AFTER a discouraging exit from the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and over a decade of professional football in the eastern hemisphere, national senior men’s team captain Khadeem Hyland remains uncertain about his footballing future.
Hyland scored one goal and assisted another in TT’s 2-0 consolation victory over St Kitts and Nevis on Tuesday. The welcomed result, however, was too little too late as the Soca Warriors crashed out their Qatar campaign following a scoreless result against the Bahamas three days prior.
Looking ahead, the Terry Fenwick-coached outfit begins its 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup campaign against Montserrat with a preliminary round match, on July 2 at the DRV PNK Stadium in Florida.
The winner of this match will play the winner of the Cuba versus French Guiana fixture on July 6, for a chance to join Mexico, Curacao and El Salvador in Group A.
At the post-match press conference on Tuesday, the 32-year-old was asked about his commitment to the TT squad heading into the Gold Cup qualifiers.
“Right about now it’s a very different decision for me to make. I have been away from my family a long time. Since 2007, I have been playing with the senior team and I’ve been missing a lot of my vacation. This month will be a big decision.
“I’m just planning to go back home, spend time with my family and then I’ll see where I will take it from there. It’s a difficult situation for me right now,” he said.
Hyland has scored five goals in his 92 country appearances. He is a former San Juan Jabloteh player. In 2007, the midfielder went on trial with Scottish club Celtic but was unable to do so and joined Belgian pro club Zulte Waregem in 2009.
Two years later, he transferred to another Belgian pro team, Genk, and won the Belgian Cup in his second year. He then joined Saudi club Al-Faisaly, and in September 2020, he signed for another Saudi club, Al-Batin.
He was not part of TT’s 2006 World Cup team and rues the opportunity missed for a spot in next year’s tourney.
“It’s difficult for us. We wanted to top the group unfortunately we got the draw against Bahamas which put us in a hole. Tonight’s (Tuesday) victory was great for the guys. They played with confidence.
“Before we left to go to the stadium, I called the guys in a meeting to give them that confidence and encouragement that they needed. It’s a lot of young guys, a lot of them never played in a World Cup qualifier before.
“As I am the captain, I needed to encourage them and give them that belief. And they went out on the pitch and they showed it,” he added.
Hyland, however, believes a return to football on the domestic circuit will provide youngsters with increased opportunities to better their craft.
Since the pandemic hit in mid-March last year, all domestic football has been put on hold. Only players with foreign-based contracts and those seeking to break into the senior team have been allowed to train and travel to compete.
Hyland also said that several talented locally-based youngsters were not included in the national set-up and in dire need of an avenue to showcase their skills. He thinks TT has what it takes to climb back up the ranks within the Concacaf region.
“We have to encourage them (youngsters) and give them the mindset to be professionals. This has a lot to do with playing at the international level. You have to be focused 90 plus minutes.
“There’s a lot a lot of youths that need a little experience to break down teams. We need to encourage and get the confidence to give the younger ones.
“This is what TT has been lacking over the couple years I have been here. Since the 2006 World Cup finished, a lot of the players were blacklisted. But there are a lot of youngsters who did not inherit that experience from the World Cup players. And that’s why I think TT is in this hole right now,” he concluded.