The minor campaign to mark last Monday’s World Happiness Day in T&T revealed, quite inadvertently, the fundamental defects that retard progress in this society.
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Mitchell: No fear for Messi
It’s undoubtedly set to be the biggest international match of his career and similarly for some of his teammates in the T&T squad when they face off with Argentina on Wednesday in Buenos Aires. But ask Carlyle Mitchell if he’s having sleepless nights and he puts a smile across his face.
“Lose sleep over facing Lionel Messi and (Sergio) Aguero? No way,” Mitchell said after spending the first couple nights at the Radisson Trinidad with his teammates since joining the camp this week.
Mitchell, now attached with Vancouver Whitecaps in the American MLS, says there is a lot of talk back at his club about little T&T facing giants Argentina.
“A lot of the guys have been talking about it. Some wished me well and others obviously think we are going to have a very hard time. But as a footballer, you learn to prepare for these things and I can handle it. I’ve never backed down from a difficult challenge and I think all the players in the squad are anxiously waiting matchday because they all want to play against some of the best in the world. We have our goals set on winning the Caribbean Cup and making it to the Gold Cup and qualifying for another World Cup. This game next week is just a part of the puzzle,” Mitchell said.
T&T is skippered by Kenwyne Jones and departs for Buenos Aires on Saturday night. They will face the Argentines at the Estadio Monumental and Iran at the Corinthians Stadium in Sao Paolo on June 8. Also traveling on the charter flight on Saturday will be a T&T cultural delegation and local fans. Persons interested in purchasing the package can still do so via www.nissicharters.com. Groups of four or more persons now have access to the package at TT$10,000 per person inclusive of 4-night stay at the Marriott Hotel, round trip air travel, city tour and added attractions, ground transportation, fan pack and match ticket.
Perfect homecoming for Scotland
Less than three days after leading Hamilton to one of their greatest achievements in Scottish football, former national forward Jason Scotland was on a jet back to Port of Spain to kickstart his offseason break.
Scotland showed up at national team training on Tuesday at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo to witness the session and wish some of his past teammates well in the two upcoming international games against Argentina and Iran.
“It’s a great time to be back home because the season had a perfect ending for me, “ said Scotland, who netted in regulation time against Hibs on Sunday.
“I accomplished what I wanted to which was to get Hamilton back into the Premiership in Scotland and the manner in which we did it was amazing.”
The former Defence Force and Wigan Athletic forward is set to renew his deal with the club after helping them push Hibernian out of the top flight.
“We were confident heading into the second leg even though we were 2-0 down after the first one. But we took care of business. This is a great feeling. I mean, nothing can really compare to beating Bahrain and getting to the World Cup but this has to be among the biggest highlights of my career.”
Despite being able to undergo training camps in South Africa and Austria over the past month, Iran seems to be far from happy with its preparations for the 2014 Brazil World Cup finals which closes with a training match against T&T in Sao Paolo on June 8.
Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iran foreign minister, visited an Iran practice session this month and tweeted a photo with the caption: “Thrilled to meet our boys on field. Asked them to do their best to secure victory in July, they asked me the same,” referring to the tournament coinciding with a deadline to resolve the deadlock over Iran’s nuclear programme.
Reports stated that The government-run Iran football federation has said the shortage of funds for the team’s preparations was because the nuclear-related sanctions prevented it from collecting US$300,000 (Dh1.1 million) from international sponsors.
“If we plan a good preparation programme for the team in accordance with reality, then we can expect to go to the second round,” their head coach Carlos Queiroz said, still optimistic that his team can manage a good showing despite also expressing his concerns over their less than ideal preparations.
Iran has never progressed beyond the group stage in its three previous appearances in the tournament. It kicks off its 2014 campaign on June 16 against Nigeria before playing Argentina, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Molino named in USL Team of the week
T&T midfielder Kevin Molino was named in the United States Soccer League PRO named its Team of the Week for Week 10 of this season on Tuesday. Molino’s hattrick led the Lions to a 3-1 victory against the Charlotte Eagles in a rematch of the 2013 USL PRO Championship.
Already in the middle of a career season for the Lions, Molino continued to shine as he scored twice in the first half and again in the second against the Eagles. The opening goal in the 11th minute came off a rebound from fellow Team of the Week selection Bryan Burke, and the T&T international scored again 20 minutes later before a crisp first-time finish of Mikey Lopez’s cross with 16 minutes to go capped another standout performance.
Molino now leads USL PRO with eight goals, but is being hotly pursued in the race for the Golden Boot by two other Team of the Week selections in Richmond Kickers’ George Davis IV and LA Galaxy II’s Chandler Hoffman, who both sit one back with seven.
“It’s an honour again to be named in the team of the week. I’m happy being topscorer at the moment and I hope I can keep the momentum. I’d like to help Orlando maintain their winning form as well. But for me the next few days my focus will be on the national team of T&T for the games against Argentina and Iran,” Molino said.
Shaun Fuentes is the director of communications for the TTFA. firstname.lastname@example.org