News day / DENNIS LAWRENCE, coach of the TT football team, is looking for a positive result in today’s friendly international against World Cup-bound Panama, at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva. The game is slated to begin at 7.30 pm.

Speaking before the start of yesterday’s training session, at the Couva venue, Lawrence commented, “the expectation is the try to continue what we’ve been doing in the last five or six games, which is to keep our defensive stability, make sure we’re well-organised and try to be solid in the back, and then build from there.

“And looking to go forward if we can get a positive result,” he continued. “Ideally a win will be perfect but a positive performance will be pleasing for me.”

TT will enter today’s game on a five-game unbeaten run, following a 2-1 win over the US at Couva in the last game of their 2018 FIFA World Cup CONCACAF Zone Final Round qualifier (October 10, 2017), drawn results against Grenada (2-2 on November 11) and Guyana (1-1 on November 14), a 1-0 win away to Guadeloupe (March 23) and a goalless draw against Martinique (March 25).

Lawrence has selected a 24-man squad for this game, even though only 18 will be eligible to play in this friendly contest.

“What really happened was we started with this group,” said the TT coach. “The boys worked so well (and) I thought it’s important to keep them around all the way through.

“They’re all available for selection. I think they all deserve to be here because of their attitude and the commitment they’ve shown throughout the time we were working (towards) this game.”

Three foreign-based players were included – striker Nicholas Dillon (based in Belgium), US-based winger Cordell Cato and central defender Daneil Cyrus.

Lawrence noted, “Dillon has been here for two days because unfortunately he lost his mom. It was a bit difficult for him. (Cyrus and Cato) have got the experience, they’re going to pass it on to the younger ones and, hopefully, they’ll lead the group.”

The TT-based players have been involved with the national programme for a few months, but Lawrence pointed out, “The immediate horizon is to try and get them active, playing football, to get the Pro League up and running, to make sure the Super League gets going so they’re all training at a football club. They need to stay active.”

As far as the TT team is concerned, Lawrence said, “Sometimes things happen because teams might be looking for an international friendly (and) you might get a call. At the moment, we’re focused on the next international window which is in September.”

Cyrus joined the squad on Sunday and is eager to get back in the swing of things after being absent from the national scene since the failed 2018 FIFA World Cup campaign.

“It feels good to be back in the team and playing with this group,” said the 27-year-old.

Referring to the new faces, such as midfielders Judah Garcia (Shiva Boys Hindu College) and Justin Sadoo (Naparima College), Cyrus said, “I’m always hearing about them in schools football so it’s good to give the young guys an opportunity. I remember when I was once young (so) it’s an opportunity for them to take it.”

The experienced defender currently plays for Juticalpa in Honduras. According to Cyrus, “footballing-wise, it’s faster than the local league but (there are) plenty guys from the local league who can play in their league comfortably.”


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