Yugoslav-born Soca Warriors Olympic and Pan American Games men’s team football coach, Zoran Vranes says his players are working very hard with what little help they have, and what is needed is help from Government and corporate T&T.
The two teams were using the matches as part of preparations for upcoming engagements, with the Stephen Hart-coached senior team set to depart today (Thursday) for a friendly international against Jordan, with its eyes set on next month’s 2015 Concacaf Gold Cup in the USA while Vranes’ players are fine tuning for the Pan American Games and 2016 Olympic Games qualifiers.
The Olympic (Under-23) team will kick off their qualifying campaign for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics with a Group F Caribbean Football Union Qualifying match against Suriname in Puerto Rico on June 24 followed by matches against the winner of a playoff between Dominica versus St Vincent/Grenadines on June 26, and two days later versus Puerto Rico.
Only the winner of the group will advance to the CFU Final Round in August from which the top two teams will move on to the Concacaf Final round in the USA in October.
At the Pan American Games which takes place from July 12-26 in Toronto, Canada, T&T comes up against Concacaf powerhouse Mexico, as well as South American duo, Paraguay and Uruguay in Pool B, while Canada, Peru, Panama and Brazil comprise Pool A.
And speaking after the practice match in which his charges were very competitive against their senior peers, Vranes said his team was doing the best possible under the circumstance
“As you can see, the guys are working very hard, but we have to get matches to build more and to work on our weaknesses, and at the moment that is very difficult because we don’t have any support from Government for us to get that international exposure, “said Vranes.
He added, “In this match today (yesterday) against our senior team players we saw the youngsters were able to hold their own for two thirds of the match.
“But for us to get that next level of competitiveness that we need to be successful at the next level, we need exposure against international teams.
A passionate Vranes stressed, “We can do all we want on the training field here at home, but we still will not know how the players will react in real match situations and that is what we need to know as coaches and members of technical staff.
“A lot needs to be put in place for the players on the Pan American and Olympic teams because they are the ones who will be making the step up to the senior squad in the near future, so this is a very key stage in their development.
“If we want these guys to be better at the senior level for T&T, all the work has to be put in now with them at the Olympic and Pan American Games team level, but it will not happen if they don’t get the support from Government, “ stated Vranes.
With two teams to prepare, Vranes while making it clear he will be aiming to do his best with both teams, says from a national stand-point a lot of emphasis must be put into the development of the Olympic team.
T&T men’s Rio de Janeiro 2016 - CFU Olympic qualifiers (June 24-26)
Venue: San Juan, Puerto Rico
June 24: Suriname vs T&T
June 26: T&T vs Dominica / St Vincent & Grenadines winner
June 28: Puerto Rico vs T&T
2016 Men’s Pan American Games football groups (July 12-26);
Venue: Tim Hortons Field, Hamilton, Canada.
A: Canada, Peru, Panama, Brazil
B: Paraguay, Uruguay, T&T, Mexico
T&T match schedule:
July 13: T&T vs Uruguay, 5.30pm
July 17: Paraguay vs T&T, 5.30pm
July 21: T&T vs Mexico, 5.30pm