Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team head coach Angus Eve axed more than half of his 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup squad today, as he selected a new-look squad for upcoming Nations League A assignments.
The Soca Warriors host Curaçao from 6pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Thursday 7 September before they travel to Central America to face El Salvador on 10 September.
Last Friday, Eve’s team captain, Kevin Molino, announced his retirement from the international game—but not before a blunt and damning assessment of the current head coach.
Molino told Wired868 that 95% of the national players did not want to play for Eve. Whether hyperbole or not, Eve will start his Nations League A campaign without 60% of his last playing squad.
Star forward Levi Garcia, goalkeeper Nicklas Frenderup and attacker Real Gill all miss out due to injury, while Molino obviously ruled himself out.
However, no reason was given for the omissions of: veteran goalkeeper Marvin Phillip and defender Sheldon Bateau, who, along with Molino, were the players’ representatives in negotiations with the Robert Hadad-led normalization committee.
Utility player Joevin Jones, who publicly endorsed Molino’s interview with Wired868, is out too, along with his brother Alvin Jones. Defenders Triston Hodge and Leland Archer, midfielder Molik Khan and attackers Kadeem Corbin were also overlooked.
Teenaged Club Sando forward Nathaniel James and AC Port of Spain playmaker Duane Muckette were among the notable inclusions.
Defence Force, in particular, benefited from Eve’s about-turn. The Trinidad and Tobago Premier Football League (TTPFL) champions did not get a single pick in Eve’s 23-man Gold Cup.
Today, the Warriors head coach selected six Defence Force players including, improbably, both the starting and substitute goalkeeper for the Army/Coast Guard combination—Christopher Biggette and Jabari St Hillaire respectively.
St Hillaire, who is yet to play a competitive game since his move from Terminix La Horquetta Rangers in July, was not named in Eve’s 40-man shortlist last week.
Combined, all three goalkeepers in the current Men’s National Senior Team squad have an aggregate of 44 minutes of senior international experience—which was the extent of Denzil Smith’s cameo in a friendly against Jamaica this year.
Even without Frenderup, though, Eve resisted the urge to pick either Phillip or experienced Police FC custodian Adrian Foncette.
La Horquetta Rangers left back Ross Russell is also likely to be short of match fitness, as he also has not played competitively since the end of the TTPFL season.
At present, Trinidad and Tobago and Curaçao are ranked 12th and 13th respectively in Concacaf.
Curaçao are not without their own problems, as their team face Trinidad and Tobago without captain Cuco Martina, who opted to remain in Holland with his employers NAC Breda.
The Dutch-speaking islanders are trying to put a disastrous Gold Cup campaign behind them, after being eliminated on penalties by Saint Kitts and Nevis in the first qualifying round.
Trinidad and Tobago played just once against Curaçao in a competitive fixture, when they registered a 3-2 win at the 2014 Caribbean Cup in Jamaica. Ironically, Molino scored the match winner that day with then coach Stephen Hart on the bench.
Trinidad and Tobago team
(Tabulated as club; age; caps/goals scored)
Goalkeepers: Christopher Biggette (Defence Force; 27; 0/0), Denzil Smith (W Connection; 23; 1/0), Jabari St Hillaire (Defence Force; 23; 0/0),
Defenders: Aubrey David (Club Sport Cartagines—Costa Rica; 32; 73/1), Justin Garcia (Defence Force; 27; 11/0), Shannon Gomez (San Antonio FC—USA; 26; 10/0), Kareem Moses (FF Jaro—Finland; 33; 18/1), Andre Raymond (GD Vilar De Perdizes—Portugal; 22; 1/0), Ross Russell Jr (La Horquetta Rangers; 31; 10/0), Jesse Williams (Central Valley Fuego—USA; 22; 8/0);
Midfielders: Michel-Poon Angeron (AC Port of Spain; 22; 9/0), Kevon Goddard (Defence Force; 27; 8/0), Neveal Hackshaw (Oakland Roots SC—USA; 27; 34/2), Kristian Lee Him (IFK Eskilstuna—Sweden; 29; 1/0), Duane Muckette (AC Port of Spain; 28; 17/1), Daniel Phillips (St Johnstone—Scotland; 22; 7/0), Andre Rampersad (HFX Wanderers—Canada; 28; 5/1),
Attackers: Kaïlé Auvray (Sporting KC Academy—USA; 19; 8/0), Nathaniel James (Club Sando; 19; 2/0), Reon Moore (Defence Force; 26; 19/4), Brent Sam (Defence Force; 27; 1/0), Malcolm Shaw (Atletico Ottawa—Canada; 28; 3/0), Ryan Telfer (Miami FC—USA; 29; 20/8).