Mon, Jan


NOTTINGHAM Forest striker Stern John will join the Trinidad and Tobago senior football team for Sunday's 2002 World Cup qualifier against Honduras after all.

The English first division team had initially refused to release John because of the close proximity of a crucial Worthington Cup match on Monday away to Premiership club Bolton Wanderers. However, technical director Rene Simoes, through the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF), insisted that his player be returned to him, according to the FIFA law governing such disputes between club and country.

The Brazilian had his way in the end.

"Stern John will meet us in Miami tomorrow," said Simoes yesterday. "...We exercised our right to have the player."

And Bulgaria-based midfielder Brent Rahim, who campaigns with first division team Levskia Sofia, returned yesterday afternoon and completes the list of eight foreign-based players. That list has been modified after the untimely passing of Rochester Rhinos midfielder Mickey Trotman. Trotman, who played professionally in the United States A' League, died early Wednesday morning in a vehicular accident on Pinto Road, Arima.

The "Soca Warriors" yesterday received professional counselling to deal with Trotman's loss, before a friendly game against CL Financial San Juan Jabloteh at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

Simoes said the players seemed to be in slightly better spirits after the warm-up match, but accepted that it would take some time for the team to put it behind them.

The "Warriors" went on to defeat Jabloteh 2-1, with Arnold Dwarika scoring both goals.

"I think they are doing better," said Simoes. "But this is something that one day you understand and the other day you have some questions. This is very natural when you are in grief."

He explained that the US Major League Soccer (MLS) pair of Kansas City Wizards striker Gary Glasgow and Columbus Crew defender Ansil Elcock were hardest hit by the tragedy and required special attention. However, there was no time for more counselling before their departure for Honduras today.

Simoes hopes that T&T will react in a positive manner and fulfil the wish of the deceased player's mother, Mary Trotman, by dedicating their efforts to the late national midfielder. The "Soca Warriors" are yet to earn a point after five games under their Brazilian coach and Simoes is desperate for a positive result.

"I want to win the game," he told the Express. "Most of the time I win games and I miss that... But it will be tough."

The Hondurans are a formidable team particularly at home. In their ten qualifying matches played at home thus far, Honduras has scored 29 times, while conceding just twice.

They have lost two games at home to Costa Rica and the United States but Simoes expects an intense game played in front of a hostile crowd.

The fence at the San Pedro Sula stadium, he explained, is close enough for fans to touch the players around the corner flags. Once more, Simoes is set to ask West Ham custodian Shaka Hislop to lead out his troops in enemy territory.

The English Premier League star captained the "Soca Warriors" for the first time on September 5 in a 3-0 away loss to Mexico. And, although former captain and defensive stalwart Marvin Andrews is available, Simoes has suggested he would stick with Hislop.

Andrews, who campaigns with Scottish Premier League team Livingston, missed the Mexico trip due to injury but is expected to reclaim his position in central defence against Honduras.

"If Shaka plays, it will be Shaka," said Simoes. "If not (then) Marvin. Because at the meetings I had with the team and from what I saw in Mexico, I think he has the ingredients to be a great captain. Not that Marvin doesn't (also) have the ingredients.

"But I think he (Hislop) is a little bit more aggressive with players when necessary and sometimes the captain must be."

Simoes said he will maintain the same approach as at the Azteca Stadium, Mexico City, where he used a 3-6-1 system and attempt to play on the counter.