Trinidad and Tobago began preparation for the King’s Cup in Thailand with just 16 players, after attacking midfielder Kevin Molino, right back Alvin Jones and combative midfielders Neveal Hackshaw and Daniel Phillips failed to travel with the team.
Men’s National Senior Team coach Angus Eve said Phillips was ruled out due to a calf injury suffered with his Scottish employers, St Johnstone FC, while Molino, Jones and Hackshaw did not catch their scheduled flights due to “mixups” that the coach blamed on the airline.
The latter trio should arrive in Thailand on the eve of their clash with Tajikistan. The Soca Warriors face Tajikistan from 6.30am on Thursday. The winner will advance to contest the King’s Cup trophy on Sunday while the loser will enter a third-place playoff.
Eve, who named a 20-man squad for the trip, suggested that he was four players and a few staff members light—due to ongoing financial issues by the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), which is run by a Fifa-appointed normalisation committee at present.
“From the beginning, the financial bug that we had hampered the amount of players we could bring [and] even the amount of staff,” Eve told the TTFA Media. “We had to leave members of the staff home, which I don’t like to do and I wanted to have 24 players here so that we could rotate the squad and give everybody a chance to play.
“It didn’t happen for us.”
In the end, Eve did not get all of his 20-players either, although he stressed that the TTFA was not to blame.
“We lost Daniel Phillips when we were flying here [as] his club called and said he picked up a calf injury in training, so he could’t make it,” said the Warriors head coach. “Then Kevin Molino and Alvin Jones, there was a mixup with their flight on the airline’s part—not on our part—[with the airline] thinking they had to get visas for a particular leg of their journey which they didn’t have to.
“They will be coming in on the morning of the 21st. Hence the reason we only have 16 boys here now… Neveal Hackshaw also had a flight issue [and will come on the 21st].”
At present, the Men’s National Senior Team are on a three-match winning streak after triumphs over The Bahamas and St Vincent and the Grenadines (twice). Their last outing was against the “Vincy Heat” on 13 June and Noah Powder scored a double while Judah Garcia and John-Paul Rochford contributed a goal each in a 4-1 visit.
Trinidad and Tobago’s next competitive matches are away to the Bahamas and then at home against Nicaragua on 24 and 27 March 2023 respectively in the Concacaf Nations League.
Should the Warriors win both, Eve would meet his objective of getting the team promoted to the top flight of the confederation’s Nations League.
The King’s Cup offers a chance for Eve to continue working with his players and, for the first time, he can field Levi Garcia and Molino in the same team. That is, when Molino gets to Thailand.
(Trinidad and Tobago Team in Thailand)
Goalkeepers: Marvin Phillip (Deportivo PF), Nicklas Frenderup (Raheim IL Norway);
Defenders: Anthony Herbert (FC Haka—Finland), Kareem Moses (Vaasan Palloseura—Finland), Aubrey David (Liga Deportivo Alajuelense—Costa Rica), Sheldon Bateau (KSK Beveren—Belgium), Jesse Williams (Pittsburgh Riverhounds—USA), Keston Julien (Sheriff FC—Moldova);
Midfielders: Leston Paul (Memphis 901—USA), Noah Powder (FC Tulsa—USA);
Attackers: Reon Moore (Club Social y Deportivo Municipal—Guatemala), Levi Garcia (AEK Athens—Greece), Ajani Fortune (Atlanta FC B—USA), Andre Fortune II (Nomme Kalju FC—Estonia), John-Paul Rochford (Sure Sports FC—USA), Judah Garcia (AEK Athens B—Greece).
Late arrivals: Kevin Molino (Columbus Crew—USA), Neveal Hackshaw (Indy Eleven—USA), Alvin Jones (Forward Madison—USA);
Ruled out: Daniel Phillips (St Johnstone FC—Scotland).