LOCAL FOOTBALL officials are having different opinions in the process by which the national football team is being selected after the 23-man Trinidad and Tobago team was confirmed for the two international friendlies against Nicaragua.
New T&T coach Tom Saintfeit, earlier this month, omitted veteran striker and captain Kenwyne Jones from the 28-man training squad for the Nicaragua matches. When the final 23-man squad was announced yesterday Jan-Michael Williams, who has been the starting goalkeeper for T&T for many years was omitted.
Both players currently play for Central FC, the two-time TT Pro League and current league leaders. T&T face Nicaragua on December 27 and 30.
Managing director of Central FC Brent Sancho said that Saintfiet stated if the national players participated in the Pro League matches on Tuesday they would be dropped from the national team. Central FC players Sean De Silva, Nathaniel Garcia and Williams were all named in the original 28-man training squad. De Silva was injured and was left out of the 23-man squad but Garcia and Williams failed to make the cut on the current T&T team.
Garcia and Williams both represented Central FC in the Pro League against Morvant Caledonia United on Tuesday, but Sancho believes Saintfiet had already made up his mind regarding the composition of the 23-man squad for next week’s trip to Nicaragua.
Sancho stated, “from the very start of this debacle we are extremely and continue to be very disappointed.
We have to select the best team to participate in the Nicaragua games. How in God’s name you could ask a goalkeeper (Williams) that has over 77 caps for his country and has been the starting goalkeeper for the past four, five years for this country and you still need to see him (in the camp)?” Sancho added, “Why do you still need to see him in a camp, what point does that prove.
He played Tuesday, he will be playing again this Friday, if you have any doubts about him you come and watch him play in a game.
I am very sure if you take a poll with coaches around the world and ask the best methods to see any player they would probably tell you the best bet is to see a player is in a game.” Sancho, a former national defender, is wondering if certain players are being victimised.
“I want to start to think that this is a witch-hunt. In all my life of playing national team football and international football there is no way you could ask a goalkeeper with 77 caps and has been the starting goalkeeper for five years to come into camp because you need to see him play. That is extremely ludicrous.” Williams was injured during this country’s last World Cup qualifier against Honduras but Sancho says he is fully fit to play.
Sancho explained, “this is a man that has played for Central FC in three games since the Honduras injury and clearly he is fit. So I don’t think this is a question of fitness, it cannot be. They have gotten rid of Kenwyne Jones and I believe Jan-Michael Williams is probably the next one they wanted to get rid off.”
Former national player and current coach of Club Sando Angus Eve said an agreement was made before the Pro League season began that national football will be a priority. Eve confirmed that Club Sando striker Akeem Roach did not play in the Pro League on Tuesday night as Roach was selected for the national team. Eve stated, “at the beginning of the season, we the coaches and the Pro League decided that we will give the national team preference for this short term. This is a World Cup year. If the national team is not operating at their optimum then it does not help the Pro League.
The Pro League supposed to help the national team where we are developing players to play for T&T , to move them on to bigger and better things, that is our job at the Pro League.” Eve added, “people of principle you have to stand by the agreement.
I missing Akeem Roach, he is the (second leading) goal scorer in the league (with eight goals). He is the only recognised striker my team have. But if he goes to the national team it is better for him. For somebody to be complaining now it is hypocrisy.”