Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Dennis Lawrence is asking players to stake their claim for a 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup place tomorrow morning when the Soca Warriors face Iran in international friendly action at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran.
The match kicks off at 10:30am TT time (6pm in Tehran). The game will be carried live on I95.5FM and fans can view the live stream at: https://mycujoo.tv/video/iran?id=29452.
Iran gave a decent account of themselves at the Russia 2018 World Cup when they held Portugal 1-1 and came within a whisker of a second round place. Lawrence described their Asian opponents, who are coached by Portuguese veteran Carlos Quieroz, as a “very competitive and very aggressive team in a positive way.”
The Warriors are coming off a 1-0 loss to Thailand last month.
“We expect it to be a very, very tough game because the Iranian football team is a fantastic team at the moment,” Lawrence told the TTFA Media. “[…] But we’ve come, we’re mentally focused and we are going to give it our best to get a performance in first and foremost and hopefully the performance gives us a result.
“The players that are here are here to take the opportunity… We’re preparing for the Gold Cup in June and this is part of our preparation and so the opportunity is there for these players to stake their claim and to put in a performance.”
Trinidad and Tobago defender Sheldon Bateau said the squad is settled and harmonious and hope to finish the year on a positive note. And he credited Lawrence’s work with the team over close to two years.
“I think any transition takes time; he’s been here a while now and it’s difficult for him because we only have five days together within each window,” said Bateau. “He’ll give a little bit more information at every camp. He will not offload a lot at one time because it’s also difficult for us as players.
“He implements something new in every camp and it’s a young and ambitious team, taking in what the coach is giving to us. Dennis has played at this level before and I myself, looked up to him when he played.
“When he gives information the players take it a bit differently. We can trust that whatever he gives is something we can use that can help us as a team.”
One new addition for the Warriors is Denmark-born goalkeeper Nicklas Frederup, who is eligible to represent Trinidad and Tobago through his mother, who is from San Fernando.
“It’s good to [meet the players] face to face because I have been following them,” said Frederup. “I have been trying to join the team for a long time and I am happy now that I have gotten the opportunity from coach Lawrence. It’s a big dream for me and hopefully I can settle in and make a valuable contribution to the team.”
At today’s press conference, Lawrence was asked by an Iranian reporter whether Trinidad and Tobago had a player in the mould of 2006 World Cup captain Dwight Yorke. The Warriors coach confessed that the two island republic is not what it once was as a football nation.
“I don’t think we have a player at that level,” said Lawrence. “Dwight Yorke won the Champions League and the Premier League… So the idea now is for us to put together as a group and develop our younger talent to get them back to that level.
“[…] We are going to create the Dwight Yorkes, the Stern Johns, the Russell Latapys and the Marvin Andrews over a number of years; but for now it’s all about baby steps.”
A special guest for tomorrow’s international match is the wife of former Trinidad and Tobago defender Jlloyd Samuel, Helia Sahimi.
The Iranian Football Federation agreed to have a minute silence before kick off tomorrow in honour of former Trinidad and Tobago defender Jlloyd Samuel, who played in Iran for three years and died in a car crash in May. Samuel’s former employer, Esteghlal, plays at the Azadi Stadium where the international friendly will be staged.
Samuel’s Iranian wife, Helia Sahimi, received special permission to attend the contest although Iranian women are not generally permitted to football matches.
(Trinidad and Tobago team)
Goalkeepers: 22.Adrian Foncette (Police FC), 1.Marvin Phillip (Central FC), 21.Nicklas Frenderup (Sandnes ULF—Norway);
Defenders: 4.Sheldon Bateau (FC Kairat—Kazakhstan), 5.Daneil Cyrus (Al-Orobah FC—Saudi Arabia), 2.Aubrey David (Vaasan Palloseura FC—Finland), 15.Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force), 18.Triston Hodge (W Connection), 6.Keston Julien (AS Trencin FC—Slovakia), 16.Alvin Jones (W Connection);
Midfielders: 12.Akeem Humphrey (Club Sando), 8.Khaleem Hyland (Al Faisaly FC—Saudi Arabia), 13.Duane Muckette, 23.Leston Paul (Central FC);
Attacking midfielders: 10.Ataulla Guerra (Charleston Battery—USA), 3.Joevin Jones (Darmstadt 98—Germany), 9.Nathan Lewis (Indy Eleven FC—USA), 21.Jomal Williams (W Connection), 7.Cordell Cato (Charlotte Independence—USA), 11.Lester Peltier (Club Al Mujazzal—Saudi Arabia);
Forward: 17.Isaiah Lee (Munroe Community College—USA).
Staff: Dennis Lawrence (head coach), Stuart Charles-Fevrier (assistant coach), Stern John (assistant coach), Ross Russell (goalkeeper coach), Israel Dowlat (doctor), Dave Isaac (medic), Saron Joseph (therapist), Sam Huggins (trainer), Michael Williams (equipment manager), Shaun Fuentes (media officer), Richard Piper (manager).