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Caledonia leads Pro League exodus for overseas trials

Seven Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA players are among more than a dozen Pro League footballers who will head through the Piarco Airport’s departure lounge in the coming days to seek their fortune abroad.

Present Trinidad and Tobago internationals Densill Theobald and Ataullah Guerra left last night for trials in Europe along with Guyana internationals Walter Moore and Trayon Bobb and ex-Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 captain Radanfah Abu Bakr and former national youth defender Nuru Muhammad.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago international playmaker Ataullah Guerra is one of six Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA players who left last night for trials in Europe.
(Courtesy Photos868)

Theobald, Guerra, Moore, Bobb and Abu Bakr head to Turkey for a two week stint alongside Defence Force striker Richard Roy. In a novel arrangement, they will join up with 16 other players from various parts of the globe to form a touring team, which will then play practise matches against several European clubs on their winter breaks.

Wired868 understands that the Pro League players will have an orientation period, in which they will train together and be further assessed before facing European opposition.

Trinidad and Tobago and Caledonia AIA striker Jamal Gay, who had a stint with German second division club Rot-Weiss Oberhausen three years ago, is due to join his teammates in Europe.

The Morvant/Laventile-based club has also lost the services of versatile attacker Conrod Smith who is on trial in the United States.

The timing of the exits means that Caledonia coach Jerry Moe must significantly remould his starting team while simultaneously chasing Pro League leaders Defence Force who is three points clear but played a game more than the “Eastern Stallions.”

There have just been two additions to the Caledonia roster to compensate as talented midfielder Sherron Joseph, the younger brother of long-serving right back Kareem “Tiny” Joseph, has returned to the club while 22-year-old Grenada international goalkeeper Shemel Louison has also signed on. Promising midfielder Akim Armstrong also returned to full fitness after almost two years out with a knee injury.

Armstrong and Joseph both featured during Caledonia’s 1-0 win over North East Stars on Saturday in Couva and might be required to give meaningful contributions today in a TTFF FA Trophy clash against Super League team, Stokely Vale, from 5 pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain. The Tobago club eliminated Caledonia from the Toyota Classic Cup but has since lost star striker Rundell Winchester and defender Omar Charles, who both transferred to Central FC.

The Stallions also face defending Digicel Pro League champions, DIRECTV W Connection, at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Friday.

Several Connection players have attracted international attention too. Forward Shahdon Winchester, who turned 21 yesterday and scored all three goals in the club’s weekend win over Central FC, is wanted for closer inspection by a still unnamed team in Europe while 21-year-old national senior team utility player Joevin Jones is expected to leave shortly for a trial with a US Major League Soccer (MLS) team.

Photo: DIRECTV W Connection midfielder Joevin Jones (left) battles for possession with Defence Force player Keston Williams.
(Courtesy Photos868)

Question marks remain over the short term future of another “Soca Warrior” and Connection utility player Daneil Cyrus.

Cyrus agreed terms with Vietnam team Song Lam Nghe last November, along with national teammates Hughtun Hector and Willis Plaza, but the club is unwilling to lose all three players for the period of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup. And all three are still in limbo while a deadline for the proposed move is expected next week.

North East Stars and national central defender Seon Power, who was a stand out at the recent Caribbean Cup finals, and Anthony Wolfe, the Central FC vice-captain and a 2006 World Cup squad member, will both try their luck in the far-East too. Wolfe should leave today for Singapore while Power will link up with a team in Thailand.

Pro League salaries generally range between $4,000 and $10,000 per month but players can earn more than six times that figure in Asia or use one of Europe’s less fancied leagues as a stepping stone to a wealthy club on the continent.

Local football teams are usually paid a fee to loan their players out if they are still under contract.

(Foreign-bound)

Conrod Smith (Caledonia AIA), 31, is a creative attacker who can operate as an attacking midfielder or striker.

Densill Theobald (Caledonia AIA), 30, is a tidy midfield organiser who has played in Scotland, Hungary and India and represented Trinidad and Tobago at the 2006 World Cup.

Photo: Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA midfielder Densill Theobald shows off his close control.
(Courtesy Photos868)

Anthony Wolfe (Central FC), 29, is an athletic, utility player whose battling qualities seem best suited to central midfield. He was a squad member at the 2006 World Cup.

Walter Moore (Caledonia AIA), 28, is a fine distributor of the ball with his left foot, from open play or set pieces, and is comfortable at left back or as a wide midfielder.

Seon Power (North East Stars), 28, is an athletic, combative central defender who is competent at right back and can be useful when initiating attacks too.

Ataullah Guerra (Caledonia AIA), 25, is a tall, elegant two-footed player who can operate in any midfield position and has played recently as a support striker.

Richard Roy (Defence Force), 25, is a quick, strong and aggressive striker who packs a venomous shot with either foot.

Radanfah Abu Bakr (Caledonia AIA), 25, is a towering central defender who can curl home free kicks as well as bang in headers from set pieces.

Nuru Muhammad (Caledonia AIA), 24, is a powerful, mobile central defender who is a difficult prospect in one-on-one situations.

Jamal Gay (Caledonia AIA), 23, is a tall, muscular striker who offers a genuine aerial threat and is a decent poacher inside the opposing penalty box. He represented Trinidad and Tobago at the 2009 Under-20 World Cup.

Daneil Cyrus (W Connection), 22, is a tall and mobile utility player who reads the game well and is a fierce competitor. He represented Trinidad and Tobago at Under-17 and Under-20 World Cups in 2007 and 2009 respectively.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Daneil Cyrus (right) tries to get a grip on Cuban attacker Marcel Hernandez during the 2012 Caribbean Cup finals.
(Courtesy Allan V. Crane/ Photos868)

Joevin Jones (W Connection), 21, is arguably Trinidad and Tobago’s most promising young player and another utility player. His left footed set piece deliveries are often dangerous while he strikes the ball cleanly from distance.

Shahdon Winchester (W Connection), 21, is adept at finding pockets of space in opposing defences and has quick feet. He is the joint Pro League top scorer at present with eight goals from seven matches.

Trayon Bobb (W Connection), 19, is one of the Caribbean’s most promising teenagers. He is quick, skilful and left footed and is also developing a taste for goals. Bobb scored a double in a World Cup qualifier for Guyana away to El Salvador last year.

 

Editor’s Note: Original story amended to include Nuru Muhammad amongst the travelling party while striker Jamal Gay will join the players in Europe later and Seon Power will also go away on trial.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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