Sun, Oct


Trinidad and Tobago national senior football team interim coach Hutson “Barber” Charles vowed that the “Soca Warriors” will set out to play the game of their lives against Suriname from 8 pm tonight at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet, Tobago.

After a 1-1 draw with St Vincent and the Grenadines on Wednesday night in their opening 2012 Caribbean Cup semifinal group stage outing, the Warriors are desperate for three points before they face group favourites, Cuba, on Sunday evening.

“Nothing less than a victory would do,” Charles told “We are going into the game with that mindset.”

The Suriname team lost 5-0 to Cuba on Wednesday evening as the Dutch team transitioned slowly from offence to defence and was torn apart by gifted 23-year-old Cuban attacker Marcel Hernandez. But it does not mean Trinidad and Tobago can expect a walkover this evening.

Dreadlocked playmaker Emilio Limon, who is also 23-years-old and was among eight Caribbean players selected for a week-long Sunderland training stint in 2008, is a skilful and powerful presence in central midfield for Suriname while Charles also singled out DirecTV W Connection forward Stefano Rijssel and burly midfielder Romano Stekkel for special attention.

The Warriors have planned several changes too.

Connection utility player Joevin Jones is likely to be moved from left full back to left wing with Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA defender Aubrey Adams taking over his defensive role. Defence Force winger Kevon Carter will probably give way from Trinidad and Tobago’s midfield quintet.

Thailand-based attacker Kendall Jagdeosingh, who was a second half substitute on Monday, is out with a hamstring injury and would be replaced on the bench by either Connection full back Kern Cupid or Southern Football Association (SFA) winger Sylvester Teesdale.

But the biggest alteration looks to be upfront with Defence Force striker Richard “Shaka” Roy set to replace club teammate Devorn Jorsling in the lone striker role.

Roy, a fast, powerful and, above all, aggressive attacker, held the “number nine” role in Charles’ first three games as coach but lost his place after failing to score. His international tally now reads four games played with no goals scored.

In contrast, Jorsling got his 17th goal from 31 international appearances on Wednesday, which put him just above Steve David and ninth in Trinidad and Tobago’s all-time goalscoring charts. Jorsling’s item against St Vincent was created by Carter too.

The decision to replace both men is a gamble that might define Charles’ tenure at the helm. But it is not without reason.

Carter did little defensive work on Wednesday while he is more of a flying winger than a midfield schemer and will not help retain ball possession, which is Charles’ aim tonight. Jorsling, whose game is based on holding up the ball and either winning free kicks or rolling defenders, was nullified by Jamaican referee Courtney Campbell’s penchant for letting anything short of assault go unpunished by St Vincent.

Roy can handle the rough stuff and dish it out too. And, although he is not as good as Jorsling in linking play with his midfielders, he is much better at chasing down the channels and committing opposing defenders.

A goal today might change Roy’s immediate international future. It could have the same impact for Charles and Trinidad and Tobago’s football.

Seven years ago on this date, Trinidad and Tobago created history with a 1-0 win away to Bahrain that booked the nation’s first senior World Cup appearance.

Today, the Warriors are desperate to simply qualify for a regional tournament that Trinidad and Tobago practically owned in the 1990s.

Charles is anxious to help lay the first bricks for what would hopefully become Trinidad and Tobago’s next football empire. As an interim appointment, the Defence Force Warrant Officer One insisted that he is not worried by his own vulnerability and will accept whatever fate is waiting for him.

“I’m just a caretaker, so I am not too worried about that,” said the 43-year-old coach and former national midfield star. “I’m all for Trinidad and Tobago’s football and I am willing to serve in any capacity that I am asked to.”

Today, his job is to inspire his charges to keep Trinidad and Tobago’s 2012 Caribbean Cup and 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup dreams alive.

“Without a positive result, this can set back (Trinidad and Tobago football) for years,” said Charles. “I will be drilling the importance of this game into their heads. This will probably be the game of their lives.”

The Warriors have promised to come out fighting.