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T&T U20s prepare for W/Cup campaign without skipper Shannon

The Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 football team entered the final stage of preparations for its New Zealand 2015 FIFA Under-20 World Cup this weekend when head coach Derek King welcomed his squad to their training camp in Miami Lakes, Fort Lauderdale. But there were four notable absentees.

Team trainer Sheron Joseph was unable to get a visa for the trip and doctor Terrence Babwah was unavailable while the Sportt Company and Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) decided not to fund the travel of press officer Shaun Fuentes, who also does video work for the technical staff. Fuentes might still join the squad in Jamaica.

However, a more telling absence for the pre-tournament camp was national under-20 captain Shannon Gomez who cannot enter the United States at present as he is awaiting a green card.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 captain and right back Shannon Gomez (right) battles for possession against Cuba during the Under-20 Caribbean Cup. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 captain and right back Shannon Gomez (right) battles for possession against Cuba during the Under-20 Caribbean Cup.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Gomez returned to Trinidad last month to join the team in training. If the DIRECTV W Connection right back had stayed in the United States, he would have been able to join his colleagues in Fort Lauderdale before jetting off to Jamaica with the young “Soca Warriors” for the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship, which kicks off on 9 January 2015.

But then the Warriors did not know whether their Fort Lauderdale camp would come off or not due to uncertainty over funding.

Gomez is the only specialist right back in the national youth team and his absence for their final tune-up matches again demonstrates the setbacks King faces due to administrative issues beyond his control.

The Under-20 team’s trip to Florida was covered by the Sportt Company while TSTT met the full cost of accommodation and meals. The team, minus Gomez and two technical staff members, finally got to Miami Lakes on Friday evening after leaving Trinidad in three batches between Wednesday and Friday due to visa delays.

And, on Saturday, the teenagers faced a strong assembled United States XI in a 70-minute scrimmage match behind closed doors at the Sunrise Holiday Inn Ground.

The Warriors lost 2-0 but King described it as a good outing for his troops against fast and technically competent opponents. He singled out midfielders Matthew Woo Ling, Neveal Hackshaw and Jabari Mitchell as well defender Leland Archer and goalkeeper Johan Welch for their performances.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago under-20 midfielder Neveal Hackshaw (right) holds off Curaçao defender Luivienno Statia during the U-20 Caribbean Cup. Hackshaw is one of 11 players in coach Derek King's 20-man squad that can operate in more than one position. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago under-20 midfielder Neveal Hackshaw (right) holds off Curaçao defender Luivienno Statia during the U-20 Caribbean Cup.
Hackshaw is one of 11 players in coach Derek King’s 20-man squad that can operate in more than one position.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“We got a chance to mix it up and take a look at all the players and I am pleased with the level of play at this crucial stage heading into the tournament,” King told the TTFA Media. “I am particularly impressed with the level of organization we showed in attack with (Matthew) Woo Ling, (Neveal) Hacksaw and (Jabari) Mitchell handling their roles well. (Leland) Archer also marshalled the defence well and Goalkeeper Johan Welch displayed impressive distribution of the football.

“So, all in all, we are rounding into form.”

Former “Strike Squad” midfielder Richard Chinapoo, who now coaches in the United States, was a guest at the scrimmage and told the TTFA Media that he felt optimistic about what he saw.

“Given the fact that the team only arrived a couple days ago, they represented well and showed balance,” Chinapoo told the TTFA Media. “Clearly we have options with the second unit demonstrating as high a level as the first in most areas which gives us options…

“There are things to be tweaked but if I was the coach I would be pleased. All we need is a few more games to fine tune things for next week.”

The Warriors should be in action again from 7 pm on Monday when they face the Weston United Alumni at Vizcaya Park in Marimar. Meanwhile, Gomez is expected to leave Trinidad for Kingston, early this week, where he will wait on his teammates.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago under-20 midfielder Aikim Andrews (seated) celebrates his goal against Curaçao with his teammates. during the Under-20 Caribbean Championship. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago under-20 midfielder Aikim Andrews (seated) celebrates his goal against Curaçao with his teammates. during the Under-20 Caribbean Championship.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

(Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 team)

Goalkeepers: Johan Welch (Houston Dynamo Juniors), Javon Sample (Central FC);

Defenders: Shannon Gomez, Martieon Watson, Maurice Ford (all W Connection), Brendon Creed (Temple University), Leland Archer (College of Charleston), Jesus Perez (North East Stars);

Holding midfielders: Neveal Hackshaw (North East Stars), Kevon Goddard (Central FC),  Akeem Humphrey (Club Sando), Matthew Woo Ling (St Anthony’s College);

Attacking Midfielders: Aikim Andrews, Akeem Garcia, Jabari Mitchell (all W Connection), Duane Muckette (University of South Florida), Levi Garcia (Shiva Boys HC), Kishun Seecharan (Club Sando);

Forwards: Kadeem Corbin (St Ann’s Rangers), Ricardo John (Virginia Tech).

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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20 comments

  1. You start the year with a BANG,Lasana…..well said…..Webb has been around for quite a while running the Caymans FA and was around for JW.So do we really expect better ?

  2. Samo,samo bunch of incompetents at the helm. Nothing will change until we have a changing of the Guards/TTFA. SMDH!

  3. Lochan, Concacaf under Webb has no clue how to run a tournament. The gold cup has teams flying from city to city and changing time zones in between games.
    They don’t follow FIFA health guidelines. This tournament is more arduous than even the African nations cup.
    So they are asking teenagers, many of whom are not professionals, to play longer and harder than the likes of Yaya Toure.

  4. hmm I wanna see these games :'(

  5. Just viewed the fixtures & not to be biased but 3 matches a day on the same field? Montego Bay Sport Complex Complex is hosting 24 matches over the 2 weeks? That’s a lot.

  6. I can understand if SPORTT needs to cut money. Since most media houses don’t go, it helps that the TTFA has a media officer there. And he also does video work for the technical staff. So I think fuentes justifies his trips.
    But if they are cutting costs then you can’t argue with that and it is up to the TTFA to decide his worth.
    This tournament is expensive to cover because of its length. I’m hoping that I can get the funding and I will see soon.
    Hopefully SportsMax will cover it. Hopefully.

  7. JW, Wayne Cunningham is a VP in the TTFA and has been know to be a worker. I too questioned the prudence of taking an assistant to the manager and a press officer. I think it’s because I really don’t know what their roles are. I’ve been to a number of tournaments in the past and the manager passed info on to the media and didn’t have an assistant.

  8. And with the TTFA, the support staff/hangers on is more than the team

  9. i might be wrong but in sports in trinidad including football and the naaa, its all about their friends going on free plane ride just look at some teams when they are travelling and you will see the names just recycling

  10. Yes John, that Shaun Fuentes line is the best bit of the article

  11. am glad to see the sportt not funding the trip of shaun fuentes because this man only rides plane and really does nothing, am also still wondering how the channel 4 reporter wayne cunnangham end up as asst manager to the football team whats his link because it look like its all about friendship

  12. We cannot go anywhere with this current TTFA administration. It is riddled with incompetents who time and time again cannot get the basics right. That’s why we cannot win.

  13. Will we ever get our preparation right? This is no rocket science.

  14. I’ll go check out the game tomorrow night.

  15. Wish them all the best still

  16. Lol. I do think about that sometimes… The good news is the other 19 players are there! 🙂

  17. Lasana Liburd… always the bearer of bad news