With two home and away friendlies carded against Jamaica in the coming weeks, Trinidad and Tobago’s Senior footballers will go into action before that when they face Antigua/Barbuda’s Senior National Team in a friendly international at the Marvin Lee Stadium from 6pm next Wednesday July 21.
The game will serve as a warm up for the Antiguans who are preparing for the upcoming Digicel Caribbean Championships (DCC) and will also serve similar purpose for the “Soca Warriors” who are carded to tackle the “Reggae Boyz” on August 11 in Port of Spain and in Kingston in October.
National Team head coach Russell Latapy completed a training session on the outside pitch of the Hasely Crawford Stadium with a full turn out of local-based professionals with Defence Force goalkeeper Kevin Graham also among the call ups.
A 20-man squad will be announced on the weekend for the encounter and will go into training on Monday and Tuesday before Wednesday’s match.
The upcoming three friendlies will not only allow Latapy’s team to sharpen up before the DCC but should also help them boost or at least maintain their current FIFA world rankings.
The “Soca Warriors” made a healthy 19 spot jump on the latest rankings released on Wednesday moving to 76th and regaining the top spot on the Caribbean while lying fifth among the Concacaf nations.
T&T made the third highest jump among all countries, with New Zealand moving up 24 spots from 78 to 54 and Botswana moving from 116th to 93rd.
Team manager David Muhammad said the team would now to try and maintain a steady improvement rate.
“It’s welcoming news for us at this stage because we are heading into a series of friendly matches and also competitive ones where we believe our chances of an unbeaten streak are very good,” Muhammad told TTFF Media.
“The move up the rankings is also positive news for our players who are seeking work permits to play in Europe and it means too that we will want to go all out to prove that having regained the number one spot in the region, we should now aspire to become champions of the Caribbean and subsequently move on to making a strong challenge to be among the top teams in Concacaf.”
Looking ahead to the friendly against Antigua, Defence Force topscorer Devon Jorsling said he was hopeful all the players would seize the opportunity to begin making their marks on the international stage.
“Like the coach said it’s time for us to start dominating on the Caribbean stage. It’s one thing to say on paper we are better but we have to show it out there on the pitch and then take it on to the Concacaf and world stage,” Jorsling told TTFF Media.
“I believe that all the players will be eager to prove themselves against Antigua and Jamaica because every player wants to maintain his place in the team in the Digicel Championships and move on to the Gold Cup.
All of us grew up following the Shell Cup and Gold Cup and a lot of us will get the opportunity to play in these tournaments for the first time so we definitely want to earn the coach’s pick and go on to achieve big things,” Jorsling added.
Tickets for Wednesday’s match will be available at the venue at $40 (adults) and $20 for children.
Antiguans aiming to impress in friendly against Soca Warriors
T&T Newsday Reports.
Antigua and Barbuda’s national football team will arrive in Port-of-Spain on Monday mindful of the importance of their friendly international against Trinidad and Tobago two days later as they aim to secure a place in the 2010 Digicel Caribbean Championships.
Antigua, ranked 129th in the world, will host a preliminary group in the DCC and will be using next Wednesday’s friendly as a warm-up for their qualifying matches against Cuba, Suriname and St Martin from August 18-22.
Antiguan Football Association General Secretary Gordon Derrick told the media that Wednesday’s match should serve as the ideal practice match for the island’s national team.
“It starts Trinidad’s 2014 World Cup campaign. It also starts Antigua and Barbuda’s 2014 World Cup campaign. So both countries are using it as our kick-off in terms of getting our teams ready, getting prepared.
World Cup 2010 has just (been) completed and it’s now time for us to get sorted,” Derrick said.
Derrick said that the association is already taking steps to put the team further ahead in the rankings.
“We are now trying to get Antigua positioned within the top 70 of FIFA, and therefore, we must be playing teams of a higher level.
Trinidad and Tobago is ranked in the top 70 of the world so we now want to play teams of that quality and above… We believe we have the quality to compete on the field,” Derrick added.
Former Jabloteh player Peter Byers is among Antigua’s overseas-based players currently attached to Canadian club Montreal Impact which campaigns in the US League two.
Former Joe Public and Jabloteh striker Gayson Gregory is currently playing for Antiguan club Old Road FC while another ex Joe Public and Tobago United defender George Dublin is also based with Antiguan Premier Division club Hoppers.
Antiguan defender Marc Joseph is a member of English professional club Rotherham United.
Meantime, last week three of the Antigua’s bright youth footballers departed for a training stint with Newcastle United Academy.
The players, Javan Philip, Elvis Thomas and Trevaughn Harriete, left the island for two weeks of intensive training and assessment, organised through the initiatives of The Soccer Academy.
TT coach Russell Latapy will continue training with the players on Monday at the Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya and is expected to name a 20-man squad on the weekend. TT will also face Jamaica in a friendly international here on August 11.
Caledonia AIA midfielder Densill Theobald spoke of the need for the “Soca Warriors” to stamp their authority in the region.
“These Caribbean teams some how always manage to make it a difficult game for us and we will not take them lightly on Wednesday.
Both of us are preparing for the Digicel Championships but we also have our sights on the bigger picture which is the Gold Cup and Brazil 2014.
“That means every opportunity to play a practice match whether it be against Antigua or a high ranked country will be taken seriously and we will go all out to impress and win the affair,” Theobald said following Monday’s training session.
Wednesday’s match kicks of at 6 pm at the Marvin Lee Stadium and tickets will be available at the venue at $40 (adults) and $20 for children.