ALSO ON SLAM!
Thursday, July 13, 2000
The mighty Dwight is ready to strike
The appearance of a world-class soccer star in Edmonton is about as common as wearing Bermuda shorts in the middle of January.
But having Dwight Yorke pull into town with the rest of the Trinidad and Tobago national team is cause for commotion.
The lethal striker from Manchester United arrived with his mates yesterday afternoon and will begin preparation today for the Sunday-night World Cup qualifying tilt with Canada.
"This is a very big match for us," said the slick and skillful forward as T&T was welcomed by supporters at the International Airport.
"We need to get off on a very positive note because we see Canada as one of the threats to us to go through to the next round.
"If we play positively and get a good result it will encourage us for the rest of the campaign."
Hard to imagine a player of Yorke's calibre giving Canada's national squad such high praise, but the Canucks have earned it with their play under head coach Holger Osieck, who must now give one of his defenders the unenviable task of marking Yorke, who was named most outstanding footballer in England
"I don't really know yet. I have to assess the fitness level of our group and then I will decide," said Osieck.
"The fittest player will definitely be in charge of him."
But at the same time, Canada can't let Yorke's running buddies have acres of free space out there.
"Obviously Dwight is the outstanding player we have in our country, but we have some good young players who are developing and coming on," said T&T head coach Ian Porterfield, who singled out gifted defender and T&T captain Russell Latapy, a member of Scottish First Division club Hibernian.
Porterfield's national squad is coming off a disappointing loss to Jamaica, one of its few tuneups for this round of World Cup qualifying, and now T&T faces a stiff challenge from Canada, regarded as one of the hottest sides in FIFA's rankings.
"Canada has been a good side of late and they've been on this consistent run for the last year or maybe longer. We've got total respect for them," Porterfield said.
"We will have to play our best to get a result. Everyone is in their first game (of the qualifying round) and they all want to get off to a good start."
While this is the first visit to Canada for many of the T&T players, it is a nice return for Porterfield, who has made stops in Toronto and Montreal as well as a notable venture to Victoria back in 1993 when he was the manager of English Premier club Chelsea.