Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team head coach Terry Fenwick made 10 changes to his squad from their last international match day window, as they head for crucial Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying contests against the Bahamas and St Kitts and Nevis on 5 and 8 June respectively.
But they were not necessarily the ones he wanted, as, again, his attempts to introduce a series of United Kingdom-born players to his squad proved fruitless.
Fenwick openly courted former England national youth team midfielder John Bostock since his appointment, while he also tried to secure passports for defender Ryan Inniss, midfielder Kurtis Cumberbatch, and forwards Tristan Abrahams and Rory McKenzie.
Bostock, not for the first time, said ‘no’ to joining the Soca Warriors when it counted, while neither Inniss, Cumberbatch, McKenzie or Abrahams got their documents.
Regardless, there are a raft of fresh faces in the national squad as the Warriors face a series of must-win outings.
Pacy former national youth team full backs Shannon Gomez and Keston Julien are included, as predicted. United States-based midfielder Andre Fortune Jr was also recalled, after featuring in the national team’s 7-0 friendly defeat to the United States in January.
El Salvador-based flanker Jomal Williams and forward Daniel Carr, who is set for a move to the India third division, got maiden call-ups under Fenwick.
Versatile left-sided midfielder Nickell Orr, a former national youth team stand-out also received his first national senior team summons after helping Paeek FC win the Cyprus second tier competition. And ball-playing Toronto FC central defender Luke Singh is also in line to make his senior debut after competing at National Under-17 and Under-20 level.
Veteran Defence Force midfielder Hashim Arcia is also back in the travelling party for the first time since the United States outing, as are teenagers and former national youth team players Jesse Williams and Gary Griffith III.
Williams, a defender, and Griffith III, an attacking flanker, were both listed by the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) as employees of Northern Ireland team Coleraine FC, although neither were registered by the team after failing to land work permits.
Griffith III is the son of Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith.
Ace US Major League Soccer (MLS) midfielder Kevin Molino, who moved from Minnesota United to Columbus Crew this season, again misses out due to injury. Molino has 21 senior international goals in 50 appearances but is yet to feature for Fenwick.
Otherwise, the players omitted from the Warriors squad that played in the last match window are: defender Leland Archer, midfielders Andre Boucaud and Jabari Mitchell, and attackers Sean Bonval, Marcus Joseph and Willis Plaza.
The 36-year-old Boucaud, who retired from the domestic game in 2019, was recently subjected to a failed protest by the Guyana and Puerto Rico football bodies due to his status as a player agent. However Fifa ruled that the protest was groundless.
The TTFA also acknowledged that three players were ruled out by positive Covid-19 tests.
“It must be noted that three players were deemed unavailable for selection after each individual returned two consecutive Covid-19 positive results this week,” stated the TTFA Media. “The TTFA wishes them a speedy recovery and will continue to monitor their recovery over the next few weeks.”
Wired868 understands that the three positive players are veteran goalkeeper Marvin Phillip, forward Brent Sam, and attacker Isaiah Hudson, although this remains unconfirmed by the local football body.
Once more, there was no sign of any players from the Terminix La Horquetta Rangers squad, which includes former national youth or senior team players Aikim Andrews, Isaiah Lee, Kadeem Corbin, Keron ‘Ballpest’ Cummings, Yohannes Richardson, and Keston George.
Rangers managing director Richard Ferguson has said his players are available for selection within the Fifa international match window but not for training with Fenwick’s local contingent.
The Warriors touring party will be led by captain Khaleem Hyland and includes defender Sheldon Bateau, attacker Levi Garcia, and utility player Joevin Jones.
“Looking around the world [at] the players that are available, that have reached out to me that want to play and represent their national team,” Fenwick told the TTFA Media. “It’s been fantastic the response that we’ve had. I’m pleased to bring them together.
“I’m delighted with the players that I’ve got on the ground in Trinidad and Tobago as well. They’ve been brilliant. I love them to death. They have showed lots of professionalism.”
The Warriors are without Singh, Williams, and Frenderup for their outing against the Bahamas. No official reason was given for the absences, although Wired868 understands that Frenderup has remained in Denmark to be with his girlfriend who is due to give birth.
The Bahamas have no chance to advance from the group, after losing 4-0 in both of their fixtures so far against St Kitts and Nevis and Guyana respectively. Fenwick will hope to give them another spanking in Nassau next week Saturday.
The English coach’s most intriguing selections, from a tactical viewpoint, may prove to be Gomez and Julien. In their earlier qualifiers, central defenders Aubrey David and Neveal Hackshaw played as full backs which left Fenwick’s team short of attacking thrust down either flank.
Gomez and Julien are both mobile and adventurous and more likely to bomb forward in support of, potentially, Garcia and Jones.
MLS full back Noah Powder only featured for a few minutes against Guyana while he skipped the Puerto Rico contest with a knee injury, but he can also offer offensive momentum to the team if needed.
It is possible Fenwick might switch to a 3-4-3 formation, which he used regularly at Central FC, in light of his current squad.
The Warriors leave for Miami today before heading to Nassau tomorrow. Trinidad and Tobago’s outing against St Kitts and Nevis will be played in Santo Domingo, as Covid-19 protocols on the twin island republic make the logistics of hosting an international match near impossible.
Remarkably, the Warriors’ road trip could last anywhere between 13 days and two months if they keep winning.
If Trinidad and Tobago defeat Bahamas and St Kitts and Nevis, they advanced to a two-legged playoff on 12 and 15 June against the winners of Group A for a place in the final eight-team group stage. At present, El Salvador and Montserrat are fighting to finish top of Group A.
The Warriors are already scheduled to face Montserrat in a 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup qualifier in Miami on 2 July and, should they win, will go on to face either Cuba or French Guiana in a second playoff for the Gold Cup group stage.
The TTFA, headed by normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad, will be expected to provide team manager Adrian Romain and logistics manager Major Basil Thompson with the administrative support to get through two months on the road, in the middle of a global health pandemic, without issues.
The Warriors have played three matches under Fenwick so far, and tallied a 7-0 friendly loss away to USA, a 3-0 win over Guyana, and a 1-1 draw with Puerto Rico.
(Team info listed as: club, age, caps/goals)
Goalkeepers: Adrian Foncette (Police FC; 32; 16/0), Nicklas Frenderup (Ranheim—Denmark; 28; 4/0), Denzil Smith (W Connection; 21; 0/0);
Defenders: Neveal Hackshaw (Indy Eleven—US; 25; 17/0), Justin Garcia (Defence Force; 25; 3/0), Sheldon Bateau (Mechelen—Belgium; 30; 44/4), Jesse Williams (Unattached; 18; 0/0), Aubrey David (Deportivo Saprissa—Costa Rica; 30; 55/1), Radanfah Abu Bakr (Unattached; 34; 37/2), Robert Primus (FC Bengaluru Utd—India; 30; 9/0), Luke Singh (Toronto FC—Canada; 20; 0/0);
Wingbacks: Shannon Gomez (Sacramento Republic—USA; 24; 2/0), Noah Powder (Real Salt Lake—US; 22; 2/0), Keston Julien (FC Sheriff Tiraspol—Moldova; 22; 3/0), Joevin Jones (InterMiami CF—USA; 29; 79/9);
Midfielders: Michel Poon-Angeron (Unattached; 20; 3/0), Duane Muckette (Unattached; 25; 7/0), Daniel Phillips (Watford FC—England; 20; 2/0), Khaleem Hyland (Al Batin FC—Saudi Arabia; 31; 89/4), Andre Fortune Jr (Memphis 901—USA; 24; 3/0), Hashim Arcia (Defence Force; 32; 13/1), Judah Garcia (Unattached; 20; 5/0);
Attackers: Levi Garcia (AEK Athens FC—Greece; 23; 28/3), Ryan Telfer (Atletico Ottawa—Canada; 27; 9/4), Gary Griffith III (Unattached; 18; 0/0), Daniel Carr (FC Bengaluru—India; 26; 4/0), Nickel Orr (Paeek FC—Cyprus; 20; 0/0), Jomal Williams (CD Águila—El Salvador; 27; 19/2).
Head coach: Terry Fenwick (England)
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