be played on Saturday.”
Managers David Muhammad and Peter Rampersad along with Yorke also had an early morning inspection of an alternative training venue after the Honduran football authorities informed them upong arrivan that the initially agreed venue, the Francisco Moraan Stadium was unavailable due to a rescheduling of League matches. That venue was agreed upon by a prior inspection visit by Muhammad more than a week ago. But the second venue, the Muebles Herera was satisfactory according to Yorke.
The team was scheduled to train at the venue from 4pm on Tuesday.
Missing from the T&T team is defender Dennis Lawrence as well as Clyde Leon with both layers being out on yellow cards suspension.
Carlos upbeat after new deal
Midfielder Carlos Edwards penned a new-two year deal with Ipswich Town where he has reunited with ex-Sunderland boss Roy Keane.
The T&T favourite was in upbeat mood at the Hilton Princess Hotel, San Pedro Sula on Tuesday as he got himself ready for training with the Trinidad and Tobago squad ahead of Saturday’s 2010 World Cup qualifier against Honduras.
“It was short and sharp. I had a two and half nice years at Sunderland and sometimes good things have got to come to an end. For me I felt my career had to keep on going and the talks were ongoing a couple days before I signed the contract. So I’ve signed for two years with the option of a third and just looking forward the new challenge and meeting up with my old manager once more,” Edwards told TTFF Media.
“I’m delighted with the new move. Obviously the manager at Sunderland made it clear that I was getting on age. I needed to look after myself and fortunately I did that. It’s a new chapter in my career that I’m looking forward to.”
With the move out of the way, Edwards was refocusing again on Saturday’s clash.
“It’s going to be a big challenge for us esepcially seeing that they (Honduras) are coming off a 4-0 win over Costa Rica. We know what we have to do on Saturday. We got Jlloyd here with us and unfortunately Bobby (Zamora) couldn’t be here. We have got a lot of good talent in the squad and hopefully the manager can get the right formula and we can go out there and come away with a good result,” Edwards concluded.