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Trinidad and Tobago midfielders Levi Garcia (left) and Molik Khan (right) during a training session in Managua, Nicaragua on June 1st 2022.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Soca Warriors left with mixed emotions the last time they visited Managua, but tonight, assistant head coach Reynold Carrington hopes to take the senior men’s football team to victory over hosts Nicaragua as they open their League B campaign in the CONCACAF Nations League.

The Soca Warriors face the Nicaraguans tonight from 10 p.m., before returning home to settle an account on Monday against minnows Bahamas - the team that knocked them out of the FIFA World Cup qualifying series last year following a disappointing 0-0 draw.

T&T will then play away and home matches against St Vincent and the Grenadines on June 10 and 13 to end this leg of the four-match Nations League series. The group winners automatically qualify for the 2023 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Former national midfielder Carrington takes charge in the absence of head coach Angus Eve, who was unable to travel due to a personal family emergency.

“The task is the same and we remain upbeat and committed to that task,” Carrington stated in an interview with TTFA Media. “We have 19 capable players with loads of experience and ability with the overseas and home-based players in the mix.”

Eve selected a 28-man roster to cover the four matches. Five of those players were not included in the traveling squad for Nicaragua. They include Real Gill, Kaheim Thomas, Jabari Mitchell, Kevon Goddard and Duane Muckette. They are all in the pool for the remaining three matches after today’s outing. Also missing the trip are players Alvin Jones, Noah Powder, Neveal Hackshaw and La Horquetta Rangers goalkeeper Jabari St Hillaire for a combination of reasons.

Both Jones and St Hillaire did not reveal their online travel health pass approval from the Nicaraguan Health Authority in time to board the departing flight out of Piarco. Powder and Hackshaw also did not receive their PCR results in the United States within the required time necessary to get similar approval for their entry into Nicaragua.

Despite the unavailability of some key players, Carrington still has many of the experienced men Eve has worked with since taking over last year, such as Aubrey David, Sheldon Bateau and Joevin Jones. Carrington also has available the England-born midfield pair of Daniel Phillips and Michael Kedman.

Phillips made his debut against Guyana in World Cup qualifying, while Kedman is grandson of deceased former Trinidad Express newspaper editor Mervyn Wells and played on local soil for Central FC’s 2017 Caribbean Club Championships team, which included several foreign players. Meanwhile, Phillips played for Gillingham this season on loan from Watford, and also made his T&T debut during last year’s World Cup campaign.

“The important thing is for us to remain focused and understand the importance of the match and also wanting to get a positive start to the campaign,” Carrington stated.

Costa Rica-based defender Aubrey David is keen to start of the Nations League campaign which also serves as qualifiers for the 2023 CONCACAF Gold Cup. David was part of the contingent which split a pair of friendly internationals in Managua in 2016 during the short-lived, 35-day stint of Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet.

T&T suffered a first ever-loss to Nicaragua when going down 2-1 in the opening match, before winning the return game 3-1. David would hope for a better start in Managua this time around.

“It’s also great to have experienced players such as Joevin (Jones), Sheldon Bateau and Leston Paul back in the squad. Overall we have the capability to go in there and put on a performance that can hopefully give us a winning start before we head home for Bahamas,” David said.

SOURCE: T&T Express