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Football / Central edges Police for maiden Pro League win
« on: October 19, 2012, 06:56:01 PM »
Central edges Police for maiden Pro League win
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)

Former Trinidad and Tobago utility player Anthony Wolfe enjoyed a piece of history for new Digicel Pro League club, Central FC, this evening with the first ever competitive goal for the “Sharks” as the Couva-based outfit edged Police FC 1-0 at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella.

It was a nervy affair for English coach Graham Rix, though, as Central failed to get an insurance item and was fortunate not to concede an equaliser in the closing minutes.

In fact, Police should have scored first through former Under-17 World Cup player Stephen Knox in the 56th minute. But Knox hit over from just inside the area after good approach play from Vernell Ramirez and with Dexter Alleyne free to his left.

Central, who started with a 4-5-1 system, introduced an additional striker in the form of Darryl Trim, in the 62nd minute, and it proved to be a good omen.

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Football / Understrength Connection plots Caledonia revenge
« on: October 18, 2012, 09:02:03 PM »
Understrength Connection plots Caledonia revenge
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)

“I think that in both games, if you go over the tapes, you would realise we were in a better position to win,” DirecTV W Connection coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier told Wired868. “That doesn’t mean Caledonia played badly; they played well. But we haven’t been taking our chances.”

Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA edged DirecTV W Connection by penalty kicks, on 21 June 2012 to lift the Caribbean Club Championship trophy and then again in the First Citizens Cup, on 28 September, courtesy a last gasp Keyon Edwards strike.

If Fevrier has anything to do with it, Caledonia’s wonderful spell would come to an end tomorrow, on Friday 19 November 2012, when two of the Trinidad and Tobago Pro League’s more artistic teams meet from 8 pm in Digicel Pro League action at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella.

Connection and Caledonia follow a 6 pm clash between rookies Central FC and Police FC at the same venue.

If Central and Police feel little pressure to set the stage alight, the same cannot be said of defending Pro League champions, Connection, and reigning Caribbean conquerors, Caledonia.

More than likely though, it will not be the usual suspects who should their respective club’s best chance for three points.

Caledonia is likely to resist the chance to start World Cup 2006 midfielder Densill Theobald who was due to return from Caribbean Cup duty earlier today after Tropical Storm Rafael left several Trinidad and Tobago players stranded in St Kitts.

There are question marks over the availability of Trayon Bobb, Walter Moore and Colin Nelson who are scheduled to be in action for Guyana on Sunday as will St Vincent and the Grenadines winger Cornelius Stewart while winger Abdallah Phillip is still nursing a sore knee.

Connection suffered as a result of Rafael too with Trinidad and Tobago captain and goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams, midfield leader Clyde Leon, defender Daneil Cyrus and utility player Joevin Jones as well as Kittian midfield anchor Gerard Williams likely to be on the bench, at best, tomorrow night.

So who has more strength in reserve?

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Football / Warriors adjourn contempt charge; W/Cup bonus settlement close
« on: October 18, 2012, 02:57:03 PM »
Warriors adjourn TTFF contempt charge; W/Cup bonus settlement close
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)

The 13 aggrieved 2006 “Soca Warriors” today agreed to adjourn their contempt application against the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) and its general secretary Richard Groden and former president Oliver Camps in a conciliatory move that is expected to preclude a settlement between the two parties.

The past and present Trinidad and Tobago international players have allowed Groden until 31 October 2012 to provide necessary information on the TTFF’s 2006 World Cup income. And the TTFF general secretary agreed to “use his best endeavours” to obtain the relevant financial data from former sponsors, FIFA and the Ministry of Sport.

The agreement between the relevant parties, which was made before High Court Judge Vashiest Kokoram, temporarily halted pressure on the TTFF to file suit against its former special advisor and National Security Minister Jack Warner.

And, crucially, Warner might not be troubled at all as attorneys for Camps and the TTFF suggested that a settlement with the Warriors was imminent and should be reached within the next three weeks.

No financial details regarding the settlement were given. However, Wired868 understands that the local football body aims to raise funds to settle from more than one source including through financial advances from FIFA.

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Defiant Sport Minister delivers fresh rant but questions remain
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868)

Sport Minister Anil Roberts unleashed a fresh verbal assault on the character of All Sport Promotions director Anthony Harford in a press conference at the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs today.

Roberts also accused Bruce Aanensen, the All Sport financial director and Queen’s Park Cricket Club president, of a conflict of interest and “poor corporate governance” in his use of the QPCC facilities, denounced Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) general secretary Richard Groden for making “a fraudulent request” of the Sport Ministry and denied national senior team football manager William Wallace’s assertion that the team was promised funding during its stay in St Kitts and Nevis.

However, it is debatable whether Roberts proved most of his insinuations while, at times, he appeared to contradict himself and his Permanent Secretary Ashwin Creed, who was also present.

Roberts denied that the Sport Ministry promised to help the cash-strapped national senior team during its Caribbean Cup adventure.

He insisted that requests for funding within the public sector could not be satisfied that quickly and, as such, it would have been impractical for the Sport Ministry to give that assurance.

“The turnaround period for money in the Ministry is about six weeks,” said Roberts.

An email released by the TTFF, which purported to have been sent by Creed to Wallace, contradicted the Sport Minister.

“Could I get some clarity as to how we can set up the logistics to get the necessary funding needed during the tournament?” asked Wallace, on Tuesday 9 October 2012. “… The reality is that absolutely no cash was available before departure and this has put us in an almost embarrassing situation… I travelled with the faith that all would eventually end well.”

Creed responded, on the same day:

“I informed at the meeting that the Ministry funding will be available at the end of the week.”

Nine days later, the national team is yet to receive money from the Sport Ministry. Tropical Storm Rafael meant ten team members were forced to remain on the island as the second flight out of St Kitts was cancelled. They return to Trinidad tomorrow.

Wallace confirmed that their week has been relatively comfortable though as All Sport stood guarantee with the Ocean Terrace Hotel for the team to receive accommodation and meals.

Roberts, who was decidedly less impressed with All Sport, then appeared to contradict himself as well.

He boasted that his staff allegedly caught Groden trying to pad a budget to the Ministry, which included a monthly salary of $120,000 for assistant coach Ross Russell. It was this “fraudulent” act that prompted the Sport Ministry to use Harford as a conduit between the two bodies.

“When we did a small investigation,” said the Minister, “poor Mr Russell was lucky if he received $10,000.”
Groden could not be reached for comment.

The Sport Minister changed tact when asked by Wired868 why he claimed in Parliament, on 5 October 2012, to be surprised that All Sport was paid close to $1 million although that fee was included in a budget that the Sport Ministry accepted in August 2011.

Roberts responded that his staff did not scrutinise budgets.

But how could the Sport Ministry spot and investigate a $120,000 payment to Russell but, for 14 months, ignore a $936,250 fee to all Sport?

Roberts retorted that they must have missed that one.

Similarly, the Sport Minister’s figures did not add up when he raised doubts about All Sport’s statement of income and expenditure for 2011.

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TTFF contempt case continues; Warriors asked to settle.
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868).

The 2006 World Cup bonus dispute returns to the Port of Spain High Court from 9.30 am today with Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) general secretary Richard Groden and ex-president Oliver Camps facing contempt charges for their failure to initiate legal action against former special advisor and National Security Minister Jack Warner.

Groden and Camps testified that Warner is the only person who knows the whereabouts of millions in 2006 World Cup income. However, despite the urgings of Justice Devindra Rampersad, Groden refused to file suit against Warner on the grounds that it might open up the TTFF to a counter-suit for money owed to the Chaguanas West MP.

Groden’s stance prompted an application for contempt by the 13 World Cup 2006 players on 3 May 2012.

The contempt charge will be heard by Justice Vashiest Kokoram after Rampersad recused himself following accusations of bias by Groden in June. Rampersad retains the substantive brief between the two parties on the bonus agreement.

The players agreed a deal for 50 percent of all World Cup revenue with Warner in June 2006. However, the TTFF subsequently offered the “Soca Warriors” TT$5,644 each.

The two parties subsequently ended up in court and, thus far, the High Court has awarded interim payments of $7 million and $4.6 million in 2011. The latter figure is yet to be paid.

However, Wired868 understands there is feverish activity behind the scenes as both sides attempt to reach a final financial settlement. The TTFF’s renewed zest to negotiate coincides with the players’ stated intention to go after Warner.

In five years of court proceedings, from the London-based Sport Dispute Resolution Panel (SDRP) to the local High Court, Warner has never appeared before a judge in relation to this case despite the TTFF’s claims that he banked the money.

On 12 January 2012, Justice Rampersad rejected an application from the “Soca Warriors” to join Warner to the case after the MP’s written commitment to provide the High Court with the necessary accounting information. Warner did not fulfill that promise and the TTFF has so far resisted taking legal action against its former agent.

However, the players’ English attorney Michael Townley believes that they now have enough information to successfully tie Warner to the case, based, in part, on an affidavit sworn by Camps on 6 July 2012.

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Sport Minister accused of deceiving Parliament
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868)

All Sport Promotions financial director Bruce Aanensen defended the reputation of his company and the integrity of his colleague Anthony Harford, in a press conference today at the Queen’s Park Oval, and has added to concerns that Sport Minister Anil Roberts might have willfully deceived the Trinidad and Tobago Parliament.

Aanensen, a former chairman at the Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago and the present Queen’s Park Cricket Club president, suggested that Roberts made allegations against Harford and All Sports while he knew—or reasonably ought to have known—that they were untrue.

Roberts told Parliament on 5 October 2012, during the Budget debate, that Harford improperly paid All Sport $936,250 and was unable to account for roughly $5.5 million of taxpayers’ money, which was meant to fund Trinidad and Tobago’s World Cup 2014 campaign.

However, Aanensen said Roberts selectively copied and pasted from two accounting statements to enact what he described as a scathing and unjust assault on the character of Harford and All Sport.

Roberts told Parliament that Harford only accounted for $5,611,933.25 from $11 million in his statement of income and expenditure on the 2014 World Cup campaign. The Sport Minister’s Permanent Secretary, Ashwin Creed, had put the same accusation to Harford in writing on 12 September 2012.

Harford replied to Creed on 19 September 2012, two weeks before Roberts’ Parliamentary attack, and informed the Permanent Secretary that he had quoted from an interim statement given to the Ministry on 13 October 2011. He said that the Sport Ministry got the final statement of expenditure on 16 January 2012, which fully accounted for the entire $11 million plus gates and other sponsorship deals.

Interim Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) president Lennox Watson vouched for the accuracy of Harford’s assertion and Aanensen echoed his claim.

Even though the Sport Ministry had Harford’s explanation, he delivered his attack anyway without seeking further clarification from the All Sport director.

Aanensen was especially suspicious of one point raised by Roberts.

“During the attack in Parliament on Mr. Harford and All Sport Promotions, the Minister raised the questions of improper payments made to All Sport,” said Aanensen.

“The curious thing about his utterances, while holding up the interim statement and alleging that the Ministry has only received accounts explaining expenditure of  TT$5,611,983.25 which is the total expenditure to October 31st 2011, is that he very eloquently stated that Harford paid to himself TT$936,125.00. 

“This figure was only included in the final accounts. How could he have known this amount without having received the final accounts?”

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Football / Private donors rescue Warriors; Harford slams Sport Minister
« on: October 13, 2012, 04:27:26 PM »
Private donors rescue Warriors; Harford slams Sport Minister
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868)

Trinidad and Tobago national senior football manager William Wallace woke up today in St Kitts and Nevis to discover that he finally had money to pay for the laundry.

“The (Trinidad and Tobago Football) Federation got a couple of small sponsors to donate money to deal with the bills we incurred here,” Wallace told Wired868. “It will mostly go towards everyday expenses like food, water, Gatorade and laundry bills…

“For the last couple days, we have been using our personal money to purchase groceries and so on while we asked for credit for laundry bills.”

The “Soca Warriors” team is on Caribbean Cup duty in Basseterre and Wallace explained that the technical staff is doing its utmost to shield the players from the financial issues affecting their trip.

“At no time did we ask the players to contribute anything,” said Wallace. “We did not even inform the players as to what was happening. We just did what we had to do.”

However, the players would certainly have noticed the absence of their per diem of US$250, which works out to just under US$40 per day. Their match fees of US$250 per game also remain unpaid.

Sport Minister Anil Roberts promised Parliament, on 5 October 2012, that the Warriors would receive Government funding for the first leg of its 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup qualifying campaign.

The Ministry of Sport’s Permanent Secretary Ashwin Creed also assured the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) executive committee that money would be wired to the team in St Kitts by 12 October 2012 at the latest.

But time seemed to have proved the assurances from Roberts and Creed to be hollow.

A TTFF insider told Wired868 that the football body collected approximately US$3,000 ($19,050) from well-wishers, which was forwarded to the team to afford it some degree of comfort.

Today, a storm watch was issued in St Kitts and Nevis and the tiny two-island country is bracing for rough weather within 36 hours. It is likely that the Warriors would have to cancel its proposed training session this evening.

Trinidad and Tobago defeated French Guiana (4-1) and hosts St Kitts and Nevis (1-0) last Wednesday and Friday respectively and only need to avoid heavy defeat by Anguilla tomorrow to qualify for Caribbean Cup semifinal round.

Although Anguilla should be at the forefront of the Warriors’ thoughts, the cash-strapped team may be forgiven for worrying about what any travel disruptions might mean.

“It has been raining whole day and it is quite windy with lightening and so on,” said Wallace. “I know there have been travel disruptions for the last couple of days around here. If that happens, hopefully we will have enough funds to survive one more day.”

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Abandoned Warriors near Caribbean semis with slender win
By Editor (Wired868.com)

The Trinidad and Tobago national senior football team put its financial issues aside to virtually book a place in the Caribbean Cup semifinal phase yesterday with a slender 1-0 over host nation, St Kitts and Nevis, at Warner Park, Basseterre.
A solitary Kevon Carter goal after a mazy run from midfielder Clyde Leon settled the match in favour of the “Soca Warriors” although the visitors were on the backfoot for much of the affair.
Only a heavy defeat in the final Group Five fixture on Sunday afternoon against cellar-placed Anguilla can undo the Warriors now.
The best second-placed team from either Group Five or Four advances to the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) semifinal round alongside winners from either Group.
Barbados finished second in Group Four with six points and a goal difference of plus one. Dominican Republic ended top of Group Four.
Trinidad and Tobago,  who started its campaign with a 4-1 win over French Guiana, has six points and a goal difference of plus five with a game to spare.
Either St Kitts and Nevis or French Guiana, who clash on Sunday evening, can still qualify. French Guiana needs a two goal win to leapfrog Barbados while any victory would do for St Kitts and Nevis.
Twelve teams will compete in the semifinal round for six places in the December 2012 CFU finals alongside defending champions, Jamaica, and hosts, Antigua and Barbuda, who both qualified automatically.
Thus far, Cuba, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Martinique, Suriname and the Dominican Republic are already through to the semifinal round. Trinidad and Tobago is likely to be one of two teams that join them tomorrow.
Guyana, Curacao, St Vincent and the Grenadines and hosts St Lucia make up the final preliminary group, which will be in action on October 21, 23 and 25. Two teams from that group advance automatically to the semifinal stage.
Trinidad and Tobago is the most successful nation in the history of the Caribbean Cup with eight wins from its 15 editions. But its last regional trophy was won eleven years ago in Port of Spain and the Warriors have not qualified for the CONCACAF Gold Cup since 2007.
Coach Hutson Charles’ team has had an unsettling start to its 2013 Gold Cup campaign due to a public spat between the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) and the local government and there was more bad news yesterday.
The Warriors left for St Kitts on 8 October 2012 after an assurance by the Ministry of Sport duo of Minister Anil Roberts and Permanent Secretary Ashwin Creed that necessary funds would be wired to the squad by Friday October 12.
Hours before kick-off against St Kitts, the team might have felt abandoned after the realization that Roberts and Creed again arguably failed to live up to their word.
And, although the Warriors’ hotel stay and meals are provided by the CFU without charge, the TTFF could not afford to pay the squad promised match fees of US$250 per game or a modest per diem of just under US$40 per day.
Wired868 understands that the squad pooled money to pay for laundry and purchase medical items as well as additional meals—the team’s 4-1 triumph over French Guiana, for instance, whipped up an appetite that demanded satisfaction after the hotel’s scheduled dinner time.
Read More: http://www.wired868.com/2012/10/13/abandoned-warriors-near-caribbean-cup-semis-with-slender-win/

Apologise Anil; TTFF calls Sport Minister dishonest
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) today turned the tables on Sport Minister Anil Roberts and insisted that the TTFF marketing manager and All Sport Promotions director Anthony Harford was being honest and not the Congress of the People (COP) MP over World Cup 2014 funding.

And, in a statement signed by acting TTFF president Lennox Watson, the football body asked Roberts to withdraw his statement.

“The TTFF is satisfied that All Sport has received only the funds agreed,” stated Watson, “and that the company has worked tirelessly to improve the standard of administration of the game, through a professional and dedicated team…

“All Sport has funded four camps and travel for the national teams in the absence of government or other funding. In the circumstances, the TTFF feels the Minister should withdraw his statement.”

Roberts accused Harford, during the budget debate last Friday, of failing to account for over $5 million in taxpayers’ money and improperly transferring funds to All Sport.

“When Mr Harford presented to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Sport, who is the accounting officer, the account of the 11 million dollars (spent),” said Roberts. “There were some discrepancies and (a) lack of information…

“(And) when the Auditor General went through the statement, it was seen that Anthony Harford as head of the authorization committee, when given $11 million of taxpayers’ money went on to pay himself $936,250.

“He paid himself to himself.”

National Security Minister and former TTFF special advisor Jack Warner further slammed Harford in Parliament yesterday for taking a 15 percent administrative fee for his marketing duties.

Arguably, Warner and Roberts have taken contradictory stances.

If Warner knew about All Sport’s 15 percent commission, then why did Roberts say he did not although the Sport Minister was the feature speaker when Harford’s new role in football was revealed at a press conference on 12 August 2011?

In any case, the TTFF rubbished all three assertions from both People’s Partnership Ministers and insisted that Roberts was being untruthful in his recollection.

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Warner misquotes himself over controversial letter
By Mr Live Wire (Wired868.com)

National Security Minister Jack Warner further highlighted the importance of Wired868’s existence yesterday when he misquoted himself during his budget contribution yesterday.

Warner claimed to have told Sport Minister Anil Roberts, in a letter on government letterhead, that: “and therefore I would suggest that you tell them (TTFF) the gravity of the situation that it may even affect their funding.”   

Had the former FIFA vice-president first refreshed his memory by reading Wired868.com, he should have remembered that his words actually were:

“I wish to recommend that no support be provided to the TTFF… I suggest therefore that the government of Trinidad and Tobago do not contribute one cent to any organisation that fails to support the progress of its people.”

Just to be clear, Warner suggested that the organisation which does not support its people is the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) due to its unwillingness to back his friend Harold Taylor—believed to be at least 79-years-old—for the post of Caribbean football president. Incidentally, Warner removed Taylor from a CFU executive post, seven years earlier, on the grounds that he was too old.

Warner was not referring to the Sport Ministry that funds events for private clubs like the Queen’s Park Cricket Club while coaches, taxi drivers, caterers and tutors involved with the national football teams go unpaid. And he certainly did not mean the football body under his watch, which refused to honour commitments to 23 World Cup 2006 squad members and Chaconia Gold medal recipients.

Mr Live Wire knows how much Warner despises shoddy journalism and he must have been livid about misquoting himself. And, worryingly, the National Security Minister knows where Warner lives.

Football / Re: 2012 First Citizens Cup
« on: October 07, 2012, 12:15:03 PM »
Caledonia’s First Citizens Cup wthdrawal
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)

Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA made its first significant deposit of the 2012/13 season on Friday night as the “Eastern Stallions” captured the First Citizens Cup at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain after a 2-1 win over Defence Force.
If the outcome was predictable for the Caribbean champions, the game itself fluctuated wildly before Caledonia finally reaped dividends for a fairly steady performance.
It was scrappy at times and nerve racking for Caledonia supporters as the Morvant/Laventille team repeatedly failed to cash in on scoring opportunities. There was a glimmer of hope too for the overrun regiment as Defence Force winger Kevon Carter fluffed two straightforward chances and striker Devorn Jorsling, who played for Caledonia last term, skied a free kick from a promising area.
But the final score was probably fair if one judged from the volume of chances created.
Supporters, many of whom were surely first-timers, must have wondered what to make of it all. One thing it wasn’t, though, was dull.
There were easily 3,000 supporters in the covered stands on Friday night, which is especially promising when one considers that the season is just a month old.
Trinidad Express columnist Fazeer Mohammed noted, in the quarterfinal round, that the Pro League administrative staff did not do enough to make newcomers feel welcomed with information on competing teams in scarce supply.
The League responded by printing leaflets with names and jersey numbers of the two squads, switching on the electronic scoreboard and attaching the team name to its respective bench.
So, the viewing public benefited from constructive criticism by the media and an administration that is mature and secure enough to digest disapproval and react appropriately. How often does one get to say that in Trinidad and Tobago?
A sizeable informed audience, stirred by a well-oiled rhythm section, led to a relatively festive atmosphere at kick off.
And then, just 19 minutes into the contest, the lights dimmed.
Even Murphy was at the Hasely Crawford, it seemed, and he had brought his “Law” with him.
Read More: http://www.wired868.com/2012/10/07/caledonias-first-citizens-cup-withdrawal/

Football / Warriors vow to repay fans with Caribbean title
« on: October 06, 2012, 07:16:08 PM »
Warriors vow to repay fans with Caribbean title
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)

Trinidad and Tobago national football team captain and goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams promised to repay fans with success in the Digicel Caribbean Cup tournament as the “Soca Warriors” go through their final preparations for next week’s group phase.

The 20-man squad was selected today by interim head coach Hutson “Barber” Charles and will spend tomorrow bonding at the Cascadia Hotel in St Anns before flying to St Kitts on Monday morning.

The Warriors seemed uncertain to make their appointment for much of last week until, on deadline day, the Sport Ministry relented and agreed to fund the squad’s travel.

Williams, who also captains defending Digicel Pro League champions DirecTV W Connection, said the squad is grateful to the public for its support and anxious to reciprocate the love.

“The people spoke out when they heard the government wasn’t going to fund us and I want to do something for them,” Williams told Wired868.com. “They did their part to make sure we got to the Digicel cup and we want to show that appreciation…

“To be on a national team and be in a situation like that is kinda strange. But I think that gave the team extra motivation to do even better.”

Trinidad and Tobago has not advanced to the CONCACAF Gold Cup in five years. And, although the twin island republic won eight of the first 11 Caribbean Cups, the Warriors have not lifted the regional trophy since 2001.

Williams, 27, is on his first Caribbean Cup campaign and only made it to the final once in 2007 when T&T, weakened by the TTFF’s blacklist of several 2006 World Cup players, lost 2-1 to Haiti at the Port of Spain’s Hasely Crawford Stadium. Densill Theobald and Seon Power were both members of the 2007 squad.

Charles, who lifted a couple Caribbean titles himself as an influential “Strike Squad” member, is taking things one step at a time and is not looking past next week’s preliminary qualifying round just yet.

Trinidad and Tobago plays its opening game against French Guiana  on Wednesday at Warner Park and then faces Anguilla on Friday and hosts St Kitts and Nevis on Sunday. The group winner advances to the next phase of the Caribbean Cup in November.

“I am satisfied with the 20 players selected,” Charles told the TTFF media. “Of course I would have liked Khaleem (Hyland) and Kevin (Molino) but I have enough faith in the guys with us now that they can get the job done. They’ve all done very well in training and the mood in the camp, when you observe it, really shows that they are hungry for the challenge and that’s a good sign for us.”

Hyland, who plays for Racing Genk in Belgium, misses out through injury as does versatile defender Julius James who represents Columbus Crew in the US Major League Soccer (MLS). Molino is on trials in Europe and was excused while striker Darryl Roberts, who recently joined Turkish second flight team Samsunspor, was allowed to remain with his team.

The Warriors are boosted by the return of former national captain and Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA playmaker Theobald, the lone 2006 World Cup player in the team.

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Football / Sport Ministry funds Warriors but calls for Harford's head
« on: October 05, 2012, 10:08:33 PM »
Sport Ministry funds Warriors but calls for Harford’s head
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)

Sports Minister Anil Roberts is apparently trying to settle a grudge with taxpayers’ money after the Ministry allegedly agreed to fund the Trinidad and Tobago national senior football team’s Caribbean Cup campaign on one condition.

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation’s (TTFF) marketing manager Anthony Harford must not be involved.

At 10.30 am today, the TTFF executive committee met with Ministry of Sport Permanent Secretary Ashwin Creed and settled on the budget needed to send the “Soca Warriors” to St Kitts and Nevis next week for its first Caribbean Cup qualifying round.

However, Wired868 was reliably informed that a key factor was that the Sport Ministry no longer wished to work with Harford, who is also a director at All Sport Promotion. This was allegedly further implied in a letter from the Sport Ministry.

The local football body needed $423,218 for airfare, match fees, per diem and a pre-competition team bonding session at the Cascadia Hotel. However, it raised just $7,000 this week from well-wishers and had no guarantee of making up the difference while the TTFF faced the possibility of sanctions from the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) and FIFA if it forfeited.

The Sport Ministry’s late assistance means the national football team will take up its place in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) tournament that serves as a qualifying competition for the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

In Parliament today, Roberts suggested that suspicious bookkeeping and a conflict of interest by Harford was behind the Sport Ministry’s tardiness in funding the national team.

Roberts claimed that Harford failed to account for roughly half of $11 million provided for the shortlived 2014 World Cup campaign.

“When Mr Harford presented to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Sport, who is the accounting officer, the account of the 11 million dollars (spent),” said Roberts. “There were some discrepancies and (a) lack of information.”

In fact, Harford had countered Roberts’ accusation weeks ago while appearing on i95.5 with radio presenter Andre Baptiste and Wired868 also wrote about the differing figures.

The Sport Ministry faxed Harford, on 12 September 2012, detailing its concerns and, a week later, the All Sport director advised Creed that the Ministry was referring to an interim statement done on 31 October 2011. Harford claimed that a final statement of expenses was delivered to the Sport Ministry on 16 January 2012, which gave the missing information.

“It is unfortunate that your letter (…) should seek to imply that the TTFF Marketing/All Sport Promotion Ltd has not properly accounted for the funds provided by the Ministry of Sport,” stated Harford’s response to the Ministry. “This is of particular concern to us since the final accounts were delivered since 16 January2012 and your letter of 12 September 2012, some eight months later, does not seem to acknowledge receipt of these accounts which were delivered to you personally.”

Harford reiterated his defence after Roberts’ presentation today and insisted that he submitted the final accounts to the Sport Ministry twice. He found it more than passing strange that the Sport Ministry was so concerned about the supposedly missing $5 million dollars that it waited eight months after delivery of the final accounting statement to ask about it.

“We asked the Ministry to advise within two weeks of any discrepancy (on 16 January 2012) so it can be adjusted before going to final audit,” said Harford, in a hastily arranged press conference this evening. “The Ministry never responded until September 12th.”

Harford denied Roberts’ assertion that the Sport Ministry was still waiting on an explanation from All Sport and noted that the Minister and Creed ignored frequent requests by him for a meeting.

The Sport Minister further accused Harford, in Parliament, of improperly transferring funds to All Sport.

“When the Auditor General went through the statement,” said Roberts, “it was seen that Anthony Harford as head of the authorization committee, when given $11 million of taxpayers’ money went on to pay himself $936,250.

“He paid himself to himself.”

Again, Roberts’ statement seemed odd since All Sport’s involvement with the TTFF’s marketing was raised at the press conference, which launched the TTFF’s 2014 World Cup campaign.

Not only was Roberts the feature speaker then but the Sport Minister told the media that Harford’s presence was the main reason he agreed to fund the TTFF at all.

Harford claimed that All Sport usually takes a 15 percent commission of its operating budget but had agreed on a discounted rate with the TTFF. The fee covered management of all international matches and office expenses inclusive of vehicle usage and telephone bills for the specified time period.

“This was included in the letter of appointment to All Sport so everyone involved was aware,” said Harford. “All Sport is in the business of sport and supports 20 employees each month through fees earned from our work in sport.”

The TTFF has no marketing staff of its own. However, its executive committee will meet soon to decide its next move in the face of statements from Creed in private and Roberts in public.

It was so different 14 months ago when Roberts said that the Sport Ministry would only fund the TTFF if Harford, as head of an Authorisation Committee, controlled the purse.

The two initially appeared to enjoy a good working relationship but the same could not be said of Harford’s interaction with National Security Minister and ex-TTFF special advisor Jack Warner.

Harford publicly criticised Warner’s stewardship of the TTFF on several occasions since taking up the post of marketing manager. He is also thought to have drafted a letter that distanced the football body from Warner when the Haitian financial aid scandal broke in February 2012.

When, in April, the TTFF delayed its nomination of Warner’s preferred candidate, Harold Taylor, to run for the post of CFU president, the United National Congress (UNC) chairman Jack Warner wrote to Roberts and asked him to stop funding the sporting body. Warner referred to Harford in the letter although the marketing manager, who is not an executive committee member, denied any involvement in the CFU matter.

The Sport Ministry did not give the TTFF a cent between then, on 20 April 2012, and this morning. The reason for withholding funds has varied during that period.

Creed recently referred to the abysmal performance of the senior team and, before that, had suggested that the Olympic men’s team and women’s under-17 team were failures.

Today, Roberts claimed that Harford was the issue all along as well as a supposedly suspicious accounting statement that the Sport Ministry took eight months to act on.

During the impasse, over a dozen football coaches went unpaid including technical director Anton Corneal and national women’s coach Even Pellerud as well as maxi drivers, hotels, caterers and tutors while even a national under-17 player, Andre Fortune, is owed the cost of two plane tickets.

Although the senior team will travel to St Kitts, its preparation for the tournament has not been smooth.

Coach Hutson Charles will be accompanied by only one of two requested assistant coaches. Derek King accepted his invitation while Angus Eve declined. Both men are due unpaid salaries for work with the Olympic squad.

The Warriors also had to abort scheduled practice games while national players spent the last week unsure as to what whether their Gold Cup dream would be over before it started. They now need to regain focus. A two-day team bonding exercise planned for this weekend at the Cascadia Hotel was also shortened to just Sunday.

But, of course, the players will be happy for the chance to compete at all.

Almost certainly, though, the spat between Harford and Roberts will rumble on.

Jorsling and Joseph pause friendship for fiery reunion
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)

When Devorn Jorsling and Kareem “Tiny” Joseph first laid eyes on each other, Facebook was not yet invented and berries were a delicious snack not an omnipresent communication tool.

If they didn’t quite complete each other’s sentence, the Malick schoolboys and Morvant villagers certainly meshed on the football field. The scrawny Joseph hustled and created while the stocky Jorsling produced the end result.

But, tonight, only one of the pair will celebrate at the final whistle as Jorsling’s Defence Force and Joseph’s Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA meet from 8 pm in the First Citizens Cup final at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.

For 90 minutes, give or take extra time, their long standing friendship will be certainly on pause.

“As a footballer, playing in a Cup final is always a dream,” Joseph told Wired868.com. “It will be an exciting game and fans can expect to see us play our normal way, which is attacking down the flanks and trying to keep possession through the centre.

“We won this competition last year and we want to keep it.”

Joseph might have extra reason for sentiment. The adventurous right back scored twice in the final last year when the “Eastern Lions” came from behind to edge T&TEC 2-1 in the First Citizens Cup final.

But don’t expect Jorsling to do his old friend or his childhood community any favours tonight.

“You can expect a fired-up Jorsling tonight,” said the prolific striker. “Last week, I don’t feel I had a good performance (in our semi-final win) against Rangers. My team looks to me for leadership and I aim to lead from the front.”

One is a mobile winger and the other a static centre forward; Jorsling and Joseph’s career paths have been as different as their footballing attributes.

Read More

Football / TTFF, Soca Warriors declare no confidence in Sport Minister
« on: October 04, 2012, 07:33:11 PM »
Wounded Warriors press on despite gov’t snub
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com).

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) is banking on the goodwill of the local public and the sales pitch of marketing manager Anthony Harford to rescue its 2012 Digicel Caribbean Cup campaign after being snubbed by the Sport Ministry.

The TTFF had requested $423,218 from the Government but was turned down, via email, from the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Ashwin Creed. The local football body revealed today that several individual football fans had dug into their own pockets to help finance the “Soca Warriors.”

The goodwill amounted to roughly $7,000.

Undeterred, the TTFF will continue to prepare its team with the hope of a last gasp rescue package from private companies and citizens. The “Soca Warriors” are due to leave for St Kitts and Nevis on Monday with its first Caribbean Cup qualifying match on Wednesday against French Guiana.

The Caribbean Cup serves as a qualifier for the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup. If Trinidad and Tobago pulls out, it might be two years before the senior footballers have another competitive match while they could also face sanctions from FIFA and the CFU.

“All other arrangements and necessary efforts are being made in an attempt to ensure that the team departs on Monday,” stated a TTFF release today. “There continues to be ongoing discussions with partners and the TTFF remains hopeful that the team goes on to participate in the tournament.”

Interim senior team head coach Hutson “Barber” Charles, a former “Strike Squad” stand-out, admitted that it was impossible for the squad to ignore the confusion around the Caribbean Cup campaign.

At present, Charles operates with one assistant coach rather than two. Derek King, a former Joe Public head coach, accepted the call-up to Charles’ technical staff. Angus Eve, who also serves as head coach at Pro League team North East Stars, declined.

King and Eve are both still owed salaries from their spells as national under-23 coaches earlier this year.
Charles will also have to take the unusual step of discussing the composition of his final squad with the TTFF marketing manager.

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Football / T&T football found battered and abused (Satire)
« on: October 04, 2012, 11:04:20 AM »
Filbert Street finds T&T football battered and abused
By Filbert Street (Wired868)

Scene: Port of Spain General Hospital.

Wired868 Journalist (to camera): “Today we have seen extraordinary scenes here in Port of Spain, after Trinidad and Tobago Football was found abused and battered at an undisclosed location in the capital. The authorities are treating this as a case of an attempted murder.

“I have with me here Mr Brent Sancho, a former national footballer who, together with 12 teammates, testified before the High Court about years of abuse suffered at the hands of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) and its former partner Jack Warner. Mr Sancho, you obviously cannot say much as investigations are at a sensitive stage. But can you at least give us your thoughts on the state of Football?”

Sancho: “Well, this has always been coming. It was obvious to me for some time that the situation was deteriorating rapidly and my heart really goes out to Football today.”

Journalist: “Police sources spoke of systematic abuse of Football, who was loved and cherished by tens of thousands of Trinbagonians. It is also apparent that this abuse came at the hands of persons who, publicly, appeared to love and nurture Football for so long.

“And yet, in the end, Football appeared to be imprisoned and denied the most basic sustenance. Mr Sancho, should this abuse have been spotted and stopped earlier?”

Sancho: “Well, we know that there were consistent complaints made to the TTFF, whose role as caretaker is very questionable I think. In fact, she said to me in the past that she was abused too. But time will tell whether she tried to help Football or was actually suppressing evidence and obstructing investigations.”
Journalist: “I also have with me Mr Selby Browne, who is Vice Chairman of the Veteran Footballers Foundation. Mr Browne, how do you feel about the role played by the former Minister of Sport, Anil Roberts?”

Browne: “We knew that others were involved in the defiling of Football and I understand Wired868 publisheda letter that suggested the Sport Minister was not innocent of this at all. This man, Roberts, was in a position of trust and the country believed he would do the right thing. He had the opportunity to stop all of this but instead…”

(Browne breaks down in tears and ends the interview)

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Football / Re: Senior team blanked
« on: October 03, 2012, 11:40:17 PM »
Warriors pay costs for TTFF/Sport Ministry conflict
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)

Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) marketing manager Anthony Harford accused Sport Minister Anil Roberts of attempting to create a parallel organisation to run local football as the conflict intensified between the two sporting bodies.
Roberts has consistently snubbed the TTFF since National Security Minister Jack Warner asked him to starve the local football body of funds in a letter on 20 April 2012, which was subsequently leaked to Wired868.com.
And Trinidad and Tobago’s senior national team players look set to suffer as a result with the squad’s participation in the upcoming 2012 Digicel Caribbean Cup now in doubt. The TTFF, via a press release yesterday, said the Ministry’s refusal to fund the team could mean its withdrawal from the Caribbean Cup, which serves as a qualifier for the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, and possible CFU and FIFA sanctions as well.
“This is our chance to continue our football programme and if these players miss out on tournaments like this it will set us back many, many years,” said national team technical director Anton Corneal. “I feel sorry for the young players that normally would get exposure in this tournament. This is an opportunity for them to go and show what they can do and make a better living for themselves.”
An email allegedly sent by Ashwin Creed, Permanent Secretary to the Sport Ministry, to the TTFF suggested that the senior team was unworthy of funding.
Read More: http://www.wired868.com/2012/10/04/warriors-pay-cost-for-ttffsport-ministry-conflict/

Football / Who needs Shaq? Caledonia gives Morv/Lav more to cheer
« on: September 30, 2012, 09:20:08 AM »
Caledonia maestros eliminate Connection
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)

Is Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA really the Caribbean’s best football club?

Caledonia assistant coach Jerry Moe could not quite muster a straight answer.

“I can be biased and say yes,” Moe told Wired868.com, “but some of these games come down to what happens on the night and who executes. It is close...

“They were not any Jamaican teams in the CFU either. Maybe when they come back we will be able to say that.”

Three months have passed since Caledonia AIA edged DirecTV W Connection on penalties to lift the Caribbean crown. And yet the thought of the longstanding underdogs—the have-nots—as the region’s standard bearers seems not to have to fully soaked in; even within the club’s management.

Still, in Friday’s First Citizens Cup semifinal, there was a bit of a coming-out party for the “Eastern Stallions” at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain.

Once more, Caledonia was up against Connection, the most successful team in the history of professional football in Trinidad and Tobago. And, this time, the Morvant/Laventille outfit did the job within 90 minutes.

There was barely two minutes left on the clock when Keyon Edwards volleyed home a cross from fellow substitute Densill Theobald and whipped off his shirt in celebration. In the stands, a Caledonia supporter spontaneously tossed an open can of beer high into the sky.

Moe might feel awkward saying it but the unscripted celebration from the Caledonia AIA player and fan told its own tale. Caledonia is the team to beat now.

Defence Force, who edged St Ann’s Rangers 2-1 in the other semifinal fixture, will have its work cut out trying to outwit this lot when the First Citizens Cup kicks off from 8 pm at the same Port of Spain venue on 6 September 2012.

Morvant/Laventille doesn’t need to look to a retired NBA star to fathom the importance that the values of sport—discipline, sacrifice, nutrition and team spirit—can do for its community. Not after 2012 anyway.
As expected, Connection ran Caledonia close.

Both teams closed their CONCACAF Champions League campaigns last Wednesday. Connection managed a credible and hard-fought 1-1 home tie against Mexican outfit, Chivas de Guadalajara, while Caledonia lost 3-2 to Xelajú in Honduras.

Caledonia left for Honduras on Monday and only returned to Trinidad on Thursday evening.

Which team suffered more physically in midweek? Who had kept more mental strength and focus in reserve?

Against Chivas, Connection showed that it belonged among CONCACAF’s best teams. Midfielder Clyde Leon and goalkeeper and captain Jan-Michael Williams stood out against opponents who played in South America’s esteemed Copa Libertadores final, two years ago.

But Caledonia, who competed at CONCACAF level for the first time, had reason to be revved up too.

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Football / Defence Force edges Rangers to First Citizens Cup final
« on: September 28, 2012, 08:05:38 PM »
Defence Force edges Rangers to First Citizens Cup final.
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868).

Defence Force will play in the first knock out final of the 2012/13 season after a 2-1 win over St Ann’s Rangers this evening in the First Citizens Cup semifinal at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain.

The army/coast guard combination would face the winner of tonight’s meeting between Caribbean champions Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA and runners-up DirecTV W Connection next Friday at the same venue.

Almost certainly, Defence Force coach Ross Russell would need an improved performance next week if he expects to get near the trophy.

The “Teteron Boys” met Rangers, two weeks ago, in the opening Digicel Pro League fixture and the final scoreline was identical. The pattern of play, however, could hardly have been more different.

In a scrappy affair, Rangers created enough chances to have won the match comfortably within the first hour and then enjoyed a numerical advantage for the final 30 minutes as opposing defender Rodell Elcock was ejected for a second yellow card.

Somehow, Rangers contrived to squander them all save a penalty decision and paid the price for this genorosity.

Overrun two weeks ago, the St Ann’s squad was more compact in the First Citizens Cup and would not be stretched by a Defence Force side missing adventurous left back Aklie Edwards. And responsible ball movement saw Rangers create several scoring opportunities too as a bewildered Defence Force team found itself on the ropes.

Hector Sam, who scored a brilliant goal when the two teams last met, might have had another today but for a fine save by army custodian Kevin Graham low to his right in the 13th minute.

Rangers captain Mikhail Awai threatened too with a volley from just outside the opposing penalty box that dipped just over the bar in the 20th minute

Seven minutes later, Graham could only look on and pray as a Sam cross eliminated the Defence Force backline and found Andrew Smith unmarked at the far post. Six yards from an open goalmouth, Smith leaned backwards and cushioned his header. Wide.

Remarkably, Rangers conjured up another sitter in the first half.

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Football / Re: Chivas held to draw by W-Connection
« on: September 27, 2012, 01:02:38 AM »
Stubborn Connection defies Mexicans again.
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com).

DirecTV W Connection ended its 2012 CONCACAF Champions League campaign last night with a defiant display at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva as the Trinidad and Tobago Pro League team held Mexican outfit Chivas de Guadalajara to a 1-1 tie.

The result maintained Connection’s remarkable record of having never lost to Mexican opposition on local soil after four meetings at this level against Guadalajara (twice), Toluca and Pumas.

To put that statistic into perspective, Mexican clubs have won all of the last seven CONCACAF tournaments and captured a total of 28 Confederation crowns. The second most successful league in these parts is Costa Rica and it has won just six.

Guadalajara, who lost 2-1 in Trinidad five years ago, again failed to overcome a solid, composed Connection team that was buoyed by classy individual performances from the Trinidad and Tobago international duo of midfielder Clyde Leon and goalkeeper and captain Jan-Michael Williams.

“Tonight is a proud moment for us,” said Connection coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier. “I am very pleased with the result because Chivas is a quality team.”

Elsewhere in Honduras, towering striker Jamal Gay got his first goal this season for Neal & Massy Caledonia after an assist from substitute Abdallah Phillips. But the Caribbean champions could not hold on as CD Marathón’s substitute Jonathan Reyes grabbed an 80th minute winner for the host team.

Caledonia ended its first CONCACAF adventure with one draw and three losses.

Connection finished just one point higher but was left to regret squandering a two-goal lead against group leaders, Xelajú, in its opening group match, which ended in a 2-2 draw. The “Savonetta Boys” equalised twice away to Xelajú but still left Guatemala empty-handed after a late 3-2 defeat.

“In a three-team group, the first game is always very important,” said Fevrier. “We really shot ourselves in the foot against Xelajú.”

The Pro League had not started yet when Connection and Caledonia kicked off their CONCACAF campaigns while, even now, the local team has played just two official games this season. In contrast, Guadalajara has played nine and Xelajú managed 12.

The generally low intensity of the domestic game plus paltry crowd support also serves as a disadvantage for Trinidad and Tobago clubs at this level. There were probably a little over 300 patrons at the Ato Boldon Stadium last night.

“I was extremely disappointed with the small turnout,” said Williams, in the post-game press conference. “If the public doesn’t respect the Pro League, I felt at least people would understand that we were playing a top Mexican team.”

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Football / Re: T&T resumes training for Caribbean Cup.
« on: September 25, 2012, 12:27:06 AM »
Anton Corneal hopes that funding can be sourced from the private sector and well-wishers. The “Soca Warriors” have three Caribbean Football Union (CFU) qualifying games in St Kitts and Nevis next month against French Guyana, Anguilla and the host nation on October 10, 12 and 14 respectively.
“(Today) I will sit with the General Secretary (Richard Groden) and Mr Harford to do a final budget and discuss where we might be able to get the funds,” said Corneal. “We have to go to (the qualifiers) so we have to hope the Federation can raise the funds somehow.”
Also Kenwyne Jones was among players not considered and Trinidad and Tobago will try to lure Aubrey David back from Guyana senior team.
(Source Wired868.com)
Read More: http://www.wired868.com/2012/09/25/penniless-warriors-restart-operation-gold-cup/

Now Coup Enquiry chairman investigates Warner
By Wired868.com

Former Barbados Chief Justice and Attorney General Sir David Simmons QC, who is chairman of the 1990 Coup Enquiry, will hone in on the past practices of National Security Minister Jack Warner as CONCACAF continues to dig through its closet.

Simmons, who is trying to compel Jamaat al Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr to appear before the local Enquiry, officially agreed, last Tuesday, to investigate another high profile and controversial Trinidad and Tobago public figure.

Warner’s term as CONCACAF president ended on 20 June 2011 when he quit all football posts after being indicted by FIFA for his role in an international bribery scandal. The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service has not completed its investigation into Warner regarding that affair.

Yet, at present, Warner is the line minister for the police and army and is also chairman of the United National Congress (UNC), which is the leading party in the People's Partnership coalition government.

Simmons, who served as Barbados’ 12th Chief Justice from 2002 to 2010, will chair CONCACAF’s newly created Integrity Committee alongside retired United States District Court Judge Ricardo Urbina and ex-PricewaterhouseCoopers partner and auditor Ernesto Hempe.

CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb said that the committee will review and report past practices to its Executive Committee so as to “ensure clarity regarding all pending issues within the Confederation.”

“We have invited the most qualified and reputable individuals in their fields to assist us in the fulfillment of our vision of integrity, transparency and accountability,” said CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb, on the body’s website, “which will help us build a transparent structure and allow our region to grow.”

Simmons said he was pleased to be involved in the project after meeting Webb and his fellow committee members.

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Football / Central FC ponders a rough debut against Defence Force
« on: September 23, 2012, 07:55:36 PM »
Toothless Sharks battered by Army
By Kevin Harrison (Wired868.com)

As a lifelong football supporter, I tend to believe in omens.
For example, my son and I soon felt that if we saw a wedding car on the way to Priestfield Stadium, Gillingham would win. If we saw two, Gillingham would win by two clear goals.

Bizarrely, we felt this unscientific thinking was around 80% accurate and it got to the point that, if Gillingham had a big game, we would detour to look for a wedding car. And we took it further.

On one occasion, England was playing away to Germany and we saw five wedding cars. I explained to my excited son that a) England very rarely score five goals and b) they have never scored five against Germany and never will do in my lifetime. The result was Germany 1, England 5.

So, on my way from the Central F.C. office in California on Friday evening, I was looking for signs.
Black smoke billowing into the sky on the road to the highway made me fearful of nose to tail traffic. But, no, the drive was lighter than a Sunday afternoon.

I95.5 fm has never been my first choice for music although the talk is addictive. Yet up popped one of my favourite tunes: “On & On” by Aswad, followed by my favourite band, Maze, which I have never heard on a Trinidad and Tobago radio station.

Omens? Must be!

I arrived at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium full of hope for Central FC’s first ever professional match against Defence Force.

But “Murphy’s Law”, which states that anything that can go wrong will do so, was closer than I thought.
The day had already been stressful.

We couldn’t print the match programme we had done as the copier ran out of ink. Our new uniforms were supposed to arrive from the printers at midday but finally got to us at 7.50 pm, just 10 minutes before kick off.

The light traffic which allowed me swift passage did not last and our rhythm section arrived at 7 pm, which was 30 minutes after the tailgate party was due to start. By then, the supporters had already entered the stadium to watch the first game.

So, by kick off, I was pretty nervous.

After eight stressful weeks, we were finally about to kick a ball in anger. The first competitive match for the team, head coach Graham Rix’s first professional game in T&T and the first time “The Sharks” would appear in front of the paying public.

For the last two weeks, I repeatedly stated that the only team I did not want to play first was Defence Force. The army/coast guard team traditionally has continuity and the guys tend to know each other and the coach, Ross Russell, very well. They are organised and disciplined and know their system inside out.

I felt most of the others had new squads and were still learning to gel while Caledonia and W Connection might be distracted by the CONCACAF Champions League and all the travel and organisation that entails.
But fate thought differently and Defence Force it would be.

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Football / George eyes uphill T&TEC task; Caledonia shows no mercy
« on: September 22, 2012, 05:38:08 PM »
Caledonia shut down dim T&TEC
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)

Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA recorded its first win of the season on Friday night as the “Eastern Stallions” eased past a dim T&TEC outfit 2-0 in a First Citizens Cup quarterfinal fixture at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain.

As a further indicator of T&TEC’s eye-watering slide since its Pro League debut in 2011, Caledonia opted to make seven changes to its line-up so as to keep players fresh for a CONCACAF Champions League outing away to Honduran team, CD Marathón, on Wednesday although the local team has no chance of advancing from the group.

“I never thought T&TEC was up to the task with all due respect,” Caledonia AIA coach Jamaal Shabazz told Wired868.com. “Hence the reason we tried to rest some players and give credibility to our training sessions by giving others a chance to play.”

Within ten minutes of Friday’s kick off, Caledonia was already two goals clear and, although T&TEC improved, the result never seemed in doubt.

New T&TEC head coach Jefferson George has to accept such indignities on the chin this season. For the south-based club, every game in the top flight is a small victory in itself as last term’s surprise package was just days away from bowing out of the Pro League.

The 33-year-old George, who was T&TEC’s goalkeeping coach last season, revealed that, two weeks before the Pro League opening, he approached manager Peter Mohan and begged to save the team for the sake of players like Sylvester Teesdale, Bevon Bass, Kevon Neaves and Akini Adams who he felt were on the verge of national selection.

“I said that, based on the players we already had in the (T&TEC) workplace, we didn’t need a substantial budget,” said George. “He asked me for a program and I drafted one and he said I would have to head the program. I said no problem.”

The T&TEC players and staff, who are all employed at the company, meet five times per week outside of their normal working hours to train and play with no financial compensation whatsoever.

“It can be very challenging to get the players together to train and prepare,” said George, “because it is not just office workers but field workers as well. But we still do have some good players.

“Once we can motivate these guys and get them into decent condition, I still feel we can do ourselves justice this season.”

Caribbean champions Caledonia AIA, even with a weakened squad, was clearly several steps too high for a T&TEC team that lost its opener 2-0 to Police on September 15.

T&TEC played a 4-5-1 system against Police and George explained that his team will try to defend en masse for the early part of this season while it works belatedly on lifting fitness levels. But the temptation of a big knock-out scalp bewitched the young coach who opted for two strikers against Caledonia.

He regretted it almost immediately.

Read More

Football / Glen stars but Rangers stun NE Stars.
« on: September 21, 2012, 08:07:09 PM »
Modeste Rangers stun Stars in Cup opener.
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com.)

A spirited team performance and a generous slice of good fortune paved the way for the first upset of the First Citizens Cup tonight as the modestly assembled St Ann’s Rangers stunned North East Stars 2-1 in a quarterfinal meeting at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain.

Long-serving Rangers utility player Devon Modeste grabbed the winner in the 70th minute with a goal that epitomised the graft, invention and stubborn resilience of the St Ann’s squad on the night.

As striker Cameron Roget headed across the Stars’ goalmouth, Modeste launched his body towards the ball with leg raised in a kung-fu styled kick. No one else in the penalty area wanted it as badly.

Rangers midfielder Jason Marcano was instrumental in the build-up play for the opener and was probably coach Dean Pacheco’s best player with his tireless running and clever passing.

In another sense, 21-year-old right back Kadeem Drayton—who made his debut tonight—was just as valuable as he provided more cover than Rangers enjoyed in its 2-1 loss to Defence Force last week and allowed Modeste to play higher up the flank.

But there could be little doubt that the game’s most outstanding player wore a Stars shirt.

World Cup 2006 striker Cornell Glen gave a performance that should have delighted the 350-plus supporters and should have been an education for wannabe attackers.
Every ball into Glen, whether in the air or on the ground, stuck to his body like a magnet to a fridge. When defenders got close, he spun them. If they backed off, Glen turned and drove towards them.

Glen scored Stars’ lone goal with a free header—his second item for the season from as many as matches—and should have been awarded a penalty too after being barged over by Elijah Belgrave.

As the final whistle loomed, Glen eluded Rangers captain Mikhail Awai and three more defenders before a last gasp lunge from Marcano, on the edge of the six-yard box, blocked his goalbound effort.

Stars’ coach Angus Eve could console himself with the thought that he should not lose too many games when Glen is in that sort of mood.

Eve might regret his own pre-game contribution to the knock out fixture though.
In a lighthearted exchange at the First Citizens Cup launch, Pro League coaches exchanged verbal barbs and Eve informed the Rangers delegation that: “Allyuh gone already.”

It is uncertain whether his misplaced optimism served as a rallying call to Stars’ opponent. But, collectively, Rangers was almost unrecognizable from the team that was run over by Defence Force last week.

In an open affair, Marcano put Rangers ahead in the 28th minute after Stars failed to deal with a brilliant inswinging corner kick from Christon Thomas. Goalkeeper Cleon John misjudged the flight of the delivery and, although Hector Sam planted his free header off the bar, Marcano was well placed to convert the loose ball.

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Football / Wired868 examines the audacity of Jack Warner
« on: September 19, 2012, 01:44:16 PM »
Chants of a madman
By Kirk A Inniss (Wired868.com)

People woke up a few days ago to Jack Warner making some incredible comments. The social media pages were abuzz and if our country was any bigger we could have crashed servers with the video clip of the Minister of national Security featuring in yet another interview while managing to leave shame safely tucked away in the last decade.

However, he remains forever within the reach of scandal.

Notwithstanding his penchant for economy with the truth, it is difficult for Mr Warner to say something that actually surprises me. Like most of the country, I too am now almost immune to the disease caused by whatever new allegations he faces.  Almost immune.

And in that adverb, perhaps, lies a sad tale of how we have all evolved where Uncle Jack is concerned, an evolution which is both noteworthy and sad at the same time.

Now I have always been - and expect always to be - a firm believer in freedom of the press. Free press, yes, useless press, no, emphatically no!

An article that Michael Jordan is the best basketball player ever is to me useless press. Or writing that Lionel Messi is the best footballer the world has seen over the last three years. Or that the PP, the AG, the CoP or the MoNS does not now have a handle on violent crime. Completely useless, a waste of vital resources and, in my case, valuable morning time.

There is also the issue of useless advice.

To me, useless advice is a current West Indian cricketer talking about achieving success in difficult times. Or Abu Bakr recommending that the country focus on the negative effects of dangerous crimes. Or even Calder Hart lecturing UWI School of Business graduates on the need for transparency in the business sector.

Yet within three months’ time, a political lifetime I am told, Jack Warner has been at the centre of not one but two useless articles. Articles so useless I wouldn’t even use the paper they were printed on to wipe a dirty lamp shade.

Articles that are so crazy that even a lunatic certified by St. Ann’s might call them mad. I can sum up the way I felt about the front page article where Jack Warner accuses Orville London of poor money management and accounting practices within the THA in one word: useless.

And I can sum up Warner’s last rant about not being investigated by the IRS in three words: totally, totally useless.

Now I have no inside information about London’s handling of the THA’s money. But on his public record, I trust him infinitely more than I trust Warner.

Of course, ‘trust’ is used loosely here because London is a politician and only a fool or a madman does not know that at least in T&T ‘trustworthy politician' and 'competent policeman' fall into the same category. I trust my 5-year-old son to guard a litre of ice-cream and a spider-man character cake more than I trust Warner with a piggy-bank full of rusty one-cent coins.

In a sense, though, saying you trust someone more than you trust Jack Warner is itself useless because everyone knows you can’t trust him at all. Everyone, that is, except the Prime Minister and perhaps some members of the PP.

Two precious mornings of mine have been wasted reading articles about Jack Warner questioning London about money, spending and his accounting record, seeing Warner pelting stone like if he is without sin. I had to keep going back to both headlines ever so often to confirm that there was no mistake and it really was Jack himself making these comments.

Once or twice, I even checked the date, thinking maybe this was an April Fool’s joke or something. But I eventually came to the obvious conclusion: Jack Warner have more belly than a calabash and is such a low-down dirty s.o.b that he could even make Keenan Ivory Wayans blush.

Where morality is concerned, T&T, Jack Warner is way down the totem pole; right after Allen Sanford and just before the as-yet-unconvicted Calder Hart whose presumption of innocence is therefore also maintained. With his public record—the list is loooooooooooooooooong, starting in 1989—what gives him the right to question anyone’s money handling practices or integrity?

He is also the last person in T&T, maybe even on earth who can seriously claim that his public life is a blameless example of wonderful and trusting leadership. Ignorance may be bliss—temporarily!—but I am willing to bet that the IRS doesn’t accept that as a permanent excuse.

Hear Uncle Jack as he is quoted in one of the newspaper articles referred to above:
“For 48 years, you had a PNM government ruling T&T and they did not do in 48 years what we have done in less than 48 months. Why? And they are so bold-faced, they have prepared a THA document purporting to improve the political life of Tobagonians and one of the main things they have mentioned in it is that they must be given the right to fix their own salaries.”

Since this is neither a Maths nor a History lesson, I won’t bother to point out to the former history teacher that the PNM didn’t govern for 48 years. There are, after all, none so blind as those politicians who will not see. But I am glad to note that Uncle Jack was apparently appalled by the idea that the THA should have the right to fix their own salaries.

I mean, what type of lunacy is this? Are members of the THA trying to give FIFA competition?

And then there is this gem of a comment from Mr Suddenly-holier-than-thou:
“… corruption with public funds was rampant and was being used (sic) to enrich private citizens, houses were being given away with no transparency and cash donations were being made to all types of activities.”

I would give anything to have been present when Mr Jack Warner spoke this sentence and be able to see his expression. Did he keep a straight face? I couldn’t when I read it in the newspaper. Forget one calabash, try a thousand; the man put not only a capital G in gumption, he put all eight letters in capitals!

But the day must come when we tell politicians how we really feel and stop feeding the misconception that we are a senseless mob who can’t see through smoke screens, whole lies and half-truths.

Why else would Jack now care about Tobago? Why else would he offer to give useless information about Orville London’s money practices? What could have made Jack wake up on the right side of his bed and start believing that auditing is a necessity? Suddenly, just like that, he just get a ‘vaps?’

Why were good money handling procedures not an issue in the lead-up to—and the aftermath of—a certain November day over 20 years ago? How is it that record keeping was not on top of Mr Warner’s agenda regarding Haiti and the TTFA/TTFF and the 2006 World Cup and the money that is still outstanding to the Soca Warriors?

Where are the public records regarding his non-ownership’ of the Centre of Excellence and Simpaul Travel? Where are the truthful answers to questions about questionable business regarding World Cup tickets and contracts awarded during the Under-17 World Cup

And the beat goes on and on.

Jack Warner, meanwhile, seems determined to pay the piper so that he can call his own tune and continue to march to his own beat.

Day does only run, remember, until night ketch it and one day, one day congotay…

But there is worse.

Here, for those who missed it, is Minister of National Security and often Acting Prime Minister Jack Warner in yet another useless interview where he is never asked anything that really matters and evidently continues to think that pulling wool over T&T people’s eyes and taking candy from a baby are one and the same thing.

Ah mean, as the late Keith Smith would say, why else would he think that he can say this and not cause everyone to simply hold they belly and start laughing hysterically?

“I have never faced a court or have an enquiry against me. Nobody has accused me, I never take money from anybody pocket and I have no allegations of any kind.”

As I heard that comment, I was forced to wonder just how Jack Warner really sees the citizens of this country, to ask myself what he really thinks about the voting public. I was also forced to wonder about the country’s journalists, who sit or stand so much in awe or in fear of the man that is Jack Warner that they cannot find the heart or the courage to ask one basic question that would immediately expose the utter absurdity of the claim and underline for all to see the man’s amazing propensity for economy with the truth.

And the questions recurred when I read the report in the press the next day. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful for the journalist(s) to remind Jack of his laundry list of questionable financial affairs? Wouldn’t it have been easy for the article in question to take the time to point out that Jack’s claim of ignorance is not a valid excuse?

I also couldn’t help but wonder about those in authority and about which leader is going to have the courage—or to take another perspective, the folly—to finally hold Warner accountable for something bigger than a breach of contract.

The same article that carried that last priceless quote had Mr Warner taking the time to add this:
“I am sad that we are allowing ourselves to be the laughing stock of the world.”

For once and only this once, I agree 100% with him. Because when I had first heard his my-hands-are-clean comment on the television, the background music that came loudly out of nowhere into my head through my ears was David Rudder’s “Chant of a Madman.”

Jack Warner, I found myself thinking, is either a complete lunatic who is simply waiting on his room assignment and the arrival of a strait-jacket from St. Ann’s.

Or maybe we all are.

The writer of this piece thinks that Calder Hart and Jack Warner will make good All-Fours partners. And maybe fellow inmates too, not necessarily at St Ann’s…

Football / Re: Eve-lution at Stars as Caledonia cut down
« on: September 15, 2012, 07:58:36 PM »
I tried to clarify further by explaining that the three central defenders condensed space for the opposing centre forwards. Does that help?

Football / Eve-lution at Stars as Caledonia cut down
« on: September 15, 2012, 07:20:55 PM »
Eve-lution at Stars as Caledonia cut down
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)

New Pro League head coach Angus Eve and his North East Stars squad threw out a challenge to Trinidad and Tobago’s established football order last night as the Sangre Grande stunned Caribbean champions, Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA, en route to a 3-1 win at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain.

There was something about the manner in which Caledonia was hassled off the ball and the impertinent way that 2006 World Cup striker Cornell Glen converted the opening goal that suggested it might be a pivotal moment.

Eve had seen it before—in his head.

“The game played out exactly how I thought it would,” Eve told Wired868. “I have played against Jamaal (Shabazz) and I have seen his Caledonia and Guyana play. He likes to play from the back, he likes 4-4-2; he tends to be a bit predictable.

“They would have thought they saw me play (in the pre-season) and I saw Jamaal did an interview saying they expected us to play 4-5-1. I think we surprised them.”

Caledonia AIA, which has played three CONCACAF Champions League games already, lined up in a 4-4-2 system that, as always, aimed to attack the flanks. Stars responded with a 3-5-2 formation that condensed space for the opposing centre forwards while its full backs pressed high against the Caledonia wingers.

Caledonia, with playmaner Densill Theobald back from a successful season with Indian team Dempo SC, looked to pull Stars asunder with clever ball movement. Stars, led by combative, stocky midfielder Jean-Luc Rochford, aimed to turn the contest into a battle of wills rather than skill.

The first half ended goalless with Caledonia marginally better but neither team able to get behind the opposing defence. Towering striker Jamal Gay just missed the near post with a powerful header from 16 yards, off a Theobald cross, but it was a rare moment of adventure.

“Caledonia is already in its season, so I expected (Caledonia) to be better on the ball and more match fit,” said Eve. “We were solid defensively and tried to restrict their chances…

“We thought we would wait and then press as a team and try to win the ball high up the pitch.”

The critical moment came as scripted. Caledonia and Guyana international left back Walter Moore tried to play a wall pass with teenaged compatriot Treyon Bobb rather than a simple pass back to his central defender.

The Stars duo of Jayson Joseph and Elijah Manners hustled Bobb off the ball and quickly relayed possession to Glen who strode at the retreating Caledonia defenders before placing into the far corner from the edge of the penalty area.

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Football / Sam sizzles but Defence Force wins Pro League opener
« on: September 14, 2012, 07:46:40 PM »
Sam sizzler fails to thwart Army’s “Ro-Jo” combination
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)

Thirty-four-year-old former UK-based striker Hector Sam rolled back the years with a brilliant strike for St Ann’s Rangers this evening at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain. But it was not enough to peg back Defence Force who won the 2012/13 Digicel Pro League’s season opener 2-1.

Local football fans got their first sight of the Richard Roy and Devorn Jorsling partnership today and so far so good. Jorsling and Roy scored within two minutes of each other as Defence Force predictably proved too much for the St Ann’s team.

The ball movement and spatial awareness of the army/coast guard troops was too much for the young Rangers team that was arguably flattered by the final scoreline.

It was an especially difficult debut for Rangers’ right side midfielder Kyle Bartholomew. Or, to be more precise, it was a torrid evening for his right back Devon Modeste.

Defence Force left back Aklie Edwards was full of running and Bartholomew didn’t seem to think that it had anything to do with him.

Bartholomew’s disinterest in defensive duties might have led to Defence Force’s opener in the 32nd minute as Edwards ran into acres of space and drove the ball towards the last post. Goalkeeper Zane Coker flicked out an arm at it but only fended it into Jorsling’s path.

Jorsling, on his first game back for the “Teteron Boys” since two seasons away with Orlando City and Caledonia AIA respectively, made no mistake.

Two minutes later, Defence Force doubled its advantage as Roy finished confidently from the penalty spot after Coker had clattered Roy Russell Jr. Not a bad start for the “Ro-Jo” front pairing.

Defence Force failed to add to its tally though and Rangers nearly found a way back into the game through a special Sam strike.

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Football / NLCB saves U-20 tour but national teams still in disarray
« on: September 13, 2012, 12:20:04 AM »
NLCB steps in but U-20 programme still in disarray
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)

The State-owned National Lottories Control Board (NLCB) belatedly stepped in on the weekend to rescue the Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 football team’s two-match series against the Canada national under-20 side.

The Trinidad and Tobago team is preparing for November’s Caribbean Football Union (CFU) qualifying competition in Jamaica but was forced to scrap the carded tour last week due to a lack of funding.

On Saturday evening, according to a Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) release sent yesterday, the NLCB handed over funds for the overseas tour and, by Sunday morning, a team was airborne and heading to Fort Lauderdale.

Trinidad and Tobago played the Canada under-20 team at Lockhart Stadium on Sunday night, just a few hours after touching down, and again on Tuesday morning at the Sunrise Holiday Inn Training Complex. The local side lost both games 2-0 and 2-1 respectively.

Vancouver Whitecaps forward Caleb Clarke scored a double in the first game while Defence Force striker and national senior team player Devorn Jorsling got T&T’s lone goal from a free kick in the second encounter.

The Canada side included several Europe and MLS-based players including the Toronto FC duo of Quillan Roberts and Oscar Cordon, Queen’s Park Rangers duo Michael Petrasso and Dylan Carreiro and midfielders Mauro Eustáquio and Jorgo Nika, who are based in Portugal and Germany respectively.

It is debatable as to what benefits the national under-20 team—or Trinidad and Tobago’s football on the whole—was able to achieve from the tour, though.

Several of the national under-20 players were unable to travel as they do not hold US visas. National team technical director Anton Corneal told the TTFF Media that visas were not pursued because the administrative staff felt the trip was off.

“Several of our under-20 players were without travel visas,” said Corneal, “and we did not pursue it last week when we heard the trip was off. So it meant we were forced to find players at the last minute to travel.”

For the under-20 players forced to stay home under such dubious circumstances, it is presumably a painful introduction to life as a Trinidad and Tobago player.

In their place, a hodge-podge of players from the national under-17 and senior team were assembled as well as one or two players that reside in Florida.

National under-20 players like captain Duane Muckette and Xavier Rajpaul played alongside senior players like the Defence Force trio of Devorn Jorsling, Aklie Edwards and Akeem Adams and under-17 players Brendon Creed and Martieon Watson. The US-based duo of Bradley Welch and David Williams were also included.

The touring national technical staff was just as eclectic as national under-20 coach Ross Russell was accompanied by interim senior team coach Hutson Charles, national under-17 coach Sean Cooper and his technical director, Corneal.

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