Sun, Jul


Trinidad and Tobago's Under-17 footballers are into their final stage of preparations ahead of Thursday's opening match of the FIFA Under-17 World Championship against Croatia.

Following Friday's 2-2 draw with Oman, captain Roderick Anthony and his team-mates were allowed a weekend of light preparations as coach Rene Simoes believed excessive energy was used up in the two friendly internationals last week.

Yesterday Brazilian Simoes said the final three days before the Croatia match would be an intensive period for the Junior "Soca Warriors".

"The boys are doing okay at this time. I felt that they had spent a lot of energy in the last two matches against Oman (drew 2-2) and Paraguay (lost 3-0) and so they were given some time this weekend to recover.

"From Monday we will lift the intensity again right down until Wednesday to ensure that everything is in place for the match against Croatia," said Simoes.

He said tactical preparations will come into play over the next 48 hours.

"We have received all the information on Croatia and now time will be spent in training with the players working on how they must face the opposition. We will give our players as much information that we know about the Croatians."

The T&T technical director also spoke well of the players' mental state having expressed concern about such last month. Dr Campbell Phillips was brought in late last month to assist.

"I think they are doing well right now. But difficult to say exactly how they are because we have not played any qualifiers or competitive matches. We will know exactly what frame of mind they are in when the opening whistle blows Thursday. The psychologist has spent time with the players on their self confidence and now we will wait to see what happens but I am confident everything will be fine," said Simoes.

Looking ahead to the kick-off of the tournament which will see 15 other nations playing in T&T, Simoes appealed for an atmosphere similar to that of recent Independence Day celebrations during the September 13-30 competition.

"I would like to see a sea of red, white and black at Hasely Crawford Stadium next Thursday. I hope everyone will come out in their national colours. I want to see the whole of T&T looking like

Independence Day again over the next three weeks. It will give the world a great impression of our country," added Simoes.

T&T defender Kenwyne Jones and striker Nkosi Blackman, who were out of last week's friendlies due to a groin and thigh strain respectively, have been declared fit and will be part of the preparations from today.

T&T trains from 1 pm today at Hasely Crawford Stadium's training pitch.