Two-time Trinidad and Tobago World Youth Cup player Sean De Silva could potentially become the target of an international tug of war as his failure to break into the “Soca Warriors” looks likely to invite bids from neighbouring Caribbean nations.
De Silva will be in action from 8 pm tonight for Central FC as they tackle Caledonia AIA at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain in the Digicel Pro Bowl final, which brings the curtain down on the 2014/15 Pro League season.
Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team Stephen Hart is expected to announce his training squad for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament immediately after the match.
And it might be a memorable decision for De Silva’s international future as Guyana is monitoring his availability for its 2018 World Cup campaign while the versatile playmaker can also represent Antigua and Barbuda and Barbados.
Guyana coach Jamaal Shabazz, who is Trinidadian and one of the founding members of Pro League team Caledonia AIA, learnt that De Silva can represent the “Golden Jaguars”—by virtue of his grandparents’ Guyanese citizenship—and admitted his interest.
“We are very interested in Sean,” Shabazz told Wired868. “He qualifies to play for Guyana and we will love to have him if Trinidad doesn’t.
“It is not treason. This is the backlash of dual citizenship.”
De Silva represented Trinidad and Tobago at the Korea Republic 2007 and Egypt 2009 World Youth Cups for the Under-17 and Under-20 categories respectively. However, while former international teammates like Khaleem Hyland, Kevin Molino and Daneil Cyrus cruised into the National Senior Team, De Silva has struggled for opportunities.
The former St Mary’s College student made his senior international debut at 19 in a 1-0 friendly win over Panama on 18 March 2009 at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella.
But he had to wait another three years for his second and final cap, which came in a 3-2 friendly defeat to Finland on 22 January 2012 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
De Silva has never been summoned by Hart. At present, the Warriors are short of midfield schemers with Molino and Hughtun Hector both injured.
If Hart still ignores the “Couva Shark”, it may be an indication that De Silva is not in his immediate plans for Trinidad and Tobago’s 2018 World Cup campaign.
The talented midfielder, who is also a dead-ball specialist, can still switch countries because he has not represented Trinidad and Tobago in a competitive senior international match.
De Silva was unavailable for comment. However, his father Chris De Silva, a former national youth team manager, confirmed that his son is aware of his options but remains focused on wearing red, black and white kit.
“Sean’s heart is set on playing for Trinidad and Tobago but he wants to play international football,” said De Silva (C). “If Hart doesn’t see Sean in his mix, then he will look at his options…
“He loves his country and he wants to play for Trinidad and Tobago but it is up to Trinidad. I do know that, whoever he plays for, he plays his heart out and always gives 110 percent.
“I’m sure he will do a great job for whoever he plays for.”
Antigua and Barbuda are considered a rising force in the Caribbean after the “Benna Boys” stormed into the 2014 Caribbean Cup finals while Guyana caused a stir, during its 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign, by advancing to the CONCACAF semifinal round.
Shabazz was in charge of Guyana then and, ironically, eliminated Trinidad and Tobago along the way. England-born midfielder Ricky Shakes, who also represented the Warriors in a friendly game but never saw competitive action for the two island republic, scored the winner for the Jaguars when the two nations met.
Interestingly, Aubrey David, who was born in Georgetown, was on the bench for the Jaguars then, despite the fact that he played alongside De Silva at the World Youth Cups. David never featured in a competitive match for the Jaguars and opted to return to the Warriors.
He has since won 18 full international caps for Trinidad and Tobago and played in two Caribbean Cup finals and one Gold Cup.
The Guyana coach thinks De Silva can be another big Shakes, though, and complement the Jaguars team that recently capped Bolton Wanderers veteran midfielder Neil Danns.
“I think he is very committed to the pass and is a simple and effective player,” said Shabazz, who once tried, unsuccessfully, to sign De Silva for Caledonia. “He organises the game and is in-between a defensive midfielder and a playmaker… He is a confident player but, most importantly, I like how he takes the task given to him and makes something out of it.”
Shabazz said he was impressed with De Silva and Central coach Terry Fenwick when the Sharks eliminated Alpha United in Guyana en route to claiming the 2015 Caribbean Cup title.
He said Fenwick’s changes of tactics and personnel for the qualifying games in Guyana, dumbfounded his opponents and De Silva was a part of that in an unusual role for him as an inverted winger.
“A lot of people don’t like to give Fenwick credit but Fenwick used or six or seven different players in both (qualifying games in Guyana),” said Shabazz. “What I saw from Fenwick was an experienced coach… I wanted Alpha to win but I was proud of him.
“The way he used (defender Jamal) Jack behind the strikers to press. It was interesting.”
Shabazz will be rooting against Central again tonight as the “Eastern Stallions” take on the Sharks.
Veteran midfielder Keyon Edwards and Conrad Smith will be vital if Caledonia are to get anything from the game while Guyanese poacher Pernell Schultz has 18 goals in all competitions—the third highest tally in the League—and will be one to keep an eye on.
Caledonia wingers Nathan Lewis and Guyana international Trayon Bobb can be awkward customers while captain Kareem “Tiny” Joseph and utility player Nicholas Marcano provide steel to the squad.
It is difficult to guess Terry Fenwick’s XI these days but striker Willis Plaza, who returns from suspension, should replace defender Jamal Jack despite the latter’s match winning performance against DIRECTV W Connection in Sunday’s Caribbean Cup final win.
Veteran midfielder Marvin Oliver and gifted playmaker Ataulla Guerra are both ex-Caledonia players and should be anxious for the chance to play against former teammates. While goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams, winger Jason Marcano and defenders Elton John and Akeem Benjamin have been in fine form.
Midfielders Leston Paul, Jean-Luc Rochford and De Silva, who played together at the Egypt 2009 World Youth Cup, would all be pressing for a starting place alongside them.
And De Silva might be playing for more than just the Pro Bowl.