A TT men’s provisional squad took the field at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva yesterday morning as preparations commenced for this country’s international friendly against Wales on March 20 in Wrexham.
Head coach Dennis Lawrence led his players and members of staff out after the TTFA board approved a two-and-a half years extension to Lawrence’s contract on Wednesday evening at a board meeting at the FA’s headquarters in Couva. This extension will see Lawrence through in his position as head coach to beyond the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup, Concacaf Nations League and into the qualification for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers for Qatar.
Lawrence will name his final squad for the Wales encounter closer to match day but will work with the current bunch of players at daily sessions for the next two weeks.
Goalkeeper Marvin Phillip, who was involved in yesterday’s session, spoke to TTFA media about the resumption of the training and Lawrence’s extension, saying it was welcomed news for the team.
He said, “It’s great that he will continue as head coach. He already has his plans set out and he has done a good job thus far. He has already familiarised himself with the players and they respect him and will go all out for him.
“It is always an honour to be with the national team preparing for a game of this nature. This morning was a bit tough for the local players who have been out of the game since December. It’s not going to be easy but we are up to the task.”
Looking towards the Wales clash, he added, “This game is a massive one for our country. Wales is ranked highly on the world rankings. We have to accept the challenge and show up for that game on the 20th. The players have to dig deep for it – as well as in their personal time – in the lead up to the match.”
Phillip is also looking to seal a place in the team for the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup in June.
“A lot of players will be tussling and jostling for selection for the Gold Cup and this game will be very good preparation for it. The Gold Cup for me is the next best thing after the World Cup for us as a country. I think we have what it takes to win the Gold Cup. Jamaica has reached the final two times before, and if we just dig deep as country I think we can reach the final also and go on to win it.”
The squad was also given a tour of the TTFA Home of Football hotel following the training session. TTFA president David John-Williams proudly led the walk through as Phillip and company got a view of the facility.
They also observed one of the training pitches that is located mere metres away from the hotel, which is ideal for team preparations. John-Williams said the hotel should be ready to accommodate them in residential training camps by April.