HEAD coach of the T&T men’s senior football team Angus Eve said the two upcoming friendlies against Jamaica will be a “good yardstick” for his players as the Soca Warriors aim to re-establish themselves as a powerhouse in the Caribbean.
The first match against Jamaica takes place at the Montego Bay Sports Complex in Catherine Hall on Saturday and the second will be played at the National Stadium in Kingston on March 14.
T&T will use the matches as preparation for upcoming Concacaf Nations League and Gold Cup qualifiers versus Bahamas in Nassau on March 24 and against Nicaragua on March 27 at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet, Tobago.
T&T were once feared in the region, but the results in recent years have seen the gap between the Soca Warriors and other teams decrease.
“I said from the beginning we need to establish ourselves in the Caribbean, so this would go some ways in assessing their local-based group against our local-based group,” Eve said during a training session at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella on Monday.
Eve, who expects one or two foreign-based players in the Jamaica team, said the matches would be a gauge for T&T.
“It still would be a good yardstick for us to see where we are because people think Jamaica has left us from a standpoint of development. I think they are developing a national senior team because they tend to bring in a lot of players.”
Eve said Jamaica have the luxury of fielding players whose parents or grandparents are Jamaican. Footballers can only play for the T&T senior team if at least one parent has T&T roots. If a footballer interested in representing the Soca Warriors has T&T grandparents only, he is ineligible.
Eve knows Jamaica will be a tough opponent for T&T. “Jamaica is ranked more than a half-century higher than us. I think they have league football going on, we don’t. It is going to start (this week). These guys are at a disadvantage from a playing standpoint, but if we could be competitive and put in good results and I am seeing the players doing the things we asked them to do…those things would be success for me.”
Teenagers Kaile Auvray and Nathaniel James have earned T&T senior call-ups.
Auvray, born in France, played for St Martin in a friendly against T&T in January at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo. Auvray, 18, has a Trinidadian mother and has decided to represent T&T. Auvray’s father Stephane is the head coach of St Martin.
Eve and his T&T technical staff were impressed by the midfielder during the match.
W Connection’s James, 18, demonstrated his ability last year at the Concacaf Under-20 Championships finding the net regularly and the striker has been rewarded by Eve.
Eve is elated to welcome Auvray and James to the team. “Auvray has been on the radar for us since the Under-20s when we went to Honduras. Unfortunately for him at that time he did not have a passport…so what we did is we brought him in over the Christmas period.
“We have Nathaniel James who is just 18 years old also is in the squad. Nathaniel scored the most for us in the Under-20 tournament so this is a step up for him.”
Eve is satisfied with the effort his players have been showing in training.
“Pretty much the guys have been working really well, really enthusiastic and we really looking forward to the two matches that we have in Jamaica to see how they would deal with the pressures playing in a climate like that.”
Levi Garcia, based in Greece, is not in the squad as he is trying to recover from a leg injury. Eve said he is aiming to give more of the local-based players an opportunity, but said Garcia will obviously be in his plans moving forward.
Eve described the friendlies against Jamaica as “invaluable.”
Marvin Phillip (AC Port of Spain), Adrian Foncette (Police FC), Denzil Smith (W Connection);
Alvin Jones (unattached), Kareem Riley, Josiah Trimmingham (both Club Sando), Justin Garcia, Jelani Felix (both Defence Force), Jameel Neptune (AC Port of Spain), Andre Raymond (Dumiense FC—Portugal);
Matthew Woo Ling, Michel Poon-Angeron (both AC Port of Spain), Noah Powder, Jesse Williams (both unattached), Justin Sadoo (Defence Force);
Jomal Williams (Once Deportivo—El Salvador), Joevin Jones (unattached), Kailé Auvray (Sporting Kansas City—US), Kadeem Corbin (Central FC), Reon Moore (Defence Force), John-Paul Rochford, Jomoul Francois (both AC Port of Spain), Nathaniel James (W Connection), Quesi Weston (Louisiana Krewe FC—US).
WATCH Eve talks on T&T Selection for Jamaica Friendlies in March