Soca Warriors to face China on June 3

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Senior Team players.
Tuesday April 26, 2016

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) announced today that the “Soca Warriors” will face China in the latest of three upcoming away friendly international fixtures.

The “Dragons” will welcome T&T in the City of Qin Huang Dao on June 3, which falls within the international window. The “Soca Warriors”, coached by Stephen Hart, will also travel to face Peru in Lima on May 23 and Uruguay in Montevideo on May 27.

China are ranked 8th on the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) rankings but 81st on the FIFA rankings.

T&T are ranked 5th on the CONCACAF rankings and 53rd on the FIFA rankings, seven spots behind Peru (48), while Uruguay are 9 on the FIFA rankings.

“China [have] shown that they want to be an international powerhouse in the game,” Hart said in a press release by the TTFA.

The “Soca Warriors” coach added, “
They (China) have secured some high profile games just like we have and coming on the back of the Uruguay game, this will be a telling experience for us.

We are grateful for the opportunity [against China] and this is one that may open new footballing doors to Asia for us in the future.

“Our line-up of games [are] quite healthy and we now have a busy schedule (…)as we continue our focus on the two World Cup qualifying games in September against Guatemala and the United States.”

T&T, who leads the CONCACAF semi-final round Group C World Cup qualifying, will host Guatemala on September 2 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium before facing the United States in Florida on September 4.

T&T have only faced China once before at the senior international level, losing 3-0 during a four-nation tournament in September 2001 at the Shanghai Stadium under then head coach Rene Simoes.

At present, China have qualified for the final phase of AFC World Cup qualifying for the first time since 2001 when the “Dragons” went on to qualify for the 2002 World Cup.

China are coming off a 2-0 win over Qatar in World Cup qualifying on March 29, and following the T&T game, the Gao Hongbo coached-team will face Andorra in a friendly on June 7.

China’s next World Cup qualifying assignment is against South Korea on September 1 and Iran five days later.

China’s National Development and Reform Commission recently released a plan to have one of the world’s leading national teams by 2050. The first stage, already underway, is to introduce football in 20,000 schools, with 30 million children playing the game regularly by the end of the decade. The midterm stage, to take place from 2021 to 2030, is for the men’s national team to become one of the standout teams in Asia.

Club football in China is also on the rise in the Chinese Super League due to big spending such as the $300 million over the winter to acquire players such as Alex Teixeira of Brazil and Jackson Martínez of Colombia. Other names that have joined the Chinese Super League in the past include Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka and Frederic Kanoute. The League has several players from Brazil and Latin America. Among the managers who have had former jobs there include ex-Argentina coach Sergio Batista and Italian Marcello Lippi.