New Trinidad and Tobago national coach Stephen Hart has set sights on a quarterfinal berth at the upcoming 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup as he officially announced his 23-man squad today at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
“The attitude of the players has been impressive,” Hart told the TTFA Media. “The objective was to select a balanced squad and one that may allow for flexibility in the manner in which we approach games.
“Collectively we need to remain focused on the process that will allow us to play effective football and help the country advance beyond the group phase. We are well aware of the challenges, none of these teams will be less than difficult opponents, but we will continue to prepare with a committed desire.”
The Warriors leave on Sunday for a training camp in Fort Lauderdale, which runs from June 30 to July 6. Trinidad and Tobago plays its opening Gold Cup group stage match on July 8 against El Salvador in New Jersey.
The 53-year old Hart hopes that success helps an awkward transition for the national team since he was selected to replace former joint head coaches, Hutson “Barber” Charles and Jamaal Shabazz.
“Fans don’t really care about when you come in as coach, they care about results,” said Hart. “But I spoke to the players and I would like us to concentrate on producing very good performance and the results will follow.
“The objective is the get into the quarter-finals, when you are in the knockout stages of a competition anything can happen.”
Hart defended his omission of 29-year-old Defence Force striker Devorn Jorsling, who was the Pro League’s top marksman for the 2012/13 season, by explaining that Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA forward Jamal Gay impressed him more in training.
Gay’s Caledonia teammate Densill Theobald is now the fourth most capped Trinidad and Tobago player of all time and Hart said his experience was still vital for the Warriors.
“I thought he was one of the better midfielders (in friendlies against Romania and Estonia) and if you look at his pass percentage it was very high,” said Hart, “and I’d say without doubt that the midfield needs his experience.”
Hart confirmed that 25-year-old Finland-based attacking midfielder Ataullah Guerra would have been included but the team failed to get him a US visa in time. Wired868 understands that the team management has blamed the failure to secure Guerra’s travel papers on his Finnish employer, RoPS, who supposedly reneged on a promise to handle the matter.
But it was not the only such issue as the TTFA allegedly failed to send a request letter in time to secure the services of Belgium-based defender Sheldon Bateau (KV Mechelen) while versatile 28-year-old midfielder Hughtun Hector was refused permission by Vietnam-based club Song Lam Nghe.
Although the Gold Cup falls within the FIFA-approved calendar, the V-League club does not want to lose Hector’s services during the early July period. The TTFA is not understood to be seeking FIFA sanctions against Song Lam Nghe for the snub.
Kazakhstan-based defender Robert Primus (Aktobe FC) is said to be unavailable due to injury.
Hart is happy enough with his squad, though. The players will have tomorrow off to spend time with their families before the team heads for Florida on Sunday June 30.
“A lot of time away from the training has been building relationships and little better understanding of how I work and what I like,” Hart told Wired868. “… The reality is I had three days to pick a squad; that was the deadline. So I could have only basically gone with players who looked sharp in training and who may have impressed in the friendlies in Romania and Estonia.”
The final Trinidad and Tobago squad is as follows:
Cleon John (NE Stars), Marvin Phillip (Central FC), Jan-Michael Williams (St Ann’s Rangers);
Radanfah Abu Bakr (Vostok—Kazakhastan), Daneil Cyrus (W. Connection), Aubrey David (Caledonia), Justin Hoyte (Middlesbrough—England), Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force), Carlyle Mitchell (Vancouver—Canada), Seon Power (Chainat FC—Thailand),
Chris Birchall (Port Vale—England), Andre Boucaud (Notts County—England), Kevon Carter (Defence Force), Keon Daniel (Philadelphia Union—US), Carlos Edwards (Ipswich Town—England), Khaleem Hyland (Racing Genk—Belgium), Joevin Jones (W. Connection), Kevin Molino (Orlando City—United States), Darryl Roberts (Samsunspor—Turkey), Densill Theobald (Caledonia);
Jamal Gay (Caledonia), Cornell Glen (Shillong Lajong—India), Kenwyne Jones (Stoke City—England).