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Brothers Levi (#11) and Judah Garcia (#13) pose with two ball boys after a Courts Classic game against Barbados at Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain on March 25th 2022.
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National coach Angus Eve has announced a 23-man team that will challenge Canada in the CONCACAF Play-In in Frisco, Texas, USA on March 24 for the right to cement a place in the Copa America Cup in June, an experience he feels will impact T&T's football greatly.

The team sees the return of AEK Athens's speedy striker Levi Garcia, as well as Judah Garcia, who has been unavailable due to injuries.

Eve said at a press conference to announce the team at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo, Port-of-Spain, on Thursday, that he is very optimistic Garcia (Levi), who scored a wonder goal for his team at the weekend, could remain fit and ready to represent his country for the coming match.

Eve's selection process was hampered by injuries to a few key players such as Ajani Fortune, who has been struggling with a few niggling injuries, while also fighting for a place on his team Atlanta United, Miami FC's Ryan Telfer who has a hernia injury that has put him out of football for three weeks, and defender Kareem Moses (FF Jaro, Finland) had an operation on his knee about a week ago.

Both the inclusion of Levi and Judah appears to be the solution to the striking problem Eve said he had been grappling with. He said expects Garcia (Judah) to score goals from the midfield as he has done in the past.

Eve considered one of the country's most successful coaches in recent times, told the media he wanted to pick players who can play multiple positions in the event they need to make changes during the match, which according to Eve, holds tremendous benefit to the country.

"We know how important the game is, the staff and the players know how important the game is to us. This would be one of the most prestigious tournaments if we could go on and get the victory to go on to play against the calibre of players in that tournament. It would put us on a different level and on a different map, even if the people coming to see different players, they would still see us, and that would open up a lot of doors for our players and our football, and go one step further to where we want T&T football to be again, which is to be competing at the highest level," Eve explained.

"We need to defend well, it will be a David against Goliath match when you look at the players they have - Cyle Larin up front, David Junior Hoilett up front, Alfonso Davies on the left, and Tajon Buchanan on the right. You see these players playing at top Leagues.

"So it's top players that they have and we have to be astute defensively but also offensively we have to express ourselves so that we can come away with a victory," Eve said.

Meanwhile, Eve has sought the advice of former national coach Everald 'Gally' Cummings ahead of the match. He said Gally, the coach of the famous Strike Squad of 1989 which came within a point of the 1990 World Cup in Italy, called him this morning and they reminisced.

"I tend to always go back to the people who have been there and done it, so I have conversations with Stephen Hart, with Dennis Lawrence, so we have good people here and if you lean on them sometimes you get some good information.

"I spoke to Gally and got a sense of what he could have done differently back then which could probably help me going into this game."

Meanwhile, Eve also sends condolences to the country's most popular nutsman Keith 'Jumbo' Martin, who died yesterday. The coach described Jumbo as one of the best 12th-men that they ever had, saying he is always at hand to show his support.

The players will leave local shores on Monday (March 18) and will be joined by the other international players in the US.

T&T 23-man squad

Christopher Biggette, Aubrey David, Ross Russell Jr, Jesse Williams, Robert Primus, Andre Raymond, Noah Powder, Daniel Phillips, Nathaniel James, Real Gill, Levi Garcia, Kevon Goddard, Reon Moore, Shannon Gomez, Neveal Hackshaw, Alvin Jones, Justin Garcia, Andre Rampersad, Ajani Fortune, Kaile Auvray, Adrian Foncette, Denzil Smith, Judah Garcia.


SOURCE: T&T Guardian