Trinidad and Tobago’s Under 23 Men’s Footballers will in fact begin their 2016 Olympic qualifying campaign tomorrow Wednesday June 24th against Suriname in Puerto Rico.
Less than a day after the Caribbean Football Union advised the TTFA that Suriname had withdrawn from the competition and T&T would enter its first match on Friday against Suriname, the regional governing body sent an update earlier today advising that the Dutch-speaking team would be arriving for the opening game.
Team manager David Muhammad was informed by the CFU that Suriname will face off with T&T at 10:30pm on Wednesday.
This means T&T will go into the match with eleven players as the remaining nine players are expected to arrive there by Thursday with their visas.
Head coach Zoran Vranes now has to revert to his initial plans of playing the opening game.
“Well now we have to play the game. One day it’s off and now it’s on. This is the reality and we must play the game even with us having only eleven players to start the competition. It will be a very difficult task for the team but I believe this is a test and it will show us where our strengths are,” Vranes told TTFA Media.
“It’s not an easy thing for us as coaches to prepare one day and then have to change plans again the next day But for me the important thing is that our players are ready and we will go out to play our best game and hopefully we can get a good result,” he added.
St Vincent/Grenadines will take on Puerto Rico in the evening’s other match. T&T will face St Vincent on Friday and Puerto Rico on Sunday to close off the tournament. The top team from the group will advance to the CFU semi finals next month.
The T&T Eleven in Puerto Rico is as follows :
Goalkeeper: Montell Joseph (UK);
Defenders: Leland Archer (College of Charleston), Martieon Watson (W Connection)
Midfielders: Neveal Hackshaw (North East Stars), Jelani Felix (Defence Force), Jabari Mitchell (W Connection), Xavier Rajpaul (College of Charleston); Duane Muckette (North East Stars),
Forwards: Rundell Winchester (Portland Timbers 2, Ricardo John (St John’s University) Adrian Welch (St John’s University).