NATIONAL men’s football team coach Terry Fenwick is concerned the current covid19 spike here in TT may force another shift of a “home” qualifier from Trinidad and Tobago to a neutral location.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup Concacaf Zone Group F qualifier between TT and Guyana, which was scheduled for March 25, was moved from the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo to the Estadio Panamericano, San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, after the Ministry of Health decided not to allow the TT Football Association (TTFA) to host the match in a hot-bubble environment.
During an interview on Tuesday, Fenwick said, “You know how disappointed I was when we didn’t play against Guyana here in Trinidad. Our next (home) game, scheduled in the World Cup qualifier, is against St Kitts.”
The St Kitts/Nevis game is set for June 8, three days after an away fixture against the Bahamas.
St Kitts/Nevis lead the five-team group with six points, followed by TT (four), Puerto Rico (one), Guyana and the Bahamas (zero each).
Fenwick continued, “I, obviously, want to play at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. Everywhere else is playing football. The two places where we just (came) back from, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, their covid virus numbers are far higher than us. I would hope that we can organise properly going forward in the World Cup qualifiers.”
On March 25, TT whipped Guyana 3-0, but were held to a 1-1 draw by Puerto Rico three days later.
Fenwick said, “We just got out of quarantine (over the weekend from) the Home of Football. We’ve got a week of quarantine at home.”
He mentioned that he, assistant coach Derek King and goalkeeper coach Kelvin Jack have prepared a schedule leading up to the next set of qualifiers.
Fenwick will like Jack to stay in TT to work with the team during the next two months, instead of returning home to England.
“I want him here,” said Fenwick. “He’s not just a great goalkeeping coach (but) a well-qualified, sensible individual. He’s somebody I’ve known for years. I’ve lots of respect for him so I’m pleased that he’s working with me.”
As far as the forthcoming training schedule is concerned, Fenwick said, “There are several other players that we’re looking at, players that we’re looking to include in the next squad. We’ll give the guys that are here a rest for a week or two before we kick-start all over again. We need players training to prepare properly for the next two games coming up in June.”
Fenwick will only have local-based players or free agents available for training since the North American-based players have returned to their clubs.
“USL and MLS teams (are) now in pre-season training and, at the end of the month, they’ll start their leagues,” he said. “So, we’ll not get (those) players until the FIFA window in June.”
Several Caribbean Football Union (CFU) teams are using players that were not born in the countries that they’re playing for.
Is he concerned that the rival teams are boosting their resources and are posing a threat to Trinidad and Tobago?
Fenwick replied, “Recognising that our guys on the ground here in Trinidad have not kicked a ball, in competitive football, for 14 months, that’s something we’ve got to reflect upon before we criticise anywhere. The rest of the world are playing football and their league programmes are going on, while ours in (TT) are not.”