As the Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 Team took off from the Piarco International Airport at 3:30pm for a seven-day training camp in Guyana, talented central midfielder Tyrel “Pappy” Emmanuel and dashing winger Quinn Rodney were preparing to face San Juan North Secondary in SSFL Premier Division action in Bourg Mulatresse.
National youth team coach Brian Williams selected 20 players to travel to Guyana, where the national youth team will play against a local-based Guyana senior team on Friday and Sunday. And as late as 2pm, when the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) shared the names of the touring party with the media, Emmanuel and Rodney were expected to be among them.
By then, though, Emmanuel and Rodney would probably have been en route to San Juan with the Shiva Boys Hindu College football team. They were minus their goalkeeper, Denzel Smith, who did accept Williams’ call-up.
Emmanuel scored a fine strike for Shiva Boys but the Siparia-based team could not hold off San Juan and eventually succumbed to a 2-1 loss, which was their first defeat of the season.
The result saw Shiva slip one place from first to second, although they are just three games into the new season.
Wired868 has so far been unsuccessful in contacting either teenager to find out why they chose Shiva Boys over the young Soca Warriors. There has been no word yet from the TTFA either, although Pappy’s absence—in particular—would not go unnoticed.
An elegant midfield organiser with a decent passing range, Emmanuel was one of a handful of Caribbean players selected for a training stint at the Manchester City Football Club last year in a Digicel event.
But his time with the national team has not hit the expected heights.
Two years ago, Emmanuel was a surprise omission from coach Sean Cooper’s National Under-17 Team, which drew one and lost four matches at CONCACAF level.
His attempts to make the Under-20 Team seemed to be blighted too, as he was initially ordered to find a Pro League club to be considered for selection, although Williams eventually relented.
It would have been especially controversial to omit Emmanuel due to his disinterest in the Pro League since one of his prominent top flight suitors was W Connection, which is owned by TTFA president David John-Williams and also employs the National Under-20 coach.
But then, less than two weeks before their Caribbean tournament, Emmanuel found himself left out again after a nagging chest pain forced the worried Williams to cut the playmaker on medical grounds.
Rodney was selected but, surprisingly, never got on the field as Trinidad and Tobago advanced from the group with two wins, a draw and precious little football to get excited about.
Both players got a second chance to make their international debuts in Guyana. For whatever reason neither took it and, apparently, they kept the TTFA in the dark about their intentions too.
One way or the other, it is a sad loss. Wired868 will continue to follow this story.
The touring party for the Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 Team is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Jabari Brice (St Anthony’s College/San Juan Jabloteh), Denzil Smith (Shiva Boys HC);
Defenders: Tyrek Sampson (North East Stars), Kori Cupid (W Connection), Isaiah Garcia (Shiva Boys/W Connection), Kierron Mason, Keston Julien (both Marabella Family Crisis Centre), Rondell Payne (Naparima College), Hakim Baird (North East Stars);
Midfielders: Jabari Mitchell (W Connection), Kareem Riley (Presentation/Central FC), Shane Sandy (Naparima/North East Stars), Micah Lansiquot (Mucurapo East/St Ann’s Rangers);
Forwards: Nicholas Dillon (Central FC), Kathon St Hillaire (St Anthony’s/St Ann’s Rangers), Josh Toussaint (St Ann’s Rangers), Chaz Burnett (Players Development Academy—USA), Moses Jaikaran (Harlem Strikers).