In just the first week in the New Year, our national football team is faced with the first challenge of the year, tomorrow to be exact, where opponents Suriname and Haiti will be formidable opponents.
I suppose that the new coach has given sufficient thought for the selection process and it will be senseless to challenge the team without seeing any training sessions at home or its two matches in Nicaragua.
Of course, the quality of the players is well known to those who follow the game closely. However, now that the recent confusion regarding the availability to represent the national team, is complete and the players are all available for selection.
The omission of Jan-Michel Williams is not understandable, unless of course he is injured, because he is undoubtedly the best and most outstanding keeper in the country, plus his vast experience at international level cannot be underestimated.
Being careful and hopefully fair that I am when it comes to matters of this great game, I realise that the chosen team is filled with some talented players, even without the Daneil Cyrus and Jomal Williams.
With the reason given by the coach for omitting these players, I applaud his decision. But if the reason for Cyrus being late because of a busted car tyre, then there should have been some level of compassion displayed. If his reason was truthful, then the coach may have acted unreasonably.
The case of Joevin Jones playing a practice match for W Connection is one which I would like to hear a comment from the TTFA President David John Williams or the management of W Connection. Jones, who is home on vacation from MLS champion Seattle Sounders, was unavailable for selection for the national team which toured Nicaragua last month.
We are all aware that the MLS season had ended, and all players from T&T who are attached to clubs are able to return home, especially when they have matches of competitive value.
The decision taken by the player himself or the management of the “W Connection team” to represent “W Connection” in a practice match against our Gold Cup Competitor, Haiti for a place in the Summer tournament, is strange and awkward for the new coach.
If the left-footed talented player needed to get some match activity before the Gold Cup qualifying matches tournament, why did he not travel with the team to Nicaragua?
I assume that no one saw anything wrong with his decision, except the Coach, who decided to remove his name from the previously selected squad.
Nevertheless, the true test for the current squad and their new coaching staff will be these two upcoming match against Suriname and Haiti.
The Dutch has not been setting the Caribbean world afire in recent times, but their players have shown levels of improvement marginally within the past two years.
However, a victory is terribly needed for the Soca Warriors, especially as the Haitians, their next opponent, are a much stronger team. They defeated T&T to eliminate us from the Copa America mega tournament last July.
Meanwhile, the little that I have recognised from Carlos Edwards’ squad does not allow me to make any strategic assessment on the team. However, having seen their last encounter against Haiti, and witnessing the matches played against the south Americans, gave me the feeling that speed will be their main asset, plus their absolute desire to gain possession.
T&T need to pay as much attention to this mini tournament so that qualification to the Gold Cup will provide the much needed experience and exposure before the team meet the more advanced Mexico and Panama.
This is a crucial year for the Soca Warriors football.