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.
TT 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 TT (at the) Hasely Crawford Stadium as a home game for TT 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 TT. “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 TT 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 TT’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 TT 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 TT. “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.”