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CFU makes Suriname u-turn; T&T U23s must play with 11 men

More farce. The Trinidad and Tobago National Under-23 Team’s 2015 Olympic qualifying campaign was thrown into disarray again this evening when Caribbean Football Union officials informed the “Soca Warriors” that Suriname have been re-instated into the competition.

And, just 24 hours after telling Trinidad and Tobago officials that their Caribbean round opener would be on Friday June 26, the Warriors were told to prepare to face Suriname at 10.30 pm on Wednesday June 24 in Puerto Rico.

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 Team poses before kick off against Panama in the 2015 Under-20 CONCACAF Championship. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 Team poses before kick off against Panama in the 2015 Under-20 CONCACAF Championship.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

It means that the Warriors, who were unable to secure visas for their players in time, will have to face Suriname with just 11 players.

“They told us at about 3 pm this afternoon that Suriname are back in and we have to play them at 10.30 pm tomorrow,” National Under-23 manager David Muhammad told Wired868. “All of this was unofficial because they have to write a letter to inform us and they haven’t done so as yet. We don’t even know when Suriname is getting in or whether or not they have a full squad.

“But we just have to get our minds ready to play.”

What is certain is that Trinidad and Tobago’s remaining nine players will not get to Puerto Rico until 11 am on Thursday June 25. And, at present, head coach Zoran Vranes’ squad is comprised of one goalkeeper, two defenders, four central midfielders, one winger and three forwards.

Three of those players, goalkeeper Montell Joseph, midfielder Jelani Felix and forward Adrian Welch, have never played international football before.

Yesterday, Muhammad suggested told Wired868 that they could get by with the players they had.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago under-20 midfielder Neveal Hackshaw (right) holds off Curaçao defender Luivienno Statia during the 2014 U-20 Caribbean Cup. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago under-20 midfielder Neveal Hackshaw (right) holds off Curaçao defender Luivienno Statia during the 2014 U-20 Caribbean Cup.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“Any defensive midfielder can also play in defence,” said Muhammad. “We have Neveal Hackshaw and Jelani Felix who can play left back. So that is not too much of an issue.”

It now appears that the young men will have to prove their manager right.

For the third time in the past week, Vranes has had to change his 20-man squad for non-footballing reasons.

Defenders Shannon Gomez, Jibiri McDavid, Maurice Ford, Dario Holmes and Triston Hodge, forward Shackiel Henry and goalkeeper Javon Sample were initially left out to make room for players with visas.

However, it turned out that Central FC attacker Nathaniel Garcia travelled on an invalid student visa. He got as far as Panama and was turned back.

Garcia will be replaced by Defence Force winger Akeem Roach.

Another of Central 2014/15 employees, forward Dwight Quintero, also failed to secure a visa due to the late arrival of his passport. So, Henry, a Point Fortin Civic player, will replace him in the 20-man team.

Photo: Central FC forward Dwight Quintero (left) tries to escape from North East Stars midfielder Keithy Simpson during a 2013/14 Pro League contest. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC forward Dwight Quintero (left) tries to escape from North East Stars midfielder Keithy Simpson during a 2013/14 Pro League contest.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

It would not be too uncharitable to suggest that there are fete match teams with more settled rosters than this.

“Well now we have to play the game,” Vranes told the TTFA Media. “One day it’s off and now it’s on. This is the reality and we must play the game even with us having only eleven players to start the competition.

“It will be a very difficult task for the team but I believe this is a test and it will show us where our strengths are.

“It’s not an easy thing for us as coaches to prepare one day and then have to change plans again the next day But for me the important thing is that our players are ready and we will go out to play our best game and hopefully we can get a good result.”

The Warriors could still feasibly be punished for failing to bring three goalkeepers to Puerto Rico, according to the tournament guidelines. Sample, also from Central, failed to get a visa.

Muhammad will ask for leniency from the CFU on the goalkeepers stipulation while he still hopes to get a fixture change. The Warriors staff will meet with tournament organisers for the match coordination at 11 am tomorrow.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Team manager David Muhammad.
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Team manager David Muhammad.

Only one team will advance from this Caribbean group, which also includes St Vincent and the Grenadines and Puerto Rico.

Yesterday, Muhammad congratulated staff and players for getting a bare team to Puerto Rico in the first place.

“I am very proud of the staff,” he told Wired868, “that, in light of the circumstances, we were able to put together a strong team to compete by Wednesday.

“That goes to show the depth of our squad. I am proud of the players too for making themselves available, especially (Duane) Muckette (who cut short a trial at the New York Cosmos to attend).”

Muhammad’s praise will ring hollow if the Warriors do not find a way to get a result tomorrow night against Suriname.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Jabari Mitchell plays the ball around a Curacao player during the 2014 Caribbean Cup. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Jabari Mitchell plays the ball around a Curacao player during the 2014 Caribbean Cup.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

(Trinidad and Tobago Under-23 Team in Puerto Rico)

Goalkeeper: Montell Joseph (Unattached);

Defenders: Leland Archer (College of Charleston—USA), Martieon Watson (W Connection);

Midfielders: Neveal Hackshaw (North East Stars), Jelani Felix (Defence Force), Duane Muckette (North East Stars), Jabari Mitchell (W Connection), Xavier Rajpaul (College of Charleston—USA);

Forwards: Rundell Winchester (Portland Timbers 2—USA), Ricardo John (Virginia Tech—USA), Adrian Welch (St John’s University—USA).

Staff: Zoran Vranes (coach), David Muhammad (manager), Gilbert Bateau (assistant coach/trainer), Michael Taylor (physio), Esmond O’ Brien (equipment manager).

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Rundell Winchester (left) tussles with New Zealand captain and ex-West Ham defender Winston Reid during a senior international friendly at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in December 2013. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Rundell Winchester (left) tussles with New Zealand captain and ex-West Ham defender Winston Reid during a senior international friendly at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in December 2013.
(Courtesy Wired868)

(Remaining squad members due to arrive in Puerto Rico in Thursday)

Goalkeeper: Aaron Enill (San Juan Jabloteh),

Defenders: Alvin Jones (W Connection), Jesus Perez (North East Stars), Josiah Trimmingham (San Juan Jabloteh);

Midfielders: Jomal Williams, Aikim Andrews (both W Connection), Kadeem Corbin (St Ann’s Rangers);

Staff: Nigel Neverson (goalkeeper coach);

Photo: W Connection attacker Jomal Williams (left) tries to keep the ball from Central FC veteran and captain Marvin Oliver during the 2015 Caribbean Cup final. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection attacker Jomal Williams (left) tries to keep the ball from Central FC veteran and captain Marvin Oliver during the 2015 Caribbean Cup final.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

(Players who failed to get travel documents and visas)

Goalkeeper: Javon Sample (Central FC);

Defender: Shannon Gomez (W Connection);

Midfielder: Nathaniel Garcia (Central FC);

Forward: Dwight Quintero (Central FC);

 

(Players who were omitted to let in others with visas)

Defenders: Jibiri McDavid (Police FC), Maurice Ford, Triston Hodge (both W Connection), Dario Holmes (San Juan Jabloteh);

Photo: Teenaged W Connection defender Maurice Ford (right) wrestles with a Montego Bay United attacker during the Caribbean Club Championship semifinals at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva. W Connection won 1-0. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Teenaged W Connection defender Maurice Ford (right) wrestles with a Montego Bay United attacker during the Caribbean Club Championship semifinals at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.
W Connection won 1-0.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

(Injured)

Forward: Neil Benjamin Jr.

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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25 comments

  1. Ricardo John is attending Virginia Tech and not St John’s

  2. Guest we only knew about this tournament last week …is 2015 !! When this nonsense would stop !!

  3. When i used to play national sports once the squad was picked… Everyone got letters from the association to go by the embassy long in advance even though we paid for it! Sometimes Men waiting on the Authorities to pay for the appointment… i think we need to be more proactive because as athlete you need your visa

  4. I am not sure what the problem really is. I am reading “visas” and also ” passports”, in any event I can’t understand why players on a squad with the potential to travel abroad didn’ t secure a passport well in advance. I can see a problem securing visas at the last minute, but then this is a National Team….something isn’t right here, and then there is the story of the CFU’ decision. Could the problem be ” management” at all levels…ineptitude?

  5. An yet I’m still here smh lol

  6. What should we expect from a land that’s in a free fall.

  7. So much potential talent to take the field yet we yes WE have conspired to allow this travesty to take place…we are lurching from one managerial mishap to another…yet not a peep from Tim Kee or Phillips taking ownership…Good luck to the T&T bare 11 hopefully they pull off a miracle tonight.

  8. But this is definitely a case of “DeJaVu”
    This is the same thing that happened when the U-15 Women Football Team was heading to Cayman Islands in 2014 . No visas; passports missing; players travelled in batches some through miami, some through panama and some NEVER made it on a plane after sacrificing their time and talent to represent sweet TnT.
    When will Trinidad Football come out of the MATRIX. We keep going around in circles like “MATRIX RELOAD”
    Fed up of the same thing over and over.

  9. It’s ridiculous and unprofessional to tell a team one day, they don’t have to play until Friday then change things and tell them a day before they are back on the roster for the next day. Is there no rule against such madness …would they do that in the big leagues? I am really underwhelmed by the management of this tournament and not just in terms of our local people dropping the ball – as they seem to do on a regular basis- but the organisers of this event need to learn a thing or two about event management!

  10. Last minute central Akil Nancoo. Long story. You might have to read the related articles too to fully absorb this one.

  11. What rubbish is this i reading…..???? And how players on a national team having problems getting their passports on time??

  12. I don’t know about those US college players. We should just get visas in a timely manner for the players who trained hard and deserve it I think.

  13. Most embarrassing for a country like Trinidad….and the madness continues. ..no one ever takes responsibility. ….we just continue destroying the future of our young athletes. …its a national team and people in authority allow this madness to take place….

  14. I coached against Dominic Jangoo’s team! He was the best player on a top 15 team. Should be on a national u23!team

  15. Sad day in Trinidad football it shows we have not done our homework we have so much talented youngsters that attends college in the United States that can fill this gap .Nathan Regis, Romario Romain,Dwight pope , Quesi Weston ,Shaquille Huggins, Duane Muckette, Dominic Jangoo, Tevin Gilkes and Cruichank more can be added I will say this openly we accept forgive and forget.

  16. Keith Look Loy…. a belly full…. TnT… 11 players…

  17. I know there are more than 20 U.S. College players that can play for Trinidad.

  18. 11 men! Absolutely ridiculous! We should not be pointing fingers at anyone but ourselves because it was our responsibility to have a full complement of players. Again… weak management and leadership in T&T football.

  19. So the Suriname team miraculously got visas…

  20. ” And the band played on.”

  21. Nothing new here as far as the CFU is concerned. Consistently unprofessional.

  22. Scotty Ranking

    This situation has descended into a level that farce is now miles above it.

    I blame everyoe in administration for this fete match side line-upthat we must now go forward with. This situation could have been avoided early with the right preparation. First off, when the tournament was announced, all potential players should have at least been informed of possible selection and told to at leastHave their passport situations in order. That way, no one would be in a passport scramble days before the tournament. Next would be visa assessments of all the potentials, with a provisional list sent to the TTFA and MYSA so that official, government-level representation can be madeto the US Embassy.

    Hadthis been done, I’m certain that all the bureaucratic snafus that have dogged this team’s equally farcical ‘prepartions’ would have been minimised.

    Everybody dropped the ball here … EVERYBODY! It’s a though Puerto Rico (and its US Visa requirements) only came into existence last week!