In an effort to show the public that Guardian Media Sports report on Friday had no merit or foundation, national coach Terry Fenwick and Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith organised a team bonding event with the players and technical staff members at the Commissioner's residence at the St James Police Barracks after a training session which took place also at Police Grounds on the same compound on Friday and invited the media.
During the event when asked by the media about the media report, Alvin Jones and Duane Muckette say they are solely focused on the Guyana World Cup qualifier on March 25th.
Nevertheless, Muckette, who has made two appearances for the country expressed confidence in T&T football coach Terry Fenwick. He said, “I think that Terry will do his homework and we will come with a plan in ways that we can exploit them. However, so far it’s been focusing on us and focusing on how we want to play and how we want to capitalize on our strength rather than focusing on them just yet.”
Jones said, “I think that Guyana is one of the strongest teams in the group. We will be going for the win and if we can get the three points, it will be good for us.”
Also, the team's advertised travel to Tobago this weekend for a practice match has been cancelled for various reasons. There have been conflicting reports as to why the team didn’t make the trip in the end.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Griffith has sought to clear the air on the report about issues raised in the T&T senior men's football team camp, between players and coach Terry Fenwick, ahead of the country's opening World Cup qualifying match with Guyana on March 25 in the Dominican Republic.
Griffith whose involvement in the team entailed doing security work to handling conflict resolution under a succession of football administrations over the past years, said the finger of guilt should be pointed to the FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee, being headed by businessman Robert Hadad, as he described the T&T squad now as being more unified than ever in their World Cup campaign.
Griffith also called a press conference yesterday afternoon, in an effort to address the matter further and to show that the teams' technical staff and players are a unified bunch.
Guardian Media Sports, with the help of a circulating recording on Thursday, exclusively reported rising concerns by a number of the team's players which have been posing a major threat to the campaign by revealing who are the players that raised the concerns.
These concerns include; dissatisfaction with the method of preparation by Fenwick, routine sessions, the sidelining of assistant coach Derek King to the types of warm-up matches being taken while more competitive T&T Pro League teams can be sought, among others.
National coach Fenwick stayed silent on the issue and did not respond to questions sent to him via Whatsapp by us on the issues, Griffith questioned the authenticity of the report and bashed the players for what he said was a display of unprofessionalism.
"Difference in opinions and conflicts would always take place in sport, but in all my years in Sports Administration, even being a past Sport Vice President, Secretary, and Manager of National teams, have I ever seen such sabotage, indiscipline, and ignorance by some inside and outside of a National team, as I have seen by a few responsible for the administration of this present National Senior Football team," he said.
He noted: "The recent article by Walter Alibey in the Guardian reeks of a deliberate attempt by some to undermine the World Cup preparation by deliberately causing division and disunity. To begin with, I strongly question the authenticity of this report, as I have been closely involved in the National teams for several years, inclusive of this one, and this present team is as closely knit as one can get, so the usual song and dance that some reporters would throw about having" an anonymous source" but bringing no names, no quotes and no facts is as shallow as one can get."
He added: "What this has done, however, is cause severe concerns by many players and technical staff as they are wondering who is the Trojan Horse that would be so irresponsible to air dirty linen of a national squad in training, as this does nothing other than to cause a breakdown in morale, teamwork and trust amongst players. Or was this the intention?"
Griffith, whose son is also battling for a place on the team, turned his focus to the normalisation committee and accused its members of blocking all attempts by Fenwick to properly prepare the team.
His accusations ranged from the efforts made by Fenwick for a tri-nation warm-up bubble with Dominican and St Vincent and the Grenadines in December last year to the World Cup bubble with Guyana at the end of the month, to the Tobago warm-up matches this weekend, all of which did not get the support of the normalisation committee.
Griffith revealed also that players were also blanked stipends from the normalisation committee.
The former hockey player said: "The objective of his letter to the media was to offer constructive criticism on the issue."
Contacted yesterday, Hadad did not respond to the accusations made, saying only that the matter will be addressed and a release will be sent to the media.
Griffith said if the report was done to break the confidence and morale in the team, then it has failed miserably, noting that it has instead strengthened the bond and determination needed for the team to succeed.
He later tried to justify why he felt the report had loopholes, saying: " No National player worth their salt would do this because there is absolutely no gain to rectify the situation by running to the media like a spoilt brat to complain. The only value of doing this was to deliberately cause division and confusion, and if such individuals do exist in a National team to cause such negativity and bad publicity, then they should not even be on a fete match squad;
In fact, the senior players of the team, both at home and abroad are livid as to the petty and immature behaviour of a few who may have done this, if any did in the first place, as this is still to be confirmed.
The accusation made about Assistant Coach Derek King, being sidelined and bypassed also lacks merit, as I have spoken to Mr King who likewise is very upset that his name has been mentioned in this clandestine plot to affect the team's preparation, as he has stated that he never spoke to any player and has never seen himself being sidelined in any form or fashion."