“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” Those famous words by American author Napoleon Hill, now serve as motivation for Trinidad and Tobago’s Head coach Angus Eve and his charges as they prepare to kick off their much-anticipated Concacaf World Cup qualifying campaign on Wednesday.

The Soca Warriors will go into their opening contest against Grenada with limited preparation as a collective unit, as the overseas-based members of Eve’s final 25-member squad had to fulfil club obligations upon until Sunday and only joined the camp on Monday. That somewhat hindered Eve’s plans where ironing out technical and tactical plans are concerned, but the tactician remains upbeat about the possibility of registering a win against the ‘Spice Isle’ at Hasely Crawford Stadium.

“We had some challenges with players playing up to June 2, the day the (FIFA) window actually started, and then travel. But we have dealt with these adversities before, and I think we’re going into the campaign, all things equal, with a good squad of players, with a good mindset and trying to make the country proud again,” Eve declared.

“This is the beginning of something very big for us. In the last couple of World Cup campaigns, we didn’t do as well as we think we should have done. We’re looking to right some of those wrongs and the guys are well motivated to play,” he added.

Along with some of the usual suspects – Levi Garcia, captain Aubrey David, Andre Rampersad, Reon Moore, Malcolm Shaw and Ryan Telfer –Eve’s final squad also includes veteran Morvant Caledonia FC striker Kevon ‘Showtime’ Woodley, Netherlands-based midfielder Dantaye Gilbert and Canadian-based Steffen Yeates.

Woodley, 37, received his first senior team call-up for two recent friendly internationals against Guyana, and scored in both matches which Trinidad and Tobago won 2-1 and 2-0.

Meanwhile, midfielder Gilbert, 19, who plies his trade with Jong PSV, is expected to bring a different but welcome dynamic to the setup, while Yeates, 24, represented Canada at previous youth tournaments but has committed his senior career to the Soca Warriors.

“Age (Woodley) is not a factor. Sometimes we move players and they get upset and say different things. But I’ve always said age is not a factor. Kevon, in the last two seasons, came second behind Nathaniel James in goal-scoring. In this season, he’s the top scorer in the league. He deserved an opportunity, we gave him that chance and he scored two in both matches we had, and was one of the best performers in the two games against a decent Guyana team. It warranted his selection to the group,” Eve shared.

That said, Eve explained the absence of Toronto FC’s Tyrese Spicer, Mount Pleasant Academy’s (Jamaica) Kaile Auvray, and seasoned Belgian-based defender Sheldon Bateau, from the final cast.

“Kaile hardly played in his league and his confidence is not where it ought to be. We had several conversations and we’re hoping things will change for him so that we can use him in future games. He understands,” Eve revealed.

“Tyrese’s club said they’ve been dealing with some injury issues with him and they will prefer at this point in time that he stays back with them. They have a bit of a mid-season break where they think they could do some more work on his foot and we are in support of him. The young man being the best that he can be and if at this point in this time, the club feels that this is best for him we have to support him,” he ended.

T&T’s final squad -Goalkeepers: Denzil Smith (Club Sando), Aaron Enill (Prison FC), Christopher Biggette (Defence Force)

Defenders: Aubrey David (CS Cartagines—Costa Rica), Alvin Jones (Miscellaneous Police FC), Justin Garcia (Defence Force), Josiah Trimmingham (Montego Bay Utd—Jamaica), Shannon Gomez (San Antonio FC—USA), Andre Raymond (unattached), Triston Hodge (Hartford Athletic—USA)

Midfielders: Michel Poon-Angeron, Duane Muckette (both AC Port of Spain), Andre Rampersad (HFX Wanderers—Canada), Noah Powder (Northern Colorado Hailstorm—USA), Dantaye Gilbert (Jong PSV—Netherlands), Steffen Yeates (Pacific FC—Canada), Daniel Phillips (St Johnstone FC—Scotland), Ajani Fortune (Atlanta United—USA)

Attackers: Nathaniel James (Mount Pleasant FC—Jamaica), Real Gill (Northern Colorado Hailstorm—USA), Reon Moore (Pacific FC—Canada), Malcolm Shaw (Cavalry FC—Canada), Levi Garcia (AEK Athens—Greece), Kevon Woodley (Morvant Caledonia Utd), Ryan Telfer (HFX Wanderers—Canada)

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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