The Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team in South America, which is under-strength to being with, must now face one of the their toughest international assignments against Uruguay with a further depleted squad due to a raft of injuries and a suspension.
The “Soca Warriors”, who were hammered 4-0 by Peru on Monday night, tackle Uruguay from 7.10 pm (TT time) on Friday May 27 in Montevideo without three of their most experienced defenders as well as their second most capped midfielder.
Defenders Daneil Cyrus and Yohance Marshall are both injured along with veteran midfielder Hughtun Hector while central defender Radanfah Abu Bakr is suspended. The quartet have a combined 131 international caps between them.
Speedy San Juan Jabloteh winger Nathan Lewis, who is uncapped, is also out injured.
In their wake, the six remaining Trinidad and Tobago defenders available to head coach Stephen Hart—Aubrey David, Weslie John, Andre Ettienne, Curtis Gonzales, Triston Hodge and Alvin Jones—have 44 international caps altogether.
And they could face a Uruguay team with one of world football’s deadliest strikers, PSG’s Edison Cavani, at the tip of their attack. The match will be broadcast live on Flow Sports channel 95.
“We accept the challenge before us and we will focus on our improving on our performance,” Hart told the TTFA Media. “We know we have to regroup for this encounter. Unfortunately, we have been hit with several injuries which we need to cope with.”
The Warriors, who are ranked 53rd in the world, were second best for much of their encounter against the 46th ranked Peru. Uruguay, ranked ninth by FIFA, should represent a notably stiffer challenge.
Trinidad and Tobago’s stand-in captain, Khaleem Hyland, said the squad had a tough time against Peru but understand where they went wrong and will try to improve.
“It is disappointing coming off the loss against Peru,” said Hyland. “We learnt a lot from it. We gave them a lot of room to play which we shouldn’t have.
“We know the quality Uruguay (have), even without Suarez. They have a lot of good players in their team.”
The Warriors, who travelled with a 23-man squad, are down to 18 available players. Only six of those players have more than 10 international caps while 12 of the touring party play in the local Pro League.
Hyland said the seasoned players are trying to mentor the less experienced ones, as they try to make the most of their adventure.
“The mood in the camp is still good,” said Hyland. “Everyone is trying to push each other and make each other better. There are a lot of young players who do not have much experience. But we, the senior players are trying to encourage them…
“You don’t get much opportunity to play teams of this quality so we need to maximise it.”
The Belgium-based midfielder is grateful for the chance to compete at this level and hopes the testing South American assignments will aid their Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.
“Unfortunately we didn’t have the full squad to be more competitive,” said Hyland. “But so it has been done. These three games are great for us to give other players an opportunity so that the coaches can see what they have.
“And for them to have better selection options for the games against the United States and Guatemala.”
(Trinidad and Tobago team)
Goalkeepers: Marvin Phillip (Morvant Caledonia United), Adrian Foncette (Police FC), Glenroy Samuel (North East Stars);
Defenders: Aubrey David (Saprissa FC—Costa Rica), Alvin Jones, Triston Hodge (both W Connection), Weslie John (CD Universidad—El Salvador), Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force), Andre Ettienne (Central FC);
Midfielders: Andre Boucaud (Dagenham & Redbridge—England), Leston Paul (Central FC), Khaleem Hyland (KVC Westerlo—Belgium);
Attacking midfielders: Jomal Williams (W Connection), Levi Garcia (AZ Alkmaar—Netherlands), Sean De Silva (Central FC), Marcus Joseph (Central FC);
Forwards: Willis Plaza (Alianza FC—El Salvador), Shahdon Winchester (W Connection), Makesi Lewis (Police FC);
Injured: Daneil Cyrus, Hughtun Hector (both W Connection), Yohance Marshall (Murcielagos FC—Mexico), Nathan Lewis (San Juan Jabloteh);
Suspended: Radanfah Abu Bakr (HB Koge—Denmark).