T&T vs Jamaica todaySunday’s friendly international between Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica has enjoyed a colourful build up with both teams encountering their fair share of prematch interaction with the stakeholders and fans wherever they appeared  ahead of the Caribbean derby at the National Stadium in Kingston which kicks off at 7pm (6pm Jamaica time).

This spanned from an outburst of Jamaican onlookers at the T&T training session, to the gentle reminders from school kids of Jamaica’s 1998 World Cup appearance to a verbal boost from Jamaican Sports Minister Olivia “Babsy” Grange for the “Reggae Boyz”.

Jamaicans love their football, matter of fact they love sports on a whole and they are keen followers of the game and as well as T&T’s history in it. It’s been customary to hear the names Dwight Yorke, Russell Latapy, Stern John, Arnold Dwarika and Jerren Nixon in the Jamaican accent being hurled around the training venues.

That was the case when the T&T team was present in the land of Reggae for a 2002 World Cup qualifier in February 2001. And it was no different when the team bus pulled up at St George’s College ground for training on Friday evening shortly before 6pm. It was almost as if the same group of men had been turning up on site near a T&T team for the past decade or more.

They were quick to remind those present about the threat of Dwarika’s skill in the middle and Nixon’s pace on the flank. This time there was a new addition to the list – Kenwyne Jones.  “A whey  Kenwyne  Jones...  im come fi play pon Sunday?” one man asked.

Then came the obvious as Latapy led the team onto the training field.

“Im (him) Latapy ah de Greatest in de West Indies. Im ah genius… Im an Yorke”

Then an argument broke out as to who was better between Latapy and Yorke and as the team began its warm up under a sudden downpour of rain, one could easily hear  the same men shouting “Trini Yuh inna big chobble (trouble) pon Sunday”.

Latapy would have hoped for more football than talk as the players were forced to leave the field after only  15 minutes because of severe lightening and rainfall. The host team meantime had a 4pm session at the National Stadium. T&T however will train at the game venue from 6pm on Saturday.

Jamaican Sports Minister Grange made it her turn to respond to Anil Roberts’ comment earlier this month about a much needed T&T victory.

“My counterpart Minister, Minister Roberts of Trinidad and Tobago has said to his team that there is a lot at stake and they can’t afford to lose, they must win.

Well I am saying to the Reggae Boyz of Jamaica that we believe in you, and we know that you are going to go out there and do your best.

We have a tradition in sports, we are talented and we train hard and we always continue to excel in sport so we know you’re going to go out there and do your best,” Grange said in a public appeal that was played at the press conference by the Jamaican Football Federation officials for all to hear including the T&T contingent.

She continued: “ I’m saying to Jamaican fans out there to fill out the stadium. The Reggae Boyz need all the support and all the wonderful love you have to give so come out and fill the stadium and be there for them.

Yes Minster Roberts, a lot is at stake… Jamaica has started the Road to Brazil. Reggae Boyz,” she told them “‘Don’t play mas, play  hard and go for it.”

Latapy was asked on more than one occasion by the Jamaican reporters to comment on Roberts’ ultimatum regarding the head coach position.

“It’s a rivalry and I think he (Roberts) wants Trinidad to win every game just like everybody wants. Again it is a process and where we are right now, we are building towards the Digicel Cup and hopefully we’ll be there ready for it,” Latapy said.

Looking ahead to the encounter, Latapy told TTFF Media “We won’t divulge too much of our plans except to say that hopefully they can see it on Sunday. My job is to coach a football team to the best that they can and I think if we can produce that on the day then it should be good enough to come out victorious.”

“It is important to win games but it’s not a personal thing with me. It’s more about putting out the best football on the pitch and have them play the best possible game and if that happens then I would be satisfied.”

San Jose Earthquakes striker Cornell Glen will be coming up against teammate Ryan Johnson who is in the Jamaica line up. But Stoke City’s Ricardo Fuller, also in Kingston for the encounter, will not have to worry about the threat of Jones.

T&T’s line up could see debutant Yohance Marshall in the back line with DC United’s Julius James, Daneil Cyrus and Kern Cupid all available. Defence Force striker Devorn Jorsling scored for T&T in the 3-1 loss to Jamaica earlier this year and is hope to turn the table.

Jamaica’s team has been strengthened by  the inclusion of  Fuller, Kansas City Wizards' Shavar Thomas, San Jose Earthquakes Ryan Johnson, New York Red Bull's Dane Richards Shaun Francis of the Columbus Crew and SK Brann's Rodolph Austin.

“This time we should be better prepared for the match and I think playing away from home may not be such a bad thing. We want to play good football and bring home the result,” Jorsling said.

Mexican Armando Archundia will carry the whistle in Sunday’s affair. He officiated the 2010 World Cup third place match between  Germany and Uruguay. The JFF has also promised surprised appearances by some of the country’s well known reggae and dancehall artistes at half time.


VIDEO - Warriors in Kingston.

Boyz, T&T clash - Regional giants face off in friendly.
By IAN BURNETT Sport Editor.

IT is scheduled to be the return leg of the twomatch international friendly football series between the Caribbean’s top two countries — Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.

But based on the nature of their feisty matches of the years, today’s 6:00 pm encounter at the National Stadium is expected to be anything but friendly.

The Reggae Boyz, ranked 76th on the FIFA Coca-Cola list, are pumped up for the derby and will hand international debut caps to two youngsters today — 18-year-old Marvin Morgan from local outfit Boys’ Town and 24-year-old Shaun Francis from the Columbus Crew in the US Major League Soccer.

Morgan, who helped St George’s College to the Olivier Shield and Manning Cup titles last year, will be given a chance to showcase his talent, though he is yet to convince at the senior Premier League level, while Francis was drafted in the fourth round (63rd overall) of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft by the Crew to fill one of the club’s four developmental roster spots.

No points will be at stake today, but the importance of ‘bragging rights’ can’t be understated, especially after the Boyz stole the Soca Warrior’s thunder with a 3-1 hiding at the Marvin Lee Stadium on August 11.

Dane Richards, who has been in impressive form for the New York Red Bulls of late, opened the scoring with his first goal for Jamaica in that game, and Rodolph Austin added a second before being redcarded for dissent, with Kavin Bryan netting the third. Devon Jorsling replied for Trinidad.

At the time of that encounter, the red-and-black clad Trinidadians wore the mantle of Caribbean kings, being ranked at 76th on the FIFA list, while Jamaica played second fiddle, ranked at 83rd. Now the roles are reversed.

“The Trinidad and Jamaica rivalry is no different from a local league derby,” Jamaica’s head coach and former star player Theodore Whitmore said, before adding: “It’s not all about football, there is bragging rights at stake and as you know that our president (Captain Horace Burrell) and the CONCACAF president (Trinidadian Jack Warner), they have their rivalry at that level too.”

For Trinidad and Tobago’s head coach Russell Latapy, a football icon, today’s game is a continuation of their preparation for the Digicel Caribbean Cup, which is slated for Martinique between late November and early December. Jamaica are the defending champions.

“The exercise on Sunday (today) is much the same thing for us to have an idea of exactly where we are in our preparation. And we think if things go to form on paper, these two teams would most likely be victorious in the Digicel Cup, so the game gives both a chance to have a better look at each other,” said Latapy.

Since the defeat to Jamaica, Latapy has come under immense pressure based on the team’s results, with even his country’s Sports Minister Anil Roberts surprisingly threatening to relieve him of the job if he fails to lead them to victory at the Caribbean Cup.

But Latapy remains unperturbed, preferring to take the philosophical route.

“In football management it is a game of results, and if you don’t get positive results then changes have to be made. But fortunately for us, we will be judged by results in the Digicel Caribbean Cup, and that is not upon us yet.

“Our main purpose is the Digicel Cup and its preparation. There are several aspects of our game that we want to work on and these games are the perfect opportunities to do so,” he argued.

Since the teams last met, Trinidad and Tobago have played a total of five matches — a 0-3 loss to Panama, a 0-0 result with Belize, 1-0 and 3-0 wins against Antigua and Barbuda and St Lucia, respectively, and a 1-1 result with Guyana two weeks ago.

During that same period, the Boyz have played just two games, beating Costa Rica here 1-0 on September 5, and then losing 1-2 to Peru two days later in Fort Lauderdale.

Heading into today’s encounter, Latapy has strengthened his team with the inclusion of four overseasbased players — Julius James from DC United, Keon Daniel from Puerto Rico Islanders, Yohance Marshall from LA Galaxy and Cornel Glen from the San Jose Earthquakes.

Meanwhile, Whitmore, too, has called for the services of veteran Stoke City striker Ricardo Fuller, who has recently recovered from a shoulder injury. Other overseas-based players at his disposal are skipper Shavar Thomas, Francis, Ryan Johnson, Dane Richards and Rodolph Austin.

Whitmore, Jamaica’s twogoal hero in a 2-1 win over Japan at the World Cup Finals in France in 1998, told the media that the younger players in the Jamaica set-up need to understand the ramification of the Caribbean derby.

“For those (players) who don’t understand the rivalry, we have to get them to start thinking about the game because it’s going to be a dingdong battle come Sunday,” he said.

He added: “One of the areas that we will be concentrating on is ball possession. I think at the international level we tend to give away the ball a lot, and that’s something we want to improve on.”

Jamaica held a training session in rain at the Stadium East field last evening, but the weather proved a little more unkind to the visitors who were also scheduled to work out at the same venue later in the evening, possibly under lights.

Trinidad and Tobago’s captain Clyde Leon is more focused on how well the team plays.

“A victory will be a kind reward for our concentrated efforts to put in place some of the things we are working on. But how we play will be of greater importance at this stage of our preparations, as it will give us a better idea of where we are at the moment with the Digicel Cup a month off,” he said.

The starting team is goalkeeper Richard McCallum, along with captain Shavar Thomas, Jermaine Taylor and Adrian Reid in a three-man defence; Rodolph Austin, Eric Vernan, Dane Richards and Francis in a four-man midfield, while Keammar Daley, who will be having his second start for the senior team following his first against Argentina in February, will form a threeman attack with Morgan and the dangerous Fuller.

The 20-man squad is completed by Andre Blake, Ryan Johnson, Troy Smith, Dicoy Williams, Richard Edwards, Dever Orgill, Navion Boyd, Oliver Trail and Ricardo Cousins.