Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team head coach Angus Eve will not have the services of giant central defender Leland Archer when the Soca Warriors face Bolivia in a friendly international from 5pm on Friday at the Estadio Olímpico Patria in Sucre.
The Warriors landed in Bolivia this morning without the 26-year-old former national youth defender, who plays in the United States’ second-tier competition for Charleston Battery. The TTFA is yet to give an official update but Wired868 understands that Archer misses the trip owing to a visa issue.
Archer has a solitary senior international cap for Trinidad and Tobago, which came under former head coach Terry Fenwick in the country’s 7-0 friendly loss to the United States on 31 January 2021.
Despite Archer’s absence, Eve is not short of cover at the back on account of his selection of several multi-functional defensive players. Seven of his current 20-man squad have played in central defence before for either club or country while eight have prior experience as full-backs.
The Warriors are not short of central midfielders either. However, Eve travelled with just two orthodox wingers, Reon Moore and Ryan Telfer, and no centre-forwards.
Moore and Telfer started one game each upfront for Eve at the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup but their goals came while being used in their natural roles on the flank. Eve is without regular forward Marcus Joseph, who is in competition in India at present and cannot be summoned since the game falls outside the Fifa match window.
Bolivia coach Cesar Farias would argue that he has far more issues than his Trinidad and Tobago counterpart. Six of Faria’s selected players in line to face the Warriors were ruled out owwing to Covid-19, along with two of their nominated replacements.
Rubén Cordano, Leonel Justiniano, Víctor Abrego, José Sagredo and Roberto Fernández tested positive for the novel coronavirus while on pre-season duties with Club Bolívar in Colombia. Oriente Petrolero midfielder Alexis Ribera also returned a positive diagnosis and was ruled out of Friday’s friendly.
Then, to compound things, two of Bolivia’s replacement players, Club Bolívar forward Bruno Miranda and unattached goalkeeper Daniel Vaca also tested positive. Reports in the Bolivian press claim that the latter pair were asymptomatic with low viral loads and they will be retested on the eve of Friday’s friendly.
Faris’ other replacement players are Carlos Áñez, Emerson Velásquez, William Velasco, César Menacho and Yesit Martínez, who have a combined two international caps between the five of them.
Still, Bolivia are not short of experience within their ranks. Thirty-six-year-old attacking midfielder Juan Carlos Arce, who scored twice in their 3-0 World Cup qualifying win over Uruguay last November, is in their training squad along with 34-year-old goalkeeper Carlos Lampe, who plays for Vélez Sarsfield in Argentina.
It is uncertain whether Bolivia captain and forward Marcelo Martins, 34, will be released to face the Warriors. Martins plays professionally for Cruzeiro in Brazil, who are already in pre-season as the 2022 Campeonato Brasileiro Série A starts next week.
Bolivia won three of their last four competitive games in South America, which were all played at home in La Paz, some 3,637 metres above sea level. Their next World Cup qualifier is away to bottom-placed Venezuela on 28 January before they host Chile on 1 February.
If ‘La Verde’ win both games, they could climb from eighth place to anywhere between sixth and fourth. South America’s top four nations qualify automatically for the Qatar 2022 World Cup while fifth place enters a two-legged playoff against the fourth-placed nation from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
Trinidad and Tobago are preparing for the 2022 Concacaf Nations League, which is scheduled to kick off in June. The Warriors are in League B at present, having being relegated under former coach Dennis Lawrence, and hope to gain immediate promotion back to the top tier of the confederation.
Eve is also without several senior players owing to club commitments or injury, as attackers Kevin Molino, Marcus Joseph, Akeem Garcia and Levi Garcia, midfielders Khaleem Hyland, Judah Garcia, Joevin Jones and Andre Rampersad, defenders Aubrey David and Sheldon Bateau, and goalkeeper Nicklas Frenderup are all unavailable.
Friday’s friendly will be played at 2,810 metres above sea level in Sucre, an elevation that was temporarily declared illegal by Fifa in 2007, outside of the circumstance where the opposing team had at least a week to acclimatise. After protests from nine of South America’s 10 nations—Brazil abstained—Fifa revoked the ban a year later.
Port-of-Spain is 66 metres above sea level while the country’s highest peak, El Cerro del Aripo, stands at just 980 metres.
(Trinidad and Tobago squad)
Goalkeepers: Marvin Phillip (unattached), Adrian Foncette (Police FC);
Defenders: Alvin Jones, Radanfah Abu Bakr, Jamal Jack (all unattached), Stephon Marcano (CSU Bakersfield Athletics—USA), Jesse Williams, Mekeil Williams (both Pittsburgh Riverhounds—USA), Justin Garcia (Defence Force);
Midfielders: Keston George, Michel Poon-Angeron (both unattached), Neveal Hackshaw, Noah Powder (both Indy Eleven—USA), Matthew Woo Ling (Miami United FC—USA), Hashim Arcia (Defence Force), Molik Khan (Club Sando FC),
Attackers: John-Paul Rochford, Ryan Telfer (both unattached), Ajani Fortune (Atlanta United II—USA), Reon Moore (Defence Force).