National Unde-20 football coach Derek King said the postponement of the final phase of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship, initially carded for June 20- July 5 in Honduras will prevent his team from getting much-needed exposure at the international level.
On Wednesday night the CONCACAF announced the postponement of the tournament due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and said it will continue to monitor and follow the guidance provided by governments and public health authorities across the region before a decision will be made on when the championship will take place.
Speaking to Guardian Media Sports yesterday King said he was actually expecting the postponement to come when he considered the effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on countries worldwide. He noted the coronavirus has impacted on the preparation of all the team scheduled to take part, but for T&T, which has traditionally suffered against their CONCACAF rivals due to the lack of exposure internationally, as well as fitness concerns, his team could be even more difficult.
“There aren't much we can do right now, but I have been in constant contact and communication with the players and I have been giving them a training schedule to follow while they are at home. This deals with boosting players' fitness. They are given a training schedule every week,” King explained.
He said that nothing could be done about the lack of exposure. King, a former national assistant coach to Stephen Hart and now an assistant to current national senior team coach Terry Fenwick, said he had planned to either go into Honduras well in advanced where they could have played friendly matches the opposing teams, or go to Jamaica to play against the Jamaican u-20 team.
“In Jamaica, we were also hoping to take on the top Jamaican club teams in friendly encounters to boost our preparation for the tournament, which I predict will be very difficult,” King said.
T&T has been drawn in Group G, alongside Haiti, Panama and Suriname, with the top three finishers in the group advancing to the Knock Out round. CONCACAF giants, United States heads Group E which also features Costa Rica, another regional powerhouse, Jamaica and Saint Kitts/Nevis. Group F contains Mexico, El Salvador, Canada and Aruba, while Group H, comprises host Honduras, Cuba, Guatemala and Antigua/Barbuda.
King said since he expects the final phase of the tournament to be played early next year, all attempts are being made to get the team as ready as possible. “We have been attempting to get our best players, both at home and abroad. We have also been reaching out to players with T&T parentage to join the team. We already have a good bunch of committed players and any other players from outside will boost the team,” King noted.
Apart from King, the team has been under the watchful eyes of assistant coaches Angus Eve and Stern John, with Ross Russell as the goalkeeper coach.