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Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh
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World Cup peril

Trinidad and Tobago’s 2022 Qatar World Cup Qualifying football campaign may get off to a false start.

With one official indicating CONCACAF had set a deadline of today to indicate this country’s ability to host its opening Group F match against Guyana, the FIFA-appointed normalisation committee headed by Robert Hadad is still awaiting clearance from the Chief Medical Officer(CMO) Dr Roshan Parasram and Ministry of Health (MoH) officials to be able to stage the March 25 game.

Asked if they had received clearance to date, senior team manager Adrian Romain stated:”No. We are awaiting that approval. This is pending the revision of the 14-day quarantine period. As is, that length of time is (a) considerable inconvenience for international play.”

Romain added that today is the deadline for a decision, although Amiel Mohammed, the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) interim general secretary said he wouldn’t like to venture into confirming deadlines as yet.

“But it is a very pressing matter,” Mohammed emphasised. “All I could confirm is that it is an extremely, extremely pressing matter for T&T to get the necessary clearance.”

Mohammed added that the normalisation committee is still in discussions with the CMO regarding the qualifier, and with the game fast approaching, clearance would be important “sooner rather than later to facilitate preparations.”

“At the moment, the Ministry of Health’s overarching position regarding the regulations has remained the same for all bodies,” Mohammed said. “We are just petitioning to see what accommodations can be made for this crucial WCQ.”

The country’s borders remain closed for everyone except nationals. They must seek exemptions from the Ministry of National Security, with a mandatory 14-day quarantine period required, to be split evenly between a State-approved facility and the national’s home.

One of the proposals being put forward by the normalisation committee and TTFA officials is creating a bio-secure, confined environment.

“We have even mentioned to do a bubble where the teams will come in and be tested. Everyone will be tested during their stay and we will have our doctors monitor it with the assistance of the Ministry of Health. So that’s the plan but we haven’t gotten any word as yet,” said Romain.

Asked what would be the result if CONCACAF withdraws the game, Romain said:” We will have to give up home advantage and (end up) losing the game by default.”

The manager added that forfeiting the match would be a massive blow for the team that lost 0-7 to a second-string USA team on January 31,

“The Guyana game for us is like a final, not that we are writing off the other teams but the Guyana game is a big game for us, so we really want to get ourselves in order and get the approval by the Ministry to assist us at this stage during this WCQ round,” said Romain.

Ministry of Health corporate communications manager Candace Alcantara referred to Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh’s response at the Wednesday Covid-19 briefing.

Deyalsingh was reported to have said:”We are very concerned about people coming into the country and not quarantining properly and possibly bringing in the new variants...So, the decision would be made in the best interest of protecting the safety of our population.”

WhatsApp questions about clearance for the Guyana game sent to CMO Pararam went unanswered yesterday.

RELATED NEWS

T&T may lose home advantage in W/Cup qualifier.
By Jelani Beckles (T&T Newsday).


THE T&T men’s senior footballers are in a race against the clock. They must get a response from the Ministry of Health by Friday to get back to Concacaf outlining the country’s covid19 protocols for T&T’s World Cup qualifier against Guyana on March 25 in Trinidad.

The road to the World Cup qualifier has been less than ideal over the past year due to covid19. Several national players have not been playing competitively as local leagues, including the TT Pro League, have been inactive.

FIFA also banned the TT Football Association for two months last year because of a court battle.

FIFA appointed a normalisation committee to run local football which made the United TTFA’s responsibility to oversee local football null and void. The United TTFA eventually decided to drop all court matters against FIFA.

On January 31, head coach Terry Fenwick decided to gamble and play mostly foreign players, some he had never seen play because of the closed T&T borders, in an international friendly against the US. T&T suffered a 7-0 defeat, but showed more quality in the second half when players training with Fenwick in Trinidad were introduced.

In an interview with Newsday, on Thursday, Fenwick said he understands we are still living in a pandemic, but said the protocols are affecting their preparations and is asking for some leeway.

“They are putting limits on what we can do, how we can do it and the possible cancellation of the game in Trinidad at the Hasely Crawford Stadium for our national team in World Cup qualifiers (on) the 25 of March,” Fenwick said.

T&T football team manager Adrian Romain, who thanked the Health Ministry for its support, said they are pleading for further support concerning the upcoming match. Explaining further why the qualifier may be in jeopardy, Romain said, “Tomorrow (Friday) is the deadline to respond to this letter.

We need to show where we are playing our home game, the protocols are in place (and) are they lifting the protocols just to assist us in our World Cup dream? That question is unanswered at the moment.”

Romain said it is a possibility that the T&T-Guyana may have to be played at a neutral venue, which will take away T&T’s home advantage.

One of FIFA’s latest rules may also prevent T&T from including some of its foreign-based players for the qualifier.

FIFA allows clubs to prevent their players from travelling for national duty where quarantine is required for five days or more.

People entering T&T must quarantine between seven and 14 days, therefore special arrangements will have to be made for the T&T players trying to return home to represent the national team.

The T&T players who returned from the US following the friendly on January 31 are still in quarantine and are unable to train. Fenwick said this is affecting team preparation.

“I am looking for a little bit of support to recognize how important this game is. “Even if I have to use the guys on the ground here in Trinidad I need to have that time on the training ground to prepare properly so we could put up a fight and do our stuff.”

Fenwick is hopeful that the players will be allowed to train from next Monday.