TRINIDAD and Tobago will be involved in the opening Group Q match when the third round of NORCECA (North, Central America and the Caribbean) qualifying for the Men’s World Volleyball Championship serves off in Canada today.
The clash with Costa Rica is scheduled for 4 p.m. and the other teams in the group, Panama and Canada, will square off four hours later in the second game of the double-header.
The winning team will qualify for the World Championships, but the runners-up will get another opportunity to book tickets to Poland for a month from August 20.
There is also a qualifying event in the United States this week and two next week, in Cuba and Puerto Rico, and the second-placed teams in all four groups will square off in the middle of July in either Mexico or Puerto Rico for the fifth and final NORCECA place in the World Championships.
T&T will oppose hosts Canada at 6 p.m. tomorrow and face Panama at 2 p.m. when the round-robin phase of the tournament concludes on Sunday.
The top two teams will meet at the same time the day after and the winner will qualify for the World Championships.
The Canadians are the overwhelming favourites to top this group as they are now ranked third in NORCECA and 11th in the world.
At No. 8, T&T are the second highest of the teams in NORCECA, but they are ranked 20 places behind Panama in the world ranking at joint No. 62 with Costa Rica. Panama and Costa Rica are ranked 11th and 13th, respectively, in NORCECA.
As has been the case for the last few years, the T&T team contains the experienced Sean Morrison, Saleem Ali, Marc Honore and skipper Nolan Tash.
Ryan Stewart, who like Honore is based in Europe, Kevin Nimrod, Ryan Mahadeo, Russell Pena and top beach players Simon Blake and Daneil Williams and talented youngster Akim Bushe are also included.
T&T men’s team: N Tash (captain); S Ali; S Blake; A Bushe; Darnel David; M. Honore; R.Mahaeo; S Morrison; K Nimrod; R. Pena; S Stewart; D Williams and Gideon Dickson (coach).