Hoping for the best: Eve on edge about players' fitness as T&T faces tight window ahead of qualifiers

By Sports Desk May 29, 2024
EVE...We still have to look and see who will come through those games unscathed. EVE...We still have to look and see who will come through those games unscathed. file

Having selected what he believes is the best crop of players to secure qualification to the 2026 Fifa World Cup, Trinidad and Tobago’s Head coach Angus Eve is no hoping everything will go accordingly, both where performances and player fitness is concerned.

In fact, Eve, who named his provisional 39-player squad last Friday, would love nothing but to have his final Soca Warriors squad –when narrowed down –hit the ground running with positive results to start their Concacaf World Cup qualifying campaign against Grenada and then Bahamas on June 5 and 8 respectively. They will host Grenada at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, before visiting Bahamas a few days later.

"These 39 players are the ones we think can give us the best chance to start off on a positive head and try to win these two matches and start off with six points in the qualifiers, one game at a time,” Eve said in a recent interview with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) media.

The tactician, who is aiming to host a camp between June 1 and June 3, pointed out that it was a challenge to gather the team earlier due to players’ club obligations. It is for this reason that he is hoping players will come into camp fit and ready to go, given that they will only assemble a few days before kick off.

“Players' safety (is a concern) and all these kinds of things. It is terrible that the window starts on (June) 3rd and we have to play on the 5th, so players have to travel on the 3rd, most of the players. On the 1st and 2nd we still have players playing matches outside. We have the locally-based players playing in a final this coming week, a couple days before the game. We still have to look and see who will come through those games unscathed,” Eve shared.

That said, Eve explained the reason behind gifting players such as Tyrese Spicer, Dantaye Gilbert and Steffen Yeates, their first senior team invitation. While Spicer, 23, and Gilbert, 19, has represented the twin island republic at the youth level, Yeates, 24, is breaking into his first national team.

“Young Spicer has been doing tremendously well for Toronto FC. We did try to get him and [Wayne] Fredericks for the two Jamaica friendlies, but he [Spicer] had an injury at that point in time and also Fredericks had an injury in that time, so we never got them. It is a delight for us to actually have the opportunity to call him [Spicer] up,” Eve noted.

“We have also been behind Steffen Yeates since last October. We have really been having good conversations with him, but there were some administrative issues. We think we are very close to sorting out his documents, so we wanted to put him in the training squad, so just in case that his documents come through, he will already be in the squad,” he added.

Like Spicer and Yeates, Eve said Netherlands-based Gilbert was always a part of his plans, but he wanted to bide his time with the young midfielder.

“We have been following Dantaye; the tricky thing about these things is that when a young player goes to Europe you want (to allow) him to settle in at his club first before you drag him out of his club. If he stays over there for three, four months and get that quality training in that high-intensity environment then he is going to be better for us when he comes back to the national team,” he ended.

T&T Provisional squad:

Goalkeepers: Denzil Smith (Club Sando), Aaron Enill (Prison FC), Christopher Biggette (Defence Force), Adrian Foncette (Miscellaneous Police FC).

Defenders: Andre Raymond (unattached), Jesse Williams (Chattanooga FC—USA), Sheldon Bateau (SK Beveren—Belgium), Leland Archer (Charleston Battery—USA), Triston Hodge (Hartford Athletic—USA), Ross Russell (Terminix La Horquetta Rangers), Aubrey David (CS Cartagines—Costa Rica), Alvin Jones, Robert Primus (both Miscellaneous Police FC), Isaiah Garcia, Justin Garcia (both Defence Force), Josiah Trimmingham (Montego Bay Utd—Jamaica), Shannon Gomez (San Antonio FC—USA).

Midfielders: Duane Muckette, Michel Poon-Angeron (both AC Port of Spain), Kevon Goddard (Defence Force), Andre Rampersad (HFX Wanderers—Canada), Kristian Lee Him (Eskilstuna), Dantaye Gilbert (Jong PSV—Netherlands), Steffen Yeates (Pacific FC—Canada), Molik Khan (Minnesota Utd II—USA), Daniel Phillips (St Johnstone FC—Scotland), Ajani Fortune (Atlanta United—USA)Matthew Woo Ling (Defence Force), Noah Powder (Northern Colorado Hailstorm—USA).

Attackers: Kaile Auvray, Nathaniel James (both Mount Pleasant FC—Jamaica), Real Gill (Northern Colorado Hailstorm—USA), Reon Moore (Pacific FC—Canada), Malcolm Shaw (Cavalry FC), Levi Garcia (AEK Athens—Greece), Tyrese Spicer (Toronto FC—Canada), Ezekiel Kesar (Point Fortin Civic), Kevon Woodley (Morvant Caledonia Utd), Ryan Telfer (HFX Wanderers—Canada).

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