Hayden Tinto returns to Caledonia

Honduran, Panamanian and Haitian among Shabazz’s 2014/15 signings

Former Trinidad and Tobago international Hayden Tinto.

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Former Trinidad and Tobago international midfielder Hayden Tinto has returned to Caledonia AIA – the club he kicked off his career at nine years ago.

But how the skillful 29-year-old adjusts on his return to the Pro League, is left up to him explained Caledonia head coach Jamaal Shabazz.

“Tinto is Cale’,” said Shabazz. “He has been insisting since last season that he wanted to return to the club.

“Being a father and a family man, he has matured and is now a more stable and calculated individual. He brings a lot of confidence on the ball and that little extra technical ability that we need in our attack. However how he adjusts after missing a season in the Pro League remains to be seen.”

Tinto joined Caledonia in 2006 and after two seasons at the Morvant/Laventille club he joined rivals Joe Public in 2009. The talented midfielder, scorer of a superb goal against Mexico in 2009 for T&T’s first ever goal at the Azteca Stadium, had a stint at Central FC and last represented Super League outfit Malabar FC.

In the club’s bid for a top-two finish in the 2014/15 TT Pro League season to qualify for the 2016 Caribbean Club Championship, which Caledonia won in 2012, Shabazz made a number of foreign signings.

Haiti’s 34-year-old veteran defender Pierre Hithner, 22-year-old midfielder Cristoper Joet Mejia Aguilar of Honduras, 23-year-old central defence or midfield player Rogello Robinson of Panama, 24-year-old defender Taylor Benjamin of Canada, 21-year-old Jamaica Under 23 goalkeeper Rashaun Petterson, and 25-year-old defender Teriq Highland from Barbados Defence Force FC.

Highland, who initially arrived in Trinidad to trial at W Connection but failed to impress coach Stuart Charles Fevrier, has been granted a one-year hiatus by the Barbados Defence Force according to Shabazz.

“Highland is very athletic and he comes in to fill the left side of defence with Marcus Ambrose [presently on the waiting list along with midfielder Abdullah Phillip for knee surgery].

Commenting on his Caribbean and Central American signings, Shabazz said, “The time has come for us to really use football as a vehicle for human development especially in our community.

“So by bringing in a cross-section of players from the islands and even Central America, it creates a new and challenging environment for both our players and staff. The new culture and learning to cope with the different cultures of a Haitian, and getting to understand the Central American concept, is in itself a real learning experience for us.

“Of course we want to do well this season so that Morvant and Laventille can raise their heads with a sense of honour and pride that we can produce positive.

“We are satisfied with the quality and commitment that the foreign boys will bring. They will make us very competitive and we can hardly wait for the league to start.

“However we have some younger players among the experience players that we must give playing time because the old guard of Stephan David, Kareem Joseph, Densill Theobald and Abdullah Phillip cannot go on forever,” explained the Caledonia coach who finished his side in a disappointing 6th position in last season’s Digicel Pro League.

Shabazz said that Hithner, who last represented Haitian club AS Mirebalais, will occupy a dual role as defender and mentor to the younger defenders at senior and youth levels.

Shabazz also praised Robinson saying that the Panamanian, who last represented El Salvador’s Santa Teckla, is “solid as a nail, and he is a player that [former San Juan Jabloteh and Central FC coach] Terry Fenwick would admire because of his aggression”.

The Caledonia coach have also retained the services of Grenada’s international goalkeeper Shemel Louison; defenders Nuru Abdullah Muhammad and Kareem Joseph; midfielders Densill Theobald, Keron Bethelmy, Jameel Neptune, Nathan Lewis, Kyle Bartholomew and Guyana’s Pernell Schultz; and forwards Dominican international forward Julian Wade and veteran Conrod Smith.

Shabazz also promoted left-winger Kyle Adams from the Caledonia Reserves, as well as added former goalkeeper, 25-year-old Zane Coker who last represented Malabar FC, 23-year-old defender Keon Russell who last represented Malta Carib Alcons, 19-year-old Trinidadian defender Damani Richards who last represented Harrisburgh City Islanders in the US, and 20-year-old talented attacking midfielder/forward Marcus Joseph.

“We were also able to acquire the troublesome Marcus Gomez,” said Shabazz. “He will be the challenge for the season. He seems not able to settle down having moved from North East Stars to Jabloteh and now to us.

“Like so many of the talented players that T&T has produced over the years, he is now coming to understand that talent alone is not enough. Given the standards that we have set at Caledonia, he would have to do or run away. I fancy him as a player but time will tell how he develops.”