NATIONAL men’s football team coach Terry Fenwick has defended the recalls of defenders Radanfah Abu Bakr and Robert Primus, English-born midfielder Andre Boucaud and striker Willis Plaza to the TT team for two 2022 FIFA World Cup Concacaf Zone qualifiers, against Guyana (March 25) and Puerto Rico (March 28).
The 34-year-old Abu Bakr, who made his international debut in 2008, played the last of his 37 caps in 2017. Primus, aged 30, played seven matches for TT between 2009 and 2013.
Boucaud was a consistent member of the team during the tenure of Stephen Hart (2013-2016). Aged 36, he played 47 times for TT between 2004 and 2017.
Plaza, the 33-year-old attacker, has netted seven times in 30 appearances for TT, since making his debut in 2012. He last featured for TT against Wales on March 20, 2019.
Fenwick has been a constant advocate for younger players to be allowed to play for TT, but he surprised even his ardent critics with the selection of the veteran quartet.
At a media conference at the VIP Lounge, Piarco International Airport on Thursday, Fenwick acknowledged, “With all successful teams, you would recognise there are senior players within that group that are role models, good examples. That’s what I’m trying to do.
“I’ve watched Boucaud for a long time playing for TT. I think he’s an excellent player, very talented guy and a good guy off the field. (He is) somebody that the young guys can look up to, who they would get good advice and I think that’s what I’m looking for, with my senior players.”
Defender Josiah Trimmingham was a shock appointment as captain for TT for their disastrous 7-0 defeat away to the United States on January 31. However, the 24-year-old was not selected in Fenwick’s 26-man squad, who left TT on Thursday.
“He’s had one or two injury problems and we’ve left him out because of that,” said the TT coach.
A major absentee is central midfielder Kevin Molino, who suffered a hamstring injury, during a pre-season training session with American MLS club Columbus Crew.
“That’s a very big blow,” Fenwick noted. “He’s somebody that blends very well with the youngsters and (experienced) players. He would be missed but we’ve got to move on. We’ve got to be tough, resilient.”
Fenwick confirmed that TT will be playing a warm-up match against the Turks and Caicos Islands before the Guyana encounter.
The former San Juan Jabloteh and Central FC coach said, “We’re going into this (qualifiers) with a very positive attitude. I’m trying to move my players away from some of this negativity that we have on the ground, in the press and in social media, because they deserve more than we’re giving them at the moment.”
He continued, “It’s up to me to look after my players, to be as positive as I possibly can, to bring the youngsters through. The youngsters can’t all come at once, it can’t happen in my national side. At the top of the tree, where I am, it’s all about results. I’ve got to nurture what I’ve got, bring out the quality players that we’ve got.”