MARABELLA, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO - When Suriname return to the playing field this fall for 2019/20 CONCACAF Nations League qualifying, a lot of the leadership duties will fall on the shoulders of FW Dimitrie Apai.
The 23-year-old is a regular fixture with Trinidad and Tobago side W Connection and is no stranger to top level competition, having appeared in seven Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League matches with the club.
Apai hopes that once the CNL starts in September, his international experience at club level will carry over to the National Team.
"My experience in the CONCACAF Champions League will help me a lot, along with W Connection's training program, but not the whole team because I'm the only professional player who knows more about that level," said Apai in an exclusive interview with CONCACAF.com.
With 14 senior team caps and two international goals to his name, Apai is optimistic that Suriname's experience in the CNL will be the start of a new era of Suriname football.
"This is just the beginning for certain players and most of them will be very excited about it. It will also be a new challenge because we have a new coach so he might have some new plans," said Apai.
Suriname kick off the CNL on September 6 with a visit to Dominica, before hosting the British Virgin Islands (October 13), then traveling to Jamaica (November 17) and concluding with a home date against Saint Kitts and Nevis (March 23).
Apai says that for Suriname the four matches will be a mix of the familiar and the unknown.
"I can more talk about Saint Kitts and Jamaica but not much about Dominica and British Virgin Islands because I have played more than once against Jamaica and Saint Kitts. Both teams have players that are in a serious program and that is the advantage of those two teams," said Apai.
Like so many players from around the Caribbean, Apai is appreciative of the platform provided by CONCACAF with the Nations League tournament and feels that in the next 10 years Suriname can begin to make a name for itself throughout the CONCACAF region and the world.
"I would like to see my country in the World Cup or any other serious tournament where the world can see us, including myself," concluded Apai.