Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart is urging some of the home-based professionals in the national team for the Argentina and Iran matches to lift their levels of energy as the 23-man squad heads into its second week of preparations in Port of Spain.
Led by the most experienced of the youngsters, midfielder Joevin Jones, with 33 appearances to his name, Hart wants to see more energy from him and fellow home-based pros Rundell Winchester and Ataullah Guerra of Central FC and Trevin Caesar of North East Stars.
“I think if you look at players like Joevin Jones, Guerra, Winchester and Caesar, you see those players have some very good qualities, but their intensity levels and their levels of concentration need to improve, especially off the ball, and a lot of what we are doing is encouraging that and ensuring that their mentality is right and they remain very competitive for selection. I have to be very demanding of them to ensure they are switched on all the time,” Hart stated.
Summing up the training sessions so far, which have included double sessions on some days, Hart added: “We’re grateful for the opportunity. We’ve had five days together and the majority of time we’ve operated with 14 or 15 players but now we have everyone in camp and we can increase the intensity of training.
Former England Under-21 defender Gavin Hoyte has been in training for the first time and has settled in nicely, according to Hart.
“He’s fitted in quite well, he has been very responsive and trains with a tremendous attitude. He’s getting accustomed to the heat.”
Hart, who guided T&T to back-to-back wins over Jamaica last year as well as a 3-1 win over Saudi Arabia in Riyadh, said his players have been very committed to the task at hand so far.
“You have to be very realistic when you enter a game like this. We know we are going to spend long periods of time without the ball. We are playing away from home in Argentina’s backyard. We just have to be mentally prepared to not be afraid to play and to keep the ball more effectively when we do get it and also not make mistakes in crucial parts of the field. We have to understand as a team how we will recover the ball when we don’t have it. We have a short window of opportunity to put all of that into training. But all I ask of the players is that they give of their best and give 100 per cent into training.
“Overall, I’ve been impressed with the attitude and the intensity of the players. We have two different type of players with one set just coming off a season and others already having a bit of a break after finishing their seasons. But I’m pretty pleased with the intensity of the majority of the players, especially the guys who are coming back from the overseas leagues,” Hart added.
Vancouver Whitecaps defender Carlyle Mitchell was the final overseas player to join the camp at the Radisson Trinidad Hotel on Sunday evening. The team departs for Buenos Aires on Saturday night.
Members of the public, in particular schoolchildren are invited to attend the team’s final training session at home on Thursday from 5 p.m. at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
The T&T Football Association is also reminding fans about the supporters’ charter package still available at $16,000 per person.
Further info can be obtained at nissitourandtravel or 623-9500.