Trinidad and Tobago's Under-23 footballers are drawn in Group B and will begin the 2012 CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament with a tough opening match against Mexico on March 23 in Carson, California.

T&T will next face Panama on March 25, before ending preliminary qualification on March 27 against Honduras.

Group B–consisting of Honduras, Mexico, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago--will be played at Home Depot Center in California, while Group A matches involving hosts United States, Canada, El Salvador and Cuba will be played at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee.

The semi-final matches will be played in Kansas and will determine the two qualifiers from CONCACAF to the 2012 London Olympic Games.

T&T head coach Angus Eve felt undaunted by the possibility of opening against 2011 Pan Am Games champions Mexico, with whom they drew 1-1 at that tournament in Mexico in October. But he said the young Soca Warriors need intensive preparation in the next few months.

Eve said Mexico had been training for eight months and did not expect significant changes to their squad.

"First of all, it seems like Mexico are running us down," Eve joked. "But we have to prepare to play everybody. I would have liked to have a North American team in the group because they play basic, organised football. Our players are more effective against those teams than the ones who like to move the ball around. But we will prepare for everyone."

Eve has already formulated a plan in preparation for the tournament. It includes camps in countries that play both Central American and North American-type football.

Eve's plans include no Carnival vacation for his players, since he expects them to be out of the country. And he wants his squad to be in California early to acclimatise to the expected chilly conditions.

On Tuesday, Eve will meet with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation through facilitator Anthony Harford to discuss his plans.

Eve will also give players Leston Paul, Khaleem Hyland, Stephan Knox, Daniel Cyrus and Robert Primus the opportunity to vie for selection along with the current squad. Most of those five players were either unavailable in the past due to injury or school, while Hyland was involved in UEFA Champions League qualification with his Belgium club Genk.

"I think five points, two draws and a win, should be enough to get us to the semi-final because this will be a tight tournament," Eve said. "I think our chances of doing well are very good. We have a good blend of players, some who have qualified for successive (youth) World Cups in 2007 and 2009. I have added players who have played CONCACAF Champions League with their clubs such as Kareem Moses (Joe Public) and Joel Russell (San Juan Jabloteh), but had never before earned national selection.

"I believe in the quality of my entire squad and these players have shown that they are up to the task."

CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Finals:


(All times US Eastern)

Group A (Nashville, Tennessee)--Canada, Cuba, El Salvador, United States

Group B (Carson, California)--Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Trinidad & Tobago

Friday March 23

At Carson, California

Honduras vs Panama, 9 p.m.

Trinidad & Tobago vs Mexico, 11:30 p.m.

Sunday March 25

At Carson, California

Panama vs Trinidad & Tobago, 4:30 p.m.

Mexico vs Honduras, 7 p.m.

Tuesday March 27

At Carson, California

Honduras vs Trinidad & Tobago, 9 p.m.

Mexico vs Panama, 11:30 p.m.


Saturday March 31

At Kansas City, Kansas

Group B winner vs Group A runner-up, 6 p.m.

Group A winner vs Group B runner-up, 9 p.m.


Monday April 2

At Kansas City, Kansas

Semi-final winners, 8 p.m.

By Ian Prescott