Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence said the Soca Warriors will aim to compete when they kick off against Wales tomorrow from 3:45pm (7:45pm UK time) in an international friendly at the Racecourse ground in Wrexham.
Wales are ranked 19th in the world by FIFA and are playing at home while Trinidad and Tobago are 93rd and lost three of their last four outings against Iran, Thailand and Panama with their sole triumph coming against the United Arab Emirates.
However, Lawrence is pleased with his own roster as they prepare for the June 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup.
“We’re in the rebuilding stage because after we didn’t qualify for Russia we then immediately started to think about Qatar 2022 and to be able to do that we had to put a process in place,” Lawrence told the TTFA Media. “[…] We’ve got a young [squad] with some experienced players; a nice, mixed bunch at the moment. We’ve got players with some fantastic qualities; it’s now getting them to play as a team, to be in a professional manner and [to] all work for each other.
“The idea going into the game tomorrow is to compete because we want to compete against teams like Wales who are world class in my eyes. They’ve got world class talent in Gareth [Bale] and Aaron [Ramsey] and Joe Allen and Ashley [Williams] and all these boys.
“We are in that phase now where we need to compete against [teams like] these and see if we can put in the performances.”
Wales coach Ryan Giggs has already ruled out Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey from his squad tomorrow as well as the injured trio of Ethan Ampadu (Chelsea), Tom Lawrence (Derby County) and Sam Vokes (Stoke City). However, Wales still have Real Madrid star Gareth Bale—the sixth most expensive footballer of all time—at their disposal.
Lawrence, who was a Hall of Fame player for lower league outfit Wrexham AFC, has many happy memories at the Racecourse and hopes his players enjoy the occasion.
“In terms of our preparations I think we have done as much as we can,” said Lawrence. “We all arrived here safely and [there are] no injuries to report. The boys are looking forward to the game against Wales after a good afternoon session.
“This is my second home so it’s always great pleasure to be back… This club means a lot to me and I’ve got a good affiliation with the people [here]. The most exciting thing for me is I want the boys to get an experience of what this beautiful place can offer them; and the only way for them to do that is to be able to go and put in a performance.
“I’m excited and a bit emotional but looking forward to it all.”
One player who is looking forward to making an impact tomorrow is Israel-based 21 year old winger, Levi Garcia, who has not represented his country since their goalless draw away to Martinique on 25 March 2018, due to injury.
“It’s good to be back in the squad and I’m really honoured and thankful to have gotten the call again from coach Lawrence,” said Garcia. “It’s a big game for us and very important as part of the preparations for the Gold Cup. The mood has been good; we’ve had two good training sessions here and everyone is looking forward to putting in a strong performance in the match.”
The contest between Wales and Trinidad and Tobago will be aired live on Sky Sports.
Trinidad and Tobago squad:
Goalkeepers: Marvin Phillip (Central FC), Nicklas Frenderup (HB Koge—Denmark), Adrian Foncette (Police FC);
Defenders: Alvin Jones (W Connection), Aubrey David (Deportivo Saprissa—Costa Rica), Daneil Cyrus (Al Orobah—Saudi Arabia), Sheldon Bateau (Sarpsborg 08–Norway), Carlyle Mitchell (Unattached), Mekeil Williams (Oklahoma City Energy FC—USA), Triston Hodge (Memphis 901 FC—USA), Ross Russell Jr (Morvant Caledonia United);
Midfielders: Kevan George (Charlotte Independence—USA), Duane Muckette, Leston Paul (both Memphis 901 FC—USA), Neveal Hackshaw (Indy Eleven—USA), Akeem Humphrey (Club Sando), Khaleem Hyland (Al Faisaly FC—Saudi Arabia);
Attacking midfielders: Cordell Cato (Oklahoma City Energy FC—USA), Nathan Lewis (Lansing Ignite—USA), Levi Garcia (Kiryat Shmona—Israel), Lester Peltier (Al Orobah—Saudi Arabia);
Forward: Willis Plaza (Churchill Brothers—India).
Wales 24-man squad:
Goalkeepers: Wayne Hennessey (Crystal Palace), Danny Ward (Leicester), Adam Davies (Barnsley), Chris Maxwell (Charlton, on loan from Preston);
Defenders: Ashley Williams (Stoke, on loan from Everton), James Lawrence (Anderlecht), Chris Gunter (Reading), Neil Taylor (Aston Villa), Ben Davies (Tottenham), Connor Roberts (Swansea), Tom Lockyer (Bristol Rovers), Chris Mepham (Bournemouth), Paul Dummett (Newcastle), Declan John (Swansea);
Midfielders: Ryan Hedges (Barnsley), Joe Allen (Stoke), Ben Woodburn (Liverpool), Harry Wilson (Derby, on loan from Liverpool), Matt Smith (FC Twente, on loan from Manchester City), Lee Evans (Wigan), Will Vaulks (Rotherham), George Thomas (Scunthorpe, on loan from Leicester), David Brooks (Bournemouth), Daniel James (Swansea);
Forwards: Rabbi Matondo (Schalke), Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Tyler Roberts (Leeds).