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Fenwick: Poor planning for World Cup qualifiers.
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HEAD coach of the national men’s senior football team Terry Fenwick is disappointed that Trinidad and Tobago will now have to play Guyana in a FIFA World Cup qualifier in Dominican Republic, on March 25.

T&T were scheduled to face Guyana in its opening match of the 2022 Qatar World Cup qualifiers at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain, but covid19 protocols have led to the change in venue.

On Saturday, a media release by the TT Football Association (TTFA), said it “laments the decision of the Ministry of Health to not allow the TTFA to host this country’s opening Qatar 2022 World Cup Qualifier versus Guyana in Trinidad, in a hot-bubble environment, on March 25. The TTFA has therefore taken a decision to stage the match at the Pan American Stadium, San Cristobal, Dominican Republic.”

The TTFA media release added, “Over the last few months, we have been in discussions with the Ministry of Health, Sports Company of TT and other relevant Government agencies.

“Based on these discussions, numerous proposals and scenarios were put forward to host the match in Trinidad, but unfortunately none were ultimately successful, which would satisfy our FIFA mandates for international competitions.”

Fenwick, in an interview with Newsday, said, “I am very disappointed because the game was carded for T&T (at the) Hasely Crawford Stadium as a home game for T&T in a one-off playoff against Guyana. We have not been able to secure that game over that period of time, which is important (to note). This is not a last-minute decision. We knew this was happening in August last year.”

The quarantine measure does not allow the match to be played in T&T. “The Ministry of Health’s protocol and guidelines mandate 14 days quarantine for anyone entering the country. This condition is not feasible given the FIFA international match window and the Ministry of Health has declined the TTFA’s request of an exemption to facilitate a hot-bubble which would allow members of both teams, including staff, to arrive within a suitable time period conducive to international football. We have worked tirelessly with FIFA, Concacaf and the Government of T&T to find solutions but regrettably a compromise could not be found.”

Fenwick said his players need to get some competition before the qualifiers kick off, but poor planning has been an issue. Fenwick said around the world football is being played. “They have got international friendlies, competitive games...because it is six and eight months in advance. (It is) planning. We’ve not done none of that.”

The TTFA release said steps are being taken to ensure the players are prepared for the qualifiers. “The TTFA is committed to giving the men’s senior national team the best preparation possible during these challenging times. We have been working and continue to work on solutions to provide head coach Terry Fenwick the opportunity to engage in international friendly matches and training camps ahead of the qualifiers.”

Several of T&T’s players are based overseas and Fenwick is making moves to get those players to the Dominican Republic. “That’s what we are trying to do. Again it is not in our hands, it is the club’s hands but we are reaching out early.”

Fenwick added that he must continue to train with a large group of players locally because he is uncertain that the T&T players overseas will be released by their clubs for the qualifier. “We can’t send anybody home because we don’t know what we getting from overseas. It is a real difficult situation. If covid virus wasn’t enough, we are treading on our toes in Trinidad and certain areas have not helped.”

The TTFA understands why the qualifier was not allowed to be held in T&T. “The TTFA is incredibly disappointed and shares the public’s frustration at not being able to play our designated home match on local soil. However, we do understand the responsibilities of the Ministry of Health and appreciate the efforts that they are making to preserve the safety of the citizens of our country.”

RELATED NEWS

Fenwick calls for unity ahead of World Cup qualifier.
By Jonathan Ramnanansingh (T&T Newsday).


National men’s football coach Terry Fenwick has urged the TT Football Association (TTFA) and its affiliates to unite ahead of this country’s FIFA World Cup qualification campaign which kicks off against Guyana on March 25.

After hosting a training session at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo, on Saturday, the 61-year-old coach called for all hands on deck as T&T seeks to secure its second-ever qualification to a senior FIFA World Cup.

Owing to the pandemic and prior legal wrangling between TTFA and FIFA, Fenwick has had a tough time at the helm of local football since his appointment in December 2019.

After a 7-0 clobbering in his first official match against USA, on January 31, Fenwick has now set sights on World Cup qualification with a team that was only able to resume training in November 2020.

With the domestic season inactive for almost a year because of Government’s health regulations, and players unable to move freely because of border control, Fenwick faces a tough task.

However, he recently received a boost with the inclusion of US-based talents Kevin Molino and Joevin Jones returning home after a hectic but impressive Major League Soccer season.

Looking ahead to the World Cup qualifiers, Fenwick has requested that all stakeholders come together and support the team on its journey to Qatar 2022.

The former English Premier League defender referred to his team’s recent experience being hosted by the USA for their international friendly. He said stakeholders were all on the same page to pull of the match.

“It was a big learning curve for us when we went to the US. It was every man working for the US; whether it be players, staff, people in the background, they were all on one team and working together for the benefit of the USA.

“I would like to see that across the board in T&T. Put down the daggers, put down all the nastiness. Let’s get together and pull together with the national team for the World Cup qualifier coming up.

“We’re looking forward to have all parties involved: Government, ministries and players,” he said.

Fenwick said several Caribbean teams have taken the opportunity to travel to Miami to take part in development camps and get much-needed playing time prior to their respective qualifiers.

The veteran coach still believes domestic football can resume if the proper health protocols are observed by teams. According to him, the lengthy postponement can cause a "talent drain" of local footballers, who may reconsider their playing careers.

He thinks the constant delay to resume is also taking a toll on the national team towards their qualification process.

Fenwick added, “Clearly we need more as far as games are concerned. We need these games (in Miami) so we can prepare properly for the World Cup qualifiers.

“Teams such as St Vincent and other Caribbean islands are planning overseas training camps so why can’t we do so as well? All of the other teams are planning their games in advance. You can see their schedules moving forward so we know what they’re doing.

“There’s no games (for T&T) planned as yet and we want to get that tied up this week so we can plan ahead and get our players on the ground and prepared.

“There’s still a big question mark around players from the UK and Europe as to their travel to come for the qualifier. We’re working on that.”

After returning from the USA friendly, the national team was mandated to spend 14 days quarantine – seven at the Home of Football and seven at their respective homes.

Fenwick said lengthy periods away from the sport do not help develop player fitness and agility on the field of play. Raising the team’s fitness levels and forming game plans are the main focus for the T&T coach.

Former Minnesota United midfielder Molino also called out on the public to rally behind the T&T team.

“It takes a whole country for us to go out there and perform – not just the 11 players on a team. We need each and every one to support us and give us that backing to go out there and get results.

“I feel great to be back with the guys, and in national colours is always my dream. I’m happy to be here and partake with the new guys that joined the team,” he said.

Fenwick: TTFA responsible for oversight in W/Cup qualifier shift.
By Ian Prescott (T&T Express).'


No excuse

SENIOR men’s national football team coach Terry Fenwick places the blame squarely on the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) administration, for the T&T men’s team not being able to play its World Cup qualifier at home.

“Government officials are recognising that they have only just received document and things from the TTFA asking for permission,” Fenwick declared. “Hang on, we got this decision (to host the match) back in August (2020).”

On Saturday, the TTFA announced that Trinidad and Tobago’s opening World Cup qualifier will be played at the Pan American Stadium, San Cristobal, in the Dominican Republic.

This follows the decision of the Ministry of Health (MOH) to not allow the TTFA to host this country’s opening Qatar 2022 World Cup Qualifier versus Guyana in Trinidad -- in a hot-bubble environment -- on March 25. Minister of Sport and Community Development, Shamfa Cudjoe, confirmed that the TTFA only sought permission in the first week of February.

“There is no excuse,” Fenwick declared. “You cannot blame Robert Hadad. He is a businessman,” stated Fenwick, who lay blame at the feet of the TTFA administrative staff. ”This has all to do with the administration of football in the TTFA and its not the first time we have had these issues,” claimed Fenwick. “It‘s the same people. They are not performing.”

While confident of getting a positive result in the Dominican Republic, Fenwick firmly believes home advantage would have been beneficial. “I wanted home advantage,” said Fenwick. “We were given a one-off game against Guyana, the toughest opponent for us, at home. It’s a big plus and not anybody else but our administrators have mashed that up.”

If anything positive is to come out of the misfortune, Fenwick hopes that TTFA administration will step up their game as the World Cup campaign goes on and also before the CONCACAF Gold Cup in mid-year. “I’m the coach. I’m meant to get the team right,” Fenwick said. “I’m engaging in so many other things because other people in the Association are not doing it.”

Despite the disappointment of not playing at home, Fenwick remains focused on the task ahead. “I can not argue with how the players have applied themselves,” Fenwick stated in a TTFA Media interview following his third training session on Friday. “But clearly we need to know the way forward as far as games are concerned. My understanding is that there is an opportunity to play games in Miami. We need these games so we can prepare properly for the World Cup qualifier.”

“All the other teams are planning their games in advance,” Fenwick noted. “There are no (T&T) games planned as yet. We want to get that tied-up this week, so we can plan ahead and get our players on the ground, prepared for the World Cup qualifier coming up on the 25th of March.”

Meanwhile, the TTFA expressed disappointment in not having its qualifier played at home. “The TTFA is incredibly disappointed and shares the public’s frustration at not being able to play our designated home match on local soil,” the FA stated via media release.

“However, we do understand the responsibilities of the MOH and appreciate the efforts that they are making to preserve the safety of the citizens of our country. While the decision is a bitter pill to swallow, we believe that sport and the positive mental health aspects of sports must not be undervalued and applaud the Government of Trinidad and Tobago for allowing outdoor recreational sports to resume.”