Fri, May

CARLOS EDWARDS should be fit to return to action tomorrow for Trinidad and Tobago in their crucial Group A showdown with surprise leaders Panama at the CONCACAF Gold Cup here in the United States.

The teams were scheduled to meet tonight at 7 p.m. at Miami's Orange Bowl in the first match of a double-header, with Colombia clashing with Honduras in the second game at 9 p.m. However, Hurricane Dennis forced the postponement to tomorrow.

There is almost certain to be something of a storm when Trinidad and Tobago face Panama for the second time in just over a month.

Panama have not ever beaten the "Warriors" in five starts, but gave a credible performance before going down 2-0 to T&T in a CONCACAF World Cup qualifier on June 4 in Port of Spain.

An upset 1-0 victory over Colombia on Wednesday gave Panama their first-ever Gold Cup success and put them atop the Group A standing with three points, after Honduras and Trinidad and Tobago played out a 1-1 draw in the second game on Wednesday.

Trinidad and Tobago were without influential right winger Edwards, who picked up a hamstring injury during the team's one-week pre-tournament camp in Fort Lauderdale last week.

Still on the injury list are defenders Brent Sancho and National Quarries North East Stars' Glenton Wolffe.

Following a somewhat jaded performance against Honduras, the Warriors have been busy and had two training sessions, including one yesterday morning.

A mix-up saw the morning warm-up shifted from the normal University of Miami training pitch to a ground on which the Colombians had been training.

Edwards, newly signed with Luton Town in England, has not trained with his national teammates since arriving in Miami, but has worked with the team's trainers.

T&T assistant manager George Joseph said he should be ready for tomorrow's Panama match and may replace Brent Rahim on the right flank. Joseph also said the Warriors are aware of the need to improve on Wednesday night's performance.

"They admit to themselves that they did not have such a good game," said Joseph. "We know that we can't have played much more badly. But everyone is upbeat and we are going all out to beat Panama."

T&T head coach Leo Beenhakker has stressed he will not be underestimating Panama, stating: "I expect the team will pick up and give a better performance."

The opponents, having previously dropped their two star players for disciplinary reasons, have now recalled brothers Jorge Luis Dely Valdez and Julio Cesar Dely Valdez, who they immediately installed as captain.

Julio Cesar Dely Valdez has a life-size sculpture of himself in the Spanish city of Oviedo. He also once finished eighth in voting for "CONCACAF's Player of the Century", a list that included great Mexican players such as Hugo Sanchez, Carlos Hermosillo and the late Luis Fuentes.

Panama coach Jose Hernandez, a Colombian, admitted that after a flagging World Cup qualifying campaign they had recalled the Dely Valdez brothers to assist in that competition and also the Gold Cup campaign.

"Yes," he admitted, "they were made to leave for disciplinary matters, but now the Valdez brothers have been asked to return to the squad."