Simply because he has very little time to work with, Trinidad and Tobago head coach Angus Eve has chosen not to select every foreign-based footballer available to T&T. He will instead work with players immediately available to him.
The men’s national football team leaves today for a residential training camp in Florida, ahead of a 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup qualifier against Montserrat in Fort Lauderdale on July 2. Eve wants to hit the ground running.
He selected several players who are in Trinidad, among them playmaker Duane Muckette, Michel Poon-Angeron, Alvin Jones, Judah Garcia, Radanfah Abu Bakr and Marcus Joseph, who were all previously foreign-based but are now out of contract and back home.
“Literally there is no time and I need to fuse the team as quickly as possible,” Eve explained to the media yesterday. “Long-term a lot of the (foreign) guys will definitely be fused into the team, but in the short term, I needed to keep the group tight. I needed to get guys in specific positions because of how I want to play.”
Having intently picked through the squad which played four World Cup qualifiers under Terry Fenwick, Eve’s team is not far apart from that which played under the locally-based Englishman who was dismissed this month. Captain Khaleem Hyland, Nicklas Frenderup, Aubrey David, Neveal Hackshaw, and Joevin Jones are among the foreign-based players retained, while defenders Tristan Hodge, Ross Russell Jr and Abu Bakr have been recalled to national duty.
USA-based Columbus Crew midfielder Kevin Molino is also selected, provided his recovery from injury continues, while Sheldon Bateau and Levi Garcia are unavailable due to club commitments. Three of the players Eve will carry will not take part in the competition but are there as possible back-up if something unexpected comes up.
Eve has also gone without young Watford midfielder Daniel Phillips and USA-based Noah Powder, Shannon Gomez and Leyland Archer, as well as Canada-based Akeem Garcia and Andre Rampersad, considering the likelihood of travel restrictions.
“I tried to combine the boys that have been here, working, who would understand over the last three, four days what we’ve been doing, and then it would be easier to fuse (with) the guys from away, instead of bringing a whole squad,” said Eve.
A couple of youngsters, Jesse Molik Khan and Jesse Williams are also in the squad. Now with New York Red Bulls Academy, Khan is a definite talent, somewhat in the mould of former top player Arnold Dwarika, while Jesse Williams, another Academy player attached to Ireland’s Colerane FC, has been retained having taken his chance well on debut against St Kitts-Nevis last month.
“I’m a firm believer in developing youth players,” Eve said. “He (Khan) has shown that he can play at the highest level in Trinidad. He has performed for W Connection in the Pro League at a very high level. He was starting,” recalled Eve. “If you look at his physical structure, he can stand up to the rigours and his technical ability is very, very good.”
Several staff members have commented on a vast improvement in the working environment under Eve. On the field, the physical intensity of the Soca Warriors was also evident yesterday. No player was holding back tackles.
“Everybody who knows me know how I represented my country. The way that I touched every blade of grass and I’m asking the same thing of the players, because if you play with pride and passion, and the ability that I know that we have, then we can do something positive. They are applying themselves. The intensity of the training is very high, but also they are enjoying themselves.”
The coach stressed: “They must enjoy what they are doing. When is time for freedom we have freedom. When is time to do the job, we do the job. You will see sometimes I stop and get into certain men at particular times but is just to get them right. They have the ability but is just to (get them to) do the right things consistently.”