The Soca Warriors will start the CONCACAF Hex without ace midfielder Kevin Molino, who has incurred an additional two-match suspension for a breach of internal discipline.
Molino, an Orlando City player, was dropped from the Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team for their Caribbean Cup qualifier against Martinique and, although the TTFA decided to leave his fate up to the technical staff, head coach Stephen Hart opted to suspend the player for an additional two matches.
“I was told there was an Instagram apology but I also understand there was a [social media] post where he vowed to take a year off,” said Hart. “Molino sent an apology letter to management and I called him and commended him on it… But he will serve a two-game suspension and be able to fight for contention afterwards.”
The other omissions from the last squad named to face Guatemala and the United States in Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying were: versatile Colorado Rapids defender Mekeil Williams, Louisville City FC goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh, Murcielagos FC forward Shahdon Winchester and W Connection playmaker Hughtun Hector.
Morvant Caledonia United goalkeeper Marvin Phillip returns to the squad after being left out of the Caribbean Cup qualifying tournament—in which the Warriors were eliminated by Martinique—and San Juan Jabloteh striker Willis Plaza was selected for the first time since his double in a 4-2 loss to China on 3 June 2016 in Qinhuangdao.
The surprise inclusions were 22-year-old W Connection defender Jelani Peters, who only picked up the game as a schoolboy at Tranquility Secondary but earned a reputation as tough, versatile customer at St Ann’s Rangers and then Connection.
And 25-year-old Central FC dynamo Marcus “Lobo” Joseph, who represented Trinidad and Tobago at the 2007 and 2009 FIFA Under-17 and Under-20 World Cups but has yet to fulfil his promise at senior level.
Joseph’s phenomenal left-foot might be the most potent weapon in the local game. But his 11 senior caps—spread out over three years—yielded just one goal and he was once dropped by Hart for twice skipping physical sessions.
Hart also kept faith in team captain Kenwyne Jones, although he has not played any competitive football since he limped off the field with an injury against Martinique on 11 October. Jones, according to Hart, should represent Central FC in Pro League action from 6pm this evening against Police FC at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
And, yet again, France-based midfielder John Bostock is in despite the fact that FIFA has not yet authorised him to represent Trinidad and Tobago. Bostock is a former England National Under-17 captain and has been trying to switch allegiances to the “Red, White and Black” since March 2016.
Hart explained that the TTFA expects final word on Bostock’s availability on Tuesday 8 November.
(See Wired868 tonight for the full report on Hart’s press conference today and his message to the public ahead of their opening Hex fixtures at home to Costa Rica and away to Honduras on 11 and 15 November respectively).
Costa Rica have never lost to Trinidad and Tobago in a World Cup qualifier and they named a strong squad to travel to Port of Spain, which includes Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas and fellow 2014 World Cup heroes Joel Campbell and Bryan Ruiz.
Tickets are on sale at all Lotto Locations at TT$300 (covered section) and TT$160 (uncovered section). Prices increase tomorrow—from 5 November—until match day to TT$350 (covered) and TT$200 (uncovered).
Season Passes are available at all First Citizens Bank branches nationwide while fans can call the TTFA season pass hotline at 270-6868 for more information.
(Trinidad and Tobago team)
Goalkeepers: Jan-Michael Williams (Central FC), Marvin Phillip (Morvant Caledonia United), Adrian Foncette (Police);
Defenders: Aubrey David (FC Dallas—US), Daneil Cyrus (W Connection), Radanfah Abu Bakr (JK Silame Kalev—Estonia), Sheldon Bateau (KC Krylia Sovetov—Russia), Yohance Marshall (Murcielagos FC—Mexico), Jelani Peters (W Connection), Carlyle Mitchell (Seoul E Land—Korea Republic);
Midfielders: Andre Boucaud (Dagenham & Redbridge—England), Khaleem Hyland (KV Westerlo—Belgium), Neveal Hackshaw (Charleston Battery—USA), Kevan George (Jackson Armada FC—US), John Bostock (RC Lens—France);
Attacking Midfielders: Levi Garcia (AZ Alkmaar—Netherlands), Jomal Williams (Murcielagos FC—Mexico), Cordell Cato (San Jose Earthquakes—US), Joevin Jones (Seattle Sounders—US), Marcus Joseph (Central FC);
Forwards: Kenwyne Jones (Central FC), Trevin Caesar (Orange County Blues—US), Willis Plaza (San Juan Jabloteh).
(Costa Rica team)
Goalkeepers: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid), Patrick Pemberton (Alajuelense) Esteban Alvarado (Trabzonspor);
Defenders: Johnny Acosta (Herediano), Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps), Michael Umana (Alajuelense) Francisco Calvo (Saprissa), Cristian Gamboa (Celtic) Ronald Matarrita (New York City FC), Bryan Oviedo (Everton), Jose Salvatierra (Alajuelense) Pablo Salazar (Herediano);
Midfielders: Randall Azofeifa (Herediano), Celso Borges (Deportivo La Coruna), Yeltsin Tejeda (Lausanne), David Guzman (Saprissa), Bryan Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon), Cristian Bolanos (Vancouver Whitecaps), Johan Venegas (Montreal Impact), Rodney Wallace (Recife);
Forwards: Joel Campbell (Sporting Lisbon), Ariel Rodríguez (Bangkok Glass), Marco Uren (Brondby).