With an eye to the future and the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Trinidad and Tobago football coach Dennis Lawrence, has announced a revamped 23-man squad for a pair of 2018 FIFA World Cup CONCACAF Zone Final Round qualifiers, away to Mexico (October 6) and at home to United States (October 10).
Lawrence made a number of changes to the squad that featured in the 2-1 loss at home to Honduras and a 3-0 whipping away to Panama earlier this month, with former captains Jan-Michael Williams, Marvin Phillips (both goalkeepers) and centre-back Sheldon Bateau, as well as fellow defenders Carlyle Mitchell, Aubrey David, Radanfah Abu Bakr; midfielders Jomal Williams, Tyrone Charles, Hughton Hector and Cordell Cato; and strikers Jamille Boatswain and Willis Plaza all getting the axe.
According to a TT Football Association (TTFA) media release on Tuesday night, David and Boatswain were suspended for violating team policy days before the Honduras qualifier. The duo was punished for playing in a minor league game and have apologised and volunteered to donate their match fees to charity.
Asked if the exclusion of Jan-Michael Williams (who led the team against Honduras) and Bateau (who wore the captain’s armband against Panama) was an indication that he was displeased with their on-field leadership, Lawrence responded, “The selection was based around the direction we’re trying to go. I know fully well what Jan-Michael (and Sheldon Bateau are) capable of. Sheldon is suspended for the game against Mexico, also he has a final to play with his club (FC Kairat) in Kazakhstan on the 14th (of October).”
A trio of uncapped players was called up by Lawrence – Canadian-born goalie Gregory Ramjitsingh, Club Sando central defender Josiah Trimmingham and St Ann’s Rangers winger Kathon St Hillaire.
The 24-year-old Ramjitsingh, the son of a Trinidadian father and a Guyanese mother, was called up by ex-coach Stephen Hart for a pair of qualifiers in September 2016. Trimmingham and St Hillaire both have national experiences, but at the Under-17 and Under-20 levels.
About Trimmingham and St Hilaire, Lawrence said, “I think it’s a perfect opportunity to integrate these players into the international set-up so they can get an idea what it’s going to be like. We need to start thinking ahead, we need to start thinking forward.”
Earning recalls were teenaged Dutch-based winger Levi Garcia and strikers Trevin Caesar and Shahdon Winchester.
TT team: Adrian Foncette, Gregory Ramjitsingh, Glenroy Samuel (goalkeepers); Daneil Cyrus, Curtis Gonzales, Triston Hodge, Alvin Jones, Josiah Trimmingham, Kevon Villaroel, Mekeil Williams (defenders) Neil Benjamin, Levi Garcia, Kevan George, Khaleem Hyland, Joevin Jones, Nathan Lewis, Jared London, Kevin Molino, Leston Paul, Kathon St Hillaire (midfielders); Trevin Caesar, Akeem Roach, Shahdon Winchester (forwards).