Trinidad and Tobago’s senior footballers made a return to the training pitch on Wednesday as they look ahead to Sunday’s friendly international against Finland’s senior team at the Hasely Crawford Stadium from 5pm.
Interim coach Hutson Charles along with Angus Eve oversaw the session which had a full turn out of players including the regular faces Devorn Jorsling, Kevin Molino, Seon Power and Darryl Roberts who is back after being sidelined for the latter part of T&T’s 2014 campaign with a fractured elbow.
Some of the others present included goalkeeper Marvin Phillip, Under 23 midfielder Sean De Silva, Willis Plaza, ex-captain Clyde Leon, Kendall Jagdeosingh, Atulla Guerra, Akeem Adams, Aquil Selby and Joevin Jones. Forward Jamal Gay was also invited to train.
The Finland 20-man squad arrived in Port of Spain on Wednesday afternoon and is based at the Hilton Hotel. They will train at 7pm at the Larry Gomes Stadium from 7pm on Thursday.
Defender Power who is one of the returning members of the team that participated in the 2014 qualifiers said he was eagerly awaiting the encounter on Sunday.
“I think for those of us who were part of the team that got knocked out of the qualifiers this game is important because we really want to try and erase that disappointment of last year,” Power told TTFF Media.
“The majority of us are fit because we have been playing with our clubs in the Pro League and it’s a matter of us to get our organization again as a team over the next few days for Sunday’s game. We know Finland are here to prepare for their qualifiers and they will expect us to give them a good match and we as players will ensure we put on a good showing,” Power added.
Charles, who was an assistant to axed head coach Otto Pfister is also aware that a good showing will set the stage for the remainder of the year with the Digicel Caribbean Cup qualifiers scheduled to start around October.
“Even though we are out of the World Cup, football goes on and we are rebuilding now. The technical director Anton Corneal has already emphasized the importance of us utilizing these friendly internationals to assess our players and our rate of progress. The Caribbean Cup is coming up later this year and we have to now focus on doing well in that and moving on to better things in the Concacaf Gold Cup. We have to make the most of our friendly internationals and Finland is a decent team out of Europe and we will need to focus on putting in a good performance on the day,” Charles said.
Finland’s last outing was a 2-1 loss to Sweden in October. Their head coach is Mixu Paatelainen, a former teammate of ex-national coach Russell Latapy during his heyday at Scottish club Hibernian. The former Finnish international recently paid tribute to Latapy, saying, “Russell’s been a fantastic player and was great playing alongside him at Hibernian. He’s a fun guy to be around and also gave us something extra at Hibs. He was an exceptional talent and it was quite remarkable with him coming from a small country like Trinidad in the Caribbean,” Paatelainen said.
Regarding his side, he added, “We have a very young and inexperienced squad at the moment, but the only way you gain experience in football is by playing matches and we’re going to give these boys the chance to do that. The idea is to develop the team now, so that in future tournaments we have the chance to take that next step and qualify. That would mean everything to us. We love our football in Finland and we’ve always dreamed about making it to a finals and we’ve been close before.”
The Fins are preparing to face France in their 2014 World Cup qualifier in September. They will also meet defending champs Spain, Georgia and Belarus in the qualifiers.
Following Sunday’s encounter, Finland will play the T&T Olympic team at the Dwight Yorke Stadium on January 25th and then travel to face Austria four days later.