All Pro League matches have been suspended, including the San Juan Jabloteh vs Central FC fixture originally carded for today at the Barataria Oval, until September 8, 2017.
This has become necessary to assist the T&T senior men’s national football team’s preparations for the upcoming Jamaica friendly on August 24, and the final phase of FIFA World Cup 2018 CONCACAF qualifiers, beginning with hosting Honduras on September 1 then away to Panama on September 5 as explained by Pro League Chairman Sam Phillips who told Guardian Media Sports yesterday:
“We at the League want to give the national team and coach Dennis Lawrence all the support we can, once we see that there is a possibility to qualify. We have a mathematical chance and we just want to support that effort.”
The Pro League’s decision to suspend the league however, may be seen as a reversal to a previous stance by the League to not allow national team games to affect the progress of the competition, an agreement reached by the Pro League Board of directors and then coach Stephen Hart.
Hart contended that match practice and having players active was what mattered more than having them available.
But Phillips was quick to point out that that agreement was not written in stone: “There were different occasions where the board agreed to stop the league. For instance that if a club has four or more players missing from any one club there would be a postponement. Or matches would continue as scheduled to give younger players a chance to play. But when he (Lawrence) first came into the job he had an discussion and agreement the TTFA board and Pro League clubs where most of the players play. This decision is just honoring that agreement. Also, remember there are more local players playing in the national team now than then.“ Phillip said.
Asked whether the stoppage was in leniency to the clubs, many of who had complained about having thinner squads this season Phillips responded: “That may be so but that did not prompt the decision. This decision was made since Mr. Lawrence came in.”
Three-time defending T&T Pro League champions, Central FC and San Juan Jabloteh, will both be seeking to get their domestic campaign back on track when matches resume, as both local clubs were booted from the Scotiabank Concacaf League competition at the round-of-16 hurdle.
As it stands, Jabloteh is fourth on the ten-team table with ten points from six matches, 11 adrift of top duo, W Connection and Club Sando who have both played nine matches, while North East Stars is next with 16 points and two matches in hand on the leaders.
Central FC is a further point behind Jabloteh in fifth spot from six matches as well, and if the two teams are to have any chance of making a charge for the title, then that clash will be no better time to pick up a win.