Ryan Telfer

PRESSING FORWARD: Trinidad and Tobago’s Ryan Telfer, left, tries to make some headway against the dogged Bahamas defence during Saturday’s CONCACAF Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying Group F match at the Thomas Robinson Stadium in Nassau, Bahamas. —Photo: BAHAMAS ATHLETICS/KERMIT TAYLOR

Saturday’s goalless draw against the Bahamas is a “call to reality” for Trinidad and Tobago’s football. That’s the view of one former national coach as the post-mortems begin following the national team’s exit from Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying at the first stage.

Terry Fenwick’s charges will go into their final Group F match against already qualified St Kitts and Nevis tomorrow with nothing but pride to play for after their failure to beat a Bahamian team that had conceded 15 goals in their previous three matches.

And following Saturday’s match, Fenwick was left ruing the difference in approach between his men and their hosts.

“I’ve got to hand it to Bahamas. They had a game plan, they wore their hearts on their sleeves, they fought for every ball,” Fenwick said in a post-match media conference.

“If you don’t score at this level, teams can come back and bite you and I thought that’s what they did. Bahamas showed a lot of pride and passion, played for their country and the chances that we missed I think were glaring,”

Clayton Morris, speaking as a former national player and captain, was also concerned with the level of commitment the T&T players showed in comparison to their opponents.

“From the time the game started, the players lacked the motivation and drive. Given the nature of the game as a former player, I didn’t get that feeling the team had the right drive, focus, the right mentality and approach for a game of that nature,” he told the Express.

“That team (Bahamas) was playing for pride. You playing against a team playing for pride, you supposed to have more pride because you have more at stake. We were supposed to come with energy and enthusiasm ...It had to start with that personality and attitude. Somebody has to stand up and be counted as the leader.”

For former national men’s and women’s senior team coach Jamaal Shabazz however, Saturday’s result was about more than what didn’t happen on Saturday. “We in the Caribbean have false notions of what it is to qualify for a World Cup,” he said.

“We qualified for a World Cup in 2005 and there were certain things in place and when you look at this campaign and the state of Trinidad and Tobago’s football in terms of the need to rebuild, nobody should be shedding no crocodile tears. It will be easy for the nation to lynch Terry Fenwick and personally, I will feel no pity for him. However, all of us in football must take a collective responsibility of bringing the game to this damnation. Me first.”

Explaining why the football community should shoulder some of the blame, Shabazz added: “The in-fighting from the different groups and stakeholders in football has been nothing short of gang war. Men have assassinated each others’ characters because different stakeholders have not been able to work together post Jack Warner.”

As for what should happen next, Shabazz had two suggestions. The first was for Englishman Fenwick.

“When the females performed badly under me as head coach and I realised I could get no more out of them what did I do? I resigned. Is there not that honour from the current head coach? He comes from a country with the Westminster system that is a bastion for resignations and taking responsibility. Who should know better than the son of Sir Winston Churchill?”

The second suggestion was for the normalisation committee currently running the affairs of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association.

“I want to see more consultation between the normalisation committee and the stakeholders in football. If they were so good by themselves at running football they would have been involved decades ago, so, utilise the expertise of the same (Keith) Look Loy (former technical director), Corneals, Dr (Alvin) Hendersons and even Kenwyne Jones in this rebuilding process.”

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Don’t doubt yourself.

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