Trinidad unites for Gold Cup, head coach

Trinidad & Tobago (pictured) trains ahead of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. (Photo courtesy of the Trinidad & Tobago Football Association)

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad & Tobago – Trinidad & Tobago launched its 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup journey in earnest on Wednesday, traveling to the United States for a six-day training camp in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

As the July 9 opener against Guatemala rapidly approaches, head coach Stephen Hart and company depart Port of Spain with a pair of tournament debutants -- Kadeem Corbin (19) and Rundell Winchester (21) -- in tow. Further bolstering the ranks will be the European-based duo of winger Lester Peltier and forward Jonathan Glenn, each whom is set to meet up with the squad upon arrival in Florida.

While the Soca Warriors have contested friendlies in 2015 -- Jordan (3-0 away loss), Curacao (1-0 away loss) and Panama (1-0 home loss) -- their most recent camp has been by far the most arduous. The effort earned praise from a senior member of the side.

“We came together and worked really hard,” said team captain Kenwyne Jones, who played in two 2006 FIFA World Cup matches. “We had some tough days, but it’s something that we needed. After the last two games [against Curacao and Jordan}, we needed a wake-up call. We had to come together and dig deep as a unit to try and get the best preparation possible.”

Jones — currently on the books at Cardiff City — will be making his third Gold Cup appearance. He had a solid showing in 2005 and scored twice during the team’s march to the 2013 quarterfinals.

Although regional glory remains of utmost importance, the Caribbean Cup runner-up also hopes that a strong showing at this year’s CONCACAF showcase can provide a spark ahead of its 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying slate that starts in November.

“Apart from the World Cup and World Cup qualifiers, I don’t think there is any other tournament that provides us with more motivation than the Gold Cup,” Jones stressed. “As a unit, especially after the last three results we’ve had, I think we are trying to put the team first.”

On a more somber note, funeral services were held for Hart’s mother, Monica, on Tuesday. Jones expressed backing for his manager.

As a team we feel for him,” concluded the 30-year-old. “We send our condolences out to him and his family. We had to rally around him. We will support him all the way and, hopefully. he can come through this strongly.”