Twenty-year-old Finland-based attacker Shahdon Winchester and Kazakhastan-based central defenders Robert Primus and Radanfah Abu Bakr were among 13 overseas-based players selected in Trinidad and Tobago’s 21-man squad that will friendly internationals away to Romania and Estonia next month.
The “Soca Warriors” will face Romania at the National Arena in Bucharest on June 4 before they tackle Estonia in Tallinn on June 7.
National co-head coaches Hutson “Barber” Charles and Jamaal Shabazz will use the opportunity to see a host of their foreign-based talent. Nine of the players selected play professionally in Europe.
Winchester is on loan from DIRECTV W Connection at FF Jaro in the Finland Premier League. RoPS attacking midfielder Ataullah Guerra, who is on loan from Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA, also plays in the Finnish top flight.
Primus, 22, and Abu Bakr, 26, represent FC Aktobe and FC Vostok respectively in Kazakhstan while the remaining Europe-based players are Darryl Roberts from Samsunspor in Turkey and the England-based trio of Justin Hoyte (Middlesbrough), Andre Boucaud (Notts County) and Chris Birchall (Port Vale).
Versatile midfielder Hughtun Hector and combative defender Seon Power will be winged in from Asia where they represent Vietnam outfit Song Lang Nghe and Thailand club Chainat FC respectively.
And North America also contributes three players as Vancouver Whitecaps’ Carlyle Mitchell, Philadelphia Union’s Keon Daniel and Orlando City’s Kevin Molino were all invited.
There were still a few high profiled overseas absentees as Stoke City forward Kenwyne Jones and Slovan Bratislava winger Lester Peltier were overlooked while Ipswich Town full back Carlos Edwards and Racing Genk midfielder Khaleem Hyland were listed as injured. For the second successive tour, versatile 22-year-old Belgium-based defender Sheldon Bateau also ruled himself out.
“We were forced to make some adjustments to the squad because of the unavailability of three of the European-based players,” Shabazz told the TTFF Media, “who have just ended long seasons and have been advised to receive treatment and undergo rehab… We’ve brought in young Shahdon Winchester who has settled in quite well with his new club in Finland as well as Radanfah Abu Bakr who is also enjoying good form at the moment in Kazakhstan, as replacements for Hyland and Bateau.
“Generally the squad has players that are all capable and right now it’s about getting the chance to bring them together as a group and preparing them towards playing as a unit in time for the Gold Cup, which is where these two games against the European opponents which will prove to be a good test for us and valuable to our preparations.”
The Pro League contingent is headed by 2012 Caribbean Cup captain and St Ann’s Rangers custodian Jan-Michael Williams and includes the Caledonia AIA duo of forward Jamal Gay and midfielder Densill Theobald, the W Connection pair of Daneil Cyrus and Joevin Jones as well as Central FC goalkeeper Marvin Phillip, Defence Force winger Kevon Carter and North East Stars striker Cornell Glen.
There are seven central defenders selected in the squad, which suggests that (J) Jones—the 2012/13 Digicel Pro League’s outstanding attacking midfielder—as well as Cyrus and Power might be asked to play at full back.
Notable omissions from the 2012 Caribbean Cup team are the Defence Force pair of striker Devorn Jorsling and utility player Curtis Gonzales and the Caledonia duo of full back Aubrey David and attacker Keyon Edwards. Jorsling is also the top scorer in the 2012/13 domestic competition with 27 goals in all competitions.
(T&T 21-man team)
Goalkeepers: Jan Michael Williams (St Ann’s Rangers), Marvin Phillip (Central FC);
Defenders: Seon Power (Chainat FC—Thailand), Carlyle Mitchell (Vancouver Whitecaps—Canada), Daneil Cyrus (W Connection), Joevin Jones (W Connection), Justin Hoyte (Middlesbrough–England), Radanfah Abu Bakr (FC Vostok—Kazakhstan), Robert Primus (FC Aktobe—Kazakhstan);
Midfielders: Andre Boucaud (Notts County—England), Keon Daniel (Philadelphia Union—MLS), Densill Theobald (Caledonia AIA), Chris Birchall (Port Vale—England), Kevin Molino (Orlando City—US), Ataullah Guerra (RoPS—Finland), Hughtun Hector (Song Lang Nghe—Vietnam), Kevon Carter (Defence Force), Darryl Roberts (Samsunspor—Turkey);
Forwards: Cornell Glen (North East Stars), Jamal Gay (Caledonia AIA), Shahdon Winchester (FF Jaro—Finland).