Trinidad and Tobago’s Senior Men’s Team will square off with hosts Iran in an international friendly at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran from 6pm local time (10:30am TT Time) on Thursday as both teams continue their build up to their respective confederation tournaments.
T&T, under head coach Dennis Lawrence will be looking to produce a business-like performance as they seek to finish the year on a high which has seen the team suffer two defeats in five international matches this year and three wins and two defeats in eight outings extending back to the win over the United States last October.
Speaking at a media briefing at the Iran Football Federation headquarters on the eve of the match, Lawrence said he expected a fierce challenge from the hosts.
“We’re here to take part in a competitive international friendly. We expect it to be a very, very tough game because the Iranian football team is a fantastic team at the moment. They’ve done very well in the last World Cup so we’re expecting it to be very difficult for us. But we’ve come, we’re mentally focused and we are going to give it a best to get a performance in first and foremost and hopefully the performance gives us a result,” Lawrence said.
“The players that are here are here to take the opportunity. Our target and our aim is to compete. We’re preparing for the Gold Cup in June and this is part of our preparation and so the opportunity is there for these players to stake their claim and to put in a performance against a team that has a very experienced manager in Mr. Queiroz who has put together a philosophy and playing style for Irani football that I think suits their football. I think we all understand what this guy offers to the Iran football team,” Lawrence added. “We had a good look at them in the World Cup and are very competitive and very aggressive team in a positive way
One Iranian reporter asked Lawrence whether T&T had any players in the mold of Dwight Yorke to which he responded, “I don’t think we have a player at that level. Dwight Yorke played in the Champions League, won the Champions League and played in the Premier League for a number of years. And that’s the target we need to get back to. We need to have players playing in the more competitive level because then it helps the football and helps the players around. So the idea now is for us to put together as a group and develop our younger talent to get them back to that level.. We are going to create the Dwight Yorkes, the Stern Johns, the Russell Latapys and the Marvin Andrews over a number of years but for now it’s all about baby steps.”
The Iranian Football Federation has agreed to have a minute silence before kick off in remembrance of former T&T defender Jlloyd Samuel who played in Iran for three years and his team Esteghlal was based at the venue for Thursday’s encounter. Samuel died tragically in a car crash in May this year. His wife Helia Sahimi met with the team at the Parsian Esteghlal hotel on Wednesday and will be a guest at the match. Iranians women will not be allowed to attend the match but special permission has been granted for her to attend.
German-based winger Joevin Jones was involved in today’s training session and the likes of Sheldon Bateau, Daneil Cyrus, skipper Khaleem Hyland, Triston Hodge, Nathan Lewis, Ataulla Guerra, Jomal Williams, Akeem Humphrey, Keston Julien, and Lester Peltier will be looking to put in solid shifts for Lawrence’s unit. The goalkeeping department will see Marvin Phillip, Adrian Foncette and newboy, Danish-born custodian Nicklas Frederup contesting for the starting spot.
There will be a live radio broadcast on I95.5FM.