Trinidad and Tobago national football team therapist Dave Isaac and goalkeeping coach Michael Maurice finally landed in Buenos Aires this morning; almost two days after the “Soca Warriors” arrived in Argentina.
Trinidad and Tobago was forced to hold two training sessions without the services of either employee as the Warriors prepare to meet Argentina in friendly battle on Wednesday night. The game will be beamed live from the Estadio Monumental at 6.30 pm (TT time) on GISL Channel Four.
Somehow, the Warriors, who left Trinidad with three team managers, Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee, the Siparia Rhythm Section and celebrity guests like former West Indies cricket legend Brian Lara on board, could not find room on the chartered Caribbean Airlines flight for their goalkeeper coach and physiotherapist.
TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips travelled to Argentina a day before everyone else and has been in Buenos Aires since Saturday.
Up until the time of publication, the TTFA had not provided an explanation for the mix-up, which head coach Stephen Hart described as “a bit of a setback.” Wired868 understands that Maurice, a former “Strike Squad” star, and Isaac only found out that they would not be travelling to Argentina this weekend as the team prepared for its Sunday morning exit.
The change was allegedly engineered by Ministry of Tourism officials who opted to leave two members of the Trinidad and Tobago technical staff behind in Piarco; rather than force two members of its own entourage, which included the Siparia Rhythm Section, to catch a later flight.
Hart, via a press release, said he was relieved to finally have his entire staff together for the toughest international of his tenure so far.
“Obviously it’s a lot better having everyone here now,” Hart told the TTFA Media. “There was a bit of a setback with two of the staff members not being able to get on the flight. But that’s behind us now and we’re placing all our energies towards the game now.”
Hart admitted that there were some nerves from the younger players but said his team had settled in well and hoped to give the host team as tough a game as possible. Thus far, the temperature has wavered between 5 and 11 degrees Celsius although it is expected to climb to a moderately chilly 16 degrees Celsius by kick off.
“We would have had two sessions here in Argentina going into the game and the players all appear to be settled in and ready,” said Hart. “There will always be some nerves especially among the younger ones and then it’s no secret that we are coming up against one of the top sides in the world in their own backyard.
“But these boys live for games like these… We do not expect anything but a strong encounter and we’ll give it our best to stay in the match for as long as possible.”
Argentina selected its final 23-man squad this morning with the major surprise being the exclusion of former Valencia midfielder Ever Banega. Banega, like Juventus forward Carlos Tevez and PSG playmaker Javier Pastore, will all have to watch the 2014 World Cup from home.
However, Argentina is anchored by arguably the greatest player of his generation, Barcelona star Lionel Messi, and is not short of attacking options with Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria all included along with midfield hardman Javier Mascherano and right back Pablo Zabaleta. Zabaleta and Mascherano both played in the Trinidad and Tobago 2001 FIFA World Youth Cup.
Trinidad and Tobago: Jan-Michael Williams, Marvin Phillip; Justin Hoyte, Curtis Gonzales, Sheldon Bateau, Gavin Hoyte, Radanfah Abu Bakr, Carlyle Mitchell, Yohance Marshall; Khaleem Hyland, Ataullah Guerra, Andre Boucaud, Kevan George, Lester Peltier, Joevin Jones, Densill Theobald, Kevin Molino; Marcus Joseph, Rundell Winchester, Willis Plaza, Trevin Caesar, Kenwyne Jones.
Head coach: Stephen Hart
Argentina: Sergio Romero, Mariano Andujar, Agustin Orion; Pablo Zabaleta, Federico Fernandez, Ezequiel Garay, Marcos Rojo, Hugo Campagnaro, Martin Demichelis, Jose Basanta; Javier Mascherano, Fernando Gago, Lucas Biglia, Ricardo Alvarez, Augusto Fernandez, Angel Di Maria, Maxi Rodriguez, Enzo Perez; Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Agüero, Rodrigo Palacio, Ezequiel Lavezzi.
Head coach: Alejandro Sabella