Trinidad and Tobago’s next international fixture at home – a Concacaf Nations League clash against Nicaragua on March 27 – will be held at Dwight Yorke Stadium in Scarborough, Tobago.
This was confirmed by T&T Football Association (TTFA) director of communications Shaun Fuentes on Wednesday, who said this decision was taken owing to ongoing restoration work at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Ato Boldon Stadium and Manny Ramjohn Stadium.
He said, “For obvious reasons, with the unavailability of two or three of the venues in Trinidad that are currently under maintenance or refurbishment. We’ve agreed with the various stakeholders and coach Angus Eve has been a major part of this, to play the game at Dwight Yorke Stadium.”
T&T resume their Nations League campaign away to Bahamas on March 24 and then travel the next day to Tobago, for their home game against the Central Americans.
Eve said both match-ups are equally important and integral to kick-starting T&T’s resurgence as a formidable Caribbean squad.
Bahamas kicked T&T out of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in June 2021, and Eve believes a good result in their first fixture is crucial.
“The first game is always the toughest and it’s away from home. They’re (Bahamas) a very plucky and dogged bunch and have a lot of pride. Each of the games are important. You need to win the first game so the second one could be more relevant,” he said.
Regarding the Tobago venue, Eve was pleased the island will be getting some senior-team action.
The last time Dwight Yorke Stadium hosted an international fixture was when the Women Warriors eked out a 2-2 result against Guyana, in April 2022, to qualify for the Concacaf Women Championships, which was held in Mexico, in July.
Eve expects a good turnout in Tobago.
“We’re a footballing nation. You’ll probably see people flying across from Trinidad. I spoke to people in the US recently and they already booked tickets for both games. I don’t think it’s going to be a problem, we’re just going to a different part of the country to play.
“People should want to come out and support the team. This is a massive game for us because going through those types of games also takes you into World Cup qualifying, which gives you a better draw.”
On his team’s preparations, Eve is currently working with a bunch of senior and younger, locally-based footballers, to improve their skills and bolster their chances of impressing before the Nations League.
Since there has been no pro league football in T&T since 2020, Eve said such inactivity is hurting the local players and restricting their development.
“We haven’t had league football in Trinidad for a while so I think the guys here are a bit disadvantaged in the opportunities to make the team.
“What we’re doing, along with the TTFA normalisation committee, is that I will carry a plan to them to get these guys fit enough and get a couple of matches in before February month-end, so that they can have an opportunity to address the selectors to be a part of the team, come March.”
Regarding upcoming practice matches for the local bunch, Eve said Caribbean opposition remains top priority since the Soca Warriors are in a rebuilding stage and must restart from the bottom, up.
“You don’t want to be unfair to the guys by putting them to play a set of international teams when they have not been playing competitive football. We are running this programmes to get them to a semblance of match fitness so they could compete at a particular level. They won’t have to peak until mid-March.”
He however, remains in close contact with T&T’s foreign-based players and monitors their performances through statistics programmes online.
“We also follow up with phone calls and reinforcing to them how important those two matches are to T&T football. For the most part, the guys are 100 per cent on board and very enthusiastic and can’t wait to come back to represent the country.”
SOURCE: T&T Newsday