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Thu, Jun

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T&T U-20 training in CyprusTrinidad and Tobago’s National Under 20 footballers will try to make the most of the opportunity to test their readiness for the upcoming FIFA Under 20 World Championship when they square off with Australia’s National Under 20 team in a training match at the Ayia Napa ground from 5pm (10am TT time) on Thursday.

The game will provide both teams with the chance to tune up for their upcoming games in Egypt with T&T taking on the hosts on September 24 in Alexandria and the young “Socceroos”taking on Czech Republic three days later. The boys from down under are also grouped with Costa Rica and Brazil.

For Thursday’s game,  Australia’s coach Jan Versleijen will choose his starting team from his final World Cup 21-man squad which  includes three players with senior national team experience in Adelaide United defender Daniel Mullen, AZ Alkmaar midfielder James Holland and Brisbane Roar forward Mitch Nichols. The squad also features 15 domestic-based players and six from overseas clubs, including Liverpool reserve team goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis.

Sydney FC defender Sam Munro, defender Ryan McGowan of Scottish club Hearts, Aston Villa defender Chris Herd and Bolton Wanderers forward Aaron Mooy are also in the Aussies squad.

“The game will be a good test for us because any team who has qualified for the World Cup like we have, will be coming with their best team and trying their best to get ready for the tournament at this stage of the preparations,” T&T head coach Zoran Vranes told TTFF Media on Wednesday evening after an evening training session in Ayia Napa.

“Of course we expect the game to be a tough one because Australia will be a strong team but this is the type of game we want right now to see exactly where we are in terms of our preparations. The guys in our team will also be ready for the game because right now they are very anxious to play games. They are really looking forward to Egypt and they all want the opportunity to step on to that playing field,” he said.

Versleijen added : “We have experienced a variety of opposition in different conditions and locations which has helped in the development of the players," said Versleijen. "Our recent tours to Europe and South America have also given us valuable experience against the similar type of opposition that we will face at the World Cup."

Note: The word "Ayia" (Agia) means "holy" in Greek. The word 'Napa' is archaic and it means "wooded - valley". In ancient times the area surrounding the town was covered with thick forest.

Ayia Napa is a resort in the far eastern end of the south coast of the island of Cyprus, famous for its sandy beaches. According to local legend, the now renowned original icon was accidentally discovered by a hunter in hot pursuit of his prey. Upon discovery, the icon of Virgin Mary was called Virgin Mary of Napa, eventually shortened and now know as Ayia Napa. The present monastery, built in 1500, was built around the cave, in honour of the Virgin Mary of Ayia Napa. According to local tradition, until 1790 no-one lived within close vicinity of Ayia Napa. The first inhabitants who actually appeared and settled were twenty men from Salonica,Greece, and  so began the village of Ayia Napa.