The Trinidad and Tobago national senior football team is anticipating an exciting start to 2013 as the “Soca Warriors”, according to a source, are closing in on international friendlies against Peru and South Korea in February and March respectively.
The Warriors hope to host Peru in Port of Spain on February 6 and then travel to Korea on March 23 before flying to South America for a return game with Peru on March 26.
The proposed internationals are intended to help prepare the Caribbean Cup runners-up for the July 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup in the United States. The three matches are in sync with the FIFA international calendar, which means that all Trinidad and Tobago players should be available.
The Warriors climbed 11 spaces to 68th in the FIFA rankings in December although they slipped three places back to 71st in January 2013. Positive results against South Korea and Peru could do wonders, though.
Korea is ranked 34th in the world at present and finished third at the 2011 Asian Cup and advanced to the round of 16 at the 2010 South Africa World Cup. Its most recognisable current player is 27-year-old Arsenal winger Park Chu-Young, who is on loan with La Liga club Celta Vigo.
Peru is second from bottom in the South American qualifiers at the moment but is just four points off an automatic qualifying berth and ranked 43rd in the world by FIFA. Striker Paolo Guerrero, who plays for World Club champions Corinthians of Brazil, leads the Peruvian offence.
FIFA rankings can be helpful to international teams during negotiations for friendlies while British work permit laws excludes players from nations with an average rank of higher than 70 over a two-year period.
Trinidad and Tobago pulled off creditable results in its last encounters with either nation.
Ipswich Town striker Jason Scotland scored a stunning equaliser in Seoul as Trinidad and Tobago, coached by Bertille St Clair, held South Korea to a 1-1 draw in 2004. And a Leo Beenhakker-led Warriors drew 1-1 with Peru in Port of Spain, seven years ago, after a clever freekick from Stoke City forward Kenwyne Jones.
The Warriors were led by the coaching trio of joint head coaches Hutson “Barber” Charles and Jamaal Shabazz and assistant Derek King at the 2012 Caribbean Cup. The three men remain interim appointments but there is no suggestion yet that the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) is considering a shake-up of its technical staff.
Former national team manager David Muhammad is expected to return to his old post by next month although TTFF president Raymond Tim Kee refused to confirm or deny that rumour.
There was not all good news for the Warriors as they continue to wait for outstanding match fees, which were promised by the TTFF since before Christmas 2012.
The Sport Ministry vowed to foot the bill for the team’s 2012 Caribbean Cup series and, although the players were paid for playing in the preliminary round in St Kitts and finals in Antigua, they still have not been compensated for the semi-final qualifying round in Tobago, almost three months ago.
The 20 players involved are believed to be owed approximately $7,000 each while technical staff members are due roughly $10,000 each.
A source within the football body suggested that he expects the Warriors to be paid before the end of the week.