Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Carlos Edwards is relishing the return of competitive international action ahead of this weekend's opening 2010 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ qualifiers.
Otto Pfister's side begin their campaign for a spot at the global finals with an intriguing clash with Bermuda at their Hasely Crawford Stadium home. They do so with an air of optimism surrounding their hopes of progressing from Group B in the North, Central American and Caribbean Zone, which they also share with Guyana and Barbados. It will be Edwards' fourth FIFA World Cup preliminary campaign, and the Ipswich Town midfielder remains as keen as ever.
"It's always a privilege representing your country at any level, especially for me as I haven't played in a while for the national team," he told TTFF Media. "I would think the players are all committed.
"Talking from my experience, and looking at the few training sessions we've had and speaking to some of the local boys, you can see their enthusiasm to work on their game and progress towards a better future. They will try to understand [Pfister's] philosophy and what the boss wants to achieve with us."
Looking at the few training sessions we've had and speaking to some of the local boys, you can see their enthusiasm to work on their game and progress towards a better future.
Edwards has moved to clarify reported criticism of Pfister's predecessor, Russell Latapy. The 32-year-old was allegedly considering international retirement due to grievances about the make-up of the side's technical set-up.
"A lot of people have their own opinions on how they read things or put them out," Edwards said. "I was referring to things behind the scenes, but I was not pointing fingers at anyone.
"I did not refer to the coach in that context. It goes beyond the coach or the management staff. At the time, because of that situation, I thought about hanging up my boots and saying I have had enough. But luckily I haven't done that and I'm here to play again.
"I'm prepared to go to the distance. I'm fully committed and once I'm given the opportunity then I will go out and give my all for the country."
Hart rules out Canadian complacency
Another CONCACAF big hitter in action tomorrow night is Group D favourites Canada, who play St Lucia at BMO Field in Toronto. Reds coach Stephen Hart has rubbished the tag of favourites.
"We're not even considering that," he said. "The format is simple and you hope to win the group. We've approached this like we've approached every other game.
"Of course there's always good days and bad days, but we have not spoken about being the overwhelming favourites. We are not [having] any discussion like that at all.
"I have a good feeling, if we're healthy. When we are not healthy, and we saw that at the Gold Cup, then even the healthy players start to doubt the cohesion of the team because leaders are starting to disappear."
The rest of the menu
A busy night of action sees Haiti face US Virgin Islands, Grenada play Belize, Surinam host to Cayman Islands and Dominica entertain Nicaragua.
Minnows Curacao travel to take on Antigua and Barbuda, El Salvador host the Dominican Republic, Guyana are home to Barbados, and St Kitts and Nevis take on Puerto Rico on home soil. Elsewhere, Guatemala are at home to St Vincent/Grenadines.