Saturday, February 24, 2018

Hyland out T&T’s Olympic qualifiers


OUT OF T&T OLYMPIC SQUAD: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland, left, tackles England striker Dean Ashton during the friendly international at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain in 2008. England won 3-0.

Mark Fraser

Belgium-based defensive midfielder Khaleem Hyland is out of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic football squad which leaves tomorrow on the way to Carson, California, USA to compete in London 2012 Olympic Games qualifiers which take place from March 22-April 2.

Hyland has 31 senior caps for T&T, but his club Koninklijke Racing Club (KRC) Genk refused to release the 22-year-old midfielder to the Olympic team because the competition does not fall within an official FIFA qualifying date.

The 21-member squad will make stops in Jamaica and Florida before heading to Carson.

T&T first have a four-day camp in Jamaica, where they are scheduled to play two matches. The party then heads to Florida, where they will hold a camp between March 10-22 and play four matches, including against MLS clubs.

T&T are bidding to become the first Caribbean team to qualify for the Olympics and open the CONCACAF final round of qualifying on March 23 against 2011 Pan Am Games champions Mexico, with whom they drew 1-1 in Guadalajara last October. They also have preliminary qualifying matches against Panama and Honduras.

Head coach Angus Eve is anticipating a good workout from the Jamaicans as they are also expected to include some senior players in the line-up for the clash on Wednesday.

“It’s a good warm-up for us to have at this stage of the preparation,” Eve said. “We are looking to play five matches within the two week period before the tournament. We will play three matches in the first week to assess the new overseas players coming in, in terms of their fitness and how well they fit into the squad and then the final week we will play a couple more games as we decide on the final squad for the tournament.”

Also accompanying the team will be newly appointed Under 23 manager William Wallace and his assistant Richard Piper.

In Florida, five overseas-based midfielders and a central defender are expected to join the team, swelling the party to 26. But just 20 of these players will head for California on March 22 for the competition. They include regulars Kevin Molino and Shawn De Silva and Tobagonian Kevan George, a midfielder with the Columbus Crew. There is some doubt about former W Connection centre back Mekeil Williams, who recently signed with Polish First Division club Pogon Szczecin FC. He still has to get a US visa. And there is also some doubt about the availability of highly-regarded DC United midfielder Nicholas De Leon, the son of former national player Leroy De Leon. The younger De Leon was born in the United States and was the seventh overall draft pick in the 2012 MLS draft. He has not yet committed to joining the T&T squad. A notable emission is United States college player Leston Paul, who had an influential role on both the South Korea 2007 and Egypt 2009 World Cup teams.

T&T 21-man squad to Jamaica: Sheldon Bateau, Leslie Russell, Sheldon Clarke, Curtis Gonzales, Kaydion Gabriel, Andre Marchan, Jean-Luc Rochford, Jeromie Williams, Trevin Caesar, Jamal Gay, Micah Lewis, Nuru Abdullah Mohammad, Aquil Selby, Kareem Moses, Cameron Roget, Jayson Joseph, Marcus Joseph, Joevin Jones, Shahdon Winchester, Jomal Williams; 1st Santa Rosa FC – Daneil Cyrus.