Orlando City midfielder Kevin Molino was the major omission when Soca Warriors coach Stephen Hart announced a 23-man T&T senior football squad for this country's opening two matches in the six-team Concacaf Final Round qualifiers to the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia.
T&T, which has qualified once to a senior Fifa World Cup, the 2006 Finals in Germany hosts Costa Rica on Friday at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, and then travels to play Honduras on November 15.
The national team will also meet USA, Panama and Mexico in their home-and-away round-robin series at the end of which the top three teams will qualify automatically to Russia while the fourth placed teams will contest a continental playoff for another spot.
Last month, Molino was dropped by Hart for this country's must-win Caribbean Football Union Cup semifinal qualifier against Martinique which served as a Concacaf Gold Cup qualifier after it was revealed he had left the team's live-in camp following the 4-0 win over Dominican Republic, in which he scored a hat-trick a few days earlier.
That infringement followed a similar incident a few days before the Concacaf Semifinal Round World Cup qualifier at home to Guatemala in September, in which an under-par T&T managed a 2-2 draw to reach the six-team Concacaf Final Round qualifiers to Russia World Cup 2018.
Following the first incident, Molino was reportedly slapped with a fine and the issue was dealt with internally by the technical staff, after which Molino promised to focus on the job of getting the Soca Warriors to Russia.
However, following the second infringement, which now leaves T&T needing to qualify for the Concacaf Gold Cup via a CFU Cup qualifying series, Soca Warriors captain Kenwyne Jones called on Molino to apologise and return to the team.
Jones called on Molino to accept blame for his actions and Molino who initially responded to the critics by stating he was taking the year off from national duties to focus on his club career seemingly bowed to pressure, had a change of heart and through his instagram page stated he was sorry for making bad decisions and said he was 100 per cent committed to representing the red, black & white if he was lucky enough to be selected again.
However, in explaining his decision to omit one of his team's most talented player Hart said he made the decision to suspend Molino for the team's next two matches as a form of punishment for his recent actions while on national team duties.
Hart said, "I called him and had a chat with him and commended him on making the decision to apologize, but told him that he will out of the team for the next two matches."
The T&T coach added, "I was told there was an Instagram apology, but I also understand there was a social media post where he vowed to take a year off,"
"Molino sent an apology letter to management, not to me, and I called him and commended him on it, he will be able to fight for contention afterwards."
When contacted Molino said: "The coach made his decision and his decision is final. I will always support the team and will always want to be part of the team when ever I get selected. I will be there to support the team 100-percent and will be cheering them on."
The other notable exclusions from the Soca Warriors squad were defender Mekeil Williams of Colorado Rapids, while Louisville City FC goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh (injury), Murcielagos FC's Shahdon Winchester and W Connection Hughtun Hector, all of whom were in the team for the September Semifinal Round qualifier against Guatemala.
Hart also announced a few surprise names among the squad in W Connection defender Jelani Peters, San Juan Jabloteh striker Willis Plaza and Central FC striker Marcus Joseph, while goalkeeper Marvin Phillip of Morvant Caledonia United returns after missing the CFU Cup qualifiers.
According to Hart France-based midfielder John Bostock of Racing Lens should receive his clearance from Fifa early next week and has been selected in the team.
Bostock was in linen to make his T&T debut during the Semifinal Round qualifiers, but was delayed due to paper work on his switch from England to the T&T national team, after representing the European nation at youth level.
Hart said, "We have seen all the documentation and all that is left now is for Fifa to call or write us to confirm."
The rest of the T&T team includes goalkeepers Jan-Michael Williams and Adrian Foncette; defenders Radanfah Abu Bakr, Sheldon Bateau, Yohance Marshall, Carlyle Mitchell, Aubrey David, Daneil Cyrus; midfielders Andre Boucaud, Khaleem Kyland, Neveal Hackshaw, Cordell Cato, Jomal Williams, Levi Garcia, Joevin Jones, Kevan George; forwards Trevin Caesar, and captain Kenwyne Jones.
The T&T team is expected to begin preparations on Monday at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, while the Costa Ricans will arrive on the eve of the match.
Tickets are on sale at all Lotto Locations at TT$300 (covered section) and TT$160 (uncovered section). Prices increase tomorrow–from 5 November–until match day to TT$350 (covered) and TT$200 (uncovered).
T&T men's squad
?Goalkeepers: Marvin Phillip (Morvant Caledonia United), Jan-Michael Williams (Central FC), Adrian Foncette (Police FC). Defenders: Radanfah Abu Bakr, Sheldon Bateau, Yohance Marshall, Carlyle Mitchell, Aubrey David, Daneil Cyrus (W Connection), Jelani Peters (W Connection).
Midfielders: Andre Boucaud, Khaleem Hyland, Neveal Hackshaw, Cordell Cato, Jomal Williams, Levi Garcia, Joevin Jones, John Bostock, Kevan George, Marcus Joseph (Central FC). Forwards: Kenwyne Jones (Central FC), Trevin Caesar, Willis Plaza (San Juan Jabloteh).