by Paul Kennedy, Friday, Feb 6, 2009 7:00 AM ET
Four years ago, Trinidad & Tobago qualified for the World Cup for the first time after finishing fourth in the Hexagonal and then beating Bahrain in a playoff. The Soca Warriors hope to do better and claim one of the three automatic berths from Concacaf to the 2010 World Cup. They hope to steal three points in San Salvador on Wednesday when they face El Salvador, a team in shambles.
Former Colombian national team coach Francisco Maturana has been in charge of the T&T national team for a year and overcame internal problems related to the ongoing lawsuit over 2006 World Cup bonuses to lead the Soca Warriors to second place behind the USA in their semifinal group.
Maturana will be able to draw up his most experienced players, including Sunderland’s Dwight Yorke, a veteran of the T&T program dating back to its 1990 World Cup campaign.
Russell Latapy, another holdover from the team that lost to the USA, 1-0, in the dramatic 1989 qualifier, is now Maturana’s assistant coach, but he is included in the squad.
Two other Sunderland players, Carlos Edwards and Kenwyne Jones, are among the eight British-based players called up for the opening game.
The 12 other players, including Kendall Jagdeosingh of the USL-1 Puerto Rico Islanders, recently returned from a two-week training camp in Argentina.
Maturana had originally planned to take only 18 players to San Salvador, but the strong showing by the Soca Warriors in Argentina convinced him to add two more players.
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO ROSTER:
Goalkeepers: Clayton Ince (Walsall), Marvin Phillip (W Connection)
Defenders: Russell Latapy (player-assistant coach), Dennis Lawrence (Crewe Alexandra, England), Keyeno Thomas (Joe Public), Aklie Edwards (Defence Force), Makan Hislop (United Petrotrin);
Midfielders: Carlos Edwards (Sunderland, England), Chris Birchall (Brighton, England), Silvio Spann (Wrexham, Wales), Clyde Leon (San Juan Jabloteh), Trent Noel (San Juan Jabloteh), Densill Theobald (Caledonia AIA), Anthony Wolfe (North East Stars), Keon Daniel (United Petrotrin);
Forwards: Dwight Yorke (Sunderland, England), Kenwyne Jones (Sunderland, England), Stern John (Bristol City, England), Kendall Jagdeosingh (Puerto Rico Islanders, USL-1), Cornell Glen (unattached).
The Soca Warriors’ 2-1 win last October — after the USA had clinched a berth in the Hexagonal — was their first over the Americans in 12 World Cup qualifiers. The most famous qualifier, of course, was the USA’s 1-0 win in Port of Spain that ended its run of 40 years without playing in the World Cup