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Wed, Feb

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Trinidad and Tobago’s National Under 20 footballers, twelve of them under assistant coach Hutson Charles trained for the first time under humid conditions at the Training Pitch located near the Intercontinental Hotel in Al Ain as they kicked off their 20-day tour.
The remainder of the squad, eight players including head coach Zoran Vranes were scheduled in on Sunday night and the full squad will have a session on Monday evening ahead of the first of two warm up matches against United Arab Emirates’ National Under 20 team at the Al Ain Sports Complex on Tuesday at 6pm (10am TT time).

The first batch of players arrived in Dubai on Saturday night via Houston but a late mishap in the printing of visas in Port of Spain forced the second group to travel via London a day later.

The hosts will play T&T on Tuesday and also on Wednesday at the same venue as they prepare to face  Honduras, South Africa and Hungary in Group F of the World Championship.

The venue for the matches here is one of the home grounds for UAE’s most successful professional Club Al Ain FC which is also one of Asia’s top rated clubs. FIFA Vice President Jack Warner is an honorary President of the club along with Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE/Ruler of Abu Dhabi.

Al Ain itself is UAE’s  fourth largest city with a population of 614,180 and is located in Abu Dhabi, directly adjacent to the border with Oman.

Al Ain has been continuously inhabited for more than four thousand years and Al Ain is considered central to the cultural heritage of the country. It is the birth place of Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first president of the United Arab Emirates.

It is dubbed 'Garden City of The Gulf' given the many oases, parks, tree-lined avenues and decorative roundabouts within the city. Strict height controls on new buildings, to no more than seven floors, emphasizes the greenery of the city

But while the dry desert air makes it a welcome retreat from the coastal humidity of the larger cities, it wasn’t so easy for the T&T players on their first day here. However assistant Charles felt the timing of the trip is perfect as there is expected to be similar conditions in Egypt when the team travels to contest the FIFA Under 20 World Cup in September.

“We got a good feel of the conditions here and even though we had a long travel, it was important to have a session to get the boys acclimatized to the conditions here because we expect it will be similar in Egypt,” Charles told TTFF Media.

“The Federation has to be commended for arranging this trip because from all reports, the UAE has a pretty strong Under 20 team and we expect to get two very good games from them. The timing is close but this is very good for these players to be able to come out to places like this and experience the culture and the conditions. Back in my time as a youth player we didn’t get these kind of opportunities so it’s important that we take everything and grasp it fully from this kind of experience,” Charles added.
 
In related news, the management staff of the Under 20 team wishes to advise, that after traveling through Houston, there is currently no member of the T&T contingent with any symptoms of flu and they will be continuously monitored during the tour. Host officials here in the UAE are also aware of the Swine Flu outbreak and have pledged to assist the T&T team in every way possible.