The Trinidad and Tobago Senior Men’s Team completed their residential training camp with an early morning session at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium on Saturday and will depart Port of Spain for Managua, Nicaragua at 5:30pm on Sunday for its two upcoming International Friendlies against the Nicaragua Senior Team on December 27th and 30th.
Saintfiet was in good spirits as he spoke about the preparations so far ahead of what will be his first international assignment since taking up the position of head coach earlier this month.
“ I am very satisfied. It’s a big opportunity for me as a new coach, not having much time to see a lot of league matches, to train the boys and you can teach them your tactics and I have seen a lot of improvement. We started about six days ago and the boys are very committed and working very hard to improve,” Saintfiet told TTFA Media.
“We need to get the spirit back. It will be a very difficult task in Nicaragua because they are also a good team and they are preparing for the Copa Centroamericana,” he added.
Commenting on the training schedule during the holiday period and being away from home from Christmas day until New Year’s Eve, Saintfiet stated “I think the players coped very well with that, They are very professional minded. They know this is important for the country. We are not here for ourselves, We are in the first place to defend Trinidad and Tobago, to qualify for the Gold Cup and in the later stage for the World Cup.
“We are here on a mission and even if you have duty, there are people working all over the world who will not be with their families. We are professional football players. We know this is very important for the country.
“After the training today, the players are released. They go to their families and can enjoy the time with their families for more than 24 hours and tomorrow (Sunday) in the late afternoon we will fly to Nicaragua, I think everyone will still have a little bit of Christmas feeling but the focus on football will not be far away,” Saintfied said.
“If you want to be professional, you have to cope with that. In Europe, in England, in Belgium, they play on Christmas day, they play in January 2nd and sometimes on January 1st, so I think it’s a choice we make as coaches and players. If you want to be in this business at the highest level sometimes you have to sacrifice some things,” Saintfiet added.
Saintfied also made it clear that the final selection of players for the Nicaragua matches was his decision.
“I don’t like to be in the media every day. I think it’s not needed to always have discussions on what people think about the national team…we know what we are doing,” he said.
“It is very clear that when I arrived here I had only a short period of time so I consulted with people with my knowledge of how I want to play. They were informed what type of players I was looking for and I watched a lot of games. The final selection that will go to Nicaragua is one hundred percent my choice.
“I decided which players I wanted to select and I was very clear when I met the players that from Tuesday we go into camp and players who decide to go and play for their club, they will not be selected for the national team (for the training camp and matches vs Nicaragua). So in that way, it was not my choice who was not in the camp because they decided not to be in camp but the full selection is naturally very clear – my choice in consultation with my technical team but the final decision is the head coach’s”.
The squad got time off on Saturday evening and will re-assemble on Sunday evening for the flight to Nicaragua via Panama City.
TTFA Vice President Ewing Davis will travel with the contingent as Chef de Mission and Technical Director Muhammad Isa will also accompany the team for the two matches.
T&T 21-man squad for Nicaragua
Adrian Foncette (Police FC)
Glenroy Samuel (Ma Pau Stars)
Carlyle Mitchell (Seoul E-Land)
Radanfah Abu Bakr (Sillamae Kallen)
Daneil Cyrus (W Connection)
Aubrey David (Deportivo Saprissa)
Maurice Forde (W Connection)
Alvin Jones (W Connection)
Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force)
Akeem Roach (Club Sando)
Kevan George (Jacksonville Armada)
Aikim Andrews (W Connection)
Jomal Williams (Murcielagos FC)
Nathan Lewis (Jabloteh FC)
Tyrone Charles (Jabloteh FC)
Carlos Edwards (Ma Paul Stars)
Trevin Caesar (Orange County Blues)
Hughtun Hector (W Connection)
Shahdon Winchester (Murcielagos FC)
Hashim Arcia (Defence Force)
Cornell Glen (Ozone FC Bengalaru)
Not Travelling – Marvin Phillip (Injured), Triston Hodge (Disciplinary)