TOBAGO would not mind a bit of independence from Trinidad and Tobago on the football field, and hope to play several more international matches solely as a Tobago team in the coming months.
It is one of the reasons the island insisted that the home team must play one of the matches during Guadeloupe’s two-match tour of the island. The second encounter was initially dedicated to the Trinidad and Tobago senior national team, but an adjustment was made to give the national Under-20 players some match practice before they host the final round of Caribbean qualifiers for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in T&T from September 12.
Tomorrow, Guadelouple will play a second match against a Trinidad and Tobago X1, containing several members of the national U-20 squad in addition to senior internationals, such as 29-year-old goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams and W Connection’s former Poland and Finland-based defender Meikel Williams.
Yesterday’s game against Guadeloupe was just the first for Tobago, according to Tobago Football Association (TFA) general secretary Everton Alfred.
Alfred said Tobago fielding a national team from time to time gives footballers from the sister isle more exposure, and a platform on which to catch the eye of international teams, and also Stephen Hart, the T&T senior team head coach.
“When teams come for the Caribbean Cup in October, we are trying to get the ones that come early, to come across to Tobago for a game,” Alfred said.
Alfred was speaking of the Caribbean Cup semi-final group which T&T hosts from October 6-13. The Soca Warriors will play Antigua-Barbuda, Dominica and a best third-placed finisher. The top two teams qualify for the 2014 Caribbean Cup finals which take place from November 9-18 in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
“At some point we (Tobago) also hope to take a team out somewhere, to created opportunities,” he added.
Alfred said Tobago have enough talent to compete at some level on their own merit. The Tobago team which played Guadeloupe yesterday had available several players who have experience with teams in the professional league in Trinidad, but are now back home.
These included Kerlon Ferguson, the bustling former T&TEC striker, who is a handful for many defenders. Defender Omar Charles played for both Pro League second-placed finishers Central FC and Point Fortin Civic last season, but is now with Stokely Vale, and young striker Gem Gordon, a triallist with England club Walsall in 2013, had a couple of runs last season in W Connection’s 2013-2014 championship winning squad.
“What a game like that against Guadeloupe gives Tobago is exposure,” Alfred said.
“We have the talent. Whenever our players go to Trinidad to play, they do well,” Alfred added. “We have a team that contains players who have played in the Pro League and Super League, and also some good youngsters.”