National Senior team Hutson Charles is facing some dilemma over the selection of his final squad for next week’s Caribbean Cup semi-final qualifying round at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Tobago.
Charles’s team is scheduled to assemble in the sister-isle tomorrow ahead of T&T’s opening encounter at the venue on Wednesday from 8pm. Cuba faces Suriname from 6pm on the same evening in a group from which the top two finishers will advance to the Finals in Antigua in December.
Since the team’s return from the previous group in St Kitts a few weeks ago, Charles has been able to conduct only three training sessions which he believes is a setback at this point in the campaign.
Aside from that, Charles learnt on Friday that W Connection defender Daneil Cyrus will be leaving for a trial on Sunday and Willis Plaza will also be departing back to Vietnam on the same day, according to his local handler David John Williams.
Ipswich Town captain Carlos Edwards is also unable to travel while Keon Daniel has been unreachable since the end of Philadelphia Union’s MLS season.
Currently only Vancouver Whitecaps defender Carlyle Mitchell and Kazakhstan-based defender Robert Primus are the overseas-based players in the team. Former Orlando City midfielder Kevin Molino is also in the current squad as well as Vietnam-based midfielder Hughtun Hector.
“The preparations have not been ideal,” Charles said.
“But once again we are facing the same problems that has plagued us for some time but of course the argument will be with the local clubs that the foreign clubs also refuse to release their players outside of the FIFA stipulated days.
But then the question has to be raised whether we really have national football at heart. This is a major tournament whereby we are trying to qualify for the Caribbean Cup finals and the Gold Cup and we are not even trying to give ourselves that little edge that could make a difference,” he said.
“What sense is it if we cannot have our players available to us at least one week before a major tournament. There have been calls that we utilise the local-based players and when we are doing that it’s still difficult to get players for our preparations. I understand the clubs have their business as well to take care of but a week or two I think will be a plus l if our football at the international level can benefit from all of this.
“I find it to be a bit disturbing when a club can choose to send out two players mere days before a tournament when they are fully aware that these guys are a big part of our plans.”
He expressed concern about T&T Pro League going ahead with scheduled matches this weekend, even though he did admit that a bit of miscommunication may have led to that as the Pro League have at some prior time tried to cooperate with the national team program.
“When our competing teams are able to train and be together for longer than us we have to be very concerned about that. It’s no longer a situation where we can just feel our players are naturally better and will go there and win these games easily. The game has changed,” Charles added.
“In saying that, we will work at best with that squad we have together now. They have the ability but we will have to maximise the two days we have together before the opening game on Wednesday,” he said. Charles also wanted to send a reminder that it is not a given that T&T will qualify out of the Caribbean Zone as we have failed to do so since 2007.