Former national defender Makan Hislop has been included in a 12-member national team to represent this country at the Concacaf Beach Soccer Championship carded for El Salvador from this weekend.
The T&T team to be captained by Ryan Augustine will compete in Group B alongside Mexico, Guadeloupe, and Turks & Caicos of the 16-team tournament.
In addition to Hislop and Augustine, the other members of the team who were part of the 2013 team for the Concacaf World Cup qualifiers in the Bahamas were goalkeepers, Victor Thomas and Zane Coker, Makan Hislop, Chad Appoo, Lemuel Lyons, Kerwin Stafford, Hakeem King, Ryan Augustine (capt), Jesse Bailey and David Mc Dougall.
Following the selection of the final 12-man squad which include two newcomers in Kareem Perry of Police and Kevon Woodley of Club Sando, coach Benyam Astorga said he was optimistic of the team’s chances.
Speaking ahead of the team’s training session at Saith Park, Chaguanas yesterday, Astorga, a former USA Beach Soccer World Cup player and Concacaf Beach Soccer Instructor said he was very pleased with the preparations of the teams.
“We had a lot of support this time around and only recently had a camp for seven days involving 18 players which was followed by the cutting of the final squad to 12 players earlier this week.”
“So now until we play our first match on the weekend, we will continue with some light training sessions to keep our rhythm, along with video reviews and technical analysis.
Looking ahead to his team’s pool matches against Guadeloupe, Turks & Caicos and Mexico, Astorga said while on paper Mexico seems to be his team’s biggest test, he will not be underestimating the other teams.
“We all know Mexico is a powerhouse in the Concacaf region in any format of the game, and beach soccer is no different, said Astorga.
With regards to Guadeloupe, the USA native was uncertain as to what team he will be coming up against.
He explained, ‘Being a Concacaf instructor I had the experience of spending some time in Guadeloupe where the game is now taking off.
“But at the same time, with them having the option of recalling past and present players from France, I am not certain what kind of team we will come up against, so we will be taking them as a serious threat as well, while Turks & Caicos are relatively newcomers”, stated Astorga who was among 16 coaches who participated in a Concacaf Beach Soccer Technical Workshop in Miami from February 24 to 28, in preparation for the upcoming Championship.
Overall, Astorga said he believes the team is much better prepared that it was in 2013.
“Back then we did not have as much time to get the team together, but now the guys have that experience of playing in a qualifying tournament and know what to expect. So with the added time of preparations this time around, we should fear much better,” ended Astorga.
The other Concacaf Beach Soccer Championship groups will see host El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Belize and Jamaica in Group A; USA, Bahamas, Barbados and Antigua/Barbuda in Group B, and Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala and US Virgin Islands in Group D.
At the end of the pool round-robin phase which runs from March 28 to March 31, the top two teams in each group will advance to the main draw knockout quarterfinals on April 2, then onto the semifinals and final on April 3 and 4 respectively.
The top two sides at the Concacaf qualifying event will represent their region at Espinho, Portugal 2015, July 9-19.
Commenting on the draw Kyle Lequay, president of the T&T Beach Soccer Association echoed the views of Astorga and said, “I think the experience of the last tournament where we were able to get wins against the likes of Canada, will put us in a much better position this time around.
We have players who have experienced what it is to play at the Concacaf level and their desire is very strong. We have a few weeks to prepare the team and we’ll be aiming to give it our best shot,” Lequay said.
The T&T team will depart for San Salvador, El Salvador, tomorrow ahead of its opener against Guadeloupe on Saturday while on Sunday it will meet Turks and Caicos, then Mexico on Tuesday to end group play.
Two-time world champions Russia, Spain, Italy and Switzerland have qualified from Europe.
T&T Beach Soccer qualifying team:
Victor Thomas (GK), Zane Coker (GK), Makan Hislop, Chad Appoo, Lemuel Lyons, Kerwin Stafford, Hakeem King, Ryan Augustine (capt), Jesse Bailey, Kevon Woodley, David Mc Dougall, Kareem Perry.
Technical staff: Benyam Astorga (coach), Anthony Creece (assistant coach), Oba Gulston (manager), Jason Pilgrim (physiotherapist)
2015 Concacaf Beach Soccer Championship
Saturday March 28:
Bahamas vs Barbados, 4pm
T&T vs Guadeloupe, 5.15pm
Jamaica vs Puerto Rico, 6.30pm
Antigua & Barbuda vs USA, 7.45pm
Turks & Caicos vs Mexico, 9pm
Belize vs El Salvador, 10.15pm
Sunday March 29:
Guatemala vs Panama, 4pm
T&T vs Turks & Caicos, 5.15pm
Mexico vs Guadeloupe, 6.30pm
El Salvador vs Puerto Rico, 7.45pm
Jamaica vs Belize, 9pm
US Virgin Islands vs Costa Rica, 10.15pm
Monday March 30:
Guatemala vs US Virgin Islands, 4pm
Bahamas vs Antigua & Barbuda, 5.15pm
Puerto Rico vs Belize, 6.30pm
Costa Rica vs Panama, 7.45pm
USA vs Barbados, 9pm
El Salvador vs Jamaica, 10.15pm
Tuesday March 31:
Panama vs US Virgin Islands, 4pm
Barbados vs Antigua & Barbuda, 5.15pm
Guadeloupe vs Turks & Caicos, 6.30pm
Costa Rica vs Guatemala, 7.45pm
USA vs Bahamas, 9pm
Mexico vs T&T, 10.15pm
Thursday April 2:
1 D vs 2 B
1 C vs 2 A
1 B vs 2 D
1 A vs 2 C
Friday April 3:
Quarterfinals losers semifinals
Quarterfinal winners semifinals
Saturday April 4:
Seventh spot playoff
Sixth spot playoff