The “Soca Warriors” will aim to kickstart life without injured playmaker Kevin Molino this evening away to Curaçao from 8 pm at the Sentro Deportivo Korsou.
Curaçao, like many Caribbean teams of late, have selected a squad packed with overseas-based players and a whopping 20 members of their team ply their trade in Europe. None is more famous than their Dutch island’s new coach, though, former Netherlands, Ajax and Barcelona star striker Patrick Kluivert, who took over in March.
Kluivert was Louis Van Gaal’s assistant with the Netherlands at the Brazil 2014 World Cup although Curaçao represents his first stint as a head coach.
Curaçao is unbeaten so far under Kluivert with a narrow win and draw against Montserrat and a friendly draw against Suriname. However, Trinidad and Tobago should represent their toughest challenge so far, even with just three overseas-based players in coach Stephen Hart’s 19-man squad.
Warriors captain Kenwyne Jones should lead from the front and is expected to have a strike partner as Hart suggested he would experiment with different tactical approaches to compensate for missing playmakers Hughtun Hector and Molino.
Veteran goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams, experienced midfielders Khaleem Hyland and Andre Boucaud, gifted playmaker Ataulla Guerra and versatile defender Daneil Cyrus should provide the backbone for the Warriors. While the likes of Mekeil Williams, Shannon Gomez and Willis Plaza will hope to prove their worth to the squad.
Speedy wing back Kaydion Gabriel, prolific striker Devorn Jorsling and attack-minded midfielders Sean De Silva, Keron Cummings and Kadeem Corbin are among the newcomers to the senior team who will hope to make a good impression.
Curaçao face Cuba in a do-or-die World Cup qualifying fixture on June 8 while Hart’s next outing is away to Jordan on June 16.
Jones expects a tough test from the host team.
“We don’t expect it to be easy by any means,” the Cardiff City forward told the TTFA Media. “Curaçao have proven to be a formidable opposition and they are obviously in preparation for their World Cup qualifier and will be looking to do well in this match.
“We came up against them in the Caribbean Cup last year and came away with a 3-2 win but they were a decent side and we expect them to be up for the match at home.”
(Trinidad and Tobago team)
Goalkeepers: Jan-Michael Williams (Central FC), Marvin Phillip (Point Fortin Civic);
Defenders: Kaydion Gabriel (Central FC), Shannon Gomez, Daneil Cyrus, Mekeil Williams (all W Connection), Eljiah Belgrave (Police FC);
Midfielders: Andre Boucaud (Dagenham & Redbridge—England), Leston Paul (Central FC), Dwane James (North East Stars), Khaleem Hyland (Racing Genk—Belgium);
Attacking midfielders: Ataulla Guerra, Sean De Silva (both Central FC), Keron Cummings (North East Stars), Kadeem Corbin (St Ann’s Rangers);
Forwards: Shahdon Winchester (W Connection), Willis Plaza (Central FC), Kenwyne Jones (Cardiff City—England), Devorn Jorsling (Defence Force).