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|U-20S OFF TO BRAZIL FOR TRAINING CAMP|
A 23-man National Under 20 Football Team will depart for Sao Paolo, Brazil on Sunday afternoon for a ten-day training camp ahead of their upcoming CONCACAF Final Round Qualifying tournament for the 2009 FIFA World Youth Championship.
The Zoran Vranes-coached team was on Thursday drawn into Group B of the final stage which will be played at the Marvin Lee Stadium from March 5-15 alongside Costa Rica, Canada and Mexico.
The squad, which was trimmed this week for the upcoming tour, includes defender Akeem Adams who made his debut for the T&T Senior Team in 2008, as well as several other players who appeared at the 2007 FIFA Under 17 World Championship.
They include midfielder Leston Paul, goalkeepers Glenroy Samuel and Jesse Fullerton, Marcus Joseph, striker Daniel Joseph, defender Sean Bateau, midfielder Sean De Silva, Jean Luc Rochford, Aubrey David and Daneil Cyrus.
The team will be without the services of striker Jamal Gay who opted instead for a trial at German Second Division team Rot-Weiss Oberhausen. Another striker, US College-based Stephen Knox was not considered because of injury while defender Robert Primus will travel with the Senior Team to Argentina on Wednesday.
While in Sao Paolo, the team, managed by Chris De Silva, will be based at the Hotel Oscar Resort in Aguas de Lindoia.
During the ten-day training camp, coach Vranes will have the chance to see his team in action in three practice matches against Brasilis F.C. from Aguas de Lindoia Second Division on January 21; Associacoa Atletica Ponte Preta from Campinas First Division Sao Paulo State on January 23 and Guarani Futebol Clube from Campinas First Division Sao Paulo State on January 26.
Vranes expects the matches to push the team’s match fitness level up a notch over the period of the camp which is costing the TTFF USD 95,000.
“It is a very important camp for us because we will return to Trinidad with only a month before the tournament. These three games will give us a very good chance to work on our match fitness. I think the team is hungry for success but we have to work hard to achieve it,” Vranes told TTFF Media.
Midfielder Paul, who has skippered the team in recent past, said the competition for spots on the team was high and he expects this to work in their favour.
“It wasn’t too hard for the players coming back from the US over the Christmas season to gel with the rest of the team because most of us have played together before. But what was noticeable is that every player had to work hard for his pick. The boys based at home did not make it easy for them to just get back on the squad. And that is good for the team on a whole because it meant that the players had to do extra work and fight for their picks,” Paul said.
“I think the trip to Brazil will bring us closer as a team because it is important that we have that bond like we had at the Under 17 level. The tournament will be tough but we have been through this before and I believe the guys have a very strong desire to qualify for the World Cup in Egypt. I believe if we can maintain this and work hard towards realizing that dream then our chances will definitely be good,” Paul added.
The tournament in March is the fifth time Trinidad & Tobago will be staging all or part of the CONCACAF U-20 finals. It staged consecutive championships in 1984 and 1986 and was host of one of two four-team groups in 1998 and 2001. (Jan 17,2008)
U-20 Squad for Brazil