Passport problem KO‘s Keron; ‘Benjie’ drafted as Lawrence selects 19-man T&T squad

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FC Santa Rosa captain and forward Keron Clarke may miss out on the chance to make his senior international debut against Ecuador next Wednesday—at the ripe age of 31—after he failed to get passport issues resolved in time to travel to Guayaquil.

The Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team’s technical staff did not specified the problem with his travel documents.

Photo: FC Santa Rosa captain and forward Keron Clarke (centre) tries to pull off an ambitious move while Bethel FC attacker Jalanie James (right) looks on during TTSL One action at the Arima Velodrome on 18 June 2017.
(Courtesy Annalicia Caruth/Wired868)

Clarke was the first lower league player to earn a senior team call-up since Marcus Joseph, who was summoned by co-head coaches Hutson Charles and Jamaal Shabazz four years ago while campaigning in the Southern Football Association (SFA).

Clarke, by all accounts, acquitted himself well on the training ground with the Soca Warriors only to be thwarted by an off-field matter. However, there remains a possibility that he can travel with the squad if he can get his passport sorted on Monday before they depart on that same evening.

National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence will definitely head for South America without Keon Daniel, Rundell Winchester and Jomal Williams. According to the TTFA Media, Daniel and Winchester are ruled out through injury while Williams is awaiting a work permit renewal for his Mexican employers, Murciélagos FC, and cannot travel.

KFC Munch Pack

Curiously, despite the shortage of attacking options, Lawrence decided not to take along versatile 16-year-old attacking midfielder Isaiah Hudson, and drafted speedy winger Neil Benjamin, Jr into the travelling party instead.

Hudson and Benjamin are both W Connection players although ‘Benjie’ is a regular starter and the Pro League’s leading scorer while Hudson, a Naparima College student, is yet to tie down a starting spot for his club.

Photo: W Connection attacker Neil Benjamin Jr (left) tries to power past Pumas UNAM midfielder Alan Acosta during CONCACAF Champions League action in Couva on 3 August 2016.
Pumas won 4-2.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

In the end, Lawrence opted to keep Hudson waiting for his first senior international cap.

Versatile San Juan Jabloteh defender Akeem “Battery” Benjamin and teenaged defenders Taryk Sampson (Central FC) and Shane Sandy (St Ann’s Rangers) were the remaining players from Lawrence’s training squad who will not fly to Ecuador.

“It was good to have had a few of the younger ones involved in the training as it would no doubt be valuable experience for them,” Lawrence told the TTFA Media. “Unfortunately we have lost two wingers, hence we’ve brought in young Neil Benjamin into the squad. We’ll have one final session in Guayaquil on Tuesday ahead of what I expect will be a solid test for us on Wednesday.”

The Warriors travel with only one recognisable centre-forward in India-based forward Willis Plaza although Benjamin can deputise if necessary.

Plaza and defender Carlyle Mitchell, who are both registered to East Bengal FC, are the only overseas-based players in the travelling party. But Lawrence has selected a street-wise bunch who have all tasted international football before at either youth or club level.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago striker Willis Plaza (left) tries to keep the ball from Peru defender Alberto Rodriguez during international friendly action at the National stadium in Lima on 23 May 2016.
(Copyright Ernesto Benavides/AFP 2016/Wired868)

Veteran right-back Carlos Edwards is a survivor of the 2006 World Cup team while goalkeeper Marvin Phillip, defender Curtis Gonzales and midfielders Leston Paul and Sean De Silva have played in FIFA World Youth Cup competitions.

Phillip, Gonzales, Paul, De Silva, Mitchell and Plaza as well as winger Nathan Lewis and playmakers Hashim Arcia and Hughtun Hector have all already tasted 2018 World Cup qualifying action.

(T&T 19-man squad)

Goalkeepers: Marvin Phillip (Point Fortin Civic Centre), Andre Marchan (Defence Force);

Defenders: Alvin Jones (W Connection), Carlos Edwards (Central FC), Maurice Ford (W Connection), Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force), Carlyle Mitchell (East Bengal FC—India), Kevin Villaroel (North East Stars), Triston Hodge (W Connection);

Midfielders: Jared London (Club Sando), Leston Paul (North East Stars), Nathaniel Garcia (Central FC), Hughtun Hector (W Connection);

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Nathan Lewis (left) runs at Costa Rica defender Francisco Calvo during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action in San José on 13 June 2017. 
(Copyright AFP2017/Ezequiel Becerra)

Attacking midfielders: Nathan Lewis (San Juan Jabloteh), Neil Benjamin Jr (W Connection), Sean De Silva (Central FC), Hashim Arcia (Defence Force), Tyrone Charles (Club Sando);

Forwards: Willis Plaza (East Bengal FC—India).

Editor’s Note: Keron Clarke received a new passport on the morning of Monday 24 July and was immediately drafted in to travel to Guayaquil that same evening with the Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team.

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  2. That is nonsense. That is the easiest thing to have expedited and it can be done today for tomorrow.

  3. less than that if you know someone high up….

  4. Like is ah fete match squad. Passport problems? ??

  5. This place to backward them on real shit

  6. Big hard back man like them? Syrups.

  7. I believe he will be joining the team

  8. Nicholas Lopez , Trinidad football is so much filth.

  9. Passport problems? I cld understand visa problems, but not this. I agree…have to do better

  10. I’m sure if all his docs were ok, he could have gotten a passport. The TTFA has to do better..

  11. All you have to do is send a letter from the Ttfa to the comptroller of immigration and a national player passport will be expedited in 48 hrs its not rocket science

  12. He should have taken Hudson along for the exposure;yuh have old man Edwards doing what??

  13. Am suggesting that it is not a matter of whether one can obtain a passport in a day or two..It can be done in a day by certain authorities..I am asking if we have a national squad in training should not these things be investigated, given that travel is expected? What are managers/team officials for? Is it at selection time we are going to ask who has passports? Long ago in track and field the qualifier who could have afforded it made the team to travel.

    • Earl Best

      That’s the issue, of course, Rae. We’re a country without standards, without serious protocols, without any commitment to efficiency.

      “Oh what a country!” Kitch sang in the 1970s, “The vengeance of Moko go fall on this land.”
      How right he was; we’re now a certifiable banana republic.

  14. Lasana you can get a passport in a day or 2

  15. Maybe the national coach shall have his manager make enquiries about passports of everyone he is thinking about. I think you can have a passport within two weeks if you expedite it. I think…

    • I know/knew that in track and field and in cricket in times gone by the federation would handle these issues..One of the ways in to organise these matters for the youth players as soon as the are on the radar or assist them is so doing..Hard to imagine this happening in 21st century sport..They may be good reason though.

    • Without knowing for sure, I imagine Clarke thought his passport was good all along until it was too late to get a new one. He probably wasn’t aware that it wasn’t machine-readable?

      Don’t understand the one forward thing though??

    • Ridiculous that we continually have this issue. Apparently we don’t learn at all. Sad state of affairs that we cannot expedite a passport for a national called up to represent our country.

  16. I tired of these passport issues. De amount of them we’ve had over the years.

  17. Interesting team selection. Do you think Marcus Joseph may have been an oversight?

  18. Well Shane Sandy I guess you have to put in a little more work don’t give up

  19. I like Benjie. Glad to see him get a shot and hope he takes it Good luck to Sean and Nathaniel too. And about time for a goal from Willis!

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