Sat, Feb

USA team officials and players contemplate whether to walk through the flooded track area to get to the field at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva this morning. PHOTO COURTESY US SOCCER

Infuriated by claims that T&T will be putting them to play in a river at the Ato Boldon Stadium, T&T Football Association president David John-Williams has lashed out at the US national football team and questioned whether it was a sign that they were pressing the panic button.

An angry John Williams responded to the US team’s decision to put pictures on social media of the tracks at the Ato Boldon Stadium filled with water, a dilemma that was caused by early-morning showers yesterday.

The TTFA boss said he was very disappointed with the complaints by the US team and made it clear the field itself was not flooded.

According to John-Williams he did not hear the US team complain when it played in conditions worse than theirs against Costa Rica recently.

He believes the USA’s disappointment may have stemmed from their inability to use the ground to train yesterday ahead of today’s encounter, which is more crucial for them as they need victory to be assured a place in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia next year.

The US are on 12 points and face being overtaken by fourth place Panama who, with ten points, will be at home to Costa Rica at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City.

The Costa Ricans have already qualified and are likely to field an under-strength team today. T&T on the other, cannot qualify and has shifted its focus to the 2022 qualifiers for the Qatar World Cup.

John-Williams told Guardian Media Sports yesterday that he would love to spoil the party for the Americans tonight.

A release from the Sport Company of T&T yesterday sought to clear the air on the US concerns, saying FIFA Match Commissioner Hector Canchola Nunez conferred with ABS Facility Manager Jeffrey John and concluded that the training sessions of both the US and TT team be changed to the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella to ensure players’ safety, due to heavy rains.

The US team was set to work out at 11 am. The release stated however that the visitors disregarded warnings and practiced.

The TTFA has since secured the use of a water pump to flush the tracks while the SporTT has requested the services of the Couva/Talparo Regional Corporation and the Office of Disaster and Preparedness to be on standby.

John-Williams sent a message to the US camp, saying at the TTFA they did not have control over the weather conditions, and pointed to the recent Costa Rica and Honduras encounter which was postponed and played a day later due to similar circumstances.


Team USA meets ‘river’ at Ato Boldon Stadium.
By Stephon Nicholas (Newsday).

Former legendary sprinter Ato Boldon says the flooding at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva today, is a situation that could have happened anywhere in the world with the amount of rainfall that Trinidad has been experiencing in the last few months.

The track at surrounding the Ato Boldon football field was surrounded by water on the running track which caused numerous negative comments on social media. In an interview with Newsday Boldon said he felt angry about the situation initially when he was informed that there was a lot of rain.

"I woke up this morning to that all over my Twitter, and I was a little annoyed at first because I felt like this supposed to be a fun week for me, because the US team playing in that stadium is kind of a thrill for me," Boldon said.

"I have since spoken to people who live in the area and they said, 'Listen, you don't understand the kind of rain that has been falling there.' Stadia flood all over the world so I am looking at it a bit differently now. No amount of drainage would have probably helped that situation."

Asked if some of the comments on social media were harsh Boldon said, "Everybody thinks global warming is a hoax until it affects something big, or something you do for a living."

At the venue today, US footballers were seen shuttling teammates across the water on their backs, much to the amusement of their travelling media contingent who were busy snapping pictures and filming.

Their #RoadToRussia campaign on the US Soccer official Twitter account was altered to #RiverToRussia as Trinbagonians and people from all over the world laughed at the state of the venue for a World Cup qualifying match.

The decision to shift national team home games from the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain to the Couva venue was done by Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams and has come in for criticism from several stakeholders.

On the field, T&T are yet to win a game and fans have not flocked to the smaller venue to create the sold-out hostile atmosphere John-Williams intended.

National coach Dennis Lawrence said this morning he does not anticipate the condition of the ground to play any part in the match as both teams have to play on it.