Thu, Jul

Trinidad and Tobago train ahead of 2026 World Cup Qualifiers against Grenada and Bahamas.

VETERAN Morvant Caledonia FC striker Kevon ‘Showtime’ Woodley, Netherlands-based midfielder Dantaye Gilbert and Canadian-based Steffen Yeates have been selected to Angus Eve’s 25-man squad ahead of the June 5 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Grenada at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo.

Woodley, 37, received his first senior team call-up for two recent friendly internationals against Guyana on May 13 and 15. He scored in both matches which Trinidad and Tobago won 2-1 and 2-0. These goals, perhaps, affirmed him a spot in Eve’s final selection.

Woodley, however, is no stranger to national colours having represented in futsal and is T&T’s leading goal-scorer in beach soccer.

Additionally, Dutch-based midfielder Gilbert, 19, who plies his trade with Jong PSV, is expected to bring a different but welcome dynamic to the setup.

Yeates, 24, represented Canada at previous youth tournaments but has committed his senior career to the red, white and black. He plays for Pacific FC in the Canadian Premier League but has never featured for TT. On their inclusion to the senior team at such a critical stage, Eve said, “Age (Woodley) is not a factor. Sometimes we move players and they get upset and say different things. But I’ve always said age is not a factor. Kevon, in the last two seasons, came second behind Nathaniel James in goal-scoring.

“In this season, he’s the top scorer in the league. He deserved an opportunity, we gave him that chance and he scored two in both matches we had, and was one of the best performers in the two games against a decent Guyana team. It warranted his selection to the group. “

He confirmed that Yeates’ father is Trinidadian and they’ve been in close contact since October 2023.

“He’s committed to us earlier this year. His papers are finalising and we should have his papers in time so that he could be part of the squad on June 5.”

Notable omissions from T&T’s World Cup qualifier team are Toronto FC wingback Tyrese Spicer, Mount Pleasant Academy’s (Jamaica) Kaile Auvray and seasoned Belgian-based defender Sheldon Bateau.

Despite being named in Eve’s 39-man provisional squad, Spicer was left out because of a niggling injury while Auvray has not been getting minutes for Mount Pleasant.

“Kaile hardly played in his league and his confidence is not where it ought to be. We had several conversations and we’re hoping things will change for him so that we can use him in future games. He understands.

“Tyrese’s club said they’ve been dealing with some injury issues with him and they will prefer at this point in time that he stay back with them. They have a bit of a mid-season break where they think they could do some more work on his foot and we are in support of him. The young man being the best that he can be and if at this point in this time, the club feels that this is best for him we have to support him.”

Also making the final cut were AEK Athens forward Levi Garcia, while captain and defender Aubrey David, midfielder Andre Rampersad and winger Reon Moore gear up for the June 5 test. Joining them are Canadian-based attackers Malcolm Shaw and Ryan Telfer.

Eve said most of his Canadian-based players will join the team two days before the qualifier, since they play club matches on June 2, and travel to T&T the next morning. This means those players will rest on June 3, and have one full-squad training session on June 4.

Currently, 15 locally-based players are in-training in Trinidad, as they await the arrival of their foreign-based teammates.

On his first World Cup campaign as coach, Eve said he’s taking it “very seriously”.

“This is the beginning of something very big for us. In the last couple of World Cup campaigns, we didn’t do as well as we think we should have done. We’re looking to right some of those wrongs. The guys are well motivated to play.

“We have some challenges with players playing up to June 2, the day the (FIFA) window actually starts, and then travel. But we have dealt with these adversities before and I think we’re going into the campaign, all things equal, with a good squad of players, with a good mindset and trying to make the country proud again.”

T&T 25-man team for June 5 World Cup Qualifier

Goalkeepers: Denzil Smith (Club Sando), Aaron Enill (Prison FC), Christopher Biggette (Defence Force)

Defenders: Aubrey David (CS Cartagines—Costa Rica), Alvin Jones (Miscellaneous Police FC), Justin Garcia (Defence Force), Josiah Trimmingham (Montego Bay Utd—Jamaica), Shannon Gomez (San Antonio FC—USA), Andre Raymond (unattached), Triston Hodge (Hartford Athletic—USA)

Midfielders: Michel Poon-Angeron, Duane Muckette (both AC Port of Spain), Andre Rampersad (HFX Wanderers—Canada), Noah Powder (Northern Colorado Hailstorm—USA), Dantaye Gilbert (Jong PSV—Netherlands), Steffen Yeates (Pacific FC—Canada), Daniel Phillips (St Johnstone FC—Scotland), Ajani Fortune (Atlanta United—USA)

Attackers: Nathaniel James (Mount Pleasant FC—Jamaica), Real Gill (Northern Colorado Hailstorm—USA), Reon Moore (Pacific FC—Canada), Malcolm Shaw (Cavalry FC—Canada), Levi Garcia (AEK Athens—Greece), Kevon Woodley (Morvant Caledonia Utd), Ryan Telfer (HFX Wanderers—Canada)

SOURCE: T&T Newsday