Approaching the one-year anniversary of his first match as Wales manager, Ryan Giggs can look back on some decent results and performances, and a few that haven’t been so positive. As he approaches this game against the Soca Warriors, Giggs will hope to pick up a victory to bring his record in the job to four wins in his first ten games. The impact of failure in this regard could see Wales enter the Euro qualifier against Slovakia with confidence at a low.
Trinidad & Tobago, meanwhile, are coached by Dennis Lawrence, who played a fair chunk of his career in Wales with Swansea City. Lawrence, a Trinidad native, has at least played in a World Cup – so that’s one thing he has over Giggs. He comes here with a side low on star power; the days of Shaka Hislop, Dwight Yorke and Stern John are but a memory, but the Warriors can spring a shock when they want to – it was their 2-1 win over the USA that ensured the latter missed out on a World Cup trip in 2018.
Wales vs Trinidad & Tobago Prediction: Wales 3-0 Trinidad & Tobago
Giggs has made clear that part of his plan for the national team is to ensure that there is a wealth of capped players to choose from when it comes to key internationals, so there is every chance that regulars such as Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey will not start here. They’ll be in reserve if needed, but the former Manchester United man will be expecting some of his collection of talented upstarts to make a case for their continued inclusion. With Daniel James having shone in Swansea’s recent heartbreaking loss against Manchester City, he may be included here – he, and others, could make their case by making and scoring goals against an opponent Wales should really beat.
Our recommended tip: Wales and >2.5 goals
Less than three years ago, Wales lined up in a European Championship semi-final, and they gave a real contest to the eventual tournament winners, Portugal. Although things have changed since then, enough players are still around from those days to make the Dragons big favourites against a side mostly made up of players plucked from the American minor leagues and other unheralded competitions. Giggs should be looking for a resounding win here – and although Lawrence has engendered a doggedness and a team spirit among the T&T squad, backing Wales to win with more than 2.5 goals scored (10/11 at Dafabet) seems like a wise choice.
These sides have met before, in Graz, Austria shortly in advance of the 2006 World Cup in a game arranged to help Trinidad & Tobago prepare for the tournament. On that occasion, Lawrence was on the pitch for the Soca Warriors, along with the likes of Stern John, Yorke, Russell Latapy and Rangers defender Marvin Andrews. Giggs missed out through injury on that occasion, but another left-sided tyro made history – debutant Gareth Bale, then just 16, delivered the cross for Rob Earnshaw to score the winning goal. It was Earnshaw’s second of the game, giving Wales a 2-1 win after John had notched the opener.
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Players to watch: Harry Wilson & Alvin Jones
Wilson is likely to play from the start here, with Bale unlikely to be risked before a crucial Euro 2020 qualifier against Slovakia. The winger has been a key performer at Derby where he is currently on loan from Liverpool, and scored a stunning free-kick in a Carabao Cup win over Manchester United. It’s appropriate that he should start in Bale’s absence, as he broke the same player’s record by becoming Wales’ youngest-ever international in 2013, at the age of 16 years and 207 days.
Likely to be tasked with marking Wilson, Alvin Jones is an attacking right-back blessed with pace and a flair for the dramatic. He has scored one international goal, but it was quite a strike – a 35-yard thunderbolt that gave his country a 2-0 lead against the much-fancied USA and ended up eliminating the Stars and Stripes from World Cup contention ahead of Russia 2018. Plying his trade with W Connection in his home country, another impressive performance here could alert European scouts to his skills.