Terry Fenwick

HOLDING COURT: T&T senior men’s head coach Terry Fenwick, centre, has the attention of his players at a recent training session. —Photo: TTFA Media

SENIOR men’s national football team coach Terry Fenwick places the blame squarely on the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) administration, for the T&T men’s team not being able to play its World Cup qualifier at home.

“Government officials are recognising that they have only just received document and things from the TTFA asking for permission,” Fenwick declared. “Hang on, we got this decision (to host the match) back in August (2020).”

On Saturday, the TTFA announced that Trinidad and Tobago’s opening World Cup qualifier will be played at the Pan American Stadium, San Cristobal, in the Dominican Republic.

This follows the decision of the Ministry of Health (MOH) to not allow the TTFA to host this country’s opening Qatar 2022 World Cup Qualifier versus Guyana in Trinidad -- in a hot-bubble environment -- on March 25. Minister of Sport and Community Development, Shamfa Cudjoe, confirmed that the TTFA only sought permission in the first week of February.

“There is no excuse,” Fenwick declared. “You cannot blame Robert Hadad. He is a businessman,” stated Fenwick, who lay blame at the feet of the TTFA administrative staff. ”This has all to do with the administration of football in the TTFA and its not the first time we have had these issues,” claimed Fenwick. “It‘s the same people. They are not performing.”

While confident of getting a positive result in the Dominican Republic, Fenwick firmly believes home advantage would have been beneficial. “I wanted home advantage,” said Fenwick. “We were given a one-off game against Guyana, the toughest opponent for us, at home. It’s a big plus and not anybody else but our administrators have mashed that up.”

If anything positive is to come out of the misfortune, Fenwick hopes that TTFA administration will step up their game as the World Cup campaign goes on and also before the CONCACAF Gold Cup in mid-year. “I’m the coach. I’m meant to get the team right,” Fenwick said. “I’m engaging in so many other things because other people in the Association are not doing it.”

Despite the disappointment of not playing at home, Fenwick remains focused on the task ahead. “I can not argue with how the players have applied themselves,” Fenwick stated in a TTFA Media interview following his third training session on Friday. “But clearly we need to know the way forward as far as games are concerned. My understanding is that there is an opportunity to play games in Miami. We need these games so we can prepare properly for the World Cup qualifier.”

“All the other teams are planning their games in advance,” Fenwick noted. “There are no (T&T) games planned as yet. We want to get that tied-up this week, so we can plan ahead and get our players on the ground, prepared for the World Cup qualifier coming up on the 25th of March.”

Meanwhile, the TTFA expressed disappointment in not having its qualifier played at home. “The TTFA is incredibly disappointed and shares the public’s frustration at not being able to play our designated home match on local soil,” the FA stated via media release.

“However, we do understand the responsibilities of the MOH and appreciate the efforts that they are making to preserve the safety of the citizens of our country. While the decision is a bitter pill to swallow, we believe that sport and the positive mental health aspects of sports must not be undervalued and applaud the Government of Trinidad and Tobago for allowing outdoor recreational sports to resume.”

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