The latest addition to the “Soca Warriors” camp, English Premiership-based defender Jlloyd Samuel says he’s looking forward to making his debut and banking on a positive contribution to the team’s effort against Honduras in San Pedro Sula on Saturday.
Samuel, 28, of Bolton Wanderers had his first work out with Russell Latapy’s team at the Muebles Herrera ground on Tuesday and gave an account of his impressions thus far, saying he was in high anticipation of wearing the red, white and black.
“It’s a new experience for myself. I was trying to link up with the boy before but with the FIFA rules, I wasn’t allowed to cross over but finally it’s come true and I’m able to cross over and looking forward to it,”Samuel told TTFF Media on Wednesday.
“I’ve been committed for a while and it would have been nice for me to link up with the team much earlier. But we had to sort our issues, and with the FIFA ruling but with that gone through I want to go for it all the way and I want to be here for a while now.”
“It’s obviously easier for yourself when you know people and faces around. When I’m at home I’m just relaxing and playing in the Premier League, I don’t really watch much other football because I’ve got my family as well but it’s nice to meet the other guys who are playing in the MLS and back home in Trinidad. It’s nice to meet up with the new faces.
Samuel’s mother and father are coming over to San Pedro Sula to witness him in the T&T colours.
“I’m excited and they’re excited. My mom and dad are coming over for the game and hopefully everything else goes well.
The San Fernando-born player is accustomed playing before crowds ranging from 30,000 upwards in England. But he’s well aware that the conditions will be different on Saturday.
“I’m hoping a good team performance and a good one for myself. I want to link up well with the rest of the boys, play some good football and get the result that we want.”
“I know that Trinidad was in this situation before and when people were writing them off they put a run together and were able to go to the World Cup. They’ve done It before and we can do it again,” Samuel concluded.
Jlloyd, sometimes credited 'Walter' (after the Inter Milan defender Walter Samuel) spent his youth football at Charlton Athletic and also played for West Ham United during that period.
There was a dispute with Charlton concerning "poaching" of their youth system by Aston Villa and at the FA tribunal which was set up in response to the charges, John Gregory was famously quoted as saying that he'd signed Jlloyd and didn't expect him to play for the first team. Samuel went to make 169 appearances for Villa’s first team between 1998-2007, making 21 appearances for England’s Under 21s and earning call up from Sven Eriksson for a friendly versus Sweden when he was an unused substitute. He has since made 60 appearances for Bolton Wanderers.
So far the conditions have been extremely humid in San Pedro Sula. Latapy led his team on a 10-minute walk around the block from the hotel on Wednesday followed by a light stretch with the trainers prior to a 3pm training session at the Francisco Morazan Stadium.
The T&T coaching staff were also met by several media men and a few excited fans on Wednesday morning at the Hotel lobby prior to a meeting, who had all showed up with DVD copies of the Costa Rica/Honduras game. To T&T’s surprise, there were reports in the Honduran Press of an offer from T&T to purchase a copy of the game through the team’s Honduran liaison officer which is usually provided by the host association. There were offers from as high as USD2,000 to USD 200 for a copy. Fortunately, Latapy and company already had in their possession copies of the said match as well as recent Concacaf Gold Cup matches involving the hosts.
Meantime on the latest FIFA rankings released this week, T&T regained the number one top spot in the Caribbean jumping the 63 on the world charts and are now fifth in CONCACAF.