TT Football Association (TTFA) normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad confirmed that Thursday’s opening Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Guyana will go on as planned.
This comes after the TTFA announced, on the eve of the first round qualifier, that one of its senior players tested positive for covid19, on Tuesday, following the latest set of PCR testing done on national team members in the Dominican Republic.
When asked if the player’s positive test would force the opening qualifier to be postponed, Hadad disagreed and said the team had been operating under Concacaf’s Return to Play protocol.
“All remaining players and staff are moving ahead in preparation for the game as per the protocol. Postponement is not on the table at this moment in time.
“Only if (like) half the team or many players test positive, where it’s a spread, then postponement becomes a serious option where risk of transmission is too great.
“As per the Concacaf protocol and advice, if there is evidence of a serious spread involving multiple players and staff (multiple positive cases for example) then a risk assessment is done to consider a postponement. That’s when risk of transmission is too great,” Hadad said.
Concacaf’s Return to Play policy states, if an individual (player/official) tests positive for covid19, he/she must be isolated in a room that is away from the rest of the teams to minimise the risk of transmission.
It says, “The individual will be retested to make sure there isn’t a false positive. If a positive result is confirmed, the individual will begin treatment and will undergo a period of rest and recovery lasting at least 10 days or as recommended by local health authorities.
“If more than half of the players in the final list test positive for covid19, the entire delegation should be isolated and possibly sent home from the competition and/or be isolated in that location for ten days or as recommended by local health authorities. Re-testing considerations can be considered.”
Hadad said the TT player has been isolated and, according to Concacaf’s protocols, is being re-tested.
A TTFA source told Newsday the team immediately stopped eating meals in groups.
Meanwhile, national senior men’s team manager Adrian Romain also confirmed the squad is keeping positive amid the setback.
“We remain positive. The team captain Khaleem Hyland, the senior players along with the staff are rallying everyone together. The medical staff is ensuring all covid19 protocols are followed and we are dealing with everything before us,” he said via WhatsApp.
Up to press time on Wednesday, Romain said the team was still going through its usual plans and were on their way to a training session.
“The boys (team) are looking forward to competing on the pitch and bringing home three points,” he added.
Newsday also reached out to Guyana Football Association president Wayne Forde for a comment but he responded saying he was “in a meeting.”
A TTFA media release on Wednesday said, “The individual (TT player) tested positive and was immediately isolated at the team’s hotel. All covid19 protocols are being followed and he is presently awaiting a retest for confirmation purposes.
“Strict contact tracing was then performed and all primary contacts have been quarantined. They would then be tested accordingly following the player's retest results. The player is asymptomatic at this time. The TTFA also respects the confidentiality wishes of the player.”
The TT men’s national senior football team kicks off its Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign against Guyana at Pan American Stadium, Dominican Republic, on Thursday, from 7 pm.
The neutral location serves as TT’s first home game of the qualifiers since the Ministry of Health disallowed the TT Football Association (TTFA) to host the match in a hot-bubble environment owing to the pandemic.