Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Men’s team head coach Angus Eve announced his final 20-man squad on Tuesday morning to contest the final round of CONCACAF qualifiers for the 2012 Olympics in Carson, California beginning on the weekend.
Eve addressed the team following a training session at the Lockhart Stadium training pitch, disclosing that St Ann’s Rangers forward Cameron Roget, Caledonia AIA defenders Nuru Abdullah Muhammad and Aquil Selby, DIRECTV North East Stars midfielders Kaydion Gabriel and Jean Luc Rochford and Marcus Joseph of T&TEC FC would not be traveling on to California with the rest of the squad on Wednesday morning.
Eve thanked the players for the efforts and other members of the team offered words of encouragement and thanked those for their contributions in the qualifying campaign up to this stage which will see T&T face Mexico on Friday followed by Panama (Sunday 25 March) and defending champions Honduras (Tuesday 27 March). The two finalists from the eight team tournament will advance to the 2012 Olympics.
Defender Sheldon Bateau of Adam’s Construction San Juan Jabloteh will captain the team which includes seven defenders, seven midfielders, four forwards and two goalkeepers.
Columbus Crew midfielder Kevan George and Cordell Cato of Seattle Sounders who both joined the team in Fort Lauderdale did sufficiently well to maintain their spots in the team for the tournament while Polish-based defender Mekeil Williams—who only obtained his US VISA on Monday—and Orlando City midfielder Kevin Molino will both join the team from Wednesday.
In-form Caledonia AIA striker Jamal Gay is expected to spearhead the team’s attack with support from Shahdon Winchester, Sean De Silva, Trevin Caesar, Molino and Micah Lewis who turned 22 on Tuesday.
W Connection midfielder Jomal Williams at age 17 is the youngest member of the squad. Defender Selby was hampered by a niggling injury and as such had to be omitted from the final squad.
“It was a difficult decision because all of the guys have been fantastic. There wasn’t difference in the players in the squad. I think we have a very strong unit going forward,” Eve told TTFF Media.
“We picked 20 players with two goalkeepers, seven midfielders and defenders with four out and out strikers who can also play on the flanks as well as a couple defensive midfielders.”
“The difficult thing for me is that when we look back at the Pan American Games we did really well and here we have players who came in to strengthen the squad and that made the selection decisions a bit harder.
We didn’t have players like Daneil Cyrus, Sean De Silva and Kevan George and young Cato in the Pan Am Games. I must give credit to the players who helped to bring us this far and will still be part of the overall 35-man roster,” Eve added.
Reflecting on the training camp in Fort Lauderdale, he said: “It turned out very well. I got the chance to experiment with the guys and incorporating new guys into the set up. I think we finally have the right blend going into the tournament.”
Team skipper Bateau, during the team talk following the announcement of the squad told the players who will travel to Port of Spain on Wednesday to keep on aspiring to make the team again for the 2012 Olympics.
“We are one team and every player deserves credit. I want to tell the guys who are not going to LA with us to keep their heads up and keep on working hard to make the team again at a later stage.”
Cyrus and Gay also reiterated that the final squad of players will try to ensure that there is another opportunity for the omitted players to be back in the fray in London.
Andre Marchan (North East Stars), Sheldon Clarke (Defence Force).
Sheldon Bateau (capt) (San Juan Jabloteh), Leslie Russell (W Connection), Kareem Moses (St Ann’s Rangers), Mekeil Williams (Pogon Szczecin/POL), Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force), Daneil Cyrus (FC 1st Santa Rosa), Joevin Jones (W Connection).
Sean De Silva (College of Charleston/USA), Jeromie Williams (North East Stars), Kevin Molino (Orlando City/USA), Kevan George (Columbus Crew/USA) Micah Lewis (Caledonia AIA), Jayson Joseph (T&TEC), Jomal Williams (W Connection).
Jamal Gay (Caledonia AIA), Trevin Caesar (Caledonia AIA), Cordell Cato (Seattle Sounders/USA), Shahdon Winchester (W Connection)