Three players from Trinidad and Tobago saw playing time in European League action on Thursday as qualifying action continued for both the UEFA Champions League and Europa League competitions.
Senior team defender Sheldon Bateau made his european debut for Kazakhstan club FC Kairat, playing the full encounter in his team’s 1-1 draw with Albania’s KF Skenderbeu Korce in Almaty in their Europa second round qualifier.
Radanfah Abu Bakr also appeared in the full game for FK Suduva Marijampole of Lithuania in their 2-0 win over FK Liepaja in another Europa League qualifier. And former national under 20 player Keston Julien saw full action in AS Trencin’s 1-1 draw with Israel’s Beni Aviv FC. Lester Peltier was on the bench for FC Alashkert of Armenia in their 1-1 draw with FC Bate Boris in UEFA European Champions’ League second round qualifying clash.
Bateau who played in both of T&T’s recent previous World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and United States, spoke about his Europa League debut appearance.
“It was a good experience for me. It was a game of a high level similar to international matches. The experience I have had with the national team has helped me to perform better and to keep a cool head because before the game it was a bit nerve wrecking because I’ve always dreamt about playing at this European level and there was a bit of tenseness surrounding the match. The atmosphere at the stadium and everything was strong,” Bateau told TTFA Media.
“The game itself was pretty good. We were solid defensively and I felt I was solid also in my second game for the club. The fans and the president of the club were happy with the performance. We are at 1-1 and we need to go to Albania and get a result in order to move on and we will go there and give it everything.”
The former Belgium and Russian-based player added that he was in a good state of mind having settled at the club.
“I’m happy because I am in a good club now with a good environment and facilities as well as within a circle of players with a level of class and experience, players like Arshavin and the captain of the Kazakhstan national team (Bauyrzhan Islamkhan),” Bateau said.
“The set up has everything to keep you improving once you are prepared to dedicate yourself. So I am staying focused, staying humble and just putting in the work to keep improving my levels,” he added.
Meantime, T&T head coach Dennis Lawrence will continue his preparation of a 25-man squad from Monday in preparation for the July 26th international friendly away to Ecuador. Lawrence will be looking at a few new players and recalls to the set up as he looks ahead to September 1st when T&T faces Honduras in their World Cup qualifying encounter at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
“We’ve invited twenty five players to be part of the training squad and we’ll work with them from this coming Monday before finalising the team to travel to Ecuador. We’ll get in a few days of preparation at home for the match,” Lawrence said.
“We have available to us some of the players who were involved for the two previous games against the US and Costa Rica and we’ve invited a few others to have a look at and see how they respond to what we are requiring of them,” Lawrence added.