The T&T Football Association has given up on the country’s chances of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup in Russia next year, Angus Eve, a former national midfielder and coach has said.
He believes the decision by the embattled football association to move the country’s next World Cup qualifying match against Honduras from a 25, 000-seater Hasely Crawford Stadium to the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva where the seating capacity is just 10, 000, is a clear indication of this.
The TTFA, being led by David John-Williams, communicated this change to the media via a press release earlier this month but it did not give any reasons for their decision. Yesterday Vice President of the TTFA Ewing Davis said he could not say why the TTFA changed the venue for the September 1 encounter with the Hondurans, but believes it will reduce expenses and provide an atmosphere of true support for the players.
“At the Hasely Crawford Stadium we incur debts of over $120, 000 each for the services of both the police and the fire services, which would be much less at the Ato Boldon. There are also additional expenses we have to deal with which I believe will be cheaper at the Couva venue” Davis said.
Davis who has for many years, held the position of president of the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL), also believes the environment in Couva would be more conducive to the support the players need. “At the Ato Boldon the players are closer to the crowd and would be impacted by the support of the crowd more than in Mucurapo” he added.
The Soca Warriors are in need of maximum points against the Hondurans, having found themselves in a pit at the bottom of the standings with three points from six matches in the qualifiers.
Eve, disappointed by the subliminal message he believes has been sent out to the public at large, wants the public to know that the country still has a mathematical chance of qualifying for the world cup. “If we can get at least four points from our next two games (Honduras and Panama), then both Mexico and the USA would have already qualified for the World Cup, which would put us in a better position to win our remaining matches against them, as they will not produce their full-strength teams against us. This has happened in the past and I see no reason why it will not be done again” Eve explained.
Technical Directior Mohammad Isa said the change in venue is aimed at gaining an advantage on their opponent. “We feel that because we need to win the match, a new venue will provide a difference to the Hondurans who may not know about the Ato Boldon Stadium, as they are accustomed playing at the Hasely Crawford. It will also provide the team with more support” Isa explained. It will be the first time that the Ato Boldon Stadium is being used in a World Cup qualifier.
President John-Williams could not be reached yesterday as he is out of the country on official football business.