Trinidad and Tobago national senior team head coach Stephen Hart ushered in a new youthful phase for the “Soca Warriors” with eight changes from the squad that managed a quarterfinal sport at 2013 Gold Cup.
Hart announced a 21-man squad today that will travel to Saudi Arabia next month for a two-match OSN Cup. The Warriors face the United Arab Emirates on September 5 and then either Saudi Arabia or New Zealand on September 9.
More than half of Hart’s team are 25 years old or younger while 10 players were selected from Trinidad and Tobago’s 2009 Under-20 World Cup squad. Thirty-one year old Caledonia AIA midfielder Densill Theobald is the only player on the wrong side of 30 in the present team.
The eight additions to the Gold Cup squad are: Glenroy Samuel (Caledonia AIA), Sheldon Bateau (KV Mechelen—Belgium), Robert Primus (Aktobe—Kazakhastan), Mekeil Williams (DIRECTV W Connection), Lester Peltier (Slovan Bratislava—Slovakia), Marcus Joseph (Point Fortin Civic Centre), Ataullah Guerra (RoPS—Finland) and Willis Plaza (Song Lam Nghe—Vietnam).
Hart admitted that he has never seen Joseph play but selected the Southern Football Association player based on a recommendation from a member of his coaching staff. At present, Point Fortin Civic Centre, which recently acquired the services of former Central FC custodian Marvin Phillip, is attempting to win a Pro League spot for the upcoming season.
Joseph was a 2009 Under-20 World Cup team member alongside Samuel, Bateau, Primus and Williams as well as the Gold Cup quintet of Daneil Cyrus (W Connection), Khaleem Hyland (Racing Genk—Belgium), Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force), Kevin Molino (Orlando City—US), and Aubrey David (Caledonia AIA).
“I think this game is about experimenting and widening the player pool,” Hart told Wired868. “We saw 23 players at the Gold Cup. If I can maintain (a core of) 14 players from the Gold Cup and see another six or seven players, then I have the opportunity to see new players and watch how they train and fit into the camp and so on…
“It is an exhibition game and, if you want to build for the future, you have to gamble at some point.”
The other Warriors who retained their places from the Gold Cup team are: Kenwyne Jones (Stoke City—England), Jan-Michael Williams (Central FC), Marvin Phillip (Point Fortin Civic Centre), Justin Hoyte (Middlesbrough—England), Andre Boucaud (Notts County—England), Radanfah Abu Bakr (FC Vostok—Kazakhastan) and Densill Theobald (Caledonia AIA).
Hart also offered invitations to midfielders Hughtun Hector (Song Lam Nghe—Vietnam), Joevin Jones (W Connection) and Keon Daniel (Philadelphia Union—US) and defenders Carlyle Mitchell (Vancouver Whitecaps—Canada) and Seon Power (Chainat FC—Thailand) but they were unavailable for a variety of reasons.
The Gold Cup players omitted to allow some fresh faces on this tour were: Cleon John (North East Stars), Carlos Edwards (Ipswich Town—England), Kevon Carter (Defence Force), Darryl Roberts (Samsunspor—Turkey), Cornell Glen (Shillong Lajong—India) and Jamal Gay (Caledonia AIA) while Chris Birchall (Port Vale—England) has already announced his international retirement.
In total, Hart’s 21 players for next month’s international fixtures are employed with 16 different clubs and in eight countries. He will have barely 24 hours to mould them into a unit before they face the UAE as the Warriors are due to land in Riyadh on September 4.
(Soca Warriors team)
Goalkeepers: Jan-Michael Williams (Central FC), Marvin Phillip (Point Fortin Civic Centre), Glenroy Samuel (Caledonia AIA);
Defenders: Justin Hoyte (Middlesbrough—England), Daneil Cyrus (W Connection), Sheldon Bateau (KV Mechelen—Belgium), Radanfah Abu Bakr (FC Vostok—Kazakhastan), Robert Primus (Aktobe—Kazakhastan), Mekeil Williams (W Connection), Aubrey David (Caledonia AIA);
Midfielders: Khaleem Hyland (Racing Genk—Belgium), Andre Boucaud (Notts County—England), Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force), Densill Theobald (Caledonia AIA), Kevin Molino (Orlando City—US), Lester Peltier (Slovan Bratislava—Slovakia), Marcus Joseph (Point Fortin Civic Centre), Ataullah Guerra (RoPS—Finland);
Forwards: Kenwyne Jones (Stoke City—England), Willis Plaza (Song Lam Nghe—Vietnam).