The Trinidad and Tobago national under-23 football team will have to book its place at the London 2012 Olympic Games without the help of star Belgium-based midfielder Khaleem Hyland after the 22-year-old was ruled out by his employer, Racing Genk.
The Olympic qualifiers, which will be staged in the United States between March 23 and April 2, do not fall inside the FIFA-approved calendar for international matches and, as such, clubs are not obliged to release players to participate in the competition.
National under-23 head coach Angus Eve had hoped to persuade Genk to part with the versatile former San Juan Jabloteh starlet but the Belgian outfit opted, as is the club’s right, to put its own needs first.
Genk was the Belgian First Division champion club last season and competed in the group stage of the 2011/12 European Champions’ League. However, the club struggled this season and lie in sixth position at present.
Hyland could potentially miss as many five games if he were to compete for Trinidad and Tobago in the Olympic qualifiers and Genk ruled out being that charitable.
Eve is still sweating over the availability of Aktobe defender Robert Primus who needs a minor miracle to recover in time from reconstructive surgery on his knee.
The Kazakhstan-based Primus, another former Jabloteh player, is with the national youth team at present and he started training last week for the first time since an operation in July 2011.
There was good news for Eve today, though, as his squad completed their visa appointments without incident at the US Embassy. Utility player Daneil Cyrus also rebounded from injury with a lengthy run out for the senior team on Wednesday when the “Soca Warriors” whipped Antigua and Barbuda 4-0 in North Sound, Antigua.
Former W Connection defender Mekeil Williams is also expected to join the team for the Olympic qualifiers despite recently signing for Polish First Division club, Pogon Szczecin.
Hyland is not so lucky.
The Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 team qualified without Hyland for the 2009 World Youth Championship and the midfielder joined them for the tournament in Egypt. However, four CONCACAF teams progressed to that FIFA competition; whereas only two will compete at the Olympics.
Last year, Hyland became only the fourth Trinidad and Tobago player to compete in the European Champions’ League, which is the most celebrated club competition in the game.
Former 2006 World Cup captain Dwight Yorke won the Champions’ League with Manchester United in 1999 while his international teammates Russell Latapy (Porto) and Marvin Andrews (Glasgow Rangers) also participated in the prestigious competition.