Mexico-based attacking midfielder Jomal Williams will be the last addition to the Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team in Guayaquil today as the Soca Warriors prepare for a South American warm-up challenge from Ecuador from 8.30pm (TT time) tomorrow.
Williams was initially ruled out owing to delays in processing his work visa to rejoin second division club, Murciélagos FC. However, the 23-year-old former W Connection ace received his documents yesterday and has been cleared to suit up for his country.
Williams’ lone international goal thus far came in South America last year, as he scored in a 3-1 friendly loss to Uruguay in Montevideo under then coach Stephen Hart.
Trinidad and Tobago coach Dennis Lawrence facilitated the late inclusions of Williams and FC Santa Rosa forward Keron Clarke by ‘resting’ veteran 2006 World Cup wing-back Carlos Edwards. It means the Warriors kept their travelling squad to 20 players.
The exhibition game in Guayaquil is outside the FIFA international match calendar and both teams are under-strength.
Ecuador coach Gustavo Quinteros selected a 23-man squad without household names but crammed with professional talent from his country’s domestic league. Barcelona goalkeeper Máximo Banguera and Emelec midfielder Pedro Quiñónez, who have 29 and 22 caps respectively, were the only call-ups with more than a dozen previous international outings under their belts.
But the Warriors still anticipate a stiff challenge from Ecuador, who are ranked 31st in the world by FIFA and whose local club, LDU Quito, won the Copa Libertadores title just nine years ago.
Among the Ecuadorian players to keep an eye on are playmaker José Cevallos, who was snapped up by Italian champions Juventus within days of his 18th birthday in 2013—although, a year later, he returned to Ecuador without managing an appearance in the Serie A.
Still just 22, Cevallos debuted for the Ecuador National Senior Team in February at the Estadio George Capwell in Guayaquil and his international record reads one cap and one goal in a 3-1 friendly win over Honduras.
San Juan Jabloteh winger Nathan Lewis, who helped his team to silver in the 2017 Caribbean Club Championship, was part of the contingent that Hart took to South America last year. And he expects Ecuador to try and pin them them back early.
“It’s going to be a very strong test for us because every team in South America tends to play good, attacking football,” Lewis told the TTFA Media, “and that is why we are here, to get the best possible test on the day.
“We know that the bigger focus is the Honduras match but this match will give us a good chance to put our thoughts and our efforts together to get things right in time for September.”
Lawrence and goalkeeper Marvin Phillip reiterated that tomorrow’s challenge should be beneficial to the country’s 2018 World Cup hopes.
“We will go into this game with a positive mindset and obviously looking to execute our game plan,” Lawrence said. “It’s a good test for us and again in international football there are no easy games. But this is all part of our preparations for the two World Cup qualifiers in September.”
Phillip is also looking forward to a good show from the Warriors and urged the newcomers to show their stuff.
“We have some new faces in the squad but all very capable of showing up with solid performances,” said Phillip. “The coach has selected a team based on what he is looking for to add to the squad for the qualifiers in September.
“The preparations have gone well over the past week and I expect we will see a good brand of football and tidy performance from the team against what I expect to be a proper opponent on the night.”
T&T 20-man squad
Goalkeepers: Marvin Phillip (Point Fortin Civic), Andre Marchan (Defence Force);
Defenders: Alvin Jones (W Connection), Carlyle Mitchell (East Bengal FC), Maurice Ford (W Connection), Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force), Triston Hodge (W Connection), Kevin Villaroel (North East Stars);
Midfielders: Jared London (Club Sando), Leston Paul (North East Stars), Nathaniel Garcia (Central FC), Hughtun Hector (W Connection);
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), Jomal Williams (Murcielagos FC);
Forwards: Willis Plaza (East Bengal FC), Keron Clarke (Santa Rosa FC).