NATIONAL men’s senior football coach Terry Fenwick is hoping for a bright and prosperous 2021 for T&T football after local football came to a halt in 2020.
Speaking about the possibility of playing friendly matches leading into the 2022 Concacaf World Cup qualifiers, Fenwick told Newsday, “We are working on that as we speak…we are looking forward to a new year of prosperity and a change certainly in football. It has been a horrible 2020 with covid19 causing enough (distress). Football has endured beyond belief, so I am hoping that changes (will happen).”
Despite being hired since the end of 2019, Fenwick has yet to hit the ground as the national team has not played any international matches under his leadership.
When covid19 started to affect T&T in March, T&T football was on the bench. The battle between the United TTFA and FIFA did not help matters. United TTFA and FIFA were involved in an eight-month legal battle over the world football body’s decision to remove the United TTFA executive and appoint a normalisation committee to run local football. The battle led to FIFA suspending the TTFA for two months from September to November.
Fenwick and his players were granted permission to resume training in June when Government relaxed covid19 restrictions. Since then the national players have been training at the Police Barracks in St James.
The 2022 Concacaf World Cup qualifiers kick off in March. T&T will open its World Cup qualifying campaign against Guyana in Group F on March 25, before playing Puerto Rico on March 28.
Group F also features Bahamas and St Kitts and Nevis.
On November 20, Fenwick told Newsday he was hopeful T&T could play three friendly matches before the end of the year.
Those matches have not materialised, but on Saturday the national coach said he wants to get the ball rolling in early 2021.
Fenwick added that a camp is also being planned. “I have already put in a schedule which includes games in that period of time. I can’t confirm any teams to you until they come back and confirm themselves, but we have asked three teams to participate in January/February and we are trying to get a camp going.”
The camp may be held in the second and third week of February.
Fenwick said he will continue working with normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad to get “the best possible build-up to World Cup.”
Fenwick said plans are in place to put the players through fitness tests.
“We are not hanging around. We’ve got fitness evaluations on the 2nd and 3rd of January which is Saturday and Sunday next week. We are back into training from the 4th …so we are working hard on fitness, getting back into it, getting football moving again in T&T.”
Fenwick said the foreign-based players are expected to have a high level of fitness as they have been playing competitively in recent months. Fenwick closed by wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a better 2021.
T&T defender Daneil Cyrus agrees with Fenwick that T&T must play friendly matches before the qualifiers kick off.
Discussing the value of match time, Cyrus said, “That is the very important. You could do how much fitness (work) you want, match fitness is the most important fitness because if you not playing competitive games you would not see what level you are at.”
He added, “It makes no sense if you just training for the whole year and you don’t play any games. If we don’t have three, four (competitive) games before these qualifiers it is going to be very difficult.”
Since returning from Iraq where he had a short stint with football club Erbil, Cyrus has not been training with the national team.
The national defender said experienced players are key when facing opposition such as Mexico and USA.
Cyrus, 30, has 91 caps for T&T since making his debut in 2010.