T&T’s senior football coach Dennis Lawrence and his men will be hoping to end their 13-match winless streak when they come up against minnows Anguilla today at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva from 6 pm.
The last encounter between the teams was six years ago in the 2012 Caribbean Cup, a 10-0 win in which Jamal Gay netted a beaver-trick and Keon Daniel hat-trick at Warner Park Stadium, Basseterre, St Kitts/Nevis.
Following today’s match, T&T will travel to face Ecuador for another friendly on November 14 before facing Honduras in their closing CONCACAF Nations League qualifier in San Pedro Sula on November 17.
T&T will enter on the heels of three straight 2-0 losses against Honduras, Mexico and Venezuela respectively.
Speaking before his team’s final training session at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, yesterday, Lawrence said the preparation for the match had been good.
“The boys have come in and they have shown good enthusiasm and good spirit and I think it is important that we understand the reason why we have the Anguilla friendly.
And immediately when we looked at the situation, we know the players that were involved in the USL in the USA, those in Canada and India, we knew their season going to finish probably two and a half weeks to three weeks before the Honduras match,” he said.
“So it was important that we got them home as quickly as possible to keep them active and training gives you one aspect, but we also know the importance of getting that match fitness, so we approach Anguilla, who we need to say thank you to for taking the fixture.”
Many fans had questioned why T&T decided to play against such a lowly-ranked side at this stage, especially since they need a stiffer challenge heading into their Nations League match.
Yesterday, Lawrence offered, “Why Anguilla, because they play only one game in the next Nations League window, which is on November 19. Majority of the other teams play two games, so it allowed us to play Anguilla in this friendly so we can keep the boys up to some sort of match rhythm in preparation for the Honduras game.
“We have the majority of the boys here, one or two are missing who are going to meet us in Ecuador.
“Andre Fortune at the end of his season, he then went on to a trial at another MLS club which we allowed him to do because I think it is important that we understand that it is his future and he needs to look after it. But for the rest, Ataulla Guerra, Leston Paul, Mekeil Williams, Alvin Jones, Duane Muckette, they are all here. Then we managed to get some of the boys from India early, Daneil Cyrus, Marcus Joseph, Aubrey David, so we have a lot of the boys here, that allows us to play this game against Anguilla and that’s the thinking behind the whole process going into the Honduras game.”
Lawrence said they decided against playing a Pro League team because he believes in “playing an unknown team that will come here and make it difficult for us.”
Lawrence: FIFA window issue forced match change.
By Nigel Simon (Guardian).
T&T senior men’s football team coach Dennis Lawrence says better communication between the T&T Football Association and T&T Pro League could have avoided the clashes with the First Citizens Cup fixtures and T&T versus Anguilla match on today. However, he made it clear that the information about the T&T friendly was passed on to T&T Pro League officials.
On Friday, Central FC managing director and T&T Pro League chairman Brent Sancho, a former national defender, labelled the move by the T&TFA to bring forward the T&T/Anguilla friendly, originally carded for Monday, by 24 hours as disrespectful to the Pro League.
“As a Pro League club owner, and now as acting chairman of the TT Pro League, I have always tried to support our national teams. Even when we have had important games, we have still tried to accommodate TTFA’s wishes,” Sancho said in a release.
“But this decision by David John-Williams – because I know for a fact that this hasn’t come from the TTFA board – is totally disrespecting clubs, players, supporters, and sponsors. We have First Citizens Cup matches being played on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and you want to play a senior men’s international on the same weekend?”
Sancho pointed out that the Anguilla game was originally carded for tomorrow and that clubs had made plans to allow players to attend national team training. However, most clubs had planned to play those players in this weekend’s First Citizens Cup matches.
All eleven Pro League clubs are in action this weekend.
Sancho added that the FCB fixtures had been arranged weeks ago and it was the poor planning of TTFA that forced them to bring the game forward, adding the Pro league had also received no official confirmation of the friendly international.
“This is discourteous and totally disrespectful. Because of the timing, I have not had a chance to discuss this with the clubs, but Dennis Lawrence should be concerned about who will show up for the game on Sunday and what kind of condition the players will be in,” he said.
Sancho said a formal letter of complaint will be sent to TTFA president David John-Williams in an attempt to avoid such thoughtless decision making in the future.
Speaking at a national team briefing ahead of today’s match yesterday, Lawrence admitted the clash with matches was unfortunate.
“I think sometimes communication can be a serious problem because all the way through the entire thing there was communication in regards to the game being played. The only thing which I would say, which was a bit unfortunate, was that we would have liked to play the match on Monday, November 11, but then looking at the FIFA Rules and Regulations, you are not allowed to play more than two friendlies in an international window,” Lawrence said.
“So immediately when that happened, we had to make an adjustment, which was either to play the match on November 10 or after. Everything was already arranged for Anguilla to be here so we had to bring the game forward to one day, which ideally we didn’t want to do because we understand the First Citizens Cup is going on, but at the end of the day, we have to do our job and we have to do our work.”
However, Lawrence said the information had been passed on to the T&T Pro League.
“So the communication has been there all the way through and what I would say, the story when I saw it this morning it left a bad taste in my mouth because come on, David John-Williams ain’t arranging when we play the friendly or not. It was all something that had to be done for the benefit of the players, that’s the most important thing, and as I said before, once we found out we could not play more than two friendlies inside a window, we had to make an adjustment and unfortunately it clashed with the First Citizens Cup game.”
He added, “We have always worked together with the Pro League because they have always been good to us and we are always going to be good to them. So I think communication sometimes can be misleading, so the Pro League games will go ahead and we want them to go-ahead.
“The tournament (First Citizens Cup) is also beneficial to the boys as well, as they are now starting to build up some sort of rhythm because they have been inactive for so long. So it’s good to see the boys back on the pitch playing competitive football and hopefully at the end of the First Citizens Cup it will lead straight into the start of the Pro League starting so you can keep the boys and them active, because they have been dormant for too long and you cannot play professional football and be dormant for that length of period.”