Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence will have his full squad for less than 48 hours before Friday’s 2018 World Cup qualifier away to Mexico, due to the late arrival of United States-based ace midfielder Kevin Molino.
Molino was granted permission by the TTFA to represent his MLS employers, Minnesota United, in a league fixture against Atlanta United on Tuesday night. And he made the most of the opportunity too with the match winning goal in a 3-2 affair.
Veteran Trinidad and Tobago forward Kenwyne Jones, who was not invited to the current squad, played from the start for Atlanta.
Lawrence announced his intention to use Friday’s qualifier and next Tuesday’s match against the United States at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva to freshen up his squad.
“Rebuilding is the intention and it starts from the Mexico game,” Lawrence told the TTFA Media, “and with the introduction of young players [like Kathon St Hillaire and Josiah Trimmingham] as well as the likes of Levi Garcia, Akeem Roach and Jared London, the mission is clear.”
The National Senior Team coach said the upcoming matches will be the first step in their new goal of regaining top status in the Caribbean.
Mexico, who picked a full strength team with the likes of West Ham striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Real Betis playmaker Andres Guardado and LA Galaxy dynamo Giovani dos Santos, have no intention of making it easy for the Warriors.
The qualifier will be played at the Estadio Alfonso Lastras in San Luis Potosi, due to the recent earthquakes in Mexico City that ruled out the Azteca Stadium.
It will be the first time in this World Cup campaign that “El Tricolor” play outside of their famous Mexico City base. The Azteca holds 87,000 patrons and is located 7,200 feet above sea level while the Estadio Alfonso Lastras holds just 25,111 fans and has an elevation of 6,070 feet.
The Warriors trained without El Salvador-based midfielder Leston Paul and US-based defender Mekeil Williams on the instructions of team medic Dr Israel Dowlat.
Paul is recovering from a virus while Williams is nursing a minor ankle injury.
The National Senior Team have lost their last six straight matches—inclusive of five consecutive qualifying defeats—while the Warriors dropped 15 spots to 99th in the FIFA rankings since Lawrence’s appointment.
However, Lawrence, a former World Cup 2006 hero, said that he does not feel any pressure.
“The only pressure I am under is the pressure I put myself under,” said Lawrence, at a recent press conference. “As I have said before, when your work has direction and you know exactly what you’re gonna do, you don’t put yourself under pressure.
“When you become a head coach, you have to be sure about what you are doing and I am 100 percent sure.”
(Trinidad and Tobago team)
Goalkeepers: Adrian Foncette (Police FC), Greg Ranjitsingh (Louisville City FC—USA), Glenroy Samuel (Morvant Caledonia Utd);
Defenders: Alvin Jones (W Connection), Mekeil Williams (Colorado Rapids—USA), Daneil Cyrus (Juticalpa FC—Honduras), Triston Hodge (W Connection), Kevon Villaroel (North East Stars), Josiah Trimmingham (Club Sando);
Midfielders: Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force), Leston Paul (CD Pasaquina—El Salvador), Khaleem Hyland (Al-Faisaly Harmah—Saudi Arabia), Kevan George (Jacksonville Armada—USA), Jared London (Club Sando);
Attacking midfielders: Joevin Jones (Seattle Sounders—USA), Kevin Molino (Minnesota United—USA), Nathan Lewis (San Juan Jabloteh), Neil Benjamin (W Connection), Kathon St Hillaire (St Ann’s Rangers), Levi Garcia (AZ Alkmaar—Netherlands);
Forwards: Shahdon Winchester (Murciélagos FC—Mexico), Trevin Caesar (Sacramento Republic—USA), Akeem Roach (CD Vida—Honduras).