Tue, Jun

Young Gomez ready for senior team challenge.

‘Warriors’ step up preparations for Panama

Trinidad and Tobago’s Senior men’s team will step up the pace of their preparations from today (Monday) as they gear towards Friday’s Friendly International against Panama at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.

Head coach Stephen Hart welcomed his players to a live-in training camp on the weekend and will conduct a 6pm training session at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Monday. There will be double sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday in preparation for the match which will be T&T’s first international outing for 2015.

Among Hart’s new call ups is National Under 20 captain Shannon Gomez. The W Connection wingback is one of several players who will be hoping to make their senior international debut against the Central Americans.

“My intention right now is to get into the team for the game on Friday. I can’t say if I will be in coach Hart’s starting team but I’ll be definitely hoping to at least come off the bench,” Gomez told TTFA Media. “Just thinking about earning my first cap for the country is astounding news to me and for my football career.

“When I got the call that I was invited to join the senior team, it was exhilarating news for me. I’ve been working hard all the while knowing one day this opportunity for me to represent my country at the highest level would come,” he added.

Gomes has lined up against Panama at the Under 20 and Under 17 World Cup qualifying level and expects them to a be stern test on Friday.

“Their football is on the rise and I experienced this directly as we’ve played them at the U-17 and U-20 level. I think they will be a very strong test for us on Friday and the team needs to be ready for this challenge. We want to give a solid showing in front of the home fans. This will be a perfect warm up for us for the Gold Cup and every player will be looking to do well in training and in Friday’s game with the hope of securing a spot in the Gold Cup squad,” Gomez stated.

Hart is also anticipating the week ahead, saying “It’s going to be a really good week for us because we get to see how some of the players adapt to the rigors of preparing for an international game such as this and also against an opponent like Panama. This is important for us because players need to be accustomed to this especially gong into a Gold Cup and a World Cup campaign which also involves playing on the road and traveling between countries for matches.”

Panama have emerged as one of the leading teams in the CONCACAF region in recent times. They finished runners-up in the 2005 Gold Cup and 2013 Gold Cup. Panama reached the fourth round for the 2006 World Cup CONCACAF qualifications.

They also advanced to final round for the 2014 World Cup qualifications. At their last qualification match against the USA, they were about 90 seconds away from beating the United States and advancing but conceded two goals in stoppage time and were eliminated from qualification for the 2014 World Cup.Panama’s head coach Hernan Dario Gomez has selected a full strength team for the encounter.

Among the players called up include German-based midfielder Armando Cooper of FC St Pauli, veteran forward Luis Tejada of Peruvian club Juan Aurich who is the team’s leading goalscorer with 37 goals in 79 matches, Colombian-based defender Harold Cummings, FC Dallas forward Blas Perez, LA Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo and another experienced defender Luis Henriquez of Polish club Lech Poznan. The Panama team comprised players based in Germany, Poland, Hungary Mexico, USA, Peru, Uruguay, Colombia, Venezuela, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Panama.

Tickets for the T&T versus Panama encounter cost $100 and are available at Fan Club Movietowne (POS, Trincity Mall, Gulf City Mall), All Out Restaurant (QP Oval), Heritage Sports Tobago, Ramsingh's Sportsworld, Couva, Econo Supermart and Kenny's Sports Shops.