Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 Team coach Brian Williams selected a 33-member squad to begin training today but there were startling omissions from the list of invitees.
Most notably, Shiva Boys Hindu College midfielder Tyrel “Pappy” Emmanuel, who was among six Caribbean players selected for a Manchester City clinic earlier this year, and his fellow student and dynamic winger Quinn Rodney were both overlooked.
Emmanuel and Rodney were identified by “Soca Warriors” coach Stephen Hart, last month, as two of Trinidad and Tobago’s most gifted teenagers.
The Shiva duo were far from the only talent who did not get on to the initial national training squad, as St Anthony’s College winger Kathon St Hillaire, Queen’s Royal College (QRC) goalkeeper Jadel Poon-Lewis, Naparima College midfielder Shane Sandy and St Augustine Secondary playmaker Jesse Joseph also missed out.
The common thread is that they are all schoolboys who are not attached to any Pro League outfit.
Williams explained that his 33-man training squad was made up only of players attached to the country’s 10 Pro League clubs, which does not include a Tobago outfit. However, he said the list would be modified quickly and he already has plans to scout in Tobago.
“This is not the final list but this is the list to start our preliminary training,” Williams told Wired868. “Because I (was only just selected as national coach and) wasn’t scouting all the time. But seeing as I only have two months to prepare the team, I needed some base to start with.”
Williams said his current training list includes all the players involved in the 2015 CONCACAF Under-17 Championship as well as the under-20 players currently attached to Pro League clubs. His initial criteria excluded 17 of the 21 players named on the SSFL’s official 2015 all-star team.
Ironically, several SSFL players who did not earn picks on the 2015 all-star team made it into Williams’ squad simply because they are attached to Pro League clubs.
The only exception was First Santa Rosa and QRC midfielder John-Paul Rochford, as he represented North East Stars in the Pro League Youth League season and was announced as a Stars player on the TTFA shortlist.
To be eligible, players must be born on or after 1 January 1997.
“I might have to include ‘Pappy’,” said Williams. “What happened is he wasn’t on the last Under-17 squad with Shawn Cooper… I will be moving through the Pro League youth league and reserve team games and everywhere else I can find to scout players now. And I will take recommendations from other coaches too.
“I am also trying to go into Tobago this month’s end. I will select 23 or 25 boys to take to Tobago to play a Tobago XI back to back games. And I will then select about 30 boys to continue after that game.”
Omissions apart, Williams did have some notable talents on his initial training squad, which included Central FC striker Nicholas Dillon and W Connection playmaker Jabari Mitchell—who were both members of the previous National Under-20 Team—as well as 14 year old North East Stars and Trincity College East midfielder Kishon Hackshaw, 18 year old Central and Presentation College (San Fernando) midfielder Kareem Riley and the 16 year Rochford.
Overseas-based players Joshua Burnett (Players Development Academy—USA), Jerren Nixon Jnr (Philadelphia Union—USA), Chaz Burnett (Players Development Academy—USA), Morgan Bruce (Stevanage Borough—England), Noah Powder (New York Red Bulls—USA) and unattached former National Under-17 utility player Anthony Herbert were also pencilled in to be included in the training squad at some stage.
Nine of the 33 National Under-20 trialists—more than double the quota of any other club—are attached to W Connection, where Williams serves as under-16 coach. However, the “Savonetta Boys” have been a frequent supplier of talent for national youth teams in recent years, even before Connection chairman David John-Williams was voted TTFA president last November.
The Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 Team are due to start the Caribbean phase of their Korea Republic FIFA World Under-20 Championship in mid-June.
(Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 Team trialists)
T&T: Tekay Hoyce, Kareem Riley, Levi Fernandez, Nicholas Dillon (Central FC), John-Paul Rochford (First Santa Rosa), Shawndell Augustus, Jamaal Roach (Morvant Caledonia United), Kerry Daniel, Hakim Baird, Taryk Sampson, Kishon Hackshaw (North East Stars), Nicholas Thomas, Darnell Hospedales (Point Fortin Civic), Shakeem Patrick, Jankeon Alexander, Dominic Douglas (San Juan Jabloteh), Josh Toussaint, Rasheed Simon (St Ann’s Rangers), Isaiah Garcia, Shirwin Noel, Tyrek James, Shobal Celestine, Kierron Mason, Kori Cupid, Isaiah Hudson, Jabari Mitchell, Keston Julien (W Connection).