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The National Team will resume preparations next Wednesday entering 2007 gearing up for the Digicel Caribbean Cup which will be played off here in Trinidad and Tobago with eight nations vying for the regional title.

Over the last week, head coach Wim Rijsbergen has been overseeing training with some 42 players at the Ato Boldon Stadium and he is expected to cut the squad by half for training next week and in early January as T&T prepares for its opening Digicel Cup fixture against Barbados on January 12 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

The T&T coaching staff which also includes Anton Corneal, Jan Van Deinsen and Brian Williams also got to see the senior players up against a team of  visiting US-College players as well as local-based ones in a couple of 30-minute scrimmages on Thursday. The national team players were rotated as players were observed in different positions and roles.

Among those being assessed by Rijsbergen and his staff is defender Anthony Noreiga who is coming off his first season with Vancouver Whitecaps in the American A-League and was also in Leo Beenhakker’s team for the 2-0 win over Iceland last February. Since then, this is Noreiga’s first return to the national set up and he is committed to sealing a place in the final squad.

“It was a major opportunity to be able to work with our World Cup players and being in the mix so close before the World Cup and that is something that I don’t intend to let go by easily. That experience helped be better my awareness of what is required at that level of the game. Even though I didn’t get into the final squad I think there were a lot of positives I got out of it and now with the Digicel Cup coming up, I hope I can get into the team and keep on striving for better things. But seeing that I was considered in February, I think that should mean I am in with a chance for 2010 and I want to make that happen,” Noreiga told TTFF Media.

The former Princes Town Senior Comprehensive standout is unattached at the moment but hopes to maybe go back to the US for next season even though there may also be a couple options in Europe. He had also been with Kansas City Wizards early in the season.

“The last season was pretty decent. We won the championship but I didn’t play too much coming down to the playoffs. I was a rookie so playing 13 games for them wasn’t bad. I had an option for a one year extension but I’ll see what comes up for next year. I was also part of the Kansas Wizards for preseason but at the time I would have been counted as a senior international after getting into the Trinidad team and they were looking for someone with more experience. The next best option was Vancouver after that,” he added.

Noreiga will now be aiming to increase his international caps by representing T&T in the Digicel Cup come next month. He is among other US-based players such as Wizards striker Scott Sealy and Liberty College striker Darryl Roberts, Osei Telesford, Leslie Fitzpatrick along with a host of home-based players vying for selection to play in the Digicel Cup. There was a minor hiccup with the Jabloteh players but they are expected to rejoin training next week