Trinidad and Tobago 2006 World Cup players Chris Birchall and Carlos Edwards will become the first “Soca Warriors” to have a farewell match match in their honour for seven years as the pair were included in coach Stephen Hart’s team to face Jamaica from 8 pm on November 19 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
The 29-year-old Birchall, a midfielder with England League One team Port Vale, retired from international duty after the July 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup while the 35-year-old Edwards, who plays full back for England Championship team Ipswich Town, has hinted that his days in red, white and black strip may also be drawing to a close.
Hart stressed that he is not ruling out Edwards from future selection but felt it was a good opportunity for fans to show appreciation for what he has done already for his country.
“Players who have served their country in the way they have should get the chance to say goodbye properly,” said Hart.
The last player to receive a match in his honour was former national captain Russell “the Little Magician” Latapy, who received the tribute in an international friendly against Peru in 2006, although he subsequently came out of retirement and represented his country for a further three years.
Birchall has 43 full international caps for Trinidad and Tobago with four goals, including a superb volley that salvaged a 1-1 against Bahrain in the first leg of the FIFA 2006 World Cup play off at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
Edwards, who played in all four 2013 Gold Cup matches as the Warriors advanced from their group for the first time in 13 years, has 85 full international caps with four goals.
Neither player will be involved in Trinidad and Tobago’s friendly against Jamaica in Montego Bay on November 15, which is the first leg in a home and away clash.
“Sometimes it is difficult to challenge players for these friendlies,” said Hart. “But the home and away set up is similar to what we would face in qualifying competition and makes (it more interesting).”
Hart opted to take just 18 players to Jamaica and there were seven changes from the Trinidad and Tobago team that faced New Zealand last month, which represents his biggest shake-up since the Gold Cup.
Belgium-based midfielder Khaleem Hyland is the only unavailable player after Hart accepted Racing Genk’s request to give him more rest for his Europa League engagements.
The trio of Willis Plaza, Hughtun Hector and Kevin Molino were all excluded due to a lack of match sharpness. Plaza and Hector have not played competitively in two months as the Vietnam league is in its close season while Molino is a free agent at present.
For versatile DIRECTV W Connection defender Mekeil Williams, Point Fortin Civic playmaker Marcus Joseph and San Jose Earthquakes winger Cordell Cato, it was arguably a case that they had not done enough to retain their spots.
“(Cato) is one for the future,” said Hart. “(And) if I was to continue to select players who are not playing (like Molino), the question would be what is the criteria for selection on the national team.”
There are intriguing call-ups too as Philadelphia Union Keon Daniel is back after another period of self-imposed exile while the Connection duo of Cyrus and Joevin Jones return for the first time since the Gold Cup after they both skipped the September OSN Cup in Saudi Arabia for varying reasons.
“Cyrus contacted me and we discussed what we had to discuss,” said Hart. “I told him we will talk further in camp on not just his missing Saudi Arabia but his future with the national team. It is the same for Daniel.”
Nippy North East Stars striker Trevin Caesar will not travel to Montego Bay but would join the team at camp in Trinidad.
Hart revealed that he is in discussion with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) to have a camp for his local-based players, which will give him an opportunity to have a better look at players like San Juan Jabloteh’s Kerry Baptiste and Defence Force midfielder Jerwin Balthazar.
The Warriors coach hopes to give a good run-out against Jamaica to Caledonia AIA left back Aubrey David, Defence Force utility player Curtis Gonzales and Columbus Crew defensive midfielder, who have impressed in training without receiving much playing time so far.
Edwards and Birchall might overshadow them all, though, with well-deserved send offs at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Trinidad and Tobago squad to face Jamaica in Montego Bay:
Goalkeepers: Jan-Michael Williams (Central FC), Marvin Phillip (Point Fortin Civic);
Defenders: Justin Hoyte (Millwall—England), Daneil Cyrus (W Connection), Radanfah Abu Bakr (Vostok—Kazakhastan), Carlyle Mitchell (Vancouver Whitecaps—Canada), Sheldon Bateau (KV Mechelen—Belgium), Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force), Aubrey David (Caledonia AIA);
Midfielders: Andre Boucaud (Notts County—England), Kevan George (Columbus Crew—US), Densill Theobald (Caledonia AIA), Lester Peltier (Slovan Bratislava—Slovakia), Ataullah Guerra (RoPS—Finland), Joevin Jones (W Connection), Keon Daniel (Philadelphia Union—US);
Forwards: Kenwyne Jones (Stoke City—England), Rundell Winchester (Central FC).
Additions for Trinidad leg: Carlos Edwards (Ipswich Town—England), Chris Birchall (Port Vale—England), Trevin Caesar (North East Stars).