Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team interim head coach Angus Eve announced a 26-man squad for the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup playoffs today, with Columbus Crew attacker Kevin Molino and La Brea forward Marcus ‘Lobo’ Joseph and 17-year-old Molik Jesse Khan listed among his troops.
Notably absent were AEK Athens winger Levi Garcia and KV Mechelen defender Sheldon Bateau, who miss out due to club commitments with their respective teams due to have early pre-seasons.
Otherwise Eve said the other omissions were based on his own preference, as he took 15 players from his current local-based 24 man training session. There were 10 foreign-based players along with Khan, who is a Club Sando player but is on trial with the academy of Major League Soccer (MLS) team New York Red Bulls, at present.
“It is just because of the time constraints, literally it is no time and I need to fuse the team as quickly as possible,” said Eve, at a press conference today. “[…] I tried to target [players] based on the system I want to play and to have players come in who can execute immediately.”
Other players who miss out include Watford FC midfielder Daniel Phillips, El Salvador-based winger Jomal Williams, and the United States-based trio of utility player Noah Powder, right back Shannon Gomez and central defender Leland Archer.
Terminix La Horquetta Rangers flanker Aikim Andrews and Defence Force midfielder Kevon Goddard also failed to make the final cut among the home-based players, as well as teenaged attacker Gary Griffith III, who did not train and is believed to be abroad.
Eve credited the players in his training squad for their application and professionalism. The Warriors leave tomorrow and will have one practice match behind closed doors before they face Montserrat on 2 July from 9.30pm at the Drv Pnk Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, for their first playoff fixture.
Montserrat are ranked 180th of Fifa’s 210 active member nations but have improved over the past two years under Scottish coach Willie Donachie. They finished two points shy of El Salvador in Group A of Concacaf’s 2022 World Cup qualifying preliminary group.
If the Soca Warriors see off the ‘Emerald Boys’, they will then face the winner between French Guiana and Cuba on 6 July.
Eve paid tribute to the organisation of Donachie’s team and suggested he would keep an eye on Montserrat captain and forward Lyle Taylor, who scored five times in four qualifying matches and plays for Nottingham Forest in the England second tier.
“We know that most of the [Montserrat] players play in the lower leagues—[they are] journey-man type players,” said Eve, who had a brief stint in the England lower leagues himself with Chester City. “They have a bit of quality in the midfield, upfront the captain [Lyle Taylor] is a phenomenal player; we see he plays with Nottingham Forest.”
Eve believes the Soca Warriors have the ability to cope though, even without the likes of Garcia and Bateau.
“If we play with pride and passion and the ability I know that we have, then we can do something positive,” he said. “It is a short space in time—I am not complaining about that because I accepted the role. There will be no excuses from me and I take all responsibility for how the team does in the tournament.”
There is only one uncapped player in the current Trinidad and Tobago team, which is the 17-year-old Khan. A promising playmaker, Khan made his Pro League debut for W Connection at 15. Eve, who coached the midfielder at Naparima College, believes he has the attributes to play for the National Senior Team.
“He has shown he can play at the highest level in Trinidad,” said Eve. “[…] If you look at him, [with] his physical structure he can stand up to the rigours and also his technical ability is very very good.
“He is not a scrub in any way; he is not here to ride along. He is here as a part of the team, pushing for a position with the team.”
The players and technical staff members looked noticeably more at ease during today’s session, as compared to the mood under his predecessor Terry Fenwick. Eve suggested that it was not by coincidence.
“You all were out there and I think you heard the players laughing—you see them enjoying the game and applying themselves,” said Eve, who is training twice a day with pattern of play sessions on mornings and tactical and technical work on afternoons. “The intensity of the training is very high but also they are enjoying themselves. If the players are not comfortable, they cannot work for me; they must enjoy what they are doing. I am a players’ coach.
“[…] Anybody who knows me knows how I represented my country. I touched every blade of grass when I represented my country and I want them to do the same thing.”
A key component in Trinidad and Tobago’s Gold Cup bid should be MLS star Kevin Molino, who has not represented his country since 2019, due to a hamstring injury which kept him out of Trinidad and Tobago’s ill-fated 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign.
Eve, who coached Molino in the San Juan Jabloteh youth side and for the Trinidad and Tobago National Under-23 Team, said he speaks regularly to the fellow Carenage native and expects him to make his first start for Columbus tonight as they play away to Philadelphia.
Should Molino come through the game unscathed, Eve expects him to join the national team shortly.
“He is really looking forward to coming back and playing with us,” said the Warriors head coach.
Trinidad and Tobago 2021 Gold Squad
Goalkeepers: Adrian Foncette (Police FC), Nicklas Frenderup (Ranheim Il—Denmark), Marvin Phillip (Unattached);
Defenders: Radanfah Abu Bakr (Unattached), Aubrey David (Deportivo Saprissa—Costa Rica), Justin Garcia (Defence Force), Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force), Neveal Hackshaw (Indy Eleven—USA), Jelani Peters (Pittsburgh Riverhounds—USA),
Fullbacks: Triston Hodge (Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC—USA), Alvin Jones (Unattached), Ross Russell Jr (Terminix La Horquetta Rangers), Jesse Williams (Unattached);
Midfielders: Hashim Arcia (Defence Force), Khaleem Hyland (Al Batin—Saudi Arabia), Andre Fortune II (Memphis 901 FC—USA), Duane Muckette (Unattached), Michel Poon-Angeron (Unattached), Judah Garcia (Unattached), Molik Khan (Club Sando);
Attackers: Joevin Jones (InterMiami CF—USA), Marcus Joseph (Unattached), Isaiah Lee (Terminix La Horquetta Rangers), Kevin Molino (Columbus Crew—USA), Reon Moore (Defence Force), Ryan Telfer (Atletico Ottawa—Canada).
Technical staff: Angus Eve (head coach), Reynold Carrington (assistant coach), Hutson Charles (assistant coach), Clayton Ince (goalkeeper coach), Adaryll John (strength and conditioning coach), Saron Joseph (performance trainer/massage therapist), Roger Ryan (physiotherapist), Adrian Romain (team manager), Basil Thompson (logistics manager), Dr Akash Dhanai (team doctor), Michael Williams (equipment manager), and Shaun Fuentes (press officer), Richard Piper (national teams director).
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