Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Tom Saintfiet will have W Connection winger Aikim Andrews and United States-based midfield hardman Kevan George available tomorrow, as the Soca Warriors face Nicaragua in the second outing of a two-game series in Managua.
Kick off on Friday is at 8:30pm (TT time).
The Soca Warriors lost 2-1 on Tuesday night—their first ever loss to Nicaragua—with George unavailable and Andrews stuck in Trinidad due to a passport issue, which was only discovered on the day of the team’s departure from Piarco.
Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) vice-president Ewing Davis, who is the chef de mission, was also blanked at the airport after his passport was flagged due to its expiry date. Davis landed in Managua on Wednesday night as well.
India-based striker Cornell Glen, who made his first international appearance in three years off the bench on Tuesday, hopes to get more playing time tomorrow.
“I felt good being back,” Glen told the TTFA Media. “It’s a young team with a lot of new faces [and] a new coach with different tactics but, all in all, it was good for me being back and playing with the boys again.
“I kept playing and I stayed positive over the years. Hopefully in the next game, I can get some more playing time and I show the coach what I can still offer.”
Glen said the Warriors are at an experimental stage now and suggested that Saintfiet—a former coach at Bangladesh, Malawi, Yemen, Togo and Namibia—did not encourage much improvisation from his players. However, he believes Trinidad and Tobago can still go on to qualify for the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup and 2018 World Cup tournaments.
“Coach is a very disciplined coach and there is not a lot of room for improvisation,” said Glen. “[…] We have to stay focused and confident that we can still achieve and realise our ambitions of Gold Cup and World Cup qualification. We have a lot of players to come in still and I think once we can gel and fit in with the coach’s tactics then we can definitely be successful again.
“The coach is in a bit of an experimental stage right now and people on the outside looking in maybe thinking: ‘Hey, we lost to Nicaragua and that is unacceptable.’
“But, at the same time, we are working on new stuff and trying a new system and that’s what it’s all about right now.”
For his part, Saintfiet said his main goal remains next month’s Gold Cup play off matches against Suriname and Haiti on 4 and 8 January respectively. However, the Belgian coach suggested that there will be tactical adjustments tomorrow and he is hoping for a result.
“The aim is still to prepare the team for Suriname and Haiti and then later Panama and Mexico,” Saintfiet told the TTFA Media. “The main target is not a result but a good preparation as we have to qualify for Gold Cup and World Cup but it would be nice that for our players—for the hard work that they have put in, the discipline and commitment they have—[to] get a good result on Friday.
“I really hope this for the boys because they have done everything for the country.”
Hashim Arcia scored Trinidad and Tobago’s lone goal on Tuesday, which marked Saintfiet’s debut as Warriors coach.
(Trinidad and Tobago 21-man squad)
Goalkeepers: Adrian Foncette (Police FC), Glenroy Samuel (Ma Pau Stars);
Defenders: Carlos Edwards (Ma Paul Stars), Carlyle Mitchell (Seoul E-Land—Korea Republic), Radanfah Abu Bakr (Sillamae Kallen—Estonia), Daneil Cyrus, Maurice Ford (both W Connection), Aubrey David (Deportivo Saprissa—Costa Rica),
Midfielders: Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force), Alvin Jones, Hughtun Hector (both W Connection), Kevan George (Jacksonville Armada—USA);
Attacking midfielders: Aikim Andrews (W Connection), Trevin Caesar (Orange County Blues—USA), Hashim Arcia (Defence Force), Jomal Williams (Murcielagos FC), Nathan Lewis, Tyrone Charles (both San Juan Jabloteh);
Forwards: Akeem Roach (Club Sando), Shahdon Winchester (Murcielagos FC—Mexico), Cornell Glen (Ozone FC Bengalaru—India).
Technical staff: Tom Saintfiet (head coach), Jamaal Shabazz (assistant coach), Lukas Wojciak (goalkeeper coach), Riedoh Berdien (trainer), Dr Terence Babwah (doctor), Dave Isaac (paramedic), Michael Williams (equipment manager), Shaun Fuentes (press officer), Azaad Khan (interim manager), Ewing Davis (chef de mission).
Editor’s Note: Tickets for next month’s Gold Cup playoffs are on sale at all Lotto Locations nationwide at TT$50 (adults) and TT$20 (children).
Fans can purchase season tickets for all three playoff matches, which includes the clash between Suriname and Haiti on 6 January, at TT$100 (adults) and $45 (children). TTFA Season Pass holders can access the games at no additional cost.