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 TT 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 TT. 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 TT) 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 TT coach.
Former Minnesota United midfielder Molino also called out on the public to rally behind the TT 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.