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Fri, Oct

Fenwick: Draw not bad, but hoping FIFA suspension lifted soon.
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Still optimistic

THE faster FIFA’s suspension of Trinidad and Tobago football is lifted, the better it is for Terry Fenwick, T&T’s senior men’s coach.

“I have got to remain optimistic for my players,” stated Fenwick, who says he has been in constant contact with several national team regulars and prospects.

The former England defender feels that the draw for 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup gives the Soca Warriors an excellent chance of being in the 16-team finals, provided issues surrounding the legal challenge to FIFA, by former Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) executives, are resolved soon.

“I’m hoping we can resolve all the internal issues that we’ve got,” said Fenwick. “Anybody that draws Trinidad and Tobago at the moment thinks that they are going to win, because of the mess that we are in. It not easy with all this stuff going on.”

Fenwick remains perplexed as to why the local Association’s United TTFA faction, headed by its president William Wallace, continue to prolong action against FIFA, even with CONCACAF and FIFA extending an olive branch which could see T&T’s suspension soon ended.

T&T were included in the draw, despite being suspended by world football’s global governing body last Thursday, for violating FIFA statutes. If the suspension is not lifted by December 18, Antigua/Barbuda will replace T&T in the preliminary round.

“The TTFA have not one red cent. How can they run football without FIFA funding,” Fenwick questioned. The sixty-year-old is mainly concerned about his team being ready for when T&T face a dangerous Montserrat — made up primarily England-born footballers — in the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup opening round first-stage preliminary round match next July.

This was determined at Monday’s draw, for the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup, which took place in the Miami, Florida, USA. T&T compete in a 12-team preliminary knockout stage, running from July 2-6, which will determine the final three group-stage participants. Should T&T get by Montserrat, they meet the winner of Cuba vs French Guiana, for a spot into the 16-nations Gold Cup.

“I think its a good draw, if we are on our feet and if we got time to prepare. If I have time to prepare my team before we play these games,” added Fenwick, who also felt the football politics can also not be good for his recruitment drive. “We have identified a lot of quality players to add to what we already got. I have not had a chance to see them. You can’t hide anything. Everything is out in the media, social media and it can’t be very good for them,” he sighed.

Of importance to Fenwick is getting his local squad back in training as soon as possible, before meeting an improved Montserrat next July. English footballers with Caribbean roots have transformed Montserrat from Caribbean whipping boys into a team which shocked many in the 2019 CONCACAF National League, where they won over the Dominican Republic and Belize, while only going down 1-0 in El Salvador.

None of Montserrat’s footballers live on the island. In addition, Willie Donachie, the former Scotland international and assistant to Joe Royle at various clubs, became manager last year and transformed Montserrat into a team known for working hard and always dangerous in dead ball situations.

“The majority of their players are coming out of England, playing in the lower leagues. So they will have structure, organisation. I got work to do. Research to do. I have to find out who they got. Thank God I’ve got some time to do it. But the most important thing is having time on the ground with my own players,” Fenwick concluded.