On the eve of Trinidad and Tobago’s opening 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup Group A assignment against Mexico, interim head coach Angus Eve is without a full roster of players and still awaiting approval for replacements.
Trinidad and Tobago face Mexico from 10pm on Saturday 10 July at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas—after edging French Guiana 8-7 on kicks from the penalty mark on Tuesday night to advance from the playoffs. However, team captain Khaleem Hyland and attacking midfielder Judah Garcia both suffered muscle injuries, while left back Triston Hodge strained his groin last Friday during a 6-1 rout of Montserrat.
Defender Aubrey David is also playing with eight stitches in his chin, after a kick by Montserrat defender Nathan Pond on 2 July.
Eve said on Wednesday that he hoped to replace at least some of those players, in keeping with Concacaf rules. He confirmed today that Hyland and Garcia have not recovered sufficiently and the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) is trying to have them replaced.
“The [Concacaf] medical committee is reviewing it, so I don’t want to put out any names and preempt anything—once we get approval, we will,” Eve told Wired868. “Right now as it is, we put in all the documentation; but we are just waiting on confirmation from them.”
According to the 2021 Gold Cup regulations:
‘A player listed on the final list may only be replaced during the competition in the event of serious injury, up until 24 hours before the kick-off of his team’s first match in the Group Stage and must come from the provisional list.
‘[…] Such replacements must be approved in writing by Concacaf or the Medical Committee, upon receipt and acceptance of a written detailed medical assessment with doctor’s stamp or valid letterhead in one of the four official Concacaf languages.
‘Concacaf or the Medical Committee shall approve the request if the injury is sufficiently serious to prevent the player from taking part in the competition. Upon approval, the association shall immediately nominate a replacement and inform the Concacaf general secretariat accordingly.
‘The replacement player must be assigned the shirt number of the injured player being replaced.’
Wired868 understands that the matter is complicated by Concacaf’s Covid-19 protocols, as the confederation apparently wants multiple PCR tests done before allowing a new player inside the ‘bubble’.
It is uncertain whether Eve wishes to add either of his two present standbys, Michel Poon-Angeron and Molik Khan, to the 23-man Trinidad and Tobago squad.
The 20-year-old Poon-Angeron played as a deep-lying midfield organiser under Eve’s predecessor Terry Fenwick. At halftime on Wednesday, Eve introduced versatile defender Curtis ‘Boyo’ Gonzales to serve as midfield sentry—however that is Poon-Angeron’s natural role.
The 17-year-old Khan also played in Hyland’s position, as ‘an eight’, at national youth level and with Pro League club W Connection and would also be considered, although he is uncapped at national senior level. Twenty-year-old Watford FC midfielder Daniel Phillips might also be a temptation for the role.
The potential stand-ins for Garcia (J)—if his elder brother, Levi Garcia, remains unavailable—are likely to include El Salvador-based winger Jomal Williams, who is the only active attacking midfielder within Eve’s shortlist, along with local-based players Aikim Andrews and John-Paul Rochford.
However, it is possible that Eve would use the opportunity to strengthen his team in the full back position rather than make ‘like for like’ changes in the midfield. Versatile 22-year-old Real Monarchs defender Noah Powder can play as left or right back as well as further up the field. He was a surprise omission in the first place and could get a recall.
Powder should be able to join the squad by match day and could be included among the substitutes. But Poon-Angeron’s whereabouts are unknown since the T&T standbys were released after the Montserrat game on 2 July.
Any replacement summoned from outside the US is unlikely to join the camp before Saturday’s game and should be available to face El Salvador instead, at the Toyota Stadium in Frisco on Wednesday 14 July.
Trinidad and Tobago’s last group match is against Curaçao on Sunday 18 July at the Toyota Stadium. The top two nations from Group A advance to the Gold Cup quarterfinal round while the remainder are eliminated.
Concacaf is expected to rule on Trinidad and Tobago’s group stage roster by tonight. If Eve is denied replacements in time to face Mexico, he still has Duane Muckette or Defence Force midfielder Hashim Arcia as candidates to step in for Hyland.
Considering the strength of the Warriors’ next opponent, it is also possible that Eve would use ace attacking midfielder Kevin Molino in Judah’s vacated role on the flank while starting with three more workman-like central midfielders instead.
Trinidad and Tobago Team (Tabulated as club; age; caps/goals scored)
Goalkeepers: 1.Marvin Phillip (Unattached; 36; 80/0), 21.Nicklas Frenderup (Ranheim Il—Denmark; 28; 6/0), 22.Adrian Foncette (Police FC; 32; 17/0);
Defenders: 2.Aubrey David (Deportivo Saprissa—Costa Rica; 30; 59/1), 4.Jelani Peters (Pittsburgh Riverhounds—USA; 27; 2/0), 5.Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force; 32; 39/0), 6.Radanfah Abu Bakr (Unattached; 34; 37/2), 16.Alvin Jones (Unattached; 26; 28/1), 17.Justin Garcia (Defence Force; 25; 5/0), 18.Triston Hodge (Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC—USA; 26; 18/0), 19.Ross Russell Jr (Terminix La Horquetta Rangers; 29; 7/0), 23.Jesse Williams (Unattached; 20; 1/0);
Midfielders: 3.Hashim Arcia (Defence Force; 32; 13/1), 15.Neveal Hackshaw (Indy Eleven—USA; 25; 21/0), 20.Duane Muckette (Unattached; 25; 11/1);
Attacking midfielders: 7.Ryan Telfer (Atletico Ottawa—Canada; 27; 13/5), 10.Kevin Molino (Columbus Crew—USA; 31; 52/23), 13.Reon Moore (Defence Force; 24; 5/2), 14.Andre Fortune II (Memphis 901 FC—USA; 24; 7/0);
Forwards: 9.Marcus Joseph (Unattached; 30; 22/7), 12.Isaiah Lee (Terminix La Horquetta Rangers; 21; 3/0);
Injured: 8.Khaleem Hyland (Al Batin—Saudi Arabia; 32; 93/5), 11.Judah Garcia (Unattached; 20; 9/1);
Potential replacements: Noah Powder (Real Monarchs—USA; 22; 3/0), Daniel Phillips (Watford FC—England; 20; 3/0), Michel Poon-Angeron (Unattached; 20; 4/0), Molik Khan (Club Sando; 17; 0/0), Aikim Andrews (Terminix La Horquetta Rangers; 25; 7/1), John-Paul Rochford (Unattached; 21; 1/0).
Editor’s Note: Concacaf has replaced Curaçao with Guatemala in the Gold Cup group stage due to Covid-19 concerns. Trinidad and Tobago coach Angus Eve also announced Mekeil Williams and Noah Powder as replacements for Khaleem Hyland and Judah Garcia.
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Mr Liburd, I am an avid fan of Trinidad and Tobago football and I would like to thank you and wired868 for so much good coverage of the national team. I appreciate that you ask important questions at the ttfa’s press conferences, keep up the good work and keep asking those difficult questions to the coaches and press officers at the ttfa. I think that is the only way we would get any semblance of transparency from the ttfa and ultimately help our football get back on track. Lastly I would like to say that I enjoy listening to your podcasts and I hope a new episode would be released soon.
Thanks very much Ryan. And yes, we delayed the podcast because of the Tuesday night game. But we should release it tomorrow.
Mr Liburd….does this round have penalty shoot out also? That last shootout was suspense filled.
Nope. No such luck if you like that sort of action. We’d have to get into the knockout round to have another chance of a penalty shootout.