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T&T U-20s kick off against Cuba; but fresh controversy as team takes extra players

The Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 Team continue their South Korea 2017 Under-20 World Cup campaign on Saturday 22 October when they face Cuba from 8:15pm in Caribbean Football Union (CFU) battle at the Ergilio Hato stadium in Willemstad, Curaçao.

But, once more, local football fans will hope that the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) gets its on-field business significantly better than its off-field work.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 midfielder Kadeem Riley (left) tries to win the ball from St Lucia playmaker Cassius Joseph during 2016 Caribbean Cup qualifying action at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 19 June 2016. The two teams played to a 1-1 draw. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 midfielder Kadeem Riley (left) tries to win the ball from St Lucia playmaker Cassius Joseph during 2016 Caribbean Cup qualifying action at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 19 June 2016.
The two teams played to a 1-1 draw.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

National Under-20 coach Brian Williams has 23 players in Curaçao but can only register 20 for the tournament.

And, in an odd twist, the TTFA paid to bring teenaged defender Jacob Sooklal all the way from Ontario, Canada only to then leave him in the stands for the entire competition as it transpired that he suffered a mild concussion a weak earlier while playing for his school team.

Even more bizarrely, Sooklal only arrived in Curaçao yesterday.

The other two players who discovered that they would not suit up for the duration of the competition are Naparima College defender Rondell Payne and Cengem Harlem Strikers attacker Moses Jaikaran. The national youth team is managed by Dunston Williams.

The good news is that Williams is happy with the squad’s preparation, after a training camp in Panama, and is anxious to get the show on the road.

“We are as ready as can be at this stage,” Williams told the TTFA Media. “We knew for some time now that Cuba would be our opening game and we have prepared with that in mind.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago striker Nicholas Dillon (right) celebrates one of his five goals against Turks and Caicos alongside teammate Isaiah Hudson during Caribbean Cup qualifying action at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 17 June 2016. T&T won 11-0. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago striker Nicholas Dillon (right) celebrates one of his five goals against Turks and Caicos alongside teammate Isaiah Hudson during Caribbean Cup qualifying action at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 17 June 2016.
T&T won 11-0.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“I am pretty pleased with the way the team responded in Panama, there was a nice bonding period and the guys worked very hard on the training pitch. Now it is their time to go out and show it on the field.”

The young Soca Warriors enjoyed pre-tournament wins in Panama over the Leones de America Reserves (2-1) and First Division Reserve champions San Francisco FC (3-1), which sandwiched a 2-0 loss to the Panama Under-17 Team.

Williams’ troops topped their three-man preliminary group in June after wins over Guadeloupe and Turks and Caicos and a draw with St Lucia. While Cuba finished as runner-ups in their group behind Antigua and Barbuda.

Williams is taking nothing for granted against Cuba, though.

“We saw how well [Cuba] looked in the Under-17 series last month in Trinidad and I expect they will have a similar kind of approach at this level,” said Williams. “We will need to prevent them from getting on top of us. And we must in fact try to steady our game and get ourselves ahead as early as possible, meaning too that we need to settle early and control the match.

“We need to narrow down on our errors and stay compact for the entire match and of course take advantage of our strengths in the attacking third and finish the chances.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 attacker Isaiah Hudson (centre) is denied by St Lucia goalkeeper Noah Didier during 2016 Caribbean Cup qualifying action at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 19 June 2016. Hudson is also a member of the Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 Team. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 attacker Isaiah Hudson (centre) is denied by St Lucia goalkeeper Noah Didier during 2016 Caribbean Cup qualifying action at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 19 June 2016.
Hudson is also a member of the Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 Team.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Haiti and St Lucia are the two remaining outfits in Trinidad and Tobago’s group. The two top teams advance to the Caribbean Cup semifinals and qualify automatically for the CONCACAF qualifying round while the best third placed team from the two groups will also go on the CONCACAF stage, despite being eliminated from the regional competition.

The young Warriors are captained by Jabari Mitchell who played two years ago when Trinidad and Tobago lifted the Caribbean Under-20 title along with striker Nicholas Dillon. Williams welcomes back former National Under-17 left back Keston Julien into his fold with the equally capable Noah Powder likely to move to the other flank.

With Haiti as group favourites, the Warriors would hope for a good start against Cuba to boost their qualification chances.

(Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 squad)

Goalkeepers: Jabari Brice (St Anthony’s College), Denzil Smith (Shiva Boys Hindu College);

Defenders: Taryk Sampson (Ma Pau Stars), Kierron Mason (Marabella Family Crisis Centre), Kori Cupid (Presentation College, San Fernando), Isaiah Garcia (W Connection), Keston Julien (San Juan Jabloteh), Andrew Rullow (University of Charleston—US), Noah Powder (New York Red Bulls II—US);

Photo: Guadeloupe Under-20 midfielder Yvann Macon (centre) tries to find a way past Trinidad and Tobago players Shane Sandy (left) and Taryk Sampson during Caribbean Under-20 Cup qualifiers at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 15 June 2016. T&T won 1-0. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Guadeloupe Under-20 midfielder Yvann Macon (centre) tries to find a way past Trinidad and Tobago players Shane Sandy (left) and Taryk Sampson during Caribbean Under-20 Cup qualifiers at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 15 June 2016.
T&T won 1-0.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Midfielders: Jabari Mitchell (W Connection), Morgan Bruce (KRC Genk—Belgium), Kareem Riley (Presentation College, San Fernando), Shane Sandy (Naparima College), Micah Lansiquot (East Mucurapo Secondary);

Forwards: Nicholas Dillon (Central FC), Taofik Lucas Walker (DC United—US), Josh Toussaint (St Ann’s Rangers), Jarred Dass (Stony Brook University—US), Isaiah Hudson (W Connection), Kathon St Hillaire (St Anthony’s College).

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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8 comments

  1. Suddenly, I must admit that I’m more sympathetic to Pappy Emmanuel and Quinn Rodney now. Smh.

  2. Good luck to the young men!! Hoping to get online feed to watch the game..

  3. No financial accountability .. money coming easy from government ..

  4. Sad when teenagers realise their adult supervisors have clay feet. But I’m really struggling to understand how this could happen. The CFU would not pay for more than the number of registered players.
    So how could this error have happened? And why spend to fly in and house an injured player? Smh.

    • It will continue to happen until people stop taking gentle diplomatic stances. When governments realize that sport and culture are integral pieces of building a national psyche and therefore stop throwing good money behind bad administrative infrastructures.

      TTFF doesn’t work
      TTGF doesn’t work
      TTCB doesn’t work
      TUCO doesn’t work
      PANTRINBAGO doesn’t work

      On and on

  5. Lasana Liburd as I’ve said before, and sorry to sound like a stuck record, these things should not be happening! I’m not willing to take s gentle stance! I demand more- a lot more! We will not get wins and success on the field when these idiotic administration issues happen. At the highest levels success is only 10% talent – the rest is preparation which includes administration and administrators. We will continue to get our asses cut

  6. I am proud to see six(6) either current or former Naparima players on the 23-man squad including the skipper but why take Rondell Payne along as a Cheerleader when he could suit up for Naps like the Shiva Boys duo who allegedly misplaced passports to defy playing for the national team so as to pursue school glory.

    I had mentioned before that the SSFL should be producing the next generation of national players and any true patriot knows one must put Country first. It is the greatest honour for any athlete and school football should and in most instances concede to that. Naps, Pres, East Mucurapo and St. Anthony’s all comply.

    As for the TTFA’s myopic management by overloading the team, it is inconceivable and inexcusable that they did not understand the rules of the tournament. Why fly a concussed student from Canada to Curacao? Why take 3 extra players? In these recessionary and fiscally tight times, the wanton wastage of money by the administrators that be is appalling.

    What is even more astonishing is that no one will accept responsibility or be held accountable for this costly mistake. Wouldn’t it be prudent to have a Logistics Officer / Coordinator to handle these details?

    Perhaps President DJW can look at the organizational skills demonstrated by the consistently performing North and South school teams and even do some introspection at his own Alma Mater to see how the Team Manager and technical staff meticulously plan and coordinate to ensure challenges are overcome and then leave it all out on the field in the way it should be.

    There are viable solutions for this gross ineptitude but can guarantee that our penchant for excuses will mire our youth football in mediocrity unless proven systems and basic common sense can be implemented.