The Trinidad and Tobago National Under-23 Team has finally gotten a sliver of good fortune.
The first break, arguably, came when the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) finally announced Suriname’s withdrawal on Wednesday evening, after a topsy turvy week in which the particulars of coach Zoran Vranes’ opening game changed four times.
The second bit of good luck came on Thursday evening when hosts Puerto Rico and St Vincent and the Grenadines played to a 2-2 draw in the 2016 Olympic qualifying group.
It means that the “Soca Warriors” will advance to the next round with a win and a draw from their two group outings. The Warriors face St Vincent from 8 pm on Saturday June 27 and then tackle Puerto Rico at the same time on Monday June 29.
The group winner will advance to the Caribbean semifinals against the winner of another four team group that includes Haiti, St Kitts and Nevis, Barbados and the Cayman Islands.
But there was not all good news for the Warriors.
As the Trinidad and Tobago contingent sought to desperately get players on the island for the scheduled clash with Suriname on Wednesday, team manager David Muhammad summoned former national under-20 midfielder Keane McIvor from Lindsey Wilson College in the United States.
It meant that, when the rest of the Warriors contingent arrived on Thursday, Trinidad and Tobago had 21 players on the island.
Muhammad’s request to have use of an extra player was denied. So McIvor has been declared ineligible for national service in Puerto Rico.
Still, Vranes has 20 players at his disposal for kick off tomorrow. And it’s the best situation he has been in whole week.
(Trinidad and Tobago Under-23 Team)
Goalkeepers: Aaron Enill (San Juan Jabloteh), Montell Joseph (Unattached);
Defenders: Jesus Perez (North East Stars), Josiah Trimmingham (San Juan Jabloteh), Leland Archer (College of Charleston—USA), Alvin Jones, Martieon Watson (both W Connection);
Midfielders: Duane Muckette, Neveal Hackshaw (both North East Stars), Jelani Felix (Defence Force), Xavier Rajpaul (College of Charleston—USA), Jabari Mitchell, Jomal Williams, Aikim Andrews (both W Connection), Kadeem Corbin (St Ann’s Rangers);
Forwards: Rundell Winchester (Portland Timbers 2—USA), Ricardo John (Virginia Tech—USA), Adrian Welch (St John’s University—USA).
Ineligible: Keane McIvor (Lindsey Wilson College—USA).
Staff: Zoran Vranes (coach), David Muhammad (manager), Gilbert Bateau (assistant coach/trainer), Michael Taylor (physio), Esmond O’ Brien (equipment manager), Nigel Neverson (goalkeeper coach).
CFU Olympic Qualifying Group Four
(Thu June 25)
Puerto Rico 2, St Vincent and the Grenadines 2, Puerto Rico;
(Sat June 27)
St Vincent and the Grenadines v Trinidad and Tobago, 8 pm, Puerto Rico;
(Mon 29 June)
Puerto Rico v Trinidad and Tobago, 8 pm, Puerto Rico.