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No Kenwyne or Levi; Lawrence selects 26-man squad to rescue T&T’s WC campaign

Trinidad and Tobago head coach Dennis Lawrence will try to engineer a route to the Russia 2018 World Cup without the services of team captain Kenwyne Jones and Netherlands-based winger Levi Garcia both of whom were omitted from his 26-man squad for critical qualifiers against Honduras and Panama on 1 and 5 September respectively.

Jones has not returned to full fitness since a knee injury sustained in training before kick-off away to Costa Rica on 14 June. No reason was offered for the omission of teenaged AZ Alkmaar winger Levi Garcia, the promising attacker who has so far been used sparingly by the National Senior Team coach.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (left) tries to escape from Dominican Republic right-back Carlos Martínez during 2017 Caribbean Cup qualifying action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 5 October 2016.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

Garcia played for 26 minutes in the Soca Warriors’ 1-0 win over Panama on 24 March but was an unused substitute in their subsequent 1-0 loss to Mexico and has not been available since then. Garcia eclipsed Dwight Yorke as the youngest Trinidad and Tobago player to score in a European top-flight match last year and bagged a double on his senior international debut against St Vincent and the Grenadines on 25 March 2016—although he has not scored for his country since then.

Wired868 understands Alkmaar are happy to have the player remain in Netherlands although there is no indication yet that the club played any role in his absence.

Lawrence told the TTFA Media that he believes his squad consists of the best players available.

“After a proper assessment of the players who have been with us and also those have been involved with their clubs overseas,” said Lawrence, “we’ve selected a squad that we believed is the best one at the moment that can get us the result we are working towards.”

Almost certainly, Trinidad and Tobago will rely on the offensive capabilities of the United States-based duo of attacking midfielder Kevin Molino (Minnesota United) and winger Joevin Jones (Seattle Sounders) to find a way past Honduras and Panama. Anything less than six points and the Warriors can wave goodbye to their fading Russia dreams.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago playmaker Kevin Molino (left) celebrates his goal against Costa Rica with teammate Joevin Jones during 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the National Stadium in San José on 13 June 2017.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images/Wired868)

Molino managed two goals in four outings under Lawrence. Joevin is yet to score for the Warriors in 2017 but is the team’s most dangerous player on the break.

The pacy Jamille Boatswain is a potential wildcard. Boatswain has made a slow start to life in Costa Rica so far with two barren substitute appearances for Alajuelense—both as a winger rather than at centre-forward—while he was an unused substitute last weekend.

Alajuelense changed coaches during the week with former Costa Rica international Wílmer López replacing Spaniard Benito Floro; one of López’s first acts was to leave Boatswain out of his match-day squad entirely.

A good showing from Boatswain against two strong Latin American nations, Honduras and Panama, might be as beneficial to his country as for his professional career.

Lawrence has hedged his bets by including diminutive forward Trevin Caesar after his returns of six goals from 20 matches for United States Third Division team, Sacramento Republic. India-based forward Willis Plaza and Club Sando attacker Tyrone Charles remain in the squad too, despite recent underwhelming showings.

 

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Jamille Boatswain (centre) is denied by a remarkable Keilor Navas save while Costa Rica defender Michael Umaña looks on during 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the National Stadium in San José on 13 June 2017.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images/Wired868)

Charles managed a combined 37 minutes in Trinidad and Tobago’s last two friendlies against Ecuador and Jamaica—despite the Warriors being under-strength—and is yet to start for Lawrence. And Plaza played second fiddle to TTSL forward Keron Clarke in Guayaquil last month.

Clarke is currently recovering from a broken ankle although, owing to his faith as a Seventh Day Adventist, he had already ruled himself out the Honduras fixture.

Shahdon Winchester also missed out on an international call-up after failing to make the match-day squad of his Mexico Second Division employers, Murciélagos FC, in recent weeks.

Lawrence also left out England-based midfielder Andre Boucaud—who has played a total of 25 minutes from a possible 360 under Lawrence—while Defence Force playmaker Hashim Arcia was axed and United States-based midfielders Ataulla Guerra and Neveal Hackshaw were again overlooked.

Although the T&T’s attacking options look thin, the Warriors look better served at the back, with goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams and Daneil Cyrus adapting well to life in Honduras with Juticalpa FC.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams (centre) fends away a shot from United States forward Jozy Altidore during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at Commerce City on 8 June 2017.
Looking on (from right to left) are Sheldon Bateau, Daneil Cyrus and Christian Pulisic.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images/Wired868)

And the resurgence of Carlyle Mitchell means there is an abundance of riches in central defence where Lawrence can choose between Cyrus, Mitchell, Curtis Gonzales, Mekeil Williams, Sheldon Bateau, Radanfah Abu Bakr, Triston Hodge and Aubrey David—although Gonzales has featured as a holding midfielder of late.

David, Hodge and Mekeil can also play at full-back, where the Warriors included Kevon Villaroel and Alvin Jones, who both started against Ecuador and Jamaica.

Lawrence, who has failed to win in his last six matches as head coach, promised to work hard on the training ground to turn things around over the coming five days.

“The week ahead will be crucial with regards to the build-up to the match. We have a couple of the overseas boys already here with us along with the home-based players and the others will start coming in this weekend,” said Lawrence. “We will put in the work with the boys over the next few days to try to ensure that we are prepared as best as possible for what is ahead of us come Friday against Honduras.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago left-back Kevon Villaroel (right) tries to escape from Jamaica midfielder Ewan Grandison during international friendly action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on 24 August 2017.
(Courtesy Matthew Lee Kong/CA-images/Wired868)

(Trinidad and Tobago 26-man Squad)

Jan Michael Williams (Juticalpa FC—Honduras), Adrian Foncette (Police FC), Marvin Phillip (Point Fortin Civic Centre);

Defenders: Aubrey David (PS Khemi—Finland), Alvin Jones (W Connection), Mekeil Williams (Colorado Rapids—USA), Carlyle Mitchell (East Bengal—India), Radanfah Abu Bakr (Sūduva Marijampolė—Lithuania), Sheldon Bateau (FC Kairat—Kazakhstan), Daneil Cyrus (Juticalpa FC—Honduras), Triston Hodge (W Connection), Kevon Villaroel (North East Stars);

Midfielders: Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force), Leston Paul (CD Pasaquina—El Salvador), Khaleem Hyland (Al-Faisaly Harmah—Saudi Arabia), Kevan George (Jacksonville Armada—USA), Hughtun Hector (W Connection);

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Hughtun Hector (left) tries to drive the ball past Jamaica captain Michael Binns during international friendly action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on 24 August 2017.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

Attacking midfielders: Joevin Jones (Seattle Sounders—USA), Kevin Molino (Minnesota United—USA), Cordell Cato (San Jose Earthquakes—USA), Jomal Williams (Murciélagos FC—Mexico), Nathan Lewis (San Juan Jabloteh), Tyrone Charles (Club Sando);

Forwards: Jamille Boatswain (Alajuelense—Costa Rica), Willis Plaza (East Bengal—India), Trevin Caesar (Sacramento Republic—USA)

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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147 comments

  1. My value whether these idiots qualify or not is not doing anything to enhance my life either way

  2. So how is all this negativity adding value to your life bro?

  3. I will until the shit stops if you guys happy with what going on hats off to you

  4. Spewing negativity again Dion?!?

  5. That’s the reason the football in the mess it in because we continue to condone and settle for shit well good luck with all your big team and when the reality sinks in and the doomed campaign is over adios

  6. Rain fall in real hard so WiFi droping

  7. It’s about time they drop Jones from that side

  8. Allyuh know David John Williams does pick de side right?!! Look geh Mark Bassant to do some undercover reporting and bring some shit to the light nah so we can finally be rid of that FAT BASTARD!!!

  9. Why de fuc Kevan George does get pick over Bouchard. De man doe even look like a footballer dred, let de man go play some checkers with Foncette nah!! Bring de Indian goalie Ranjitsingh and DE ENFORCER Bouchard and then we will have a better chance at making World Cup again.

  10. He doesn’t like Levi Garcia even when he was healthy which is disappointing.

  11. Levi is a gd player and we will miss his talent but tank god no Jones we might have a chance new

  12. I am shock that Levi Boucad Guerra Hackshaw could not get make the side these are more verstalie than Gonzales George Charles but I wonder who does pick the squad john Williams but I am Trini to d bone like u all I will be in the Ato Boldon supporting the boys red white and black all the way come on ppl support

  13. Guerra or Boucard should always be in a Trinidad and Tobago football team once available.

  14. Good choice to leave Kenyan Jones out I wish the rest of the team all the best and good luck on the road to Russia 18 .

  15. It can’t be rescued what shit they talking

  16. Ah hear Max Cuffie say Saintfiet coming back

  17. Well i hope they prepare without my south boy #shivaboysplayer

  18. n kenwyne…thnk God…..no Levi…SAY WHATTTTTTTTT!!!!

  19. 13 or more players playing between USL or NASL, easy to scout as USL all games live stream and NASL games on BEIN but we have 7 plays from the league that everyone agrees is not a Pro League heading to a do or die WCQ. SMH

  20. Kevan George Jacksonville
    Jonathan Glenn NCFC
    Kareem Moses NCFC

  21. In Dennis’ defence though, Levi hasn’t produced anything resembling a match winning performance in some time. I think he is still easily good enough to be in this squad.
    But I’d also say that it is not the same thing as if he had dropped Kevin Molino or even Joevin Jones or Jan-Michael Williams.

  22. I would not say Kenwyne days as a T&T player is over…but there are guys out there who are hungry to make their mark..

  23. You guy’s still thinking world cup, come on get real.

  24. Sad to see Aikim Andrews and Ataullah Guerra disappear from view. He looked promising.
    I see Honduras doesn’t think Carlo Costly is too old at 35. Like Cornell Glen is a different kind of 35. :-/

  25. Also Ataulla Guerra and Andre Bocaud should be there in place of Kevan George and Curtis Gonzales

  26. It’s ludicrous to leave out Levi Garcia who should be starting on one wing with Joevin Jones on the next wing

  27. Thank you Darron Davis. Dion yuh does harp on too much negativity bro.

  28. Come dion take it down a gear homie

  29. No Levi? That non-selection really is baffling me :/

  30. Would be interesting to hear reason Levi Garcia was not selected… he is our present, and definitely our future… we know he is fit as he played today…..

  31. No Kenwyne….agree.
    Nice Levi….disagree

  32. The India league is not more competitive than USL. A real slap in the face for those players in USL and Central America. The powerful India National Team just tied 1-1 at home vs St. Kitts & Nevis. That speaks volume about the level of India league.

  33. Our most promising young player has been left off the team. He’s not injured he came off the bench today for his club. Why did the media not ask the coach why he is not on the team ?????

  34. It is what t is and everybody can’t get selected…but it’ll be interesting to know which current TnT player plays — and trains — with the “biggest” as in most recognized team world wide?

    We can say Joevin but I’m not sure people “rate” MLS teams? In any event, if said player on said team is injured then I understand, but if he isn’t, then wtf?!?!?!

  35. The aim is to to have speedy players up front. Caesar and Plaza were a hand- full for Honduras in November.

  36. Its cool let him don’t pick Levi let him concentrate on his club form and don’t waste time on this failure of a national team campaign

  37. Conflicting report on Kenwyne’s fitness from the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

    Striker Kenwyne Jones, who suffered an injury with the Trinidad and Tobago national team the last time he was called up earlier this summer, finally is healthy and could also be brought into the team.
    http://www.ajc.com/sports/atlanta-united-players-called-national-teams/o3ya6LI2WBXb0XNCJP1HaP/

  38. Good that he picked Ceasar based on his USL form – but struggling to understand why Hacksaw & Guerra were overlooked, considering their team mate at Charlestown Battery, Romario Williams was key in Jamaicas gold cup final run

    A clear explanation for Garcia’s absence is also needed – too important a player for that not to happen

  39. Sorry to say Gonzales is not the replacement for boucaud,for a midfilder he makes to many passes to reach the intended target when he could have done it with 1 personally I don’t think none of the mid has the composure like boucaud

  40. We have to hope Boatswain is the answer yes

  41. This is a “try to score early then defend the rest of the match” kinda squad?

  42. So is Gonzales supposed to be Boucaud’s replacement?

  43. Boucaud … what ya do Tallest?