Eight players could likely make their senior international debut for Trinidad and Tobago when the “Soca Warriors” face Chile in a friendly international at the Estadio Tierra de Campeones in Iquique from 10pm tonight (Wednesday).
That’s the possibility as head coach Russell Latapy leads his troops into action against the 2010 World Cup finalists who are using the encounter as a fine tuner for their upcoming clashes in South Africa against Spain, Switzerland and Honduras.
While the seasoned campaigners like Densill Theobald, who is the team captain for Wednesday’s match, Keon Daniel and Clyde Leon are in the squad to face the South Americans.
Among those set to start for the first time or at least take a place on the substitutes bench include W Connection’s Shahdon Winchester, Jeovin Jones, Keron Cummings and Matthew Bartholomew, Ma Pau’s Devon Jamerson, Caledonia AIA’s Daneil Cyrus, Under 23 team goalkeeper Andre Marchan and Jessie Stewart of University of T&T.
The others in the line up include W Connection goalie Jan Michael Williams, Kern Cupid, Keston Williams, Hughtun Hector, Aklie Edwards and another inform Defence Force player in Kevon Carter.
Latapy put his players through a morning training session which lasted for just under 90 minutes at the Chile Football Federation training centre in Santiago on Tuesday morning before journeying by plane to Iquique.
In-form Defence Force striker Devon Jorsling, who was part of the T&T team during the 2010 qualifying campaign, is confident in his ability but is aware that a fair amount of his teammates are inexperienced at this level.
“Our sessions have been very tactical in relation to how we need to play against a World Cup team like Chile. Yes we have a lot of young players but I think everyone is hungry to do well on the international stage and that is what we are hoping to do out on the field… to give everything,” Jorsling said.
“I’m confident in my ability as a striker and I believe this is my time to prove myself because most of our other international strikers are getting older and players like me and the rest of the guys need to step up to the challenge now and this game (against Chile) will be a good one to start off with a winning result or a good enough performance.”
The team arrived in Chile at 7pm on Monday night via Caracas and checked in at the Intercontinental Hotel in Santiago, a some 30 minutes away from the airport.
Conditions were relatively calm despite there being an earthquake reported to be of a 6.4 magnitude which struck 109 kms northwest of the southern city of Temuco on Sunday. Chile’s Navy said there were no Tsunami warnings.
Wednesday’s game itself is expected to attract a full turn out of fans all looking for every opportunity to get close to its national team before it heads off to the World Cup in South Africa next month.
Head coach Marcelo Bielsa named a 16-man squad on Sunday for the encounter and has included three overseas-based players including Argentine based duo Gary Medel of Boca Juniors and Emiliano Hernandez of Argentinos Juniors and Pedro Morales of Dinamo Zagreb.
“It’s a match that we are looking for because it will serve well in our preparation for the games in South Africa, particularly against Honduras which is a team Trinidad and Tobago is familiar with in their region,” Bielsa said.
“I don’t expect Trinidad will give us an easy encounter but it’s important for us to perform at a top level, similar to what I will expect in the World Cup from my players.”
TTFF technical director Lincoln Phillips, who travelled with the team, is also of the impression that the game is a handy one for both teams.
“It’s a good date for Chile because they are getting ready to go to a World Cup and for us because we are building again for the World Cup that will come after South Africa in 2014,” Phillips told TTFF Media.
“We know they (Chile) are an excellent team and we are a young team and Russell has them playing towards a plan. We are working towards having the team play to that plan as best as possible. But it will not be easy against a team like Chile at this point in time just before the head off for a World Cup.
“We will see how well our players have taken to the approach and how he (Russell) wants them to play. It’s a great opportunity to test this against a World Class team but again we cannot expect a complete turnaround under the circumstances of where Chile is at at the moment and also the fact that we have a young team.
We will contest the ball in the middle third of the field and it will be interesting to see how we show up. Russell has constantly been speaking to his players both in groups and individually, especially the younger ones, and they will be striving towards executing the game plan as is expected of them,” Phillips continued.