Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 Team coach Brian Williams will not have the services of AZ Alkmaar winger Levi Garcia or San Juan Jabloteh left back Keston Julien when he tries to steer his squad to the Korea Republic 2017 Under-20 World Cup.
Williams named his 20-man squad today for this month’s CONCACAF Under-20 Championship, which kicks off on Saturday 18 February in Costa Rica.
Trinidad and Tobago’s first outing is scheduled for Sunday 19 February against Bermuda. Four of the 12 participating nations will go on to represent the confederation in the Korea Republic.
The young Soca Warriors are captained by W Connection midfielder and ex-Naparima College standout Jabari Mitchell, who represented the national youth team three years ago when they won the Under-20 Caribbean Cup.
Williams will be pleased too to have Central FC striker Nicholas Dillon back from trials with a Belgium second division team. Dillon is Trinidad and Tobago’s leading scorer with eight goals in the qualifying rounds.
Utility player Noel Powder, who represented New York Red Bulls II last season but spent the last month on trial in Europe, is also included and should be a significant asset.
Williams initially stated his preference to use Powder as an attacking winger but Julien’s absence could change that, as the youth team does not have another specialist left back.
Kierron Mason, Shane Sandy—both midfielders who Williams has used in central defence—and right back Kori Cupid have filled in at left back at times. But not altogether convincingly.
Another possibly forced omission was Denmark-born central midfielder Marc Gangia, who had been trying to get a Trinidad and Tobago passport just before the team left for a pre-tournament tour in Colombia.
Naparima playmaker Justin Sadoo and St Augustine midfielder Jesse Joseph were both left out as well as Williams introduced two rookies in the form of Fatima College’s Stephon Marcano and Alcons’ Joshua Sitney.
The other outfield players who did not make the final squad were: San Juan North Secondary defender Kyle Thomas and United States-born defender Coby McGregor from Cedar Stars Academy.
United States-based players Andrew Rullow, Jarred Dass and Anthony Herbert were declared unavailable while Presentation College (San Fernando) midfielder Kareem Riley was injured and Naparima schoolboy Isaiah Hudson is supposedly to face a disciplinary committee for his withdrawal from Curaçao in mid-tournament.
Shiva Boys utility player Yohannes Richardson and Canada-based defender Jacob Sooklal were two other players used earlier in the qualifying series who failed to keep their places.
Former QRC goalkeeper Jadel Pool-Lewis, who now represents the Franklin Pierce University in the US, also misses out as Williams carries only two goalkeepers and opted for Shiva Boys Hindu College custodian Denzil Smith and Montel Joseph, who plays for English Conference team Boreham Wood FC.
Carapichaima East goalkeeper Dejourn Charles and St Anthony’s College goalkeeper Jabari Brice also failed to make the cut.
Smith managed a remarkable four successive clean sheets in last year’s Caribbean Football Union (CFU) championship in Curaçao.
On the attacking end, Dillon is the only authentic centre-forward in the squad although the likes of St Ann’s Rangers attacker Joshua Toussaint and Police FC winger Joshua Leach can operate there if necessary.
In short, Williams has banked on versatility for the Costa Rica tournament with only three genuine defenders, one out-and-out forward and 14 multi-functional players.
“This is the best selection we have come up with and I am satisfied with the players available to us and I have confidence in the ability of every player,” Williams told the TTFA Media. “Every player selected was carefully assessed by myself and the support staff over the past few weeks and even months before that for us to get to this final selection.
“The players have worked extremely hard and have progressed both on and off the field of play.”
The National Under-20 team played three practice games in Colombia, as they lost 5-0 to AcotFutpro and drew 1-1 and 2-2 with Puerto Tejada and Fundaleu respectively.
The TTFA claimed that Fundaleu was a third division team although there was no information online about any of Trinidad and Tobago’s opponents and none were listed as professional teams by SoccerWay.
(Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 Team)
Goalkeepers: Montel Joseph (Boreham Wood FC—England), Denzil Smith (Shiva Boys HC);
Defenders: Kori Cupid (Presentation College, San F’do), Isaiah Garcia (W Connection), Taryk Sampson (Ma Pau Stars), Simeon Bailey (Barataria South Secondary), Shane Sandy (Naparima College/Ma Pau Stars), Kierron Mason (Marabella Crisis Centre), Noah Powder (New York Red Bulls—USA),
Midfielders: Morgan Bruce-De Rouche (Queens Park Rangers FC—England), Stephon Marcano (Fatima College), Joshua Sitney (Alcons),
Attacking midfielders: Micah Lansiquot (Mucurapo East Secondary/St Ann’s Rangers), Rushawn Murphy (Malick Secondary/St Ann’s Rangers), Kathon St Hillaire (St Anthonys College/St Ann’s Rangers), Jabari Mitchell (W Connection), Joshua Leach (Police FC), Josh Toussaint (St Anns Rangers),
Forwards: Nicholas Dillon (Central FC), Taofik Lucas-Walker (DC United Academy—USA);
Staff: Brian Williams (Head Coach), Dunstan Williams (Manager), Kerry Jamerson (Assistant Coach), Ross Russell (Goalkeeper Coach), Michael Taylor (Physio), Esmond O’Brien (Equipment Manager).