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Jones’ goals: T&T forward ready to deliver at Gold Cup

Trinidad and Tobago and England Premier League forward Kenwyne Jones hopes to use next month’s 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup to boost his scoring record for the “Soca Warriors.” However, the Stoke City striker insisted that he is fully committed to his country and always gives his best in red, black and white strip.

Jones has managed just seven goals from 50 full international appearances; he won 36 of those caps playing upfront while the other 14 came at right back or midfield. His last international goal came two years ago in a 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over Guyana in Port of Spain although he played just three times since then.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago and Stoke City striker Kenwyne Jones poses with some "Trinbago" supporters in Lima. (Courtesy Juliet Solomon/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago and Stoke City striker Kenwyne Jones poses with some “Trinbago” supporters in Lima.
(Courtesy Juliet Solomon/Wired868)

“Yes my goal-scoring record for the team can be better,” Jones told Wired868, “I’d put my hand up and say I should have scored more goals. But I’ve always given my 100% every time I wear the red and black and I hope to lead the front line in positive way in the Gold Cup once the coach has faith in me.”

Jones captained Trinidad and Tobago during its disastrous 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign and delivered his most best scoring returns with the armband as he grabbed three goals from four appearances.

The tall, powerful striker and former St Anthony’s College student did not always appear to be an automatic pick during the tenure of joint head coaches Hutson “Barber” Charles and Jamaal Shabazz. However, Jones brushed off his absence from the Warriors’ last two friendlies away to Romania and Estonia.

“I wasn’t surprised (at not being picked because) it really wasn’t anything underhand or about questioning my ability,” said Jones. “The then coaching staff informed me from before that I wasn’t going to be picked mainly because they wanted to have a look at other people in preparation for this tournament.

“People were probably surprised because they were not privy to those reasons.”

At 28 years old, Jones should be nearing the peak of his powers. He would be 32 when the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign nears its business end. The forward is aware of the need to not only help prepare the team for the future but to convince coach Stephen Hart that he should be part of it.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Kenwyne Jones (right) catches Peru defender Carlos Zambrano with a late tackle. (Courtesy Allan V. Crane/ Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Kenwyne Jones (right) catches Peru defender Carlos Zambrano with a late tackle.
(Courtesy Allan V. Crane/ Wired868)

“(The Gold Cup) is important but it’s bigger than just revival,” said Jones. “(It’s about) building towards the future. We are not in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers but we have quite a few years until the 2018 qualifiers to be ready for that and to have a good crux of young players in the team.

“A lot of us have been in the team for a long time and one day our time will be up, so it’s important for us to have some progress (in the Gold Cup) so that the TTFA would know what they have to do.”

Jones admitted that his immediate future is uncertain too as Stoke City replaced his former manager, Tony Pulis, with ex-QPR and Manchester City boss, Mark Hughes.

“On Stoke City, I have one year left on my contract,” he said, “and when I go back I have some crunch talks with new manager Mark Hughes to see whether I’m in his plans or whether I have to move on. Simple as that really.”

The Gold Cup comes first, though, and Jones is in high spirits and looking forward to the challenge.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forwards Kenwyne Jones (seated right) and Cornell Glen share a joke while being iced during a national training session. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forwards Kenwyne Jones (seated right) and Cornell Glen share a joke while being iced during a national training session.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“I’m very optimistic and very happy about the way the team is training at the moment, the coach’s ideas and way the camp has gone this week,” said Jones. “We have a few players to meet up in Florida and the vibe in the camp is one where we all are looking forward to having a good tournament.”

Trinidad and Tobago opens its Gold Cup campaign against El Salvador on June 8 in New Jersey. The Warriors also face Haiti and Honduras in their group with the two teams guaranteed to progress while the third placed team could end up in a play-off to get to the knockout stages.

AboutColin Benjamin

Colin Benjamin is a former freelance writer for the Trinidad Newsday newspaper and Guyana Stabroek News.

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