Former Trinidad and Tobago national youth team stand-outs Aikim Andrews and Isaiah Lee are among five Terminix La Horquetta Rangers players who could resume their international careers during the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup.
The thaw in relations between Rangers and the Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team was one of the first bits of business conducted by interim head coach Angus Eve. And both parties confirmed that they are off to a positive start.
Yesterday, Soca Warriors team manager Adrian Romain formally requested the services of Andrews and Lee, along with lanky utility player Jamal Creighton, versatile defender Keston George and full back Ross Russell Jr.
The quintet will get the chance to press for national team selection during a proposed local residential camp between 19 and 22 June. Eve has until 28 June to select his final 23-man squad, who will play Montserrat in the first of two potential Gold Cup playoffs on 2 July—as they try to win a spot in the group phase of the confederation’s showcase tournament.
The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) did not reveal Eve’s entire provisional squad and is yet to confirm his technical staff.
“I was giving the approval by the normalisation committee to have a meeting with La Horquetta Rangers and the meeting was very cordial,” Eve told Wired868. “I outlined the plans of what I want to do and they were very supportive. They immediately agreed to release the players I asked for.”
The Rangers delegation was headed by managing director Richard Ferguson and included Eastern Football Association president Kieron Edwards and former national player Ancil Elcock.
Former Trinidad and Tobago head coach Terry Fenwick used only one Rangers player during his tenure, forward Willis Plaza, and it happened without the club’s blessings. Plaza is no longer employed by Rangers.
Ferguson’s position has always been that Rangers players are free to represent their country but only if they were treated with the same courtesy as foreign teams. Fifa mandates that clubs are only mandated to release players within a specific timeframe before international competition.
Fenwick, however, trained local-based players throughout the year. Rangers refused to sanction their players’ involvement in such sessions on the grounds that it was disrespectful to their club’s preparations—despite the fact that local teams were inactive due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Incidentally, Rangers almost had a player in the national squad for Fenwick’s last match window as the English coach called up goalkeeper Jabari St Hillaire on the eve of the team’s departure for Nassau. Rangers agreed but Fenwick changed his mind and did not name St Hillaire in the official travelling party to play The Bahamas and St Kitts and Nevis.
The La Horquetta-based club also released players for the National Futsal and Beach Soccer Teams this year, with George featuring at the 2021 Concacaf Futsal Championship.
Eve, whose tenure at the helm expires on 31 August, has given himself the chance to evaluate what Rangers have to offer the Warriors in the short-term.
Andrews, who lifted the 2014 Caribbean Cup title with the National Under-20 Team, earned seven national caps spread between national coaches Stephen Hart, Tom Saintfiet and Dennis Lawrence but is yet to cement a position with the senior Warriors. However, at 24 years of age, he has time on his side and can operate as an attacking winger or at wing back.
Lee, a 21-year-old forward, can play as an attacker on either flank or through the middle, while the 29-year-old Russell Jr, is a pacy, attack-minded full back. Lee and Russell Jr have two and five caps respectively under Lawrence.
Creighton, the 29-year-old Rangers captain, was a prolific centre forward at Super League level who was since converted to a box to box midfielder while the 28-year-old George can play as a central defender, right back, or holding midfielder. Both are uncapped.
Ferguson hoped Eve would also take a look at several other Rangers players, including 33-year-old playmaker Ataulla Guerra, who has 46 senior caps with nine goals, and another 2014 Caribbean Cup champion, Kadeem Corbin. But he said the club remains open to assist the national team.
“Coach Angus Eve met with the management of Terminix La Horquetta Rangers on the 16 June 2021 at approximately 10.00 am,” said Ferguson. “He requested the release of the five players and Rangers management asked that he consider additional players that could be of assistance to him, namely Kadeem Corbin, Tyrone Charles, Ataulla Guerra, Junior Asson, Real Gill, and Kaihim Thomas.
“But coach Eve felt that it was not prudent to include these players, given the time allowed for preparation for the game. Rangers’ management expressed their commitment to the National Team and our willingness to assist in any way possible.”
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