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Fast and furious: Saintfiet drops Kenwyne to go for faster Warriors attack

New Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Tom Saintfiet made his first big call as Soca Warriors coach today—and it was a six foot three decision.

Saintfiet selected his first squad today and named 28 players to face Nicaragua in friendly internationals on 27 and 30 December. And, even with 16 players summoned from the local Pro League, there was no room for the giant Central FC forward who scored 16 goals in 35 matches under former coach Stephen Hart—albeit just two items from eight games in the Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign so far.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones (right) holds off Dominican Republic defender César Garcia during 2017 Caribbean Cup qualifying action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 5 October 2016. (Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones (right) holds off Dominican Republic defender César Garcia during 2017 Caribbean Cup qualifying action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 5 October 2016.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

Jones scored just once in 2016, which was also a miserable year for the team.

Saintfiet revealed that Jones was informed he would not be selected last week, which would have been within a day or two of the Belgian taking over as head coach. And the new Warriors coach suggested that, although the door was not closed to the former Sunderland and Stoke City forward, he wants to tweak the style of play of the Trinidad and Tobago team in time for next month’s Gold Cup playoff matches against Suriname and Haiti on 4 and 8 January respectively.

“I had a personal meeting with Kenwyne last week and I discussed privately with him the reason why we took that decision,” Saintfiet told Wired868. “The criteria for the selection of players is our tactical ideas and choices we want to use against Suriname and Haiti. The next thing is the current physical and mental shape of the players in our knowledge…

“Kenwyne is not out of the squad for good. I will follow up with how he performs [with Central FC] and how he performs with [his new MLS employers] Atlanta.”

Jones, who scored Central’s decisive second goal in a 2-1 win over W Connection on Monday, leaves for pre-season with new United States Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise, Atlanta United FC, on 1 January 2017.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Tom Saintfiet (right) and ex-TTFA general secretary Azaad Khan take in a Pro League contest between Central FC and W Connection at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on Monday 12 December 2016. Kenwyne Jones scored a deft winner but was still excluded from the national side. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Tom Saintfiet (right) and ex-TTFA general secretary Azaad Khan take in a Pro League contest between Central FC and W Connection at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on Monday 12 December 2016.
Kenwyne Jones scored a deft winner but was still excluded from the national side.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

The next MLS season begins in March 2017. Trinidad and Tobago host Panama and Mexico on 24 and 28 March in two vital qualifiers, which could decide the country’s World Cup fate as well as Saintfiet’s short-term coaching future.

For now, Saintfiet believes that Trinidad and Tobago’s best chance of getting results is with speed upfront and Jones, a classic target man and set piece weapon, does not fit in.

Instead, he selected San Juan Jabloteh striker Willis Plaza and the overseas-based duo of Shahdon Winchester (Murcielagos FC—Mexico) and Trevin Caesar (Orange County Blues—USA). Caesar, a diminutive speedy frontman, is one of a half dozen players who are in their off-season at present.

“I want a lot of speed upfront and space to run into on the counter attack,” said Saintfiet. “But I do not want to say too much because [the technical staff of] Suriname and Haiti can read what I say.”

Saintfiet will decide on his new captain by Christmas.

“I have not yet an answer for the [identity of the] new captain,” said Saintfiet. “I want to talk better to the players… We still have some doubts about availability of players [for the Gold Cup playoffs].”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Trevin Caesar (right) takes the ball around St Vincent and the Grenadines goalkeeper Lemus Christopher during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain on 29 March 2016. Trinidad and Tobago won 6-0. (Courtesy: Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Trevin Caesar (right) takes the ball around St Vincent and the Grenadines goalkeeper Lemus Christopher during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain on 29 March 2016.
Trinidad and Tobago won 6-0.
(Courtesy: Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

Orlando City midfield ace Kevin Molino is back in the squad after an internal two game suspension while there were recalls for Sean De Silva (Central FC), Alvin Jones, Hughtun Hector, Aikim Andrews (all W Connection) and Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force).

There were also intriguing call-ups for Defence Force playmaker Hashim Arcia, flying St Ann’s Rangers winger Jomoul Francois and versatile W Connection defender Maurice Forde. And, most of all, former 2006 World Cup and Sunderland flanker Carlos Edwards, who now represents Ma Pau Stars in the Pro League.

Edwards has over 80 National Senior Team caps but has not represented his country in three years.

England-based midfielder conductor Andre Boucaud, Eredivisie winger Levi Garcia and combative Belgium-based midfielder Khaleem Hyland were not named in Saintfiet’s first squad but the coach insisted that it was a matter of availability. He still hopes to have their services for the Gold Cup playoffs, if possible.

None of the four upcoming matches fall under the FIFA match window and clubs can decide whether they choose to release players to take part.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (right) dashes past Costa Rica right wing back Christian Gamboa during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016. (Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (right) dashes past Costa Rica right wing back Christian Gamboa during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

However, Saintfiet said the United States duo of Neveal Hackshaw and Ataulla Guerra were simply overlooked at present.

Midfield anchor Kevan George, who is also in his off-season, ruled himself out of the Nicaragua games and will be left out of the Gold Cup playoffs as a result, since the new coach believes there will be insufficient time to get him in shape and fit him into his new tactics.

There were four W Connection, three Central and two Ma Pau players in the squad. Shahdon Winchester, Jomal Williams and Triston Hodge, who are on loan from Connection, were also selected.

There was no room for Defence Force striker Devorn Jorsling, Central FC attacker Marcus Joseph, Jabloteh wingers Nathan Lewis and Tyrone Charles or Mexico-based defender Yohance Marshall while Connection defender Jelani Peters is believed to be out due to injury.

World Cup 2006 striker Cornell Glen, who now plays professionally, was also overlooked although he was identified by Hart as a potential inclusion to help save Trinidad and Tobago’s faltering Russia 2018 World Cup chances.

Photo: Ma Pau Stars right back Carlos Edwards (left) gets past St Ann's Rangers defender Jameel Antoine during Pro League action at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 18 October 2016. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Ma Pau Stars right back Carlos Edwards (left) gets past St Ann’s Rangers defender Jameel Antoine during Pro League action at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 18 October 2016.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

(Trinidad and Tobago 28-man squad)

Goalkeepers: Jan Michael Williams (Central FC), Glenroy Samuel (Ma Pau Stars), Marvin Phillip (Morvant Caledonia United), Adrian Foncette (Police FC);

Defenders: Carlos Edwards (Ma Pau Stars), Daneil Cyrus (W Connection), Sheldon Bateau (Krylia Sovetov Samara—Russia), Triston Hodge (Toronto FC II—Canada), Mekeil Williams (Colorado Rapids—USA), Carlyle Mitchell (Seoul E-Land FC—Korea Republic), Radanfah Abu Bakr (Sillamae Kallen—Estonia), Maurice Ford (W Connection), Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force), Aubrey David (Dallas FC—USA);

Midfielders: Nathaniel Garcia (Central FC), Alvin Jones (W Connection), Sean De Silva (Central FC), Hughtun Hector (W Connection), Kevin Molino (Orlando City—USA), Aikim Andrews (W Connection), Cordell Cato (San Jose Earthquakes—USA), Jomal Williams (Murcielagos FC—Mexico), Hashim Arcia (Defence Force), Joevin Jones (Seattle Sounders—USA), Jomoul Francois (St Ann’s Rangers);

Photo: W Connection winger and former Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 player Aikim Andrews (centre) tries to find way past a gang of Santos Laguna players during 2015/16 CONCACAF Champions League action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection winger and former Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 player Aikim Andrews (centre) tries to find way past a gang of Santos Laguna players during 2015/16 CONCACAF Champions League action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Forwards: Willis Plaza (San Juan Jabloteh), Shahdon Winchester (Murcielagos FC—Mexico), Trevin Caesar (Orange County Blues—USA).

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 15 years experience at several local and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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408 comments

  1. So I have to type over all what I said before eh Mr. Live Wire eh hahahaha

  2. Listen to Tom Saintfiet try to explain again why he didn’t pick Kenwyne Jones:

  3. Pamo eh pass on the skills bobby.

  4. Point taken but also you don’t go in any country and drop the captain without talking to him even if it’s to use him in some capacity,so many wrongs already deserving of being criticized even before the team plays

  5. Please people..let’s give the coach a chance…we all like to coach and criticise…the coach has the final say…his reputation and job is on the line…Mr. Williams will not get fired if tnt losses….it is his choice who selects

  6. Most TT national teams should play uptempo to compensate for our lack of talent. Turn every game into a track meet to wear down opponents. We will never be able to compete against the best in the world strictly on talent, strategy has to be out go to game.

  7. Real talk. Jones has been neutralized and has become ineffective.

  8. Lasana Liburd when I said Mr Hart had lost the dressing room and that his tactics in the games was my only concern and my players were being robbed of an opportunity to have a realistic chance of making it to the World Cup,I am deeply saddened by the president choice of coach for T+T.
    I have listened to his speech on his staff selection and his omission of KJ,he knows nothing about T+T football,and if he can re-assigned people that left and people who he really don’t know anything about,but on the other hand axe the captain of the team for failing to perform with another coach without giving everyone an equal assessment.
    I speak as I see it,anyone with principle is not accepting a job for two games unless it’s a smoke screen 🇹🇹

  9. “I had a meeting with the coach and obviously that is not a squad that he picked so at the end of the day I wish the team all the best and I hope that they come out successful in the games coming up.” – KJ.

  10. Now comes the staff list. I hope all you gullible JACKASSES that celebrating KJs omission celebrating the appointment of Shabazz, and Latas and the return of Babwah and Isaac. What some ah allyuh morons must not realize is KJ has grown up a lot and not partaking in no bullshit. No way this crap was happening and KJ (as captain) not be pissed and state as such which would completely undermine the hatchet job as well as clearly illuminate that Hart was set up to fail from the moment DJW took office. They eliminate the most vocal and respected member of the team so that they could run dey “ratchifee” unobstructed. Buh say wah, allyuh could dance and rejoice KJ get leave out. We go see if allyuh laughing after a few games smh!

    • Maybe part of the reason Hart persisted with KJ was to reward his loyaly and standing up to DJW et al….very intriguing….

    • Or maybe simply because he is our best forward. People who truly grasp football will easily see that throughout the world many managers deploy target men as they create balance. Looking at that list of forwards who can the keeper dump the ball to that will win aerial battles and flick on the ball? Who can collect and hold when our defense under pressure and boom kick up de road? Who can occupy 2 defenders even without the ball while a third is spying for when he actually has control of the ball? Who among them has the respect of all teammates? Any of them accomplish anything of note that would cause the younger players to at least be willing to listen to them?

    • Fair enough…build to persist with an strategy built around KJ when he wasn’t fully firing seems a bit counter-productive…..

    • I don’t think it was ever built around him though. If you think about when Hart took over they were knocking the ball around. KJ was facilitator as well as beneficiary in that system. There was more movement and fluidity which meant defenders couldn’t just simply shadow KJ all game. In recent times however there was less movement and the ball was mostly being played in our half. KJ can’t be in our half trying to defend and be an outlet at the same time. He also could not press the back line alone. So to the naked eye it looking like he lazy but his role as a lone striker would not allow for him to tire himself out chasing defenders while his teammates are 15 yards away. Once teams identified our danger men in jj and Molino they started squeezing them. Smart opponents will never let you play to your strengths. But with all that being said the biggest issue was still the defense. The concentration lapses lost us far more games than KJs goal drought.

  11. conspiracy theory, they hire a foreigner to do their dirty work, this was in the planning stage long before the coach got here. T&T knows how to smash the dreams of youths (not Kenwyne, he knew early a clock to look for his bread and butter outside.like so many others) Ask Bravo brothers and other cricketers. SPORTS in T&T is politics and bacchanal.

  12. Lasana Liburd my only view of this team is that he will play 5 midfielders and a lone striker which in my opinion isn’t working for our team at present

  13. Lasana any feasible??? There are certain strikers playing well in the pro league but like them get over looked coz they not on good terms with the big man and I don’t mean big TOM!!! What big TOM knows about TNT football in less than a week? Is all a fix this team

  14. he plan on using a Gk and a defender 2 strike

  15. Tom Saintfiet selected four goalkeepers, 10 defenders, 11 midfielders… but just three forwards!
    Is it that he couldn’t find any other feasible names to put ahead of Kenwyne? :-/

    • It could mean that he uses a system that plays a lone striker.

    • Yet four goalkeepers eh Kern A. Spencer? Now tell me: If you have established goalkeepers but unestablished forwards, which one would you name more of to give you a safety net?

    • But my personal view is that our best striker was not chosen. Despite age I feel Cornell Glen is still light years better than all the youngsters we have at present

    • The 4 goalkeepers I don’t understand .

    • Three forwards is for your final squad Kern. I doubt you can show me any squad in the world that picks a provisional squad with just three strikers. Suppose one guy gets a tap on his ankle? We will go into the game with two?
      As for the four goalkeepers… Jan-Michael better keep his head down and not even sneeze in practice!

    • hahahahahaha Yuh right about that because my dictator president will be looking for any reason to finally buss his throat eh the same like Mr. Bound not to score. Them really good yes.

    • I also found it curious that Latapy accepted a position as a junior to the new coach. One can only assume that either Latapy see it as an opportunity to grasp top position it he fails or he genuinely feels that he can learn something from the new coach as an understudy.

    • Wouldn’t it be really awkward with Jan and Terrance them back in the fold? I mean he publicly called them out too

    • Jan-Michael has to watch his back in that pit. The opposing strikers might be the least of his concerns. Lol. And Guyana is a step up from Bangladesh too, so I don’t think Shabazz is looking forward to learning much.
      Maybe they are just genuinely lending a hand.
      I’ve heard coaches speak of Otto Pfister like a bluffer and a joke. We just believe that any foreigner with a coaching badge must be mannah from heaven. We have to respect ourselves yes. Like Martin Daly said.
      Beenhakker coached Real Madrid twice yet people comparing Saintfiet to him when all they have in common is they are both white and born in Europe. Angus Eve and Shawn Cooper might have more in common with Beenhakker than Saintfiet does for all I know.

    • They really wanna compare a man who only Zizou broke his win streak just now with Madrid to a man who coach Bangladesh???

  16. Lasana, Lasana…wey Gordon…ah missing him =D =D =D

  17. but anybody could have seen that it was a set up 2 fire hart that’s how that nasty shameless tyrant does do business fire hart and hire a cheap white piper

  18. If fans had their way, Stern John would have been dropped from the 2006 World Cup qualifying series too eh… And that might have changed history.

  19. only dem two traitors shouldn’t be trusted in the corrupted TTFA eh Carlos Lee. Them really good yes

  20. How he drop kenwin Jones and pick Cyrus he didn’t watch no film someone else picked this team,who have eyes could see this

  21. How he drop kenwin Jones and pick Cyrus he did watch no film someone else picked this team,who have eyes could see this

  22. That coach is very disrespectful, Kenwyne Jones is a big player and at least he should be given a chance to prove himself first.
    Saintfiet is an asshole.

  23. Unbelievable that they were brought back into the team. It was a great opportunity for a fresh start. Those two traitors should not be trusted.

  24. Ah see the Doctor and Physio back lol… Set up…

  25. I hope Latapy don’t undermine him like he did to Maturana . I like the foreign GK coach option , I think our goalkeepers need that extra quality .

  26. Wake up call for KJ…pride at stake…

  27. Is that official Shawn? Did coach not bring one assistant with him?

    • Assistant Coach – Russell Latapy
      Assistant Coach – Jamaal Shabazz (temporary)
      Goalkeeper Coach – Jo Stock (German)
      Physical Trainer – Riedoh Bierdien (South African)
      Equipment Manager – Michael Williams
      Doctor – Terence Babwah
      Physiotherapist – Dave Isaac
      Manager – Azaad Mohammed-Khan (interim until end of Gold Cup playoffs in January)

    • But wait didn’t my Prof Jamaal Shabazz said that he never wanted anything to do with being a Coach of our sweet country eh, look leh meh look for his own words when ah was chaining him up to be the Coach eh is real bacchanal here tonight. Them really good yes hahahahha

  28. I hope Carlos Edwards replaces Daniel Cyrus who is a liability. I was watching Monday night Sports and Joevin Jones said he would not make it to the games. What about Bostock?

  29. Assistance coaches the little magician and Jamal Shabazz. Jamal is temporary. Lasana Liburd

  30. Like him or not his stats prove he is NOT a forward

  31. We underestimated this guy, I may begin to like him after all

  32. If they looking for speed ……. then who exactly is the speedy player picked to replace KJ? Is Cornel Glen getting a recall or are they gonna play Joevin Jones up top? Hate these questions but I’m not sure where this man heading …

  33. Only correction is that Kenwyne always saw himself as a forward, just like his uncle Philbert Jones. Many national coaches from Rene Simoes and Bertille St Clair come up tried to convince him to play elsewhere.
    Other than that I agree that fans should show him more respect.

  34. You can not drop jones…..he is better than any other forward players on the team

  35. It is time Kenwyn Jones work for his pick. No one is above the team. I will be there for the next game

  36. There’s one more important thing needs to be said. We can analyze/criticize Kenwyne. That’s fair game. But do we have to be mean? He seems to be a nice guy who throughout his career has been asked to play a position for which he is unsuited. He lacks the instincts of a forward, the biggest one of all is anticipation. Every coach because of his physique thought they would be the one to turn around his game. It’s not going to happen. But we don’t have to be mean to a nice guy who I have never heard say one lousy thing about the way we fans have treated him. Cut him some slack guys.

    • It comes with the territory…pong him…as we Trinis say…pong him hard….he is d Captain and we demand more from him….but i understand and fully agree…there is no need to be mean…i saw him train in the National stadium….he can do better if he changes his training ethics….work harder in training

  37. Three W Connection midfielders who could not match the work rate of central FC the other night. None of them outworked they man or won they individual battle but what do I know.

  38. “Leadership must be changed when there is a problem, and most certainly there was a problem with the leadership from a captain who didn’t have a clue about what he was doing and was only selected because he was the most senior person on the team”…Them really good yes.

  39. TOM has won over thousands of trinis, by removing that excess baggage (KJ) from our national team

  40. Lasana Liburd and Brian Jordan. You folks have argued that this team lacks leadership and if only for that reason Kenwyne should have been selected. That’s as circular an argument as you will find. Kenwyne was on the team and he was captain. So if the team lacked leadership and Kenwyne was the captain of the team, why would you keep Kenwyne for leadership?