Uncapped versatile midfielder Nick De Leon, son of one of T&T's most celebrated players Leroy De Leon, is among six foreign-based players invited to feature in an international friendly against a formidable South American challenger in Peru, which is scheduled to be played on February 6, at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, from 8 pm. De Leon, 22, currently plays for American MLS club, DC United. The five other players include Englandbased pair Kenwyne Jones (Stoke City, England), a former captain, and Carlos Edwards (Ipswich Town) as well as Khaleem Hyland (Genk, Belgium), Darryl Roberts (Samsunspor, Turkey) and Jlloyd Samuel (Esteghlal, Iran). The full squad, which otherwise includes primarily home-based players, is expected to be announced by the end of next week.
A return match against Peru, along with another testing away fixture against South Korea, is also likely to be staged, but the two matches are yet to be finalised. The matches will be used by co-head coaches Hutson Charles and Jamaal Shabazz as full warm-up matches for the Concacaf Gold Cup competition, which takes place in the United States in July. Peru and T&T both battled in an international friendly at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, in 2006 (pre-World Cup) under then coach Leo Beenhakker, which resulted in a 1-1 draw. The Peru squad in that encounter consisted primarily of players based in their home country.
However, seven years later, local fans will have the chance to get a glimpse of several Europe-based Peruvian footballers who are household names, including Bayern Munich's Claudio Pizarro, Shalke's Jefferson Farfan, Genoa's Juan Manuel Vargas as well as Brazilbased Paolo Guerrero (Corinthians). Only one player from Peru's squad played in the friendly in 2006– Alberto Rodriguez. Adults will pay an entrance fee of $100, while children under the age of 16 may enter free of charge. The friendly was officially announced yesterday, when the T&T Football Federation (TTFF) held a media conference at the Cascadia Hotel, St Ann's. The conference, which featured the main speaker in federation president Raymond Tim Kee, who insisted that he and his executive were making every stride in the rebranding of the local governing body for football.
The first draft of a reform of the TTFF's constitution, which he called for prior to his (unopposed) election, is expected to be presented in two weeks, with major stakeholders being called to review the document. According to Tim Kee, an informal technical committee has been set up in the form of three former national players in De Leon (Leroy), Everald "Gally" Cummings and Selris Figaro, who are not receiving official remuneration, but will work with the technical director, Corneal, in an advisory role. Tim Kee also revealed that the federation has been in talks with potential sponsors including Admiral (who he says technical director Anton Corneal has a relationship with), as well as Puma and Adidas, the latter having previously had an apparel contract with TTFF.
Even the logo of the federation may be redesigned with the help of a primary and secondary schools' competition. T&T's friendly versus South Korea, of which a date and venue are yet to be confirmed, will be funded in terms of airfare and accommodation by the Asians. In relation to a letter written to Fifa and Concacaf from a representative of 13 players demanding payments for funds promised to them for their participation at the World Cup in 2006, Tim Kee said he has spoken to one of the players, Brent Sancho, and will do so again within a week. He advised that the TTFF is not in a position to repay the debts and the process of liquidation will accomplish very little. He added, however, that he has been in contact with the head of Concacaf, who advised that he approach Fifa.
Tim Kee said that Concacaf was accommodating to the struggles of TTFF, and the regional body along with Fifa were committed to aiding in positive changes within the local game. The February 6 friendly against Peru has been sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism at an estimated cost of $500,000. If the cost of the friendly is less than estimated, a cheque will be written for the difference and directed back to the ministry, according to Tim Kee.