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Lawrence concerned about fitness; only seven Soca Warriors active with Wales looming

Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence admitted to concerns about match fitness, as he prepares to selects his final squad to face Wales in a friendly international on 20 March in Wrexham.

Lawrence, whose contract was recently extended to mid-2021, identified the fitness—or lack there of—of his players as his major worry leading into the high profile encounter. Wales currently sit 74 places above the Soca Warriors outfit in the FIFA ranking and boast household names like Real Madrid star Gareth Bale and Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey in their ranks.

Photo: Wales and Real Madrid star Gareth Bale.

“I think we all understand how difficult it is because we have been out for a long period of time without any competitive games,” Lawrence told the media. “So the idea was to try and start a training programme as quick as possible to try and get them up to any level.

“The emphasis over the last week has been to get them some sort of fitness…. so we are still a little bit in the volume stage but we have to get them integrated with the football as quick as possible; because we are going to play against players that have had twenty five games in the English Premier League plus.

“It’s not going to be easy.”

Lawrence said the players who are in active competition at the moment would be the first names in the squad for the upcoming affair. But that list is not as extensive as it was when he was a player.

“[Players in season] are going to be one of the main contributors in the squad selection,” said Lawrence. “I don’t think we got too many who are in season and I think, if we take away the boys who are in Saudi Arabia, [we have] Joevin [Jones] who is involved in Germany [and] Levi [Garcia] who is in Israel.

“Apart from that I think everyone else is in pre-season [or] off season.”

From the 21-man squad that lost 1-0 to Iran in the friendly on 15 November, only Daneil Cyrus, Lester Peltier (both Al-Orobah FC—Saudi Arabia), Aubrey David (Deportivo Saprissa—Costa Rica), Khaleem Hyland (Al Faisaly FC—Saudi Arabia) and Joevin Jones (Darmstadt 98—Germany) are active at the moment. Keston Julien has not played for Slovakian club AS Trencin FC in 2019 while uncapped goalkeeper Nicklas Frenderup only recently joined HB Koge in Denmark.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago utility player Joevin Jones in action for Darmstadt 98 in the German second tier competition.

Police FC goalkeeper Adrian Foncette admitted that trying to regain the required fitness level for the game has been difficult.

“It’s been rough for the first few days but we getting into the groove of things,” said Foncette. “It’s really important to have games like this leading up to the Gold Cup. It’s one of the biggest tournaments that we in the Caribbean here play in outside of the World Cup.”

And while they may not be spending happy time on the savannah grass during the Carnival season, Foncette believes it’s worth the sacrifice in the long run.

“It’s always a bit tough [training through Carnival] but I think that we have a common goal, which is first off the Wales game and then the bigger picture which is the Gold Cup in June,” he said. “So as hard as it might be—yeah we are home and around everything that is going on right now—but we just need to buckle down.”

Lawrence spoke of his pleasure at his contract renewal, which he felt maintains continuity as the Warriors go into the second phase of his two tier plan of progression and development. The 2022 Qatar World Cup is the ultimate goal.

United States-based attacking midfielder Ataulla Guerra, who returned to the team last September after a three-year absence, is happy with his part in the current set up.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Ataulla Guerra (left) takes on Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano during an international friendly in Buenos Aires on 4 June 2014.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Daniel Garcia)

“Preparation wise, we have been working hard, very hard,” said Guerra. “The coach has a certain philosophy that he wants us to work on and we have been trying hard to get that in our game and try to work on our defensive game.

“We have been trying to keep the ball a lot and put that into our game. They let me play my football, give me an opportunity to play forward and don’t try to stifle my game in any aspect.

“If I can go forward, he gives me the privilege to go and to come back and help the defence. It’s a free role and I enjoy playing that football for coach Lawrence and [Charleston Battery] coach Michael Anhaeuser.”

Guerra expects an intense test in Wales.

“[It] is a big challenge for us like the Iran game,” he said. “It’s a team that we expect to be very physical and [play] a high intensity, fast paced football game. We need to get a result.”

Lawrence said he will select his final squad closer to 20 March.

About Amiel Mohammed

Amiel Mohammed
Amiel Mohammed is a sports enthusiast and has worked in communications for Central FC and the Women's Premier League TT. He has also pioneered numerous projects geared towards creating opportunities for the differently abled such as the Differently-Abled Football Camp 2015 and Focus Football Coaching Academy.

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45 comments

  1. I’m patriotic to my heart I’m not wanting T&T to win I’m expecting them to win or put on an excellent showing

  2. USL name 10 Top defenders to watch for 2019, only one eligible for Dennis

    https://www.uslchampionship.com/news_article/show/997051

    • REAL MONARCHS SLC – NOAH POWDER
      Since he broke into the USL Championship for the 2016 USL Cup champion New York Red Bulls II, there’s been all kinds of promise shown by Trinidad & Tobago full back Noah Powder, and at just 20 years old it could be the moment for him to take the next step forward in his young career as he joins the Monarchs for the new season. After recording 22 appearances and two assists for Orange County SC as it topped the Western Conference, Powder is one of the new arrivals at Zions Bank Stadium tasked with keeping the Monarchs in the frame for silverware after a busy offseason of departures and arrivals in Real’s squad.

    • Wow. Congrats Sean. I thought Noah was such an obvious talent at U-20 level for T&T and I’m surprised he hasn’t gotten a peep yet.
      If it is one area we are weak it, it’s at full back (a close second is centre forward. Noah can play either flank. Hope he gets a shot soon.

    • Bird…a close second…we have a number of decent full backs to choose from…how many decent strikers we can choose from…Caesar?? Who else??

    • Ancil, the only in-form striker we have is Willis Plaza.

    • Ancil I would say we have generally been using central defenders at full back over the last two years. But I suppose we can’t even do that at centre forward.
      Nigel Myers what about Marcus Joseph? Guess you will have to count him as a centre forward too in these austerity times. Lol.

    • Lasana, yuh just illustrate how barren we are at the striker position. And I eh know what is Marus scene, but he just hasn’t done it for the national team,

    • Nigel that’s true. Although Marcus usually played on the flank for Trinidad and he doesn’t like there. The boy can cross and shoot and should make a decent inverted flanker. But he only wants to play at 9 or 10. And, honestly, he isn’t better than Molino, Guerra or Cummings at 10 and I’m not sure he has the upper body strength to play as a 9 against the top Concacaf teams.

    • Boy anything to make the national team if i was him

  3. USL season begins on March 8th so many of these players have gone through the riggers of pre-season and played at least 4 competitive 90 minute matches. We will see how many get called.

  4. The USL based players have completed their preseasons and in the case of the Battery the1st NT appearance.

  5. They need to maybe follow the footsteps of Coach Gally Cummings and always make certain that they have two teams always in training an A and B team like back in the Strike Squad days and in this way the young upcoming stars will get their chances to represent Them really good yes

  6. Well we eh now wake up and realise we have this game. I think the off season players should have been working individually on their fitness. That being said we need to start buckling down and then consideration has to be given to the cold Welsh weather…so it’s challenging. But that’s whats required for development going forward.

  7. Men’s Senior Team Head Coach Dennis Lawrence speaks to the Media after the first week of preparations ahead of the Friendly against Wales on March 20th.


  8. Tony Maxwell Hatt I will never understand in a million years that these nowadays ex professional players/ wannabe coaches represented our sweet country then went abroad and played professionally eh have been around the real professional teams and coaches eh and now returns to our sweet country and they continues to fail miserably when selected to coach our national teams eh Them really good yes

  9. Isn’t it about time as a National Coach you give players an off season program to follow and monitor it with daily or weekly reports.. I mean really.. players have Garmin and Strava which he can access to see what they are doing… fitness wise. Like Earl Mango Pierre says.. bootleg coaches…

  10. Any idea on the criteria used for selecting the provisional training squad?

  11. Lasana, a couple of things:

    1. Typo! Gareth Ramsey should be Aaron Ramsey
    2. Lester Peltier is now at Al-Orobah FC, same club as Daneil Cyrus
    3. Keston Julien has only made 3 appearances for his club this season, with the most recent one being last October.
    4. Nicklas Frenderup has not been active since November (the end of the season in Norway). He only signed with HB Køge earlier this month.

  12. Now is Carnival time and No Pro League playing what did he expect??Only in T&T yes!!

  13. I would have gladly whipped them in shape but TTFA don’t like to pay Lasana Liburd

  14. So why is the Coach hutting up is head about the fitness ,he really expects to win any games going forward eh Them really good yes.

    • To be fair to the coach, you really expect a professional like him to put his worst foot forward in preparations?

    • Well he shudda make certain that right after the professional league in our sweet country had ended , some of the players should have been called up for training even right through the carnival season knowing that some of the overseas players wasnt playing any top of the line football, when will they ever get the message eh
      Them really good yes

  15. Hannibal Najjar

    NOOP! noop!