“At last”! Was the refrain from most of the members of the Trinidad and Tobago senior men’s football team when they arrived at their base in coastal city of Qinhuangdao on Monday for a friendly international versus China this coming Friday. Some of the weariness resulting from the over 24-hour commute from Uruguay dissipated though when the Soca Warriors settled into the luxurious Shangri-la Hotel on China’s north-eastern coast in the Hebei province.
“The accommodations are great but to get here was difficult, we will have to work on that part. Barring that, we will have a comfortable environment as we recover ahead of our game” according to Yohance Marshall.
“We faced some top opposition on this tour and that will continue on the final leg as we will match up against one of the rising powers in world football on their home turf,” added the warriors defender.
China is at 81st on the FIFA rankings while T&T is above at 53rd but that interesting statistic is not fooling anyone in came as the warriors are fully aware of the task ahead. That task is victory versus the host to close off a tour which so far has reaped two losses 4-0 versus Peru and 3-1 in Uruguay. The quest seems even more daunting if you consider the loss of personnel heading into China.
Coach Stephen Hart will be without captain Khaleem Hyland and the dangerous Levi Garcia as both return to their clubs to fulfill contractual duties. This coupled with the loss of outstanding W Connection defender Tristan Hodge could make for an interesting line-up in Qinhuangdao on Friday night. Hodge sustained a head injury during the match versus Uruguay and returned to Trinidad on the advice of doctors although tests showed no major concerns.
The team also lost Technical Committee Member Dr. Alvin Henderson whose contribution on the tour was immense according to coach Hart. Henderson sustain an injury in Uruguay while rushing to lend assistance to the medical team during the Hodge incident. The former Trinidad and Tobago striker also served as Head of delegation on the tour which is sponsored by Shanghai Construction Group (Caribbean), a position which will be taken up by TTFA Vice President Ewing Davis on his arrival on Wednesday.