NINETEEN-YEAR-OLD central midfielder Ajani Fortune believes Friday’s international friendly against Bolivia serves as a launchpad for the Trinidad and Tobago senior men’s football team to kick start their 2022 season.
The TT team, led by head coach Angus Eve, arrived in Santa Cruz, Bolivia on Wednesday ahead of their first official assignment for the new year. The friendly match kicks off at the Estadio Olimpico Patrio in Sucre, Bolivia, from 5pm.
Fortune, who received his first senior team call-up against the USA in January 2020, earned his second call to the squad for Friday’s meeting. He welcomed the tough Bolivian challenge and thinks this match is an ideal gauge to see where the team’s at competitively.
“It’s always a pleasure to come and represent TT. I feel like this game here is a good stepping stone to see where we’re are as a team.
“For us, wanting to be in World Cups coming up, these are the types of teams we will face in those situations and have similar styles of play to other countries we will play.
“I think if we’re able to go out and put in a shift and really see where we are compared to those teams, would be great,” he said.
Against USA, Fortune debuted as a starter and was pleased that Eve showed faith in to earn a second national senior call-up.
The US-based player previously played for the TT Under-17 team at the 2019 Concacaf Championship in Florida. In July 2020, Fortune made his debut for Atlanta United II in the United Soccer League Championship.
One year later, he earned his first professional start against Memphis 901 and then signed a pro contract with the team in August 2021. He scored his first pro goal against Miami FC in November last year.
On his return to the national senior team, Fortune was pleased.
“It’s always about putting my best foot forward at all times, giving one hundred per cent and showing that I can play. I believe it, people around me believe that.
“For me, it’s just showing it to coach so when it comes to future selections he has my name in the running so hopefully, I can make future call-ups.”
Friday friendly against Bolivia, he said, will help players get back into the swing of competitive football, especially those based in TT, since domestic competition has been banned to date, owing to the pandemic.
On TT’s first game for 2022, he added “For us, it’s just belief. From this moment until the end of 2022 and future years, it’s just belief that we were a country that was always performing against these teams.
“And that we can be that country again, back up there with the big countries in Central America and Concacaf. If we believe that we’re good enough to win tournaments and make World Cups, we can do it.”
The senior team’s last match was just over six months ago against Guatemala at the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup. TT drew the encounter 1-1.