Last update: 09-Dec-2013 11:04 am
Monday, December 09, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Warriors to face UAE in OSN Cup opener
T&T will have a first time face-to-face clash with Asian opponents United Arab Emirates when both teams meet in the opening match of the OSN Cup at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh from 6.45 pm (11.45 am TT time) today.
The “Soca Warriors” under head coach Stephen Hart and captain Kenwyne Jones arrived in Riyadh at around 3 am yesterday (8 pm Tuesday T&T time) and had their lone training session last night at the match venue which is expected to have a 35,000 crowd for today’s matches, which also includes a match between the hosts Saudi Arabia and New Zealand.
Hart conducted a 75-minute session in 40 degrees temperature during which he had a first time opportunity to work with the likes of Willis Plaza, Lester Peltier, Ataullah Guerra, Marcus Joseph, Robert Primus, Sheldon Bateau, Glenroy Samuel and Mekeil Williams. W Connection defender Daneil Cyrus, just back from a trial with Racing Genk, did not make the trip, missing the flight out of Port of Spain on Sunday as well as a second flight on Monday. And Orlando City midfielder Kevin Molino was delayed in Miami and is scheduled to arrive early this morning.
In spite of some of the financial woes still being faced by the T&T Football Association (TTFA), Hart was in good spirits. He said he was and pleased with the session and the look of the players at his disposal.
Some of the returning members from the Gold Cup squad include Radanfah Abu Bakr, English-based duo Andre Boucaud and Justin Hoyte, Racing Genk midfielder Khaleem Hyland, Columbus Crew’s Kevan George and T&T-based foursome Densill Theobald, Jan Michael Williams, Curtis Gonzales and Aubrey David.
Overall, the T&T team futures no fewer than nine players who were part of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in 2009.
The include Caledonia AIA goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel, T&T’s goalkeeper at both the 2007 Fifa Under-17 and 2009 Fifa Under-20 World Cups, Robert Primus (FC Aktobe), Williams (W Connection), Aubrey David (Caledonia AIA), Molino (Orlando City), Khaleem Hyland (Racing Genk), Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force), Joseph (Point Fortin Civic Centre) and Sheldon Bateau (KV Mechelen).
“It’s been very humid but we had a really good session today even though it was a bit short because of the fact that we had a long travel,” Hart said.
“But generally the attitude of the players was good and the work rate was pretty decent as well. These are the things that are always pleasing when you come together as a squad especially this far away from home. It was a good opportunity to regroup after the Gold Cup and to get some new bodies involved as well,” Hart said.
Earlier yesterday, United Arab Emirates head coach Mahdi Ali Hassan Redha, said at a press conference that he was hoping to secure a place in the final on September 9 by pulling off a win over the “Soca Warriors” who will be playing their first match since a 1-0 quarterfinal loss to Mexico in the Concacaf Gold Cup held in July in the USA.
“It will be a good tournament with some exciting football. I think all the teams are strong and they will pose a good challenge. I expect our game to be a less than easy one but we will be ready for the challenge.
“We know T&T have played at the World Cup in 2006 so they are a capable team. We will try to play the right kind of game to start with a victory,” he said.
The UAE, World Cup finalists in 1990, defeated Uzbekistan 2-1 in March and also edged Iraq 2-1 to win the Gulf Cup in January. T&T and the UAE have never met in a senior international game before.
Jones, who will wear the captain’s armband for T&T, added that he was keen to see how the T&T team performs following their quarter-final run at the Concacaf Gold Cup in July.
“It’s the first time we are coming together since the Gold Cup and everyone is very keen to put on the national shirt and play again,” said 28-year-old Jones.
“We have some new faces around which will make it interesting to see how well we can execute on the field of play. We haven’t had much time together but there are some regulars here so we will obviously try to use our experience and the time we’ve spent together in the past to ensure we put on a good performance and hopefully come away with a good result as well.”
If the score is leveled after 90 minutes the game will head directly to kicks from the penalty spot. The winners of today’s matches games will meet in the final on Monday while the two losers will meet in the third place playoff.
In today’s second match, New Zealand will be bracing itself for the Middle East heat when they come up against hosts Saudi Arabia from 2.15 pm TT time.
The Kiwis are the only nation of the quartet still alive for a spot at next year’s World Cup in Brazil.
New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert will have the services of West Ham defender Winston Reid, who was released by the Premier League outfit for the tournament.
Herbert’s men enter the tournament in a fine run of form, unbeaten in eight matches and winning all bar a 1-1 draw with China in November.
Their loss to New Caledonia in June 2012 in Honiara—the Solomon Islands capital—was a low point for Herbert and his side, as it meant they missed out on a trip to the Confederations Cup.
And de Jong warned potential banana peel matches lay ahead in Saudi Arabia, noting the hosts can defy their Fifa ranking of 107-50 spots lower than the Kiwis (57th).
Soca Warriors squad
Goalkeepers: Jan-Michael Williams (Central FC), Marvin Phillips (Point Fortin Civic Centre), Glenroy Samuel (Caledonia AIA).
Defenders: Sheldon Bateau (KV Mechelen), Justin Hoyte (Middlesbrough), Daneil Cyrus (W Connection), Robert Primus (FC Aktobe), Mekeil Williams (W Connection), Aubrey David (Caledonia AIA), Radanfah Abu Bakr (FC Vosto), Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force).
Midfielders: Kevan George (Columbus Crew), Andre Boucaud (Notts County), Lester Peltier (Slovan Bratislava), Kevin Molino (Orlando City), Densill Theobald (Caledonia AIA), Ataullah Guerra (Rovaniemen Palloseura), Khaleem Hyland (Racing Genk), Marcus Joseph (Point Fortin Civic Centre).
Forwards: Kenwyne Jones (Stoke City), Willis Plaza (Song Lam Nghe).
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