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Wed, Jun

Trinidad and Tobago train in Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis ahead of their 2026 Concacaf World Cup Qualifier against Bahamas on June 8th 2024.
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The T&T men's football team will be without the services of ace forward Levi Garcia when they face The Bahamas in the second game of their 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifying campaign at the St Kitts and Nevis Football Association Technical Centre on June 8. The match kicks off at 5.30 pm.

The Greek-based Garcia came off at the halfway stage of T&T's 2-2 draw with Grenada at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo on June 5. At the post-match briefing, Soca Warriors coach Angus Eve said Garcia felt discomfort in his lower back after receiving a challenge from a Grenada defender. Garcia was scheduled to receive scans on June 5, but no further update was provided on the seriousness of the knock.

It's another setback for the AEK Athens forward who missed most of the Soca Warriors' 2023/24 Concacaf Nations League A campaign due to a series of niggling injuries. Left-back Andre Raymond, who became a regular fixture in the Soca Warriors defence in the Nations League A campaign, has also been ruled out through injury. The pair of Josiah Trimminham and silky central midfielder Michel Poon-Angeron will replace Garcia and Raymond in Eve's 23-man squad.

T&T salvaged a point after trailing by a 2-0 margin versus Grenada, and now they will face a Bahamian team which brought their 2022 World Cup qualification campaign to an end. Under then coach Terry Fenwick, T&T played to a goalless draw away in Nassau, Bahamas – a result which contributed to a surprise first-round exit for the 2006 World Cup participants.

T&T have got a measure of revenge against their Bahamian counterparts since then, as they defeated them in both matches in the 2022/23 Concacaf Nations League B campaign. A Neveal Hackshaw goal led T&T to a slender 1-0 win in Mucurapo in June 2022, while Eve's charges got a more comfortable 3-0 result in the return fixture in Bahamas last March. The visitors got all their goals in the first half on that day, with Kareem Moses, Joevin Jones and flanker Ryan Telfer finding the net.

Telfer was one of T&T's better players against Grenada, and he registered a goal and an assist to help T&T open the 2026 campaign with a point. In their second group B match, though, the Soca Warriors are hunting all three points.

"We have to be ruthless. We have to put away our chances," T&T's Canadian-based forward Malcolm Shaw told T&T Football Association media on June 7. "We have to be organised and keep possession for the whole 90 minutes. We can't take our feet off the gas. We have to show our quality...we can't switch off mentally."

Shaw was an unused sub for the Grenada match, but the Cavalry FC player is eager to make his mark.

"If (coach) Angus calls upon me for this game, I know I'll be ready to contribute and do what I do well to help the team going forward in attack."

Shaw said T&T showed good resilience to fight back against Grenada, and he wants the team to be on the front foot from kick off in St Kitts.

"That's a game we were expected to win. Obviously, (the Bahamas match) is a must-win for us. The whole camp has to be ready to contribute and be at their best."

Eve said the Soca Warriors have a chance to redeem themselves.

"The good thing about football is that you always have another game," Eve said. "It could have been worse. We fought back and I thought the second half was a good building block coming into this game. We hope to be more clinical in this particular match here."

With the game being played on artificial turf, Eve is banking on his players' experience in the Canadian Premier League and the varying US leagues to come to the fore. The T&T coach said his team wasn't as cohesive as he would have liked against Grenada. He would be hoping for a much more fruitful outing against the 200th-ranked Bahamas team.

On June 6, favourites Costa Rica jumped to the Group B summit with a thumping 4-0 victory over St Kitts and Nevis.


SOURCE: T&T Newsday