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Trinidad and Tobago’s National Under 20 footballers, back in Port of Spain today (Thursday) from a 21-day tour, will continue their preparations for the FIFA Under 20 World Championship with another set of international warm ups against renowned opposition next month.
The Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation this week accepted an invitation to participate in a tournament in Venezuela from June 11-21 which will see the junior “Soca Warriors” get to face off with the National Under 20s teams of defending World Youth Cup champions Argentina, Ghana, Honduras and hosts Venezuela. There is the possibility that one other country will be added to the list.

T&T received the invitation from Hernan Tofoni, general manager of  licensed FIFA Match and Players agent World Eleven, the organizers of the tournament.

The opportunity for T&T to test themselves against higher ranked teams was another welcomed one for head coach Zoran Vranes.

“We believe that the only way the team can prepare for a World tournament is to play teams that are rated higher than us and that are stronger than us at the moment. I think the Federation is doing quite a good job to try and ensure that we get to warm up against the bigger teams and as you can see with our tour, we have worked hard and improved game by game. The result against Nigeria didn’t come by luck,” Vranes told TTFF Media on Wednesday as the T&T contingent landed in London on its way back to Port of Spain following visits to United Arab Emirates, South Korea and Nigeria dating back to last month.

Reflecting some more on the draw with the “Flying Eagles” on Tuesday, the Serbia Montenegro-born coach added that he was curious to see how the players would respond on the follow up to such a grueling tour.

“If you look back at our matches you will see that we had chances to win some of the games. I believe that this team can be very good with some changes and with more preparation on a physical and mental aspect.

“When you play Nigeria and you have the lead you are scared to spoil it and you start to make results. We did not attack them in the second half as much as we did in the first and that is something we will work on.”

Vranes said he believed strikers Juma Clarence and Trent Lougheed will develop into top notch forwards once they remain focused.

“Juma deserved to start. He had problems in the past but he coming back very well. Trent is also a very hard working guy but he also has some weaknesses which he is working on. I believe they can both be very good players.”

Meantime, the Trinidad and Tobago Ambassador to Nigeria Mrs. Victoria Mendez-Charles and her colleagues from the Trinidad High Commission in Abuja hosted the T&T players and officials at a reception at the Hilton Hotel on Tuesday night following the match at the National Stadium.

T&T skipper Leston Paul presented Mendez-Charles with an autographed national team shirt.

“It’s an honour for Trinidad and Tobago to play Egypt in the first game… What a task we have,” Mendez Charles told the gathering which included officials of other high commissions from Central America and the Caribbean.

“After seeing today’s game between Trinidad and Tobago and Nigeria of which I was eminently proud of our team, I have every reason, every faith and confidence that our young nationals will rise to the occasion and acquit themselves honorably,” she said.

The team returns home on Thursday afternoon.