Trinidad and Tobago will not have to face the full might of the Peru national football team in tomorrow’s friendly international at the Estadio Nacional in Lima from 9 pm (10 pm TT time).
Peru coach Sergio Markarian revealed today that he has excused several key players for the Trinidad and Tobago clash including Bayern Munich striker and team captain Claudio Pizarro, Newell’s Old Boys midfielder Rinaldo Cruzado and Schalke winger Jefferson Farfan.
Pizarro and Cruzado scored at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva last month when Peru defeated Trinidad and Tobago 2-0. Farfan notched a late winner on Saturday as the Peruvians edged Chile 1-0 in Lima to keep their 2014 World Cup qualifying hopes alive.
All three are considered surplus to requirements for tomorrow’s game against the “Soca Warriors” who are preparing for the July 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament after finishing second at the 2012 Caribbean Cup finals.
“It was a great result against Chile and now we will play the team of Trinidad and Tobago again on Tuesday,” said Markarian. “This team we faced already but the game will be of significance (…) as preparation for the future.
“Some players will get the opportunity to play and I think the match will be a good one and is one that can be very useful.”
The Warriors arrived in Peru in two batches today at 2 am and 4 am and have less than 48 hours to acclimatise before they face the South American nation. Trinidad and Tobago was held goalless by Belize on Saturday night and has failed to score in its last three outings.
Joint head coach, Hutson “Barber” Charles, described tomorrow’s fixture as a huge test for Trinidad and Tobago.
“This will probably be the biggest test for us not just since the Caribbean Cup but also for almost two years,” Charles told the TTFF Media. “The environment and playing an opponent like Peru in their own backyard is going to be tough. But these are the games we want to be playing every month if we can.”
Charles said his players were eager to do well but also noted that the goal is to peak at the Gold Cup.
“The players know of the importance of good competition and we must keep in mind that our focus is the Gold Cup in July,” he said. “Yes we want a good result but more importantly we want to see the physical readiness and how we deal with a team like Peru tactical wise. And if the conditions are difficult, we need to see how the team handles such situations. This can hopefully make us a stronger unit.”
The former “Strike Squad” stand-out praised the input of former 2006 World Cup player Chris Birchall against Belize and urged his fellow Warriors to follow his example.
“Chris did well and I was impressed with him in terms of his effort and his spirit,” said Charles. “This is what we will like to see from some of the other players… that desire and appetite to do well for country.
“The team needs to get all the support off the field also and we know it’s not been smooth sailing but hopefully we can get it all together for the benefit of everyone involved and the stakeholders can see the importance of it.”
Present team captain Densill Theobald is expected to make his 88th full international appearance against Belize and is already the fourth most capped football player in Trinidad and Tobago’s history.
The Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA midfielder aims to use that experience to help the younger players through a tough examination.
“For a lot of the players here, it will be the first time they will play an international game at the senior level like this one,” said Theobald. “And they are all very eager to take the pitch. And the experience of players like myself, Chris Birchall, Cornell Glen and Kenwyne (Jones) can help in the overall effort as we try to get the team’s performance to a good level for the Gold Cup.”
The Warriors, who have just 17 players available for the match, are scheduled to train at the match venue from 8 pm tonight.
Peru is seventh in the nine-team South American qualifying table at present with four teams qualifying automatically for the Brazil World Cup while the fifth placed team enters a play-off with an Asian team.
However, Peru trails fourth placed Uruguay by just two points and a good run of results can significantly change its results.
Tomorrow, Markarian will give his reserve players a chance to show what they have to offer.
Corinthians striker Paolo Guerro, who led his Brazilian employers to the 2012 FIFA World Club Championship after a decisive goal against European champions Chelsea, is likely to ensure that the Warriors backline will not have an easy night.
Trinidad and Tobago Most Capped Players
(Exclusive of games against club teams or non-FIFA nations)
117—Angus Eve (1994-2005)
114—Stern John (1995-2011)
102—Marvin Andrews (1996-2009)
89—Densill Theobald (2002-2013)
87—Dennis Lawrence (2000-2009)
81—Carlos Edwards (1999-2013)
78—Russell Latapy (1988-2009)
76—Clayton Ince (1997-2009)
74—Arnold Dwarika (1993-2008)
73—Keyeno Thomas (1998-2009)