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T&T TrainingTrinidad and Tobago will be hoping to put Peru to the test in their friendly football match at Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, from eight o'clock tonight.

T&T co-head coach Jamaal Shabazz said the management and the players were happy to have the opportunity to go toe to toe with a South American team as they start their preparations for the 2013 Gold Cup.

The T&T coach said all his players were excited about coming up against Peru, and he insisted that the game is not just another football match.

"This game is not just about football for us. It is about reviving the programme and trying to create an entity that could again lift the spirit of our people because I think at this point we need our spirits lifted again," the coach told the media at a press conference at Trinidad Hilton, yesterday.

"It is going to be a very testing time for us because we are sure they are taking this game (very serious as they try) to build confidence in their team....It means we are in for a very difficult game, and we look forward to it very eagerly."

Asked about the style of play expected from his charges, Shabazz said: "Our style is evolving. We know Peru is a strong opponent and we will try to give them respect and play smart and defend when we have to defend, but we know that when we win the ball they will be forced to defend too because we have some clever players and very talented players and some athletic ones as well, so we think it is going to be a tough game and a game we intend to come out and compete."

The T&T squad includes foreign-based players Carlos Edwards, Darryl Roberts, Kenwyne Jones and Sheldon Bateau.

"We have decided that we would use different players at different times," said Shabazz, "trying to put together a team for the grand finale which is the Gold Cup. We intend to take a firsthand look at the players we have who have been playing in Europe and who have not been in the national set up for a long time.

"I think we are happy with the opportunities for players going outside of the country but we have this policy where we don't look too much at the passport of the player or where they play but we look forward to putting together a team that will do well."

Shabazz said the foreign-based players have already had a positive impact on the squad, ahead of today's encounter.

"They bought in to the tactical approach. They are like leaders on the pitch, helping and encouraging the players."

Peru coach Markarian cautious over T&T.
T&T Guardian Reports.


Head coach of Peru Sergio Markarian has opted for a cautious approach to today’s international friendly against T&T, a crucial match in both nations’ preparation for major upcoming international fixtures.

Markarian, whose Peru team currently sits second from bottom in the South American qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup, has said his team will need a boost in confidence ahead of their challenges. The Uruguayan-born headman admitted, however, that neither his staff nor the players were familiar with T&T as a unit. “We’re not familiar with T&T. (But) we were surprised to see the quality players in T&T (roster).

“Some of these (players) play in the best leagues in the world,” said Markarian. He added that the T&T team will give Peru an alternative tactical perspective, which is a quality needed to become more versatile in testing situations.

Markarian said he has also been impressed with the number of playing fields and potential grounds available to the country and the number of children he has seen practising in the rural areas. “I’ve had the opportunity to experience many countries in the world, and the number of fields seen in small places is something I’ve seen in Uruguay, Holland and (now) Trinidad.”

“I’ve seen the little boys playing and juggling.” “(With) all of that, I think that your country has a good future in football.” Peru, ranked 34 in the FIFA world rankings, will need to take positive results from its remaining World Cup qualifiers to capture at least the half spot, which is available to the team which finishes fifth in the region.

T&T’s challenger brings a host of players with international and club pedigree, including the likes of captain Claudio Pizarro, who has scored 16 goals from 61 international appearances. He also plays club football for German giants Bayern Munich.

‘La Blanquirroja’ has also brought along skilful Corinthians forward in Paolo Guerrero, who has 19 goals from 44 matches, along with prolific Shalke winger Jefferson Farfan. A notable absentee for Peru is Fiorentina (loaned to Genoa) winger Juan Manuel Vargas, who, according to Markarian, is recuperating from injury.