Trinidad and Tobago’s Under 20 Men’s team will be looking to get their World Cup qualifying quest off on a winning note when they tussle with Guadeloupe in the second match of a double header to open the Caribbean Football Union First round at the Ato Boldon Stadium from 7:30pm on Wednesday.
The Jabari Mitchell captained team will face the French speaking visitors in what promises to be a keenly contested affair as Guadeloupe have entered the tournament with four France-based players and they are seeking qualification to the Final round of qualifiers for the first time. T&T meantime, have qualified for a FIFA Under 20 World Cup on two occasions, in 1991 Portugal under the captaincy of Dwight Yorke and in 2009 Egypt under Leston Paul, and they are defending Caribbean champions, having copped the regional title in 2014 with a 3-0 win over Haiti in Port of Spain.
Mitchell is a surviving member of that team alongside Nicholas Dillon. The T&T team trained at the Ato Boldon Stadium for the final time on Tuesday afternoon and English-born midfielder Morgan Bruce took part in the preparations after arriving from London on Monday.
“It’s great to be here and to be linking up with the Trinidad and Tobago National Under 20 side,” Bruce told TTFA Media.
“It’s an exciting time for me, obviously because I think being able to play international football for the country where my dad was born is a huge honour and I’m just looking to do my best to help the team qualify. I think we’ve got a great chance, not taking any of the teams for granted, but obviously believing in ourselves and taking care of business on the pitch,” Bruce added.
Guadeloupe head coach Moise Castry attended a Press Conference on Tuesday at the VIP Lounge, Hasely Crawford Stadium to officially open the tournament, and he warned T&T that they will have their work cut out if they are to get three points on Wednesday. Also attending the press conference was TTFA President David John-Williams who welcomed the three visiting teams, and TTFA Vice President Ewing Davis.
“We have come here to qualify out of the group. We have a team that is hungry for success and we have prepared well. We have been preparing for four months and we have four players in the team that have come from France two weeks ago. We don’t intend to make it easy for Trinidad and Tobago,” Castry said via a translator. He added that the team has been well received and accommodated since their arrival on Monday.
Guadeloupe has been the birthplace for several players who have gone on to represent France, notably, Jocelyn Angloma, Lilian Thuram and Ex-Chelsea player Bernanrd Lambourde. Guadeloupe’s senior team also reached the semi finals of the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup where they lost to Mexico, and they were runners up in the 2010 Caribbean Cup.
T&T head coach Brian Williams said his team will be well guarded against complacency.
“We have had two months of good preparations and I am happy with our progress. Of course the first game of a tournament is always the most important but can also be a bit tricky as this will be the first international game at this level for several of our players. But other than that, I expect we will try to settle early and play our game which will be to go on the offensive and take the game to the opponents. We will not back down for any challenges,” Williams told TTFA Media.
Turks and Caicos will face St Lucia in the opening match from 5pm.
The tournament continues with double headers on June 17th and 19th at the same venue. Tickets will be on sale on matchdays at the venue priced at $20 covered section and $10 uncovered.