Twenty-three-year-old combative Columbus Crew midfielder Kevan George will replace Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland for the rest of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
George received a SOS from the Trinidad and Tobago national football team head coach Stephen Hart and is due to meet the squad at its Atlanta base tonight. The Tobago-born player represented Trinidad and Tobago in the 2012 Olympic qualifiers last year and has started in four of Crew’s 19 Major League Soccer (MLS) games this season with another four appearances off the bench.
The Gold Cup tournament rules allow up to four players to be replaced after the group stage. However, national teams are only allowed to select from its initial shortlist of 35 players.
George was not named in Trinidad and Tobago’s pre-tournament shortlist, which included Clyde Leon (W Connection), Keyon Edwards (Caledonia AIA), Jason Marcano (Central FC), Ataullah Guerra (RoPS—Finland), Hughtun Hector (Song Lam Nghe—Vietnam) and John Bostock (Toronto FC—Canada) as midfield cover.
“Teams qualifying for the quarter final phase will be permitted to amend the 23 players roster to replace up to four players from the provisional list at latest 24 hours following the completion of the first round of the final phase,” states the Gold Cup regulations. “Only these players, set out in Clauses 6 and 7, will (except in the case of force majeure recognized by the Organizing Committee for the CONCACAF Gold Cup and as set out in Clause 8 below) be permitted to compete in the final phase.”
TTFA press officer Shaun Fuentes told Wired868 this evening that CONCACAF had approved George’s call-up. It is uncertain what, in this case, constituted a “force majeure” or unforeseen circumstance that allowed Hart to bypass the six midfielders and a total of 12 players who were already on his official reserve list.
George, who plays as a midfield ball-winner or auxiliary central defender for Crew, will compete with Andre Boucaud, Densill Theobald and Chris Birchall for a place in central midfield against Mexico in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal against Mexico from 6.30 pm on Saturday at the Georgia Dome, Atlanta.
Hyland has returned to Belgium where he will represent Racing Genk in the Super Cup on Sunday July 21 against Anderlecht. His absence is the result of an administrative error by the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), which missed a deadline in requesting the player’s services for the Gold Cup.
The TTFA also missed the chance of using the Finland-based Guerra and versatile defender Sheldon Bateau (KV Mechelen—Finland) at the Gold Cup due to similar administrative cock-ups. A football insider told Wired868 that Hyland was only allowed to play in the group stages at all after the team’s director of football Leo Beenhakker, a former Real Madrid and Netherlands international coach, made a personal plea to Genk.
But Genk was not willing to compromise beyond Monday’s game against Honduras and Trinidad and Tobago must now push on without him.
The Warriors are already without attacking midfielder Kevin Molino, who is suspended for the weekend fixture, and right back Justin Hoyte who is not expected to recover from a groin injury before next week.
Hart showed on Monday that he is not afraid of tough decisions after he made five changes to his starting team en route to a 2-0 win over Honduras. It helped Trinidad and Tobago advance to the knockout round for only the second time in the history of the Gold Cup.
Former head coach Hutson “Barber” Charles, who now works as Hart’s assistant, praised the impact of the ex-Canada coach and Beenhakker, the former 2006 World Cup coach.
“I think they’ve brought experience,” Charles told the TTFA Media. “Watching how Stephen Hart works and how Mr Beenhakker interacted, especially during the sessions and the advice he’s been giving, I think it’s been a tremendous help to the team…
“I’m in here for the long haul and it’s been nice working with them. I can improve a lot in terms of the whole approach to the coaching. I think they’re bringing a lot to the team and I’m very happy they’re on board.”
Charles also expressed pride in the development of the team that he took through the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) qualifying rounds.
“I was elated seeing where we came from in the qualifiers to where we are right now,” he said. “I think wanting to do well made the difference. It sunk into the minds of the players that it was time we do something to make the country proud. They went out there with right mental approach and we did the job.
“It will take time to get more consistency but hopefully we can keep it up. The next match against Mexico will be another big test for us but we’re really looking forward to this challenge.”
Trinidad and Tobago striker Cornell Glen, who was substituted after suffering cramps in his legs against Honduras, is rearing to go and excited by the Mexican challenge.
“It’s a tough game but it’s the kind of game you want to play in a tournament like this especially for a team like ours that is trying to get things right and prepare for future competition,” said Glen. “I thought we really put a lot out in the last game and it showed that with the right approach and effort we can get good results.”
The Warriors will hope that lightning strikes twice when they kick off against Mexico from 6.30 pm at the Georgia Dome.
(Trinidad and Tobago players available to face Mexico)
Goalkeepers: 21: Jan-Michael Williams, 1.Marvin Phillip, 22.Cleon John;
Defenders: 6.Daneil Cyrus, 32.Radanfah Abu Bakr, 5.Carlyle Mitchell, 3.Joevin Jones, 25.Aubrey David, 20.Seon Power, 26.Curtis Gonzales;
Midfielders: 12.Darryl Roberts, 14.Andre Boucaud, 18.Densill Theobald, 7.Chris Birchall, 11.Carlos Edwards, 19.Keon Daniel, 16.Kevon Carter;
Forwards: 9.Kenwyne Jones, 13.Cornell Glen, 23.Jamal Gay;
Injured: 17.Justin Hoyte,
Suspended: 10.Kevin Molino;
Coming In: Kevan George;
Heading Out: 8.Khaleem Hyland.