Trinidad and Tobago joint head coaches Hutson “Barber” Charles and Jamaal Shabazz selected their final squad for the 2012 Caribbean Cup finals today and, in the end, only two new faces managed to force themselves into the group.
Speedy 24-year-old Slovakia-based right winger Lester Peltier and 22-year-old United States A’ League playmaker Kevin Molino were both named in the 20-man squad that otherwise stuck to players used in the earlier qualifying rounds.
Trinidad and Tobago, which is captained by DIRECTV W Connection goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams, opens its Caribbean Cup finals campaign against fellow Group A outfit Haiti from 6 pm on Friday in Antigua. The Dominican Republic and hosts Antigua and Barbuda complete Group A.
The two teams to emerge from the group automatically qualify for the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The Caribbean Cup champions will pocket US$100,000 while second, third and fourth will collect US$75,000, US$50,000 and US$30,000 respectively.
Charles told the TTFF media that he was confident that the best available players were selected for the job.
“We have had the majority of these players together for much of the campaign so far and I think this is the best possible squad we can have on paper heading into the Finals,” Charles told the TTFF media. “We sat down and did our assessment and looked at the current readiness of the players in terms of their current form, fitness level and the same applied in relation to these players who we brought into the mix from outside of Trinidad and Tobago.
“We felt that it would make sense to maintain the majority of the squad that has been together for the previous six games.”
Shabazz, who recently swapped his role as Guyana head coach to work with the “Soca Warriors”, revealed that Molino, in particular, has added to a spark to the squad and he is anxious to work with the talented former World Youth Cup player.
“I like his openness to allow you to use him how you want tactically,” Shabazz told Wired868. “He is a good student of the game with a remarkable touch. I am really excited about working with him.”
Shabazz also praised the influence of the team’s experienced players like 28-year-old captain Williams, 30-year-old World Cup 2006 midfielder Densill Theobald and 28-year-old Defence Force striker Devorn Jorsling.
“Jan-Michael, Densill and Devorn bring a lot of stability to the team,” he said. “They will talk to the players and reinforce coaching points. Devorn isn’t in the starting team in training but he is still very, very helpful.
“You can’t coach experience, so you need players with experience to do what the three of them are doing and be a voice of reinstatement and caution.”
Whereas Molino and Peltier are fresh faces, versatile defender Daneil Cyrus and attacker Willis Plaza, who missed the last rounds due to a trial with Vietnamese club Song Lam Nghe, have regained their places in the team.
But, arguably, the biggest shock was the omission of Connection midfielder Clyde Leon and North East Stars striker Cornell Glen.
Leon, a former national captain with 46 career senior team appearances, lost his starting position during the semifinal qualifying round after a dip-in form although his omission from the 20-man squad was said to be fitness-related.
Glen, who starred at the 2006 World Cup and has amassed 23 international senior goals from 40 starts and 21 substitute appearances, had been hampered by a niggling groin injury this season but was deemed fully ready to represent his country. However, the technical staff opted to keep the quartet of strikers that got them to this stage.
Kazakhastan-based defender Robert Primus and Thailand-based left winger Kendall Jagdeosingh are both recovering from injuries and also failed to convince the coaches that they are ready.
A calf strain ruled out W Connection attacker Hashim Arcia while his club teammate Kern Cupid failed to hold on to his right back spot with Cyrus, Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA full back Aubrey David and Defence Force utility player Curtis Gonzales preferred for their versatility. Uncapped MLS winger Cordell Cato was also unable to force his way into the team ahead of Peltier and Defence Force winger Kevon Carter.
The final squad for the 2012 Caribbean Cup finals is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Jan-Michael Williams (W Connection), Marvin Phillip (Central FC)
Defenders: Kareem Moses, Seon Power (both North East Stars), Carlyle Mitchell (Vancouver Whitecaps—Canada), Daneil Cyrus (Song Lam Nghe—Vietnam), Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force), Aubrey David (Caledonia AIA),
Midfielders: Joevin Jones (both W Connection), Densill Theobald, Keyon Edwards, Ataullah Guerra (all Caledonia AIA), Kevin Molino (Orlando—US), Hughtun Hector (Song Lam Nghe—Vietnam), Lester Peltier (Slovan Bratislava—Slovakia), Kevon Carter (Defence Force),
Forwards: Devorn Jorsling, Richard Roy (both Defence Force), Jamal Gay (Caledonia AIA), Willis Plaza (Song Lam Nghe—Vietnam).
Editor’s Note: Story updated with quotes on Kevin Molino and the experienced squad players. What do you think about Trinidad and Tobago’s Caribbean Cup finals team?