The Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team will start their campaign without leading goalscorer Kevin Molino, after the ace midfielder was ruled out with a hamstring strain suffered on pre-season duty with new MLS employers, Columbus Crew.
The Soca Warriors play Guyana on 25 March in the Dominican Republic and then Puerto Rico in Mayaguez, for their opening two Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying assignments.
Molino, who has scored 21 goals from 50 international appearances, will be a big miss. The most prolific scorer in head coach Terry Fenwick’s 26-man travelling squad is Terminix La Horquetta Rangers forward Willis Plaza, who has seven international goals from seven starts and 22 substitute appearances.
Plaza’s last goal in the red, black and white uniform was five years ago, when he scored a double in a 4-2 loss away to China.
Despite Molino’s absence and a shortage of goalscoring pedigree, Fenwick’s squad does include in-form Greece-based winger Levi Garcia and classy Canada-based forward Ryan Telfer, who would be expected to lead the offence.
Combative midfielder Khaleem Hyland is likely to wear the armband while Watford FC youth player Daniel Phillips will hope to join him in the centre of the field.
Fenwick is expected to lean heavily on experience in central defence—unsurprisingly, after January’s 7-0 mauling away to the United States—with Sheldon Bateau, Radanfah Abu Bakr and Robert Primus vying with Leland Archer, Justin Garcia and Neveal Hackshaw for starting spots.
Although the Warriors have usually started with a 4-3-3 formation under Fenwick, the team arguably appeared more comfortable when he switched to 3-5-2. The high number of central defenders in his team suggest that he might opt for the latter system.
Fenwick opted to take four goalkeepers with the team. Norway-based Nicklas Frederup is available to play Guyana but is unable to fly to Puerto Rico due to a travel restriction—which also rules out Bateau, Phillips, Garcia, veteran midfielder Andre Boucaud and assistant coach/goalkeeper coach Kelvin Jack.
But Frederup was consistently used as back-up to the local pair of Marvin Phillip and Adrian Foncette anyway, while 21-year-old former Shiva Boys goalkeeper Denzil Smith also made the trip.
There was no room in the travelling party for the fresh-faced trio of 16-year-old playmaker Molik Khan, 18-year-old winger Gary Griffith III, and 18-year-old central defender Jesse Williams, who featured regularly in the warm-up matches along with 23-year-old Point Fortin Civic midfielder Justin Sadoo and 24-year-old Defence Force winger Reon Moore.
Trinidad and Tobago squad (tabulated as Club; Age; Caps/Goals)
Goalkeepers: Marvin Phillip (Unattached; 36; 80/0), Adrian Foncette (Police FC; 32; 16/0), Nicklas Frenderup (IL Stjørdals-Blink—Norway; 28; 2/0), Denzil Smith (W Connection; 21; 0/0);
Defenders: Noah Powder (Real Salt Lake—US; 22; 1/0), Neveal Hackshaw (Indy Eleven—US; 25; 15/0), Justin Garcia (Defence Force; 25; 2/0), Leland Archer (Charleston Battery—US; 25; 1/0), Sheldon Bateau (Mechelen—Belgium; 30; 42/3), Aubrey David (Deportivo Saprissa—Costa Rica; 30; 53/1), Radanfah Abu Bakr (Unattached; 34; 37/2), Robert Primus (FC Bengaluru Utd—India; 30; 7/0); Joevin Jones (InterMiami CF—USA; 29; 77/8);
Midfielders: Michel Poon-Angeron (Club Banfield—Argentina; 19; 1/0), Duane Muckette (Unattached; 25; 6/0), Andre Boucaud (Maidstone FC—England; 36; 47/2), Daniel Phillips (Watford FC—England; 20; 0/0), Judah Garcia (Neroca FC—India; 20; 4/0), Khaleem Hyland (Al Batin FC—Saudi Arabia; 31; 87/4),
Attackers: Marcus Joseph Jr (Unattached; 29; 20/6), Levi Garcia (AEK Athens FC—Greece; 23; 26/2), Ryan Telfer (Atletico Ottawa—Canada; 26; 7/3), Willis Plaza (TLH Rangers; 33; 29/7), Sean Bonval (Central FC; 24; 1/0), Jabari Mitchell (Police FC; 23; 1/0), Brent Sam (Defence Force; 24; 0/0).