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61
Tim Kee refuses Sancho meeting; accused of using footballers as political pawns
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)


Sport Minister Brent Sancho has accused Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee and, by extension, the opposition PNM party of using national football players as political pawns, as the ill-will between the two bodies appeared to reach a new low in midweek.

Sancho alleged that, on Wednesday morning, Tim Kee, who is also the PNM treasurer and Port of Spain Mayor, came to the Sport Ministry and stayed only long enough to say that he would not meet the Minister. Then he left.

Remarkably, the meeting was meant to finalise issues related to payment for the Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team and Men’s Under-23 Team, as well as to discuss the upcoming Russia 2018 World Cup campaign and the Women’s Under-17 and Under-20 Caribbean Football Union (CFU) qualifiers.

“The PS (Gillian Macintyre) told me that Tim Kee didn’t want to meet  (with me) because I have a litigative matter against him,” Sancho told Wired868. “I found it odd since there were matters that needed urgent attention. They have athletes out there (at the Toronto Pan American Games) who are not receiving money and threatening to strike but they are showing no urgency. It took their representatives two weeks to come in and meet with us.

“We had worked on a projected budget for the 2018 World Cup that we wanted to discuss (with the TTFA) as the campaign is about to begin…”

Wired868 tried repeatedly to contact Tim Kee without success. TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips accompanied Tim Kee to the Sport Ministry on Wednesday but did not want to discuss their meeting.

“I would rather you get those answers from Raymond,” said Phillips. “Anything regarding what took place in that meeting, I would rather come from him.”

Wired868 asked if he denied the Sport Minister’s account regarding Tim Kee’s stated refusal to meet with him.

“No,” said Phillips.

Tim Kee’s alleged refusal to meet Sancho was notable for several reasons:

The Sport Ministry pays all the TTFA’s coaches and funds its various teams;

At least four active national football teams rely on State funding at present;

The 2006 World Cup bonus dispute has not been before the courts in over two years and is dormant;

Tim Kee has officially met Sancho on many previous occasions while the court case was in exactly the same position;

The current “Soca Warriors” captain Kenwyne Jones is also a litigant against the TTFA and was the football body’s 2013 Player of the Year despite the unresolved court case;

And, it was Tim Kee who requested the meeting with the Sport Ministry on Wednesday, after initially failing to respond to an invitation from the Ministry for over a week.

In the midst of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament, Tim Kee surprised the Warriors technical staff and Ministry of Sport by endorsing a press release that accused Sancho of bullying the football body and poisoning relations between the two entities.

Sancho, who will contest the Toco/Sangre Grande seat at the General Elections on September 7, said he suspects that dirty politics are at play.

“I am suspicious about what is transpiring (because) why would you not want to have discussions when you have players who are basically stranded?” asked Sancho. “The only reasonable explanation I can think of is that Raymond is trying to use the athletes as political pawns.

“When you listen to what is being said on the political platform where (PNM candidate) Camille Robinson-Regis is talking about Central FC (a Pro League club formerly run by Sancho) and me hating football. And suddenly Raymond doesn’t want to sit down to try to solve things for the TTFA’s benefit…

“It doesn’t correlate… Or maybe they do not want to tell us what happened to the CONCACAF money.”

The last TTFA press release, which targeted the Sport Minister’s behaviour, followed Sancho’s suggestion that the football body received Gold Cup appearance money, which was undeclared to the Ministry.

“The whole thing started when we found out they got US$100,000 and didn’t tell us about it,” said Sancho. “They did a pie chart after that which said that US$33,000 was spent on match fees. But over the past six months, we paid every single match fee and stipend (for the TTFA).

“So where did that money really go?”

Phillips confirmed that the TTFA did collect Gold Cup preparation funding but insisted the body did nothing untoward and can account for its spending.

On Friday afternoon, there was another surprise for the Ministry of Sport as the Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Under-20 Team jetted off to St Vincent for CFU action without State funding.

“I found it a bit strange that they didn’t ask for funding for the (Women’s) Under-20 Team because, over the course of this year, we have paid for every single team that left these shores barring the TTOC’s teams,” Sancho told Wired868. “We have paid 90 percent of the operation cost for all national teams, including travel, accommodation, coaches’ salaries and match fees.

“All of a sudden, despite saying they spent all the money they received from CONCACAF and the fact that the General Secretary said they only had TT$30,000 in their account just over a month ago, they found the money to send their team to St Vincent.

“How much money did they really receive from Concacaf?”

Sancho said the Ministry of Sport will do its best to ensure that football does not suffer as a result of his soured relations with Tim Kee. However, he suggested that the process of supporting national football teams might be slowed as a result.

“I think he is trying to provoke a fight but I am going to continue to pay the athletes and the staff,” Sancho told Wired868. “I will pay the Gold Cup team and Pan Am teams as we said we would. And then we want to see how they spent (their Gold Cup money).

“I was hoping we could have some mature discussion but, if he refuses to meet with me, I don’t see how we can move forward. It is hard to tell what happens now as we were trying to meet to put forward some sort of resolution and direction.”

The “Women Soca Warriors” begin their 2016 Olympic qualifying campaign next month while the Men’s Senior Team plays Mexico in an international friendly on September 4 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

It is uncertain if the funding for either event will be jeopardised by the TTFA’s apparent position at present. Or if, like with the Women’s Under-20 Team, the football body proves that it can be resourceful when necessary.

The September 7 general elections and the TTFA’s internal elections, tentatively carded for November, are likely to have an important bearing on the future administrative relationship between the two bodies.


62
TTOC slams Phillips’ ‘discourtesy’ over Pan Am U-23 football spat
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)


Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis has accused Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) general secretary Sheldon Phillips of discourtesy and disrespect over the football body’s handling of a match fee dispute with its National Under-23 Team.

The young “Soca Warriors” threatened to boycott its final Toronto 2015 Pan American Games fixture against Mexico today over unpaid match fees and stipends and the TTFA’s failure to guarantee payment.

The Warriors eventually softened their position and took a surprise two goal lead over Mexico before surrendering to a 4-2 loss. However, Phillips never officially informed the TTOC of the potential crisis.

“One would have foreseen that the general secretary would have seen it as a matter of courtesy, if not respect,” Lewis told Wired868, “to have alerted the TTOC on such a matter, since it is a TTOC event, to help alleviate the situation…

“Instead, there is credible information which suggests the general secretary of the TTFA would have had notice and made interventions without calling and notifying the TTOC.

“When there is the potential for issues, it is the normal course of action—and I can speak without fear of contradiction—where phone calls would be made. In all organisations and businesses, there are protocols to follow and conversations that are had to resolve situations before they explode.”

Phillips confirmed that he did not officially inform the TTOC of the threatened strike, even though he wrote to the the Ministry of Sport for a comfort letter to show the players.

Incidentally, Phillips claimed that the Ministry of Sport never responded to the TTFA.

However, the TTFA general secretary said he did not contact the TTOC because the football body was “still in discussion with the players who had not made a final decision.”

“It was an internal issue that we wanted to resolve and at the end of the day we were able to resolve it,” Phillips told Wired868. “We assured (the players) that we were making every effort to secure their funding that we had been told was available to us.

“Based on that information, from what I was told, the players decided to play.”

But Lewis insisted that the Under-23 football team was under the auspices of the TTOC in Toronto and, if they boycotted, it is the local olympic committee that would have been held responsible.

“He continues to defend the indefensible,” said Lewis. “You have a situation where a TTOC team is threatening to withdraw and he says it is an internal matter. That is not what the TTOC is accustomed to and it is disrespectful and discourteous.”

Lewis said the TTOC is likely to seek a meeting with the TTFA after the Pan Am Games and will share their disappointment with the football body.

“This has been a very distracting Toronto 2015 games,” said Lewis. “When the entire delegation should be forcing on what is important, which is performing at our best to win medals and we have the track and field delegate go into action and having a good day at the office.

“For us to be dealing with these issues caused by the football group is unprecedented. It is deeply disappointing… Even down to the very end, we continue to face deficiencies.”

Lewis said the TTOC is focused on being “athlete driven” and, as a result, has bent over backwards to ensure that the footballers did not suffer, even as the TTFA routinely missed deadlines.

He revealed that the “Women Soca Warriors” were allowed to remain in Toronto, despite their elimination, so they can prepare for next month’s 2016 Olympic qualifying campaign and receive free medical attention.

Captain Maylee Attin-Johnson and star attacker Kennya “Yaya” Cordner both have worrying injuries and their participation in the Caribbean leg of the Olympic campaign is doubtful.

“The (Women Warriors) have finished their Pan American campaign (but) they wanted to embrace the opportunity to train (in this environment) and that was facilitated,” said Lewis. “So you have a situation where players are having their injuries appropriately treated and they the chance to use excellent facilities with their meals and accommodations and so on handled at no cost to the TTFA…

“The TTOC has always attempted to assist and support the TTFA in whatever way it can… It is disappointing to see them act in this way given the relationship that the TTOC has always had with the TTFA.”

The TTOC president was a member of the Constitutional Reform Commission (CRC), whose work led to a new TTFA constitution that was accepted by FIFA and local football stakeholders. It paved the way for a November election for the football body.

And he said his relationship with football will not be coloured by events surrounding the 2015 Pan American Games.

“I am comforted by the fact that the TTOC continues to have a strong, productive and cordial relationship with football and the president of Trinidad and Tobago football (Raymond Tim Kee),” said Lewis. “I am confident that the approach of the TTFA general secretary is not one that is shared with other stakeholders in football.”


63
Stranded T&T footballers: We still don’t know what happened
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868)


The road to fame and fortune for Trinidad and Tobago footballers Jean-Luc Rochford, Dwight Quintero and Keon Russell took an unexpected detour in London.

The three players were part of a 10-member contingent, led by scout and unlicensed agent Dion Sosa, that left the Piarco International Airport on Wednesday for trials in Turkey. But they only made it as far as the United Kingdom.

Sport Minister Brent Sancho responded to a plea for assistance for the three young men today but, due to an error in the formal request, tickets were only sourced for Rochford and Quintero.

Ironically, Russell, a 24-year-old former Caledonia AIA midfielder and El Dorado West Secondary student, was one of the few players who paid for a plane ticket from London to Istanbul. Still, he was left behind.

Wired868 caught up with the three young men at the Park Inn Hotel in London, as they discussed their fates.

The 24-year-old Rochford, who represented Trinidad and Tobago at the 2007 Under-17 and 2009 Under-20 World Youth Cups, said they were told at Piarco that tickets were still needed for the London to Istanbul leg. But he trusted that Sosa had everything in control.

“He said six tickets were waiting for us from Heathrow to Istanbul,” said Rochford. “And he said when we (got there), he would organise the rest.”

In most cases, the agent or club pays for the trialists’ airfare and accommodation. But, in this instance, Sosa allegedly asked players to pay TT$25,000 each.

Most of the players did not raise the full figure and Sosa tried desperately to source funds before their departure.

Once the contingent landed in London, Sosa allegedly asked the players to pool resources to see if there was enough to take them forward to Turkey.

Russell had travelled with 600 Euros in case of contingencies and handed it over to Sosa. Somehow, he still ended up left behind.

“I am still trying to understand what went wrong,” Russell told Wired868. “I had money for my ticket to Turkey… The (return) tickets came up to 592 Euros for each player, so I said okay and I gave him my 600 Euros.

“But he said we fell short, so I told him to keep my money and use it for us to come across one-way to Istanbul instead.”

Sosa left with four players and promised to book tickets for the remaining six to join them on Friday morning.

Rochford spoke to Sosa on Thursday evening.

“He said he was organising to get the money up from Trinidad to buy the tickets,” said Rochford.

That was the last the players heard from him. On Friday morning, Leston Paul, who was Rochford’s captain on both World Youth Cups, as well as Point Fortin Civic defender Weslie John and ex-St Anthony’s College utility player Leon Whyle were sent tickets and they left.

“I heard three players got tickets but I wasn’t one of them,” said Russell.

As it neared time for the players to check out of their hotel, Rochford remembered his father, Timothy Rochford, had a cousin, Keisha Rochford-Hawkins, who worked at the High Commission in London.

They had never met before but Rochford made contact. And she was able to book another hotel for the trio and contacted the Sport Ministry on their behalf.

“Everything happens for a reason yes,” Rochford told Wired868. “Maybe it is a test to see how strong I am mentally. We are praying all the time and talking and making plans.

“We put up to buy meals and we are trying to eat properly. We got stuff to eat from my father’s cousin as well. We are dealing with this as a group.”

The group will split up in a few hours, though. Quintero, who is 21 and was a member of the current National Under-23 Team, and Rochford both leave in the morning.

The three young men chatted through the night to pass the time. Rochford and Quintero do not want to leave their new comrade behind but Russell insisted he would be okay.

The players still hope that, once they get to Turkey, they can salvage their trial and catch the eye of waiting scouts. They feel closer to their dream of becoming football stars than ever before.

“Every setback is a setup for a major comeback,” said Russell. “We are just here chilling and talking and staying positive and hopeful. God is still in control.”

Thus far, Wired868 has been unable to reach Sosa for comment.


64
No change for Warrior squad; Hart reveals highs and lows of Gold Cup campaign
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868)

“Soca Warriors” coach Stephen Hart has opted not to replace injured goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams as the Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team heads into the knockout phase of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup in the United States.
The Warriors face Panama from 4.30 pm on Sunday July 19 and all teams have the option to change three players with alternatives from their 35-man shortlist. The United States, Jamaica, Haiti and Costa Rica took advantage of the opportunity.
But Hart explained that, with the Pro League in its off season and his stand-by players on vacation, it made little sense to alter his squad.
“It is hard to introduce anyone else,” Hart told Wired868. “It is not like we have a league home and people are playing. That is one of the reasons I wanted people training with me, even if they were not selected.
“I have two goalkeepers here I trust, so I will take a chance.”
Hart’s decision appears to rule out a call-up for North East Stars goalkeeper Cleon John, whose last competitive game was two months ago. At present, Point Fortin Civic custodian Marvin Phillip is first choice with Police FC’s Adrian Foncette as deputy.
Hart denied that his squad had any special motivation against Panama, although the Central American nation reneged on a pre-arranged international friendly against the Warriors last month to play two games against Ecuador.
It forced the Warriors into a hastily arranged friendly away to Curaçao, which they lost 1-0.
However, the Trinidad and Tobago claimed there were no hard feelings and suggested that Panama is one of the hardest opponents in the knock out stage, although “Los Canaleros” drew all three group stage matches against the United States, Haiti and Honduras respectively.
“The past is the past,” said Hart. “Panama looked the best out of the third placed teams we could have faced. Costa Rica is certainly struggling and not at their best moment…
“To end up (drawn against) last Gold Cup’s finalist is going to be a challenge.”
Even as football fans swoon over Trinidad and Tobago’s performances at the Gold Cup, the pragmatic Hart admitted his own feelings were mixed.
In emotional terms, the Warriors are in a fantastic place.
“Their response has been tremendous,” said Hart, who also took Trinidad and Tobago to the 2013 Gold Cup quarterfinals. “It is as if something inside them has been awakened and they now recognise their potential.”
But, after spending the last six weeks trying to implement a 4-3-3 formation, Hart said that, for periods against Guatemala and Cuba and for the entire Mexico match, he returned to the 4-2-3-1 system, which was tailor-made for the absent Kevin Molino.
“We were losing shape and balance too easily,” said Hart, “so we reverted back to what players felt more comfortable with.”
Hart admitted to being frustrated at a lack of international friendlies, which meant less time to prepare his players. And, despite being unbeaten at the Gold Cup, he is dissatisfied with their tactical play thus far.
“Tactically, we have a long way to go,” he told Wired868. “We need to possess the ball better to attack the weak side of opponents. We also need to press more effectively when the ball is in wide areas, denying easy crossing opportunities.”
As football fans cheered during Trinidad and Tobago’s 4-4 draw with Mexico, which was described as the greatest Gold Cup game ever, Hart was going berserk on the touchline.
Read more: http://wired868.com/2015/07/17/no-change-for-warrior-squad-hart-reveals-highs-and-lows-of-gcup-campaign/

65
Sancho saves stranded football trialists; Quintero, Rochford stuck in London
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868)


The Ministry of Sport was forced into a rescue operation today as two former Trinidad and Tobago national youth team players, Jean-Luc Rochford and Dwight Quintero, were among three footballers left alone in a hotel in London while their contingent moved on to trials in Turkey.

The third player, Keon Russell, is a former Caledonia AIA employee while Rochford and Quintero are both free agents but represented Central FC in Pro League action last season.

All three left Trinidad for Turkey with Dion Sosa, an unregistered local football agent, and close to a dozen other players.

However, once in London, Quintero, Rochford and Russell were allegedly informed that there was no plane ticket to take them on Turkey.

Eventually, they made their way to Trinidad and Tobago’s High Commission in London where a SOS was put through to Sport Minister Brent Sancho.

“I was contacted this morning by a lady named Keisha Rochford-Hawkins from the Consulate in London, who said that they had three players there who were stranded,” Sancho told Wired868. “I didn’t get the nitty gritty of the situation. But, from what I understand, a party left for London on a broken ticket to Turkey.

“Some of the members went on and these stayed waiting for help and they eventually contacted the consulate… So I am trying to assist.”

Wired868 tried to contact Sosa by What’s App and email but was unable to reach him.

By the end of the day, the Sport Ministry did book plane tickets from London to Turkey. But, in the confusion, they ended up a ticket short.

Nathalie Fournillier, Quintero’s aunt, said her nephew contacted her for help this morning. At the time, Quintero and Rochford were together but they could not find Russell and thought he had left them since he was supposedly familiar with London.

Fournillier convinced Sancho that there were only two players in need of help, only to discover later that Russell had resurfaced.

Sancho vowed to do all he can to get a ticket for Russell tomorrow. Eid festivities have apparently complicated travel to Turkey.

Fournillier explained that the contingent, led by Sosa, arrived in London on Thursday morning. However, Quintero, Rochford and Russell were allegedly told that, due to financial issues, there was no ticket to take them to Turkey and Sosa would go ahead with the other players and make the necessary arrangements from there.

The group of players are due to play three practice matches against European clubs, who are in their pre-season, with the hope of catching the eye and being signed or invited for formal trials.

Fournillier said each player was asked to pay $25,000 for airfare and accommodation, although most did not have the full amount and there were several fund-raising initiatives.

Quintero and Rochford, who roomed together, had not heard from Sosa as they neared the 11 am check-out time.

In Trinidad, Quintero’s mother and relatives were in tears.

“I had a lot of calls from my sisters this morning while I was at work,” said Fournillier, who lives in the United States, “and I got messages saying to call as soon as possible, so I got worried.

“When I called, I was told my nephew (Quintero) was left behind in London with two other players and Sosa and the others went ahead to Turkey.

“It took me a while to wrap my head around that because I felt it must have been a huge mistake.”

Quintero is a former National Under-20 striker and was on the current Under-23 squad, although he missed the Olympic qualifiers and 2015 Pan American Games due to the team’s managerial issues.

Rochford, who represented Trinidad and Tobago at the 2009 Under-20 and 2007 Under-17 World Youth Cups, contacted a relative who works at the High Commission in London and they made their way there for help.

That relative, Keisha Rochford-Hawkins, was able to pay for another night’s stay at a hotel for the players and give them other assistance.

Fournillier said she eventually got a phone call through to Sosa in Turkey and he allegedly admitted that he did not inform the players beforehand about their travel issues.

“He said he didn’t want to let the ticket issue interfere with the trip after they had (done so much work),” said Fournillier. “He asked me if I could work on sponsors to get them plane tickets for Turkey… He said there was still money tied up by sponsors and, once he got back into Trinidad, he would honour all debts.”

Sancho agreed to help.

The Sport Minister is a former chairman at Central FC, which employed Quintero and Rochford. However, neither player is under contract while the club is not entitled to any developmental fee for Rochford, since he has already passed his 23rd birthday.

Sancho, who was heavily criticised by Sosa during Levi Garcia’s transfer to Netherlands top flight club club AZ, said he was only interested in helping young players in a time of need.

“I’ve been in that situation before and it is not a nice feeling,” said Sancho, who was a former Scotland Premier League and England League One defender. “It happened when I left Ross County and an agent took me to a trial in Romania. And when I didn’t sign, they yanked my return ticket and I was stranded for a couple of days…

“I am not involved with Central with my new portfolio. But these are young men in a jam and guys I know… So I cannot just leave them there.”

Fournillier said she and Rochford’s mother did their best to lift the boys’ spirits and get them in the right frame of mind for what lies ahead.

“I told them that God never lets adversity affect his children unless he knows something good is going to come out of it,” said Fournillier. “They must not be disheartened and they have to forge forward and finish what they started by any means necessary. Whatever drama plays out, keep your eyes on the prize.

“Jean-Luc’s mom also sent them a very inspirational message… They were a bit fearful at one point but they are in really good spirits now.

“They want to say ‘thank you’ to Brent (Sancho) for reaching out to help them.”

Despite the chaos, Sancho commended Sosa for his efforts in trying to find professional deals for local players in Europe.

“I applaud the efforts of Sosa and company for trying to find greener pastures for our players,” said Sancho, “although he obviously fell short in his attempts.”

Dion Sosa’s trialists: Raheem Belgrave, Curtis Gonzales, Dario Holmes, Weslie John, Jelani Peters, Keon Russell, Jamel Farrell, Leon Whyle, Leston Paul, Jean-Luc Rochford, Duane Muckette, Keane McIvor, Xavier Rajpaul, Micah Lewis, Qian Grosvenor, Phillip Borde, Dwight Quintero and Brent Sam.


66
Patriotism means to hide news from the public? Maybe some readers don't want to know. But don't I have an obligation those who DO want to know?
And what is the real benefit of not knowing the truth about what is happening and what people think anyway? It does not make it any less real.

67
Bitch better have my money! Warriors respond to Sancho/Tim Kee impasse
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868)


The “Soca Warriors”, who just booked their place in the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals for just the third time in the country’s history, are not bumping their heads to Maximus Dan’s “I am a Fighter” these days.

R&B star Rihanna’s “Bitch better have my money” is said to be the track of choice among many of the players.

Trinidad and Tobago lead Group C, after successive wins over Guatemala and Cuba, and can top the group with a win or draw against Mexico tomorrow. They will have to do so without not only suspended midfielder Andre Boucaud but also injured team vice-captain and goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams.

Williams looks set to be ruled out for three weeks after a hamstring injury suffered in the first match against Cuba. It means the Central FC custodian would miss the rest of the Gold Cup as well as his club’s opening CONCACAF Champions League fixture away to Steven Gerrard’s LA Galaxy on August 6

If the Warriors finish atop Group C tomorrow, they will almost certainly face Panama in the quarterfinal round in New Jersey on Sunday. Should they lose to Mexico, they will probably meet Costa Rica in the knockout round instead.

Trinidad and Tobago’s most successful Gold Cup was in 2000 when coach Bertille St Clair led a team that boosted the likes of Dwight Yorke, Russell Latapy, David Nakhid, Jerren Nixon and the late Mickey Trotman to the semifinal round, where they were edged 1-0 by Canada.

However, with history beckoning, Trinidad and Tobago’s Gold Cup team was again distracted by off-field matters.

On Sunday, Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee and general secretary Sheldon Phillips issued a press release that accused Sport Minister Brent Sancho of spreading malicious and misleading information and attempting to bully the football body.

And, yesterday, Sancho responded by accusing Tim Kee of mismanagement, dishonesty and disrespect towards the TTFA’s major sponsor.

“They will not be funded,” said Sancho. “Unless they can account for where our funds will go.”

The conflict has not gone unnoticed within the Warriors camp.

This morning, team captain Kenwyne Jones shared Sancho’s response on social media and referred to the feud with two posts.

“We play we fight… support from the relevant body? Still outstanding smfh.”

Jones followed that up with:

“So while the feud continues, the football suffers, note TT anytime we fall short in something it always a funding issue, if this doesn’t stop it can be the end of progress…

“Egos aside put the football first… or leave the relevant offices held.”

Warriors manager William Wallace admitted that there was some anxiety in the camp since, unlike the 2013 Gold Cup, players are not receiving match fees after each game as they are still awaiting funding from the Sport Ministry.

And Wallace revealed that, for the first time in a Gold Cup tournament, the TTFA did not offer win bonuses or financial incentives for qualifying for the quarterfinal, semifinal or even winning the entire thing.

“The last time we left Trinidad with US (dollars) so we got paid after each game,” Wallace told Wired868. “Now, I am trying to get a lump sum payment after the three group games. I hope we can get it done…

“We were not able to negotiate win bonuses due to financial constraints. Based on the budget we are working with, we are barely able to deal with match fees at this point in time.”

The TTFA relies almost entirely on the Ministry of Sport for its funding and was not able to raise money otherwise to pay its staff and players.

Wallace was much more tactful in his response to the Government’s relationship with the Warriors.

“With all that is happening on the political front, I would still like to thank the Ministry of Sport and the new PS (Gillian MacIntyre) who has been extremely professional in her approach in dealing with me,” said Wallace. “At this point in time, the Ministry of Sport is the only bearing tree, so we cannot cut it down.

“It might not be bearing as quickly or as prolifically as we would like it to be. But that is what we have…”

Sancho reiterated today that the Sport Ministry will honour its commitments to the Warriors as well as the Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Women’s Team, which is competing in the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games at present.

However, the Sport Minister did not promise any assistance to the TTFA beyond that, which would include the Warriors’ Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.

Sancho’s own political survival would depend on the polls as the country’s general elections will be held on September 7.

A TTFA insider, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, defended the timing of the press release, which slammed the Sport Minister’s behaviour.

“We have sat back for a while as the ministry at various times has levelled some misdirected allegations knowing that the organisation is still feeling the effects and negative impact of the Warner years,” he said. “So if something critical about us sounds plausible, even if it turns out to be untrue at closer look, the damage is done.

“And the ministry comes out looking like heroes in a situation they created.”

However, in the United States, Wallace said the Warriors technical staff felt the weekend release was part and parcel of the election season and they were concerned about its timing.

Tim Kee, who is also the Port of Spain Mayor, is the treasurer of the opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) party.

“The staff was questioning whether (the TTFA release) was necessary at that time,” Wallace told Wired868. “But it is politician against politician and we are in that season, so I suppose it is expected.

“As the African saying goes: when the elephants fight it is only the grass that suffers. But my focus is on the players and staff and I will not allow anything to derail that.”


68
Sancho: TTFA president Tim Kee is Jack Warner re-incarnated
By Brent Sancho (wired868.com).


Sport Minister Brent Sancho responded to criticism by Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee by blasting the management of the football body as well as Tim Kee’s integrity and competence.

The following is the full text from the Sport Minister:

Since my appointment as Minister of Sport (in February 2015), I have been called on time after time to respond to criticism levelled at me by TTFA President Raymond Tim Kee.

In most instances, my responses have been off the cuff statements in response to questions from journalists.

However, I have decided now that it is time to make my position clear, once and for all, and not just correct the misinformation put into the press by Mr Tim Kee, but also ask a few questions of my own.

“The TTFF is the worst-run sporting organisation in Trinidad and Tobago, they flout all rules and procedures. They totally disregard all checks and balances that are here at the Ministry of Sport and the Sport Company. Checks and balances are very important for transparency, accountability and making sure we get value for money. This is taxpayers’ money we are dealing with.”

These are not my words, they’re the words of Minister of Sport Anil Roberts in 2011.

Yet here we are in 2015 and the same rings true. Yet I am accused of bullying Mr Tim Kee.

Mr Tim Kee was an important part of the TTFF administration which was controlled by Jack Warner, the master puppeteer. As a vice-president and, at one point, chairman of TTFF’s finance committee, it is impossible to believe that Mr Tim Kee’s curiosity would not have been aroused by huge transactions entering and departing TTFF accounts under the orders of Mr Warner.

In one such instance in 2008, Mr Tim Kee was copied into an email conversation concerning the distribution of a US$500,000 cheque. This cheque was converted to TT dollars and distributed into three accounts, including two TTFF accounts.

Within 24 hours of these transactions, Mr Warner advised his secretary, “do take note of the amounts which went into the LOC Account as well as the T&TFF’s account both of which must be repaid.” Mr Tim Kee was copied into this conversation.

Such a large transaction should have caused concern, not only because it was originally in US dollars, not only that it was layered into three different accounts, but that Warner was instructing that the money must be repaid.

For what innocent reason would such a transaction occur?

Mr Tim Kee, even as recently as yesterday at an extraordinary general meeting of  TTFA, stated that he had no knowledge of any suspect transactions made by Warner.

I am not an investigator. I am not an auditor. There may possibly be a perfectly innocent reason for this transaction.

But because I am not sure, three weeks ago I forwarded this to lawyers in the USA who will now investigate the transaction further.

Our very own FIU laws state that mere knowledge of such a suspicious transaction, if failed to report to the FIU, can result in a fine of TT$3 million AND imprisonment of up to 7 years.

From 2007 to 2009, over TT$17.7 million was paid to Warner controlled accounts from TTFF’s Long Circular Mall Republic Bank account alone, yet Mr Tim Kee, the current PNM Treasurer, was apparently completely oblivious.

And now I have to ask: Is Jack back? Is Mr Tim Kee the new reincarnation of Jack Warner?

Since my tenure as Minister of Sport began in February, I have frequently requested sight of TTFA accounts, which is a stipulation of the cabinet note so often referred to.

I did not insert this condition, but I believe I have a duty to ensure that this condition is met. Still, without sight of the accounts and in the face of several broken TTFA promises, I have continued to fund our National Teams.

Yet everything that goes wrong appears to be my fault. But the truth is that TTFA is poorly run.

Look at the comedy of errors, much of which has been laid at the feet of my Ministry: The visa-debacle, the frantic changes in players, the decision to pay match fees at Pan Am without any agreement from TTOC.

And before that, the Argentina embarrassment, the missing $400,000, the Akeem Adams T-shirt scandal, the players’ Jamaican impasse.

Yet none of these instances were the fault of Mr Tim Kee?

Yet through all of this, our National teams have persevered so that today, we stand proud of our team’s performances at both the Gold Cup and Pan Am.

We now face a period where everything that TTFA say much be examined closely.

Mr Tim Kee’s press release said: “By written communication… the Ministry was alerted to funds available to TTFA from CONCACAF.”

This is true. What Mr Tim Kee doesn’t admit to is that this information was given AFTER the Ministry had paid the air fare for the Gold Cup and AFTER the Ministry had made several direct enquiries.

Mr Tim Kee doesn’t mention that when, on the 25th of June, a TTFA official was asked: “Is it that CONCACAF will take care of internal flights and accommodation during the tournament, but TTFA have to cover travel to and from the tournament?”

The official replied: “That is correct.”

Or that on 28th June, that same TTFA official told PS (Gillian) MacIntyre that US$100,000 would be received from CONCACAF at end of July and was to assist with Gold Cup travel.

Meanwhile I received confirmation from CONCACAF that the funds had already been despatched. Yet still, TTFA continued to request funding from the Ministry, including a request to pay for laundry.

To date, I have paid match fees for Panama, Curacao and Jordan. I have just received a request for US$157,500 match fees for the Gold Cup group stage and US$70,000 for the quarter finals.

So which match fees does the US$33,000 on the TTFA pie chart relate to?

I have gone on record as a former player stating that players deserve the right to earn as much money as possible. However, I do question the right of TTFA to promise match fees and stipends to players that they simply cannot afford to pay.

Watch every word that Tim Kee speaks.

He says TTFA were successful in sourcing alternative funding. Were they?

Apparently, their alternative source of funding is the prize money earned when the players qualified for the Gold Cup.

How can Tim Kee lay claim to sourcing that money? He should be thanking his players for saving his skin. But Mr Tim Kee likes to take the credit rather than accept responsibility.

He says TTFA have reduced debts by $23 million. Well, then show us, Mr Tim Kee.

To my knowledge, $18 million of that debt was to the (2006 World Cup) “SocaWarriors” and was wiped off by the Government.

But, of course, Mr Tim Kee would never admit that.

The rest was paid with FIFA grants supposed to be used for grass roots development.

So, show us the books Mr Tim Kee. Show us where you have actually generated income and paid off your debts.

The truth is that Mr Tim Kee cannot attract any support from corporate T&T aside from some jerseys, bottles of water and Gatorade. Pro League clubs put him to shame. And with such a tiny amount of turnover, the PNM Treasurer still can’t account for his spending or manage to balance his books.

Mr Tim Kee has managed to keep himself in place until November in the hope that the Government changes in September and he will be safe.

Well, Mr Tim Kee, I say to you that with people like you leading the PNM, they will be lucky to retain their deposits. And come (the TTFA elections in) November we will, at last, get to see a truly responsible TTFA who are willing to be transparent and work alongside the Ministry of Sport.

Has there ever been a sporting organisation behave so disrespectfully towards its main sponsor?

And perhaps that explains why Mr Tim Kee cannot attract a dollar in sponsorship to TTFA.


69
US has until July 27 for Warner request; Wired868 brings extradition to life
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868)

Controversial Jamaat-al-Muslimeen Imam Yasin Abu Bakr will not be the most talked about man on this July 27—the 25th anniversary of Trinidad and Tobago’s attempted coup.
The United States Department of Justice (DOJ), according to the Extradition Act, has 60 days from the issuance of a provisional warrant to Chaguanas West MP and ex-FIFA vice-president Jack Warner to officially present its case for his extradition.
And, coincidentally, those 60 days end on July 27. So, that is when legal parties for Warner and the State will return to the Port of Spain Magistrate’s Court, which is just a stone’s throw away from where Abu Bakr and his men launched their memorable attack on the Parliament.
As if this extradition case needed any more intrigue.
This morning—as the extradition hearing sort of started but really didn’t—was an orientation for all concerned.
It was a scheduled 9 am start but Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar was fashionably late and clocked in at 9.26 am.
Warner, whose fondness of early starts is one of his enduring myths, was already seated outside the court room at around 8 am when Wired868 got there.
Of course, the self-titled “Robin Hood” of Arouca is well aware of the importance of keeping character. Although there is no evidence to suggest that he bribed a few public servants, secretly taped any politicians or paid to send anyone through university while he waited for Ayers-Caesar to turn up.
Inside the Magistrate’s Court, there was no opportunity for Warner to so much as clear his throat, much less release incriminating evidence about any members of the State’s legal term—and we are looking at you here, Gerald Ramdeen.
In court, paid guns—they rather the term ‘attorneys’—prefer to do the shooting, and legal jargon, customs and technicalities are mysterious enough as to ensure that the “do it yourself” phenomena is yet to put lawyers out of work.
“Court room defence techniques for dummies” will have some ground to cover before it becomes nearly as weighty as “a lawyer who defends himself has a fool for a client.”
So, Warner was represented by enough attorneys to fill three SUVs while the State’s gang looked just as well resourced.
FIFA money on the one hand, taxpayers’ money on the other.
Two thirds of the viewing gallery inside the court room were actually attorneys who had nothing to do with the case. Perhaps they hoped someone might trip over an adjective and a substitute would be needed. Or, more likely, they were there to learn from the big-hitters.
Thankfully, no fresh faced attorney asked Wayne Sturge for an autograph in the immediate aftermath.
Queen’s Counsel Allan Newman spoke for the State and he is as British as a cup of tea, a grey afternoon and an Enid Blyton book. So British he probably has a porcelain bulldog on his office desk and a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II next his family photos.
Or, if more illumination is needed, imagine Timothy Spall in character as Simon Graham in “The Last Samurai” or Peter Pettigrew in “Harry Potter.”
Newman asked Ayers-Caesar to adjourn the extradition case until August 14.

Read more: http://wired868.com/2015/07/09/us-has-until-july-27-for-warner-request-wired868-brings-extradition-to-life/


70
Gov’t negotiates Gold Cup feed; Sancho, TTFA discuss Pan Am bacchanal
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868)


Sport Minister Brent Sancho revealed today that the Government hopes to acquire live feeds for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup in time for Trinidad and Tobago’s opening match against Guatemala on Thursday July 9.

Sancho, a former 2005 Gold Cup and 2006 World Cup player, promised, earlier in his tenure, to allow the Trinidad and Tobago public to see their sport teams in action on local television. And he hopes to start with the Gold Cup.

“I am still talking to the different parties and we know there is interest from different (corporate companies),” Sancho told Wired868. “We would like to make sure the public can see these games live so we are working on making it a reality. It is of high importance that we work out a reasonable deal to have it shown.

“And not just football, we want to get most of our sport shown in Trinidad (and Tobago) so our public can see what our national teams are doing.

“I think it gives our athletes and sports a good market to hopefully inveigle corporate sponsorship. And it transcends down to the young ones who can see their heroes perform on the world stage.”

But it was a rare spot of good news for football as disharmony between the Sport Ministry and the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) again affected the preparation of its national teams.

Yesterday, the Trinidad and Tobago National Women’s Senior Team and National Men’s Under-23 Team both left for the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games, which officially starts on July 10.

But it was a matter of problems postponed rather than solved as the TTFA and Sport Ministry remain at loggerheads over match fees promised to footballers while mismanagement and distrust continues to hamper the respective teams.

Key to the current rift, which led to a threatened boycott by the “Women Soca Warriors”, was match fees of US$500 per game that was promised to both teams.

But, as the two teams prepared to depart, the TTFA could only assure the players of US$600 each for the entire three week competition.

It prompted a furious social media response from star attacker Kennya “Yaya” Cordner and a threatened boycott from her teammates.

TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips described the episode as a misunderstanding and suggested that the Women Warriors erroneously thought they were not due match fees.

“There were some players who thought that was it,” Phillips told Wired868, “and we said that is what we would be able to source (at the moment).”

It took an assurance from the Sport Minister to team captain Maylee Attin-Johnson to placate the women.

“My first concern was making sure we got them on the plane,” said Sancho. “Sheldon apparently told the girls not to go on the plane and wait for us to meet to sort it out, which didn’t make sense because they would have missed their flight…

“I said to get on the plane and we will sort it out.”

Phillips retorted that his suggestion was for a morning meeting, which would not have jeopardised the team’s travel plans.

More importantly though, Sancho’s promise did not necessarily address the issue since, according to the Sport Minister, he did not agree to any specific sum.

“First, we have to get a full scope of what is happening,” said Sancho. “We have to sit with a representative of the TTFA… We don’t know if we can meet their demands.

“We have to make sure the taxpayers’ dollars are used appropriately.”

TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee reiterated that the players only hope for match fees lay with the Government.

“Yes, the match fees will come down to the (Sport) Ministry,” said Tim Kee.

Both sides lay bare their misgivings about the other party and there was a hint that, even if the Pan American teams receive their due, future national football teams might suffer for the TTFA’s perceived brinksmanship.

“I am drawing the line in the sand,” said Sancho, who suggested that the TTFA was less than forthright about its true financial situation. “This is it (and) it is going to have a ripple effect on the other teams. We want to try our best to make the athletes happy but this is a song that has been playing for donkey years…

“If one party is seemingly not operating in the most honest way, then we have a problem.”

Sancho claimed the TTFA was due a CONCACAF payment of US$100,000, which was meant to prepare the National Senior Men’s Team for the 2015 Gold Cup. But, he said, the sum had not been mentioned in multiple discussions between the two parties.

“They told us that they only had $13,000 (TT) in their account so they couldn’t pay for visas for the Under-23 Team,” said Sancho “but one of the challenges we have is gauging what they have and what they don’t have because we got information that they received $100,000 US from CONCACAF.

“Then, when they knew we were aware of it, they said they would get the money at the end of July. Then, when we asked why preparatory money would only be available after the tournament, they came back and said they would get it by the end of the week.

“It is hard to keep up with the stories.”

Tim Kee countered that the CONCACAF payment had been affected by chaos enveloping the governing body, whose president Jeffrey Webb is fighting an extradition request by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ).

He claimed the preparation funding would usually be available to teams before the Gold Cup but that was not the case on this occasion. The TTFA, he said, made a special request for some funds before the competition.

“When these things happened in Zurich the other day, there was a lot of panic in CONCACAF and people being sent home and so on,” said Tim Kee. “We applied to CONCACAF for some of that money as a loan and that is where we got $330,000 US from…

“They limited the maximum we could get to one third and that is compromising their own laws because they are very strict about (associations) getting something for one purpose and using it for something else.

“But they are fully aware of the challenges we face and they have compromised…”

Sancho insisted that the TTFA never submitted a specific request for match fees for its Pan American Teams.

“The TTFA submitted budgets for about 10 different teams when we first met,” said Sancho. “Since then, we have met with (TTFA official William) Wallace and Sheldon (Phillips), Wallace and (Senior Team coach Stephen) Hart, Wallace alone, Wallace and Tim Kee…

“Every time they came in, they were asking for different things. First, it would be flights, then flights and hotels, then a game was on and then off.

“These are the kind of things we have to deal with… They sent in an overall budget for all the teams but the cases change over time.

“They have to have specific requests for specific teams to access money. And from my knowledge, we didn’t have anything specific for the women’s team.”

Tim Kee conceded that the TTFA did not make an official request for the Women Warriors. However, Phillips suggested that the Sport Ministry was partly culpable for the budget changes referenced by the Minister.

“The adjustments in the budget are based on the continual shift in what we were told we had access to,” said Phillips. “It is very difficult to plan when this is happening. We are trying to create revenue streams that will lessen that dependence but that will take some time…

“The latest narrative we are getting from the Sport Ministry is NGOs don’t get their full subvention. So you present us with what we are authorised to get and we do our budget based on what you gave to us. And then at the eleventh hour, you tell us NGOs don’t get their full subvention…

“It has been an ongoing conversation and we will continue to sit with the (Sport Ministry) to sort things out.”

The overriding issue, of course, is the TTFA’s failure to raise money to fund its own teams.

“They have to take a long hard look at themselves and how they raise money,” said Sancho. “To sit down and wait for taxpayers’ money is ludicrous. We have lots of other sporting bodies who don’t have FIFA and CONCACAF money and they make it work and raise their own money.

“They need to tailor their plans according to the money they have. The Government is supposed to assist with a shortfall (so) if you have money coming in, then you use it.

“Cricket and everyone else seems to manage without issue or find ways of getting round their shortfalls. This is the only body we have this problem with.”

Just over a month ago, the TTFA requested match fees of US$1,000 for the Under-23 Men’s Team. The Sport Ministry retorted that it would pay no more than half the match fees requested for all national football teams.

So, the TTFA promised the Under-23 Men’s Team US$500 match fees instead. But an agreement was not reached with the Sport Ministry.

The Women Warriors then threatened to boycott the Pan Am competition unless they received equal pay with the Under-23 Men’s Team.

So now both teams have promises with no guarantor. And the TTFA and Sport Ministry continue to glare at each other with distrust and apprehension.

Sancho accused the TTFA of trying to hold the Sport Ministry over a barrel.

“It seems like we are always outing fires before we could even enter into negotiations with them,” said Sancho. “Because they agree match fees and stipends (with their players) and then throw them at us. I don’t know what the final arrangement was for the (TTFA) and the (Pan Am) players so there is a lot to happen before we get to (the promise to the Women Warriors).

“The main thing is I didn’t want an embarrassment to the country… The (TTFA) made it abundantly clear that they will be getting money from CONCACAF.

“So we will see how that goes and take it from there.”


71
I thought the same thing Flex! I thought they might have gone with Akeem Roach or Ricardo John who did so well in Puerto Rico. But then they waited so late to do any damn thing that it meant they HAD to pick someone from provisional list. That ruled out Roach. But not John.

72
U-23s swap Corbin with Trimmingham; TTOC slams self-centred administrators
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)


San Juan Jabloteh utility player Josiah Trimmingham has been selected to replace St Ann’s Rangers attacker Kadeem Corbin in the Trinidad and Tobago National Under-23 Team for the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games.

Corbin was essentially ruled unavailable for the Pan Am tournament since June 20 when National Senior Team coach Stephen Hart picked the versatile 19-year-old attacker in his 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup squad.

However, Under-23 manager David Muhammad took another two weeks to inform the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) of the change in its travelling squad. And, in the process, the “Soca Warriors” missed another deadline.

It is believed that Trimmingham was on the initial Under-23 provisional squad, which means the former San Juan Secondary student should have already been vetted by the Toronto Local Organising Committee (LOC).

Once Trimmingham is proven to have passed earlier security checks, TTOC president Brian Lewis said it is very likely that he will be accredited to play in the Pan Am Games. If not, the Warriors, who were unable to register a full 20-man squad for last month’s Olympic qualifying tournament, will again travel shorthanded.

Lewis made it clear that he did not intend to single out Muhammad or any particular sporting body for shoddy management. But he admitted to his frustration in the administrative work of some sporting bodies, which, he felt, do a disservice to their athletes.

“There are some sports we have perennially had issues with and, from where I am sitting, this has to stop,” Lewis told Wired868. “This is just not how the TTOC wants to be operating. We want our athletes to have peace of mind and this is not the preparation we want athletes and teams operating through the TTOC to go through.

“I am not pointing blame, I am trying to look at the end result. We have to strive to ensure that our athletes are giving the best environment and opportunity to perform at their best and succeed.

“Everything else is excuses.”

The Under-23 outfit was eliminated from the Olympic qualifying series after just 90 minutes following an opening 5-3 loss to St Vincent and the Grenadines in Puerto Rico.

Muhammad’s tardiness in applying for US visas was felt to be a big blow to the squad as coach Zoran Vranes was forced to replace eight members from his original 20-man squad, who could not get travel documents.

The players who missed out were former National Under-20 captain and right back Shannon Gomez, who has two senior team caps, as well as striker Dwight Quintero, attacking midfielder Nathaniel Garcia, defenders Jibiri McDavid, Maurice Ford, Triston Hodge and Dario Holmes and goalkeeper Javon Sample.

TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips said the local football body was “concerned” about the team’s performance and was awaiting reports from the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) tournament committee as well as Muhammad and Vranes before deciding on the next course of action.

“People are focusing on the visa issue but the fact of the matter is St Vincent had to go through the same issue,” Phillips told Wired868. “One can argue that (St Vincent and the Grenadines) had a more difficult time (than us) and they were able to overcome it and we didn’t.

“Obviously, (as regards) the latest issue with the US embassy, we have to reiterate that they bent over backwards to accommodate us and make sure our players got over there.”

Lewis explained that the TTOC will holds it Delegates Registration Meeting (DRM) tomorrow, which is the curtain call for the Pan Am Games.

However, the TTOC president pointed out that some administrators prefer to act as if deadlines do not apply to them and it causes unnecessary stress on the TTOC, the tournament organisers and, worst of all, the athletes.

“There are people who constantly operate with deadlines as if the world revolves around them but there are over 6,500 athletes (the Toronto LOC is) dealing with,” said Lewis. “We have to keep stepping up our game… What we have been striving for is about being athlete centred and we operate on a no-excuse philosophy at the TTOC.

“Whatever challenges that arise, we have to strive to get over them. If we want to demand the best from our athletes, we have to endeavour to do our best too.

“Stop making excuses and trying to rationalise failures and mistakes.”

At present, five unspecified members of the Under-23 squad are awaiting Canadian visas, since they were not included in the initial provisional list for accreditation.

(Team)

T&T’s Under-23 Pan Am squad: Jovan Sample, Montell Joseph, Shannon Gomez, Alvin Jones, Dario Holmes, Maurice Ford, Jesus Perez, Tristan Hodge, Jelani Felix, Neveal Hackshaw, Xavier Rajpaul, Jomal Williams, Aikim Andrews, Nathaniel Garcia, Shackiel Henry, Dwight Quintero, Neil Benjamin.

Late inclusion: Josiah Trimmingham.

Withdrawn: Kadeem Corbin.


73
Thanks Dreamer  :beermug:

74
Cautiously optimistic: Hart on work stress, Jorsling’s retirement and squad selection
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)


In the final instalment of a two part series, Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart discusses Devorn Jorsling’s international retirement, why T&T football is stuck in the dark ages and what he expects from his Warriors at the Gold Cup.

Trinidad and Tobago’s biggest on-field concern heading into the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup is scoring goals. The “Soca Warriors” have now gone five games and 480 minutes—which includes extra time in the 2014 Caribbean Cup final against Jamaica—without registering items.

It feels passing strange to some then that head coach Stephen Hart opted to travel to the United States without the Pro League’s top marksman and the country’s tenth highest goal scorer, Devorn Jorsling.

On the weekend, Jorsling told Wired868 that he has decided to retire from international duty since he thinks he will never get a better chance to represent the Warriors under the current technical staff.

Hart thinks the Defence Force striker will be making a mistake if he sticks to his guns.

“I think he is making a mistake,” Hart told Wired868. “If he continues to train in the way he has done in the last few weeks, I think he has as good an opportunity as anybody.

“I am sorry he thinks the way he does. I had to pick a 23 (member squad) and I had a decision to make, which I did.”

It would be hard to win a case for bias against the Pro League when Central FC’s Willis Plaza was selected. And, although Jorsling topped all domestic scorers with 21 league goals in a 24-game season, Hart pointed out that Plaza got 10 items despite playing his first match in January.

The sticking point, according to Hart, was the physical readiness of his other attackers, which he felt better suited the Warriors’ style at this stage.

But was he shooting in the dark with the selection of Iceland-based attacker Jonathan Glenn who has not represented his country this year?

Hart explained that he kept an eye on Glenn and overseas-based players like El Salvador-based central defender Yohance Marshall through a programme called “In Stat Scout.”

“It has a rating on everything they do such as one on one defending, challenges in the air, everything,” he said. “I can itemise any technical and tactical part of the game… I had (limited) access to the program for a while and I am trying to get the Football Association to buy it.

“Right now, I do all the analysing of my team and my opposition for myself and I don’t have that kind of time. I have to watch the opposition and break down how their team plays and put it on video as a head coach.

“I can bet you a million dollars that there is no one else doing that kind of work as a head coach.”

Hart gave an example of the product’s usefulness in assessing the Warriors’ drab 2014 Caribbean Cup goalless draw against the Cuba team, which is one of their Gold Cup opponents this month.

During the match, Hart was disappointed with his team’s failure to take the initiative to change the course of the game. However, after reviewing In Stat Scout, he noticed that the Warriors made more entries into the final third of the field than he thought but were not decisive there and lacked the speed of thought necessary to get off good shots.

So the problem was slightly different than he remembered during the emotion of the match.

Most of Trinidad and Tobago’s opponents at international level, he said, would have such technological aids.

“I think it is something that is essential in this day and age,” said Hart. “Right now, we are training players by guess. We don’t have heart monitors or GPS systems. If we had it, we would know exactly what level of fitness each player has and what we are able to do with them as a result.

“In the (2015) CONCACAF Under-20 tournament in Jamaica, we saw even youth teams like Panama and Guatemala were training with them. And here you have a senior team working in the dark ages…”

It is only one of several disadvantages that the Warriors face. Lack of match preparation has been crippling to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s (TTFA) teams this year.

Already in 2015, the National Under-20 and Under-17 Men’s Teams both failed to assert themselves at CONCACAF level while the Under-23 Team was eliminated at the Caribbean preliminary stage.

The senior team will also face better prepared opposition in next month’s Gold Cup. And Hart could not hide his frustration at a situation that appears to have gotten worse during his spell as head coach.

“Our opponents have played five more games than us this year,” he said. “We have to sit down and evaluate what we are doing with the national team program. We have a public that demands results but everyone else prepares (while we are) finding out the night before that you are travelling to Jordan or Curaçao.

“And big men with families have to find someone to pick up their children and so on… Who operates like this?

“There is no (other) team in the Gold Cup that plans that way.”

Hart’s contract as national team coach ends after the Gold Cup, although the Warriors are due to start their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign in October.

So far, there is no hint that the head coach will walk away or that the TTFA is dissatisfied with his work. But the football body’s failure to fund its national programme is hurting its squads and surely unsettling its coaches.

“For me, in a very serious football country everything should have been in place already and it is just a matter of us buckling down and performing,” said Hart. “It seems that none of Trinidad and Tobago’s teams go in to games without some sort of stress on the players and staff.

“We have been giving assurances that things will be made available to us. So we will see if everything is taken care of.”

Hart is a fan of versatile England-born defenders and brothers Justin and Gavin Hoyte, both former Arsenal youth players, who can both play anywhere across the back line.

But the 25-year-old Gavin, who played just twice in two years under Hart, pulled out of the Jordan match because his new club, Barnet FC, was “giving him static.” While 30-year-old Justin, who is a free agent, opted to skip the pre-tournament training camp to embark on trials in England.

In contrast, Pro League players like Ataulla Guerra and Kadeem Corbin choose to blank opportunities for trials abroad to represent their country instead.

“I would have liked to have Justin in the camp and training on a full time basis,” said Hart, “but he is still on trial trying to get a contract and I couldn’t make concessions for him that I wouldn’t make for other players.”

There are other UK or US-based players who are open to the idea of playing international football but are hesitant of committing to the Warriors.

The reality, Hart thinks, is that players talk and they read the internet. They see the issues affecting Trinidad and Tobago’s football and it gives them cold feet.

Perhaps ex-World Cup 2006 midfielder Chris Birchall would have hesitated if Dennis Lawrence asked him to wear “red, white and black” in this era.

The absence of the Hoyte brothers, as well as injuries to Carlyle Mitchell, Seon Power and Robert Primus, partially explains the return of overseas-based defenders Radanfah Abu Bakr and Marshall, who got the nod over younger players like Kaydion Gabriel, Shannon Gomez, Elijah Belgrave and Alvin Jones.

“We lost significant players (in defence) who were creating competition,” said Hart. “So we needed experience. If all of them were competing for places then maybe the selection would have been different.”

Although Jorsling has ruled himself out of international duty at the moment, 24-year-old Point Fortin Civic attacker Marcus Joseph, the joint second highest Pro League scorer, has apparently made peace with Hart, after being cut for indiscipline.

“Marcus and I have spoken briefly,” said Hart. “Unfortunately, it was not to be in terms of the Gold Cup. He wanted to be back into the team but it was already too later for that.

“Now, I have to worry only about the players who are in the team. But it is a blank sheet again for the World Cup qualification (campaign).”

Poor preparation, late salaries and missing their most effective player, Kevin Molino, Hart and assistants Hutson Charles and Derek King must still find a way to wring results from their squad.

Supporters typically extend sympathy only up until the first embarrassing defeat.

Has Hart selected a team capable of restoring the pride of Trinidad and Tobago football fans at the Gold Cup?

The wily coach is certain he got it right.

“I have confidence in these players that they want to play for the country and they want to play for each other,” said Hart, “and they will demonstrate the necessary fight and the desire to play good football.”

Kenwyne Jones, Khaleem Hyland, Jan-Michael Williams, Guerra and the rest of the Gold Cup-bound squad must prove their coach right.

He is cautiously optimistic that the Warriors will advance from their group for the second successive Gold Cup tournament.

Two years ago, Hart came into the team with roughly a month to go before their opening game. And, assisted by former World Cup coach Leo Beenhakker, he successful steered his troops into the quarterfinal round.

“I think the situation is very similar,” said Hart. “The only difference is this time we have an international (warm-up match against Haiti).

“It is a better situation in that sense. We have a game that we can use to assess our progress and continue to do some work.”

The Warriors’ July 9 Gold Cup opener against Guatemala will provide the ultimate test of Trinidad and Tobago’s elite men’s football team.

(Trinidad and Tobago 2015 Gold Cup squad)

Goalkeepers: 21.Jan-Michael Williams (Central FC), 1.Marvin Phillip (Point Fortin Civic), 22.Adrian Foncette (Police FC);

Defenders: 6.Radanfah Abu Bakr (HB Koge—Denmark), 18.Yohance Marshall (Juventud Independiente—El Salvador), 4.Sheldon Bateau (KV Mechelen, Belgium), 17.Mekeil Williams (W Connection), 5.Daneil Cyrus (W Connection), 2.Aubrey David (Shakhter Karagandy—Kazakhstan), 3.Joevin Jones (Chicago Fire—USA);

Midfielders: 14.Andre Boucaud (Dagenham & Redbridge—UK), 8.Khaleem Hyland (KVC Westerlo—Belgium), 15.Dwane James (North East Stars), 19.Kevan George (Columbus Crew—USA), 11.Ataulla Guerra (Central FC), 20.Keron Cummings (North East Stars);

Forwards: 9.Kenwyne Jones (Cardiff City—UK), 13.Cordell Cato (San Jose Earthquakes—USA), 23.Lester Peltier (Slovan Bratislava—Slovakia), 10.Willis Plaza (Central FC), 16.Rundell Winchester (Portland Timbers 2—USA), 7.Jonathan Glenn (IBV—Iceland), 12.Kadeem Corbin (St Ann’s Rangers).


75
Team manager David Muhammad explains why Keane McIvor and Adrian Welch were ineligible to play in the U-23 tournament:
"The tournament rules mandated that each team must have three goalkeepers and 17 outfield players on its roster but Under-23 goalkeeper Javon Sample was denied a visa. Trinidad and Tobago travelled to Puerto Rico with 19 outfield players and two goalkeepers and, as the CFU stuck to the rules, McIvor and Welch, became inactive passengers."

76
Muhammad fingered for Warriors cock-ups; U23s rush to replace Corbin
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)


Trinidad and Tobago National Under-23 Team manager David Muhammad has arguably run out of hiding space for a series of administrative cock-ups that might have cost his players their 2016 Olympic Games dreams and now threaten their 2015 Pan American Games aspirations as well.

The final accreditation deadline for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am tournament, according to the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC), is Tuesday June 30 and the Under-23s are a player short, after Muhammad failed to replace St Ann’s Rangers attacker Kadeem Corbin on their 18-man squad list.

National Senior Team coach Stephen Hart selected the 19-year-old Corbin to represent his country at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup and the clash of dates means that, even if the “Soca Warriors” are eliminated early, Under-23 coach Zoran Vranes would have just 17 available players for as much as two-thirds of their competition.

The senior Warriors play Guatemala, Cuba and Mexico in the United States on July 9, 12 and 15 respectively. And the National Under-23 Team face Uruguay, Paraguay and Mexico in Toronto on July 13, July 17 and July 21.

Yesterday, Wired868 asked Muhammad, via What’s App, about Corbin’s selection for the Pan Am Games.

“Corbin will miss one or two Pan Am Games because of the Gold Cup,” stated Wired868, on June 29. “Is it worth it to take him to Pan Am?”

Muhammad responded: “He’s not going to the Pan Am Games.”

The manager did not respond to follow up questions as to whether the TTOC erred by placing Corbin on the list and, if the replacement was made, which player would take his place.

Wired868 sought clarification from the TTOC.

Was Corbin replaced? Did the TTOC send the wrong football squad list to the media?

“The TTOC can only have been guided by, in this case, the TTFA,” TTOC president Brian Lewis told Wired868. “There was no way the TTOC would have selected a player for the TTFA. The important question for the TTFA to answer is if they sent a revised list to the TTOC that omitted Kadeem Corbin.”

TTOC marketing assistant Chanelle Young confirmed that the Olympic Committee sent the most recent football roster to the media. However, Young revealed that the TTFA did ask for Corbin to be replaced from its Pan American Games squad.

Crucially, though, the TTFA’s request came hours after Muhammad claimed that Corbin was not on their Pan Am squad.

“Today, I got an email from football, dated June 30 and 10.15 am, where he stated that he is going to replace Kadeem Corbin,” Young told Wired868. “We only got this information this morning that Kadeem Corbin will no longer be on the team.”

Just as crucially, though, Muhammad did not name a replacement for Corbin, which means he did not fix the initial problem. And he has only a few hours to do so.

“He hasn’t notified us about who he would replace (Corbin) with as well,” said Young. “Right now, we have to meet a deadline for accreditation… He has to send it today (because) today is the deadline that (the) Toronto (LOC) gave us.

“Some of the accreditation requests (were not processed) so about five footballers need visas. If they person they want to replace him with (was not on their initial shortlist), he wouldn’t be able to go at all.”

Muhammad could not be reached for comment as the Under-23 Team left Puerto Rico this morning. They will arrive in Trinidad in three batches at roughly 2 pm, 4.30 pm and 11.30 pm.

The manager is expected to land in the first group, just as he was first to arrive in Puerto Rico while more than half his young team remained in Port of Spain trying to acquire visas.

The Warriors’ Olympic football dreams were blighted by visa issues, as Vranes was forced to scrap his initial 20-man squad and carry whichever players he could find who had proper travel documents.

Muhammad got 12 players to Puerto Rico in time for their first scheduled match against Suriname on June 24, which was later abandoned. However, two of those players, Keane McIvor and Adrian Welch, were subsequently deemed ineligible to play by Caribbean Football Union (CFU) officials.

The tournament rules mandated that each team must have three goalkeepers and 17 outfield players on its roster but Under-23 goalkeeper Javon Sample was denied a visa. Trinidad and Tobago travelled to Puerto Rico with 19 outfield players and two goalkeepers and, as the CFU stuck to the rules, McIvor and Welch, became inactive passengers.

Muhammad blamed the Under-23s chaotic build up to their Olympic qualifiers on a technical glitch at the United States Embassy.

“We had applied within the regular timeframes,” Muhammad told Wired868.

The US Embassy conceded that it experienced “technical problems” since May 26, which were only righted on June 26.

However, a release from the US Embassy appeared to contradict Muhammad’s stance that he applied in a timely fashion.

The team manager said an application was made for visas just before the Under-23 players entered camp on Tuesday June 16. They were meant to travel to Puerto Rico on Sunday June 21 while Friday June 19 was Labour Day.

One of the players, Central FC forward Dwight Quintero, did not even get a passport until Saturday June 20.

“Visa applicants should note most visas are delivered within 5-10 days of approval,” stated the US Embassy. “However, applicants with concrete departure dates are advised to apply as early as possible as we cannot guarantee return of the passport within 10 (working) days.”

In fact, despite the Embassy’s technical issues, the Under-23 players received visa appoints within four working days of their request. And they got visas 24 hours later.

Even then, they got to Puerto Rico on Thursday June 25 for a tournament that was due to start on Wednesday June 24.

At the time, Muhammad congratulated himself and his staff for their work, even though, contrary to his suggestion, the Warriors appeared to have just 10 available players in Puerto Rico at the time.

“I am very proud of the staff,” he told Wired868 on Monday June 22, “that, in light of the circumstances, we were able to put together a strong team to compete by Wednesday.

“That goes to show the depth of our squad.”

The Warriors promptly lost their opening game 5-3 to St Vincent and the Grenadines on Saturday June 27 and were eliminated within 90 minutes of their campaign.

Muhammad is not new to the role of national team manager or controversy, after taking up his first post in 2007 under then coach Francisco Maturana before also serving under Russell Latapy.

TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee restored Muhammad within three months of taking over the reins of local football in late 2012.

“I think (Muhammad) was unceremoniously replaced,” Tim Kee told Wired868 then, “and anyone who was replaced for no reason, we will put that right.”

At the time, Muhammad, who is a motivational speaker and head of the Louis Farrakhan-inspired “Black Agenda Project”, promised to be an inspiring choice for the football body.

“If reappointed, I will do my best to manage, organise, communicate with, network, inform and motivate the players and staff to continue to strive for excellence,” said Muhammad, “and also seek to reintroduce some earlier standards.

“My knowledge and experience in the field of Human Resource Management shall also once again be applied to my tasks.”

At present, the TTOC just wants Muhammad to give them the name of the Under-23 squad’s 18th player. Otherwise, Vranes and his troops might again go into battle short-handed.

Kadeem Corbin timeline

June 5: Corbin makes his senior international debut against Curaçao and was credited by national coaches and teammates for making a strong case towards Gold Cup selection.

June 9: Corbin’s name is submitted to CONCACAF as part of a 34-man shortlist for the Gold Cup.

June 20: Corbin is selected on the Gold Cup team.

June 23: The TTFA reveals its Gold Cup team, with Corbin, to the media.

June 29: TTOC reveals the TTFA’s Pan American Games squads, which includes Corbin. Wired868 questions Muhammad on Corbin’s selection and the manager denies that the player is on their squad.

June 30: Muhammad asks for Corbin to be removed from the Pan Am squad. It does not name a replacement, although it is deadline day.

T&T’s Under-23 Pan Am squad (as revealed by the TTOC on June 29): Jovan Sample, Montell Joseph, Shannon Gomez, Alvin Jones, Dario Holmes, Maurice Ford, Jesus Perez, Tristan Hodge, Jelani Felix, Neveal Hackshaw, Xavier Rajpaul, Jomal Williams, Aikim Andrews, Nathaniel Garcia, Shackiel Henry, Dwight Quintero, Neil Benjamin.

Withdrawn: Kadeem Corbin


77
Cautiously optimistic: Hart talks Hyland, Molino and T&T’s G/Cup chances
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)


In the first of a two part series, Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart discusses his team’s Gold Cup chances, the Khaleem Hyland gamble, Kenwyne Jones’ tactical adjustments and the extent of Kevin Molino’s absence to the Warriors:

Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Stephen Hart declared that he is “cautiously optimistic” about taking the “Soca Warriors” into the CONCACAF Gold Cup’s knockout round for the second consecutive tournament, despite the myriad of problems that have affected the team.

“I think we can be cautiously optimistic,” Hart told Wired868. “If we stay as a unit and everyone looks out for each other and cover each other’s back, we have a good chance to advance to the quarter finals.

“And, once you get there, anything can happen.”

The Warriors open their 2015 Gold Cup campaign against Guatemala in Chicago on July 9 before playing Cuba and Mexico on July 12 and 15 respectively. The two group winners advance automatically along with the two best third place teams from the three groups.

Mexico have registered a strong squad, which includes Manchester United striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Real Sociedad attacker Carlos Vela, PSV playmaker Andrés Guardado and brothers Giovani and Jonathan Dos Santos.

However, Hart said their opener against Guatemala will probably be the toughest game of the Warriors’ campaign.

“The opening game sets the tone for the tournament and it is always your most difficult game,” said Hart. “The last time, the final game in the group was the most important because we slipped up in the second game (of the 2013 Gold Cup). But the most difficult game is always the first game.”

Hart spent yesterday in Tobago preparing for the funeral of his mother, Monica Hart, who passed away at the age of 92 at the Scarborough General Hospital on June 24. She will be buried in Tobago today.

The Warriors leave Trinidad tomorrow for a pre-Gold Cup camp in Fort Lauderdale.

The senior coaching staff, according to a team member, has not been paid since February while they are still owed match fees from the 2014 Caribbean Cup final against Jamaica.

Hart has been partially paid up by the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) since he is the only national coach with a job contract from the local football body.

On May 22, Sport Minister Brent Sancho promised to resume payments to the Senior Team coaches, leading up to the Gold Cup: “with an initial release to cover two months outstanding salaries for coaches and technical staff of the senior men’s programme.”

Last night, Sancho reiterated that a directive was given to pay the coaches and promised to give more information today.

“We gave an order to pay the funds,” Sancho told Wired868. “But I have no info in front of me, so I can’t give a comment.”

The Warriors face a big challenge already on the playing field, as Hart needs to turn around a team that lost all three outings this year without scoring a single goal against Panama, Curaçao and Jordan.

Hart suggested that he is not reading too much into those results, though.

“I can’t say it worries me because those were exhibition games and there was a lot of experimenting,” he said. “We created a lot of chances against Curaçao and had chances to do something against Jordan, although we didn’t play well.”

After the Warriors’ 3-0 loss to Jordan, Hart described his team’s performance as “awful” while he claimed that several players didn’t deserve the national shirt on the day.

There were few surprises in his final 23-man Gold Cup roster, though, and all 11 players who started against Jordan will travel to Fort Lauderdale. Hart said his squad needed a verbal shake-up at the time. But he remains confident in his troops.

“I spoke to them in the dressing room right after the game, which I never do, and I told them exactly what I told the press,” said Hart. “I love my players but I am not in love with them. I will protect them once I think they have done everything in their power to fulfil their role. But if they don’t, I will be critical.

“Sometimes what I say in the dressing room, I don’t say in the media. But I saw certain things setting in that were a major issue for me.”


Hart admitted for the first time that central midfielder Khaleem Hyland, who was a spectator for much of last season after being frozen out by former Belgium employer Racing Genk, is playing for his squad place after a string of sub-par performances.

“He knows that (he hasn’t played well) and that is the gamble right now,” said Hart. “He and (Andre) Boucaud are playing for their positions and they know that. I was very impressed with how they trained (last week). They give 100 percent all the time.

“I think once they get the pre-tournament camp under their belts and get to the right playing weight, they should come good.”

And what about skipper Kenwyne Jones, whose goal slump coincides with the Warriors’ inability to find the back of the net for five successive games?

Hart said he was encouraged with the Cardiff City forward’s work rate for his last two internationals. And he believes Jones is missing the productive partnership he formed with injured Orlando City playmaker Kevin Molino.

“I thought he worked hard against Curaçao and was unlucky not to come away with a goal or two,” said Hart, “and he did some very good things against Jordan. Like every other striker, he needs to get the right final pass and he needs players to get up to support him.

“He has been isolated too often and I have been talking to Ataullah Guerra about that and trying to get him to play higher up the pitch, so he can get the ball closer to the penalty box.

“Once Kenwyne has someone close to him giving him support, he cannot be double teamed as easily.”

Hart tried to explain the hole left in his squad by the absence of Molino, who was the TTFA’s 2014 Player of the Year.

“I don’t think we have any player who plays like Molino on the squad,” he said. “He has unbelievable ball sense in the speed that he does things, and he plays with a lot of (passing) combinations and is always moving forward.

“He was a player who knew when to plunge (or sprint behind defenders) and lot of my players like to play in front of the opposition rather than try get behind them.

“We want to our players to be more dynamic so they make opposing teams defend by turning around (to face their own goals).”

Hart is trying to compensate by a tactical alteration that will see the Warriors abandon their customary 4-2-3-1 system for something closer resembling 4-3-3. Jones will probably be asked to link up play more often than before.

“I asked him to mix his game up more,” said Hart, “so I want him to run behind the defence as before. But I also want him to come off and get the ball and look to get turns and get the wide players into it.

“I think he did it well against Jordan.”

The Warriors have adapted slowly to the new system so far. Hart spent most of their Trinidad camp working on fitness but there will be much more tactical work in Florida.

Against Jordan, he said the Warriors were most vulnerable when they lost possession because of poor positioning. He intends to tighten up that aspect of their game while also encouraging players to join the attack when possible.

“I haven’t used (the new system) as I would like because they are taking a little while to adapt to it and I don’t want them to be too confused,” said Hart.

The former Canada coach has been here before. He was hired with roughly six weeks to go before the 2013 Gold Cup and managed to steer the Warriors through a group that included Honduras, Haiti and El Salvador.

This time, coach and players know each other better while, unlike two years ago, he also has a pre-tournament practice match against Haiti to further assess their progress.

He explained that Trinidad and Tobago’s players are sometimes thrown off their game too easily and he must make his philosophy sink in before July 9.

“Our confidence is easily shaken when things don’t go our way,” said Hart. “We have mostly done fitness work so far but we will focus more on elements of attacking and collective play now. And hopefully we will get it right when it matters most…

“Once they collectively buy in and do some serious work, they can get to the knockout stage of the Gold Cup.”


78
If not now, then when? Jorsling quits Warriors after G/Cup snub
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)


Defence Force striker and the Trinidad and Tobago Pro League’s all-time top scorer, Devorn Jorsling, has scored his last goal in the red, white and black strip.

Jorsling, who failed to break into the Trinidad and Tobago squad for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, declared today that he feels his last chance to play in a major tournament for the “Soca Warriors” is gone.

“To be honest, I believe that under the present coaching staff I won’t be getting a look in anytime soon,” said the 31-year-old Jorsling, who was the Pro League’s top scorer in the just concluded season. “Because if I am displaying this kind of form now and I’ve got in shape and I still can’t get into the 23, then when would I ever get into the team?

“I think my mind and my heart is telling me it is time to call it a day in international football.”

Farewell, number nine. Trinidad and Tobago Pro League fans and die hard Warrior fans would mourn Jorsling’s passing. Although the supporters who only show up for the glamorous international matches would wonder what all the fuss is about.

Jorsling’s tally of 17 international goals from 40 outings is the tenth best Trinidad and Tobago return of all time. From the strikers available to Warriors head coach Stephen Hart, only Cornell Glen’s 23 goals from 67 caps and Kenwyne Jones’ 18 items from 70 caps were more prolific for their country.

Glen, incidentally, is not in the squad either and has not been picked since the 2013 Gold Cup, after which he headed to the Indian professional circuit.

The reason that many fair weather fans might shrug their shoulders at Jorsling’s retirement is that his 17 goals were all scored against Caribbean opposition: Antigua and Barbuda (5), St Vincent and the Grenadines (4), Guyana (3) and one apiece against Barbados, St Kitts and Nevis, Jamaica, St Lucia and Haiti.

He has never scored in a World Cup qualifier nor played at a Gold Cup tournament. And, in a self-fulfilling prophecy, that has become a reason not to play him when the big games come along.

In truth, Jorsling’s international career was partly stunted by the glut of quality forwards on the scene at the time. He made his debut in 2008 under Colombian Francisco Maturana when the likes of Stern John, Jason Scotland, Cornell Glen, Kenwyne Jones and Darryl Roberts were all in the mix.

“I think my career was a success in terms of the era I was in,” Jorsling told Wired868. “There were even top players in the local leagues at the time like Kerry Baptiste, Gary Glasgow and Errol McFarlane. Because of the quality around, that hampered my chances a bit.”

Jorsling is neither a dazzling dribbler, a pacy frontman nor an aerial bully. So, without height or athleticism, he maximised his own less flashy talents to the point of making an art of it.

“I think the plus I bring to any team is my set pieces,” said Jorsling. “I don’t think there are many players in world football who can score from a direct set piece. Also I can hold up the ball and bring players into the game and create for my teammates… Besides scoring obviously.”

Scoring seems overrated in the modern game, if only because few championship teams cherish poachers these days. Apart from Jorsling, consider Argentina’s Gonzalo Higuain, Mexico’s Javier Hernandez, Netherland’s Klaas-Jan Huntelaar or, perhaps, Colombia’s Radamel Falcao.

“To be honest, they aren’t many ‘number nines’ left,” said Jorsling. “When you look at (Luis) Suarez and so on, most teams opt for a false nine or a floating striker. But then football is always changing and maybe two or three years down the line they might go back to a classic nine.

“I wouldn’t say that should affect me though because, barring for the exceptional teams, many sides still use a nine to hold up play or work one-twos with tricky attacking players coming from behind.”

Hart declined the chance to have Jorsling as an option at the Gold Cup. Willis Plaza, Jonathan Glenn and Jones are more versatile attackers. Tellingly, none of those three started their senior careers as classic centre forwards.

Expect Pro League fans to moan if and when the Warriors do need a poacher to bring off the bench. Although Hart suggested that fitness issues rather than talent has curtailed Jorsling’s chances over the last two years.

The Defence Force striker has done appreciable individual work over the last six months and he looks leaner than ever. But, apparently, doubts linger within Trinidad and Tobago’s technical staff as to whether Jorsling can be trimmer still.

An injury before the Warriors’ Gold Cup opener against Guatemala on July 7 might have opened the door for the poacher while it is not inconceivable that Hart could opt for something new for the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, which starts in October.

But Jorsling, frustrated and hurt, feels he cannot wait in line anymore.

“No disrespect to the current players but I don’t see myself being left out of a 23-man squad,” said Jorsling. “I know that Kenwyne brings that experience and pedigree to the team but, otherwise, I don’t think there is as much talent as before when I started.

“Being left out in the past to the likes of Stern John, Jason Scotland, Cornell Glen and Kenwyne Jones, even though it was disappointing you have to be humble and say those guys are better than you…

“But if I can’t get into the 23 now with the form I am in, I think my mind and my heart is telling me it is time to call it a day in international football.”

Jorsling scored three times from one start and three substitute appearances under Maturana. But he was only ever considered a local alternative for the foreign stars at the time.

His best spell came under coach Russell “the Little Magician” Latapy when he plundered ten goals from 15 appearances.

“Latapy is the first coach who honestly gave me an opportunity,” said Jorsling. “I had to work my way up under Latapy too but I felt confident and that I can be myself. Hence the number of goals I scored under him.

“For me, confidence is a great factor in playing football. Latapy was the best coach I worked with on the national team for that reason.”

Jorsling got his first taste of World Cup qualifying action under Latapy as he played for 36 minutes at the Azteca Stadium in a 2-1 loss to Mexico, 13 minutes away to Costa Rica in a 4-0 defeat and then from the start in a 2-2 tie at home to Mexico.

“Two memories stood out for me while playing for Trinidad and Tobago,” said Jorsling. “I remember the night when Latapy told me I would skipper the team the next day (against Antigua and Barbuda). The next one that was playing in such an amazing atmosphere at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico.

“I also had the chance to play alongside Dwight Yorke (in Mexico) and sharing the dressing room with someone of that quality and stature was something amazing for me.”

But there were lean days ahead after Latapy was sacked in December 2010.

Jack Warner quit football, six months later, and the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s finances went with him. In the next two years, the Warriors played just four friendly matches and their form dipped drastically.

Jorsling made only two appearances for Otto Pfister and did not score in a combined 75 minutes of playing time. He scored a hat-trick in his debut under Hutson Charles, against Antigua, but found himself relegated behind younger, faster but not necessarily deadlier strikers like Jamal Gay, Richard Roy and Plaza.

His last international goal came against St Vincent in a Caribbean Cup qualifier at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet on 14 November 2012. At the time, Jorsling’s tally read: 17 goals, 30 caps. He failed to score in his next eight outings for Charles and Jamaal Shabazz and was also goalless, this year, in two  substitute appearances for Hart against Curaçao and Jordan.

“I picked up a slight ankle injury (against St Vincent) and didn’t play for the rest of the (qualifying) tournament,” said Jorsling. “The Caribbean Cup was tough as I started off as the fourth choice striker and managed to work my way into the team. I did well with my link up play but I didn’t manage to score, which I know is the thing that strikers are judged by…

“Then Hart came in and I was in the wilderness for two years.”

The goals kept flowing at Pro League level though and Jorsling’s form during the 2014/15 season, in particular, suggested that the Warriors might have a “fox in the box” for the Gold Cup. But Hart decided to go without a classic number nine.

“I would have loved to play in an international tournament but I have no regrets,” said Jorsling. “As a boy, it was a dream to play for my country. And right now I am tenth in the all-time scoring list. So I am pretty pleased with what I’ve achieved in international football.”

Jorsling wished his teammates well at the Gold Cup and hinted that the door was not closed entirely. But, for now, he has given up on adding to his international goal tally.

“Everything is subject to change because I am a member of the TT Defence Force and my priority is to serve my country,” he said. “But at the present moment, I feel that it is best to retire. If i can’t get a chance now, when will I get the opportunity again?

“Of course I wish my teammates all the best and I hope they do well because that will determine a lot for the upcoming World Cup (qualifying campaign) and the future of Trinidad and Tobago’s football.

“I will always wish them well in the game because football has given me everything I have.”

Jorsling’s focus will now switch to the Pro League where his overall returns of 136 goals—five more than San Juan Jabloteh’s Kerry Baptiste—is a domestic record.

Only Pro League fans would be able to appreciate his lethal finishing now.

Trinidad and Tobago’s top international strikers
(According to RSSS statistics)

1. Stern John (70 goals)

2. Angus Eve (34 goals)

3. Russell Latapy (29 goals)

4. Arnold Dwarika (28 goals)

5. Cornell Glen (23 goals)

6. Nigel Pierre (22 goals)

7. Leonson Lewis (21 goals)

8. Dwight Yorke (19 goals)

9. Kenwyne Jones (18 goals)

10. Devorn Jorsling (17 goals)


79
Central and Fenwick part ways; Vranes among possibilities as new coach
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)


Caribbean and Pro League champions, Central FC, are on the hunt for a new head coach after failing to agree terms with Englishman, Terry Fenwick, who steered the “Couva Sharks” to the 2015 Caribbean Club Championship and Digicel Pro Bowl titles and led the team for their last three Pro League outings, as they wrapped up the domestic crown.

Fenwick joined the Sharks in 2013 and led them to second place and a Caribbean Club Championship spot for the first time before he departed in June 2014 for a brief and disastrous stint with financially-ailing lower league Belgium club, CV Vise.

He replaced his own successor at Central, Serbian Zoran Vranes, in March 2015 and completed their League chase and added two more titles for good measure in as many months.

But the relationship between the two parties looks to have come to an abrupt end once more.

The outspoken coach, who was an England 1986 World Cup player, said he was in negotiations with Central for a new deal over the past month. However, he hinted that the two sides did not see eye-to-eye on the administrative state of the club.

Just after noon today, the Central board informed Fenwick, via email, that he would not receive a new contract.

“I turned an offer down (from Central) 10 days ago and I gave them a ballpark at what i’m looking at,” Fenwick told Wired868. “But the situation is that at a time when the club has had such success and gotten a wonderful draw in the Champions League, there is a lot of disarray behind the scenes…

“It is not just my contract. None of the staff are signed up and most of the players are out of contract.”

Central operations director Kevin Harrison said he was not involved in Fenwick’s contract negotiations but suggested that the matter was a failed contract negotiation.

“(Fenwick) met with the board and I suppose what ever he wanted wasn’t met and he is gone,” said Harrison. “Without a doubt we wanted him to continue but presumably we couldn’t agree to the terms he wanted and that was that.”

Central’s close season featured a near mutiny by its players over bonus payments while nearly half the first team squad and the entire coaching staff is out of contract. And the Sharks will play their first Champions League game in less than two months.

Fenwick expressed frustration with the administrative state of the club.

“There is no understanding at what goes into making a successful team at board level,” he said, “and I am not prepared to continue with no staff and no players while we get closer to what is a huge game for Trinidad and Tobago football (against LA Galaxy).

“I wanted to start pre-season on Monday (June 29) and I would have wanted to be close to a full squad as possible… The club is in no shape or form ready for a CONCACAF draw against Galaxy.”

However, Harrison denied Central was in turmoil and claimed that their post-season sluggishness was a result of the drawn out contract negotiations with Fenwick. He said the Sharks hoped to have a head coach in place before they began signing support staff and players.

“Until the deal with Terry was agreed, we couldn’t agree contracts for coaching staff or players,” said Harrison. “If there is any delay on the part of Central FC, it was because of the delay with Terry. So now we will look for a new coach.”

Harrison, who is also British, said talks have begun with their coaching staff from last season and he suggested that any one from Dale Saunders, Kevin Jeffrey, Marc Leslie, George Romano or Anthony Rougier were fully capable of starting Central’s pre-season training.

He revealed that Central board is likely to talk to its former head coach, Vranes, before interviewing new candidates. At present, Vranes is the Trinidad and Tobago National Under-23 Team head coach although he has not been paid by the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFA).

The Serbian was shafted to allow Fenwick to carry the Sharks to glory last season. Harrison did not quite remember that way, though.

“We didn’t replace him, we moved him within the club,” said Harrison. “He did a fantastic job last year and we will be mad not to talk to him. You only have to look at his record last year to see that…

“But for now, I just want to know what his goal for the future is. We clearly cannot have a coach or technical director who is not available for us by the end of July.”

The Under-23 Team will be at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games in mid-July. And, if they advance from their Caribbean preliminary group, the Warriors face their next round of 2016 Olympic qualifiers in August.

Central FC have never hired a local coach. The club’s first appointment was Englishman Graham Rix who was followed by Fenwick, Vranes and Fenwick again.

Harrison suggested that Fenwick and Vranes could be considered “Trinis” by now but claimed the Sharks have interviewed locals and would not rule out hiring a head coach who was born in Trinidad and Tobago. And that includes this country’s most capped outfield player, Angus Eve, who just left his post at the helm of North East Stars.

Either way, Harrison claimed there was no panic at Central.

“We will sit down with Vranes to see what his situation is and we would not rule out having him as coach, technical director or caretaker,” he said. “There are several coaches who we will look to talk to, although there is no one in mind at the moment. But there is no panic.

“There will be certain staff that we will offer contracts to early next week and they will be able to take over training and get everything nice and stabilised. So when the players come back from the Gold Cup, everything is in place for them.”


80
Game off: CFU circus continues as T&T U23’s opener now postponed
By Lasana Liburd (wired868.com)

Three days and as many decisions. God knows the trauma that Trinidad and Tobago’s National Under-23 football players have endured over the past week.
One thing now beyond dispute is that the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) has only made things worse.
Today, the “Soca Warriors” were advised that their 2016 Olympic qualifying fixture against Suriname will be postponed until Thursday June 25 in Puerto Rico while the group match days should play on Thursday, Saturday and Monday respectively.
Yesterday, the CFU ordered Trinidad and Tobago to face Suriname at 10.30 pm tonight while, on Monday, the game was declared as abandoned in favour of the Warriors with the Dutch-speaking nation ruled out of the competition.
And, Sunday and before, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago were expected to face each other at 5.30 pm today.
Caribbean football officials have been admonished, en masse, for corruption ever since the Mohamed Bin Hammam bribery scandal in 2011. While the FBI has already issued warrants for two past and present regional administrators, including Trinidad’s Jack Warner.
But incompetence is just as glaring an issue in the Caribbean, which, by virtue of its number of member associations, has the most political clout in CONCACAF.
Granted the ineptitude is, arguably, not restricted to the governing body in this case.
The four participating nations, host Puerto Rico and guests, Suriname, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago, knew the tournament location and fixtures since 21 April 2015. None of the travelling nations attempted to secure visas until nearly mid-June.
And, as it turned out, the United States Embassy began experiencing serious technical problems on May 26.
“The Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs is currently experiencing technical problems with our overseas passport and visa systems,” stated the US Embassy’s website. “This issue is not specific to any particular country, citizenship document, or visa category… Passport applications accepted overseas or after May 26, 2015 are affected by this delay. 
“If you applied for a U.S. passport overseas during this time frame and have travel plans within the next 10 business days, please consider requesting an emergency passport…”
Warriors team manager David Muhammad is not alone in suggesting the CFU erred in putting a Caribbean competition on one of the few islands in the region that requires visas for entry.
And Muhammad urged CFU officials to follow the example provided by Canada, who host the July Pan American Games and also insists on visas for travellers.
Read more: http://wired868.com/2015/06/24/game-off-cfu-circus-continues-as-tt-u23s-opener-now-postponed/

81
CFU makes Suriname u-turn; T&T U23s must play with 11 men
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)

More farce. The Trinidad and Tobago National Under-23 Team’s 2015 Olympic qualifying campaign was thrown into disarray again this evening when Caribbean Football Union officials informed the “Soca Warriors” that Suriname have been re-instated into the competition.
And, just 24 hours after telling Trinidad and Tobago officials that their Caribbean round opener would be on Friday, the Warriors were told to prepare to face Suriname at 10.30 pm on Wednesday June 24 in Puerto Rico.
It means that the Warriors, who were unable to secure visas for their players in time, will have to face Suriname with just 11 players.
“They told us at about 3 pm this afternoon that Suriname are back in and we have to play them at 10.30 pm tomorrow,” National Under-23 manager David Muhammad told Wired868. “All of this was unofficial because they have to write a letter to inform us and they haven’t done so as yet. We don’t even know when Suriname is getting in or whether or not they have a full squad.
“But we just have to get our minds ready to play.”
What is certain is that Trinidad and Tobago’s remaining nine players will not get to Puerto Rico until 11 am on Thursday June 25. And, at present, head coach Zoran Vranes’ squad is comprised of one goalkeeper, two defenders, four central midfielders, one winger and three forwards.
Yesterday, Muhammad suggested told Wired868 that they could get by with the players they had.
“Any defensive midfielder can also play in defence,” said Muhammad. “We have Neveal Hackshaw and Jelani Felix who can play left back. So that is not too much of an issue.”
It now appears that the young men will have to prove their manager right.
Read more: http://wired868.com/2015/06/23/cfu-makes-suriname-u-turn-tt-u23s-must-play-with-11-men/

82
U23s down to 11 players for qualifiers; but Suriname allegedly withdraws
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)


The Trinidad and Tobago National Under-23 Team breathed a sigh of relief today as their Suriname counterparts supposedly withdrew from the Caribbean preliminary round of the 2016 Olympic qualifying campaign, which kicks off on Wednesday June 24 in Puerto Rico.

The Caribbean Football Union (CFU) is yet to make an official announcement but Under-23 manager David Muhammad told Wired868 that Suriname, who were due to face the “Soca Warriors” at 5.30 pm on Wednesday were out due to visa issues.

If so, it appears to have saved the Warriors from the embarrassment of starting their campaign with barely half their squad available.

Twelve Trinidad and Tobago footballers left for Puerto Rico yesterday to represent their country in the Olympic qualifying series. But only eleven got there.

Muhammad confirmed that Central FC attacker Nathaniel Garcia got as far as Panama before being turned back due to an improper visa. Garcia allegedly has a student visa that is no longer valid since he quit university last year and joined local Pro League club, Central FC.

“There was a possibility that he would have gotten in,” Muhammad told Wired868.

The versatile attacker’s failure to get to Puerto Rico means that national coach Zoran Vranes would have had just 11 players to choose from for Trinidad and Tobago’s opener against Suriname on Wednesday.
The farcical situation is the result of late visa applications from the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) coupled with a technical glitch that handicapped the United States Embassy’s visa section.

Muhammad explained that the “Soca Warriors” applied for visas just before they entered a live-in camp on June 16.

“We had applied within the regular timeframes,” said Muhammad.

However, a consular message on the Embassy’s website stated that they experienced “technical problems” since May 26, which are not restricted to Trinidad and Tobago.

“The Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs is currently experiencing technical problems with our overseas passport and visa systems,” stated the US Embassy’s website. “This issue is not specific to any particular country, citizenship document, or visa category…

“Passport applications accepted overseas or after May 26, 2015 are affected by this delay. If you applied for a U.S. passport overseas during this time frame and have travel plans within the next 10 business days, please consider requesting an emergency passport…”

The problem proved disastrous to the National Under-23 Team.

There were only four visa holders within Vranes’ final squad, who were midfielders Neveal Hackshaw and Jelani Felix, goalkeeper Montell Joseph and United States-based forward Rundell Winchester had visas.
Garcia, of course, tried to travel with an invalid student visa.

United States-based university players Adrian Welch, Xavier Rajpaul, Ricardo John and Leland Archer as well as the W Connection and Naparima College duo of Martieon Watson and Jabari Mitchell, who were all dropped from the squad at various points, were recalled by the Warriors solely because they already held visas.

And former National Under-20 midfielder Duane Muckette, who is on trial with New York Cosmos and was initially due to miss the preliminary round, was persuaded to return and help the squad.
Another eight players will know tomorrow whether they have been granted visas. And, if so, they will leave for Puerto Rico on Wednesday.

They are: goalkeeper Aaron Enill, defender Jesus Perez, utility players Josiah Trimmingham, Aikim Andrews and Alvin Jones, midfielders Jomal Williams and Kadeem Corbin and forward Dwight Quintero.
Subject to availability, their flights will touch down in Puerto Rico at either 3.15 pm or 4.17 pm. It is expected to be too late for the players to get to the match venue in time to be processed for kick off, if Suriname did turn up.

Muhammad said Trinidad and Tobago were not the only participants affected by visa issues, which appears to be confirmed by Suriname’s supposed withdrawal. And, despite having an 11-man squad on the brink of a qualifying tournament, the manager congratulated his staff and players for their efforts in making the competition.

“I am very proud of the staff,” Muhammad told Wired868, “that, in light of the circumstances, we were able to put together a strong team to compete by Wednesday.

“That goes to show the depth of our squad. I am proud of the players too for making themselves available, especially Muckette.”

National Under-23 right back Shannon Gomez told Wired868 that he went to the US Embassy this morning only to realise he did not have an appointment.

However, Muhammad said Gomez must have misunderstood the precise details of his dilemma, since the W Connection player was allegedly issued a green card that never reached him due to a family issue. As such, he required a temporary travel document called a “boarding foil” rather than a visa.

“We told him to speak with someone for a boarding foil,” said Muhammad. “I gave him a letter saying he was part of the national team and so on and asking for them to assist him. That’s what he went there for and they told him they cannot give it to him just like that.

“We had told him to sort this situation out for quite some time…”

The eight players were accompanied to the Embassy by Under-23 goalkeeper coach Nigel Neverson, who also needed a visa.

They should all arrive in time to face St Vincent and the Grenadines on June 26 and then Puerto Rico on June 28. Only the group winner will advance to the next Caribbean qualifying round for the Olympic Games in August.

The Warriors are not out of the woods yet.

Tournament rules mandate that each team must select three goalkeepers. However, the Under-23s are only expected to have Joseph and Enill in Puerto Rico this week as Central FC custodian Javon Sample was denied a visa today.

“We will discuss that with (CFU officials) tomorrow morning at 11 am,” said Muhammad. “We will ask if that (rule about goalkeepers) can be amended or what their position is on that at this stage.”

It would be controversial if the CFU imposed sanctions on the Warriors for not selecting three goalkeepers in light of the visa complications.

It was the CFU, after all, that decided to stage a Caribbean competition on the one island in the region which requires travel visas.

(Trinidad and Tobago Under-23 Team in Puerto Rico)

Goalkeepers: Montell Joseph (Unattached);

Defenders: Leland Archer (College of Charleston—USA), Martieon Watson (W Connection);

Midfielders: Neveal Hackshaw (North East Stars), Jelani Felix (Defence Force), Duane Muckette (North East Stars), Jabari Mitchell (W Connection), Xavier Rajpaul (College of Charleston—USA);

Forwards: Rundell Winchester (Portland Timbers 2—USA), Ricardo John (Virginia Tech—USA), Adrian Welch (St John’s University—USA).

Staff: Zoran Vranes (coach), David Muhammad (manager), Gilbert Bateau (assistant coach/trainer), Michael Taylor (physio), Esmond O’ Brien (equipment manager).

(Remaining squad members still in Trinidad)

Goalkeeper: Aaron Enill (San Juan Jabloteh);

Defenders: Alvin Jones (W Connection), Jesus Perez (North East Stars), Josiah Trimmingham (San Juan Jabloteh);

Midfielders: Jomal Williams, Aikim Andrews (both W Connection), Nathaniel Garcia (Central FC), Kadeem Corbin (St Ann’s Rangers);

Forward: Dwight Quintero.

Staff: Nigel Neverson (goalkeeper coach).


83
Visa delay rocks Warriors; U-23s travel with 12 players for Olympic opener
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)


Two days away from the opening qualifier for their 2016 Olympic Games campaign, the Trinidad and Tobago National Under-23 Team is expected to have just 12 players in Puerto Rico, as visa complications have ravaged the “Soca Warriors” outfit.

And, farcically, only five footballers due to land in Puerto Rico today were on coach Zoran Vranes’ initial 20-man team. Among the high profile absentees are St Ann’s Rangers attacker Kadeem Corbin and the DIRECTV W Connection trio of Shannon Gomez, Jomal Williams and Alvin Jones who all have limited senior team experience.

Team manager David Muhammed said the Warriors applied for visas just before they went into camp on June 16, only to be told that no applications could be processed that week.

“We had applied within the regular timeframes,” said Muhammad. “These (Olympic qualifiers) were scheduled for August and our first order of business was the Pan Am Games, which starts in July.

“Then, they rescheduled the Olympic qualifying phase and put it before the Pan Am Games and this reoriented our whole plan… The mad scramble started from there.”

The Olympic qualifying schedule was adjusted on 21 April 2015. It left Under-23 officials with eight weeks, before they entered a live-in camp, to select the squad and sort out passports and visas.

Wired868 did not get an official response from the United States Embassy on the National Under-23 Team’s predicament. However, a consular message on the embassy’s website stated that they experienced “technical problems” since May 26, which are not restricted to Trinidad and Tobago.

“The Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs is currently experiencing technical problems with our overseas passport and visa systems,” stated the US Embassy. “This issue is not specific to any particular country, citizenship document, or visa category. We apologize for the inconvenience and are working urgently to correct the problem and restore full operability.

“Passport applications accepted overseas or after May 26, 2015 are affected by this delay.  If you applied for a U.S. passport overseas during this time frame and have travel plans within the next 10 business days, please consider requesting an emergency passport…”

As reality sunk in that the selected 20-man team could not travel to Puerto Rico to represent their country, Vranes and Muhammed were forced to look through their initial training squad for players who already had visas.

Arguably, it rendered their live-in camp at Normandie Hotel and much of last week’s final tournament preparation as useless.

From Vranes’ final squad, only midfielders Neveal Hackshaw, Jelani Felix and Nathaniel Garcia, unattached goalkeeper Montell Joseph and United States-based forward Rundell Winchester had visas. They were expected to landed in Puerto Rico today where Muhammad was waiting for them.

United States-based university players Adrian Welch, Xavier Rajpaul, Ricardo John and Leland Archer as well as the W Connection and Naparima College duo of Martieon Watson and Jabari Mitchell were recalled solely because they already had visas.

And former National Under-20 midfielder Duane Muckette, who is on trial with New York Cosmos and was initially due to miss the preliminary round, was persuaded to return to help the squad.

Almost certainly, they will be the only players that Vranes will have available to face Suriname on Wednesday afternoon. It means the Serbia-born coach must select his starting team from one goalkeeper, two central defenders, four central midfielders, two wingers and three strikers.

Goalkeeper coach Nigel Neverson also had his visa appointment today and will not get to Puerto Rico until later this week.

“Hopefully, the rest of the team will get here on Wednesday,” said Muhammad.

The remaining eight players who will complete the improvised 20-man squad are: goalkeeper Aaron Enill, defender Jesus Perez, utility players Josiah Trimmingham, Aikim Andrews and Jones, midfielders Williams and Corbin and forward Dwight Quintero.

Trimmingham is the only player in that bunch who was not in the initial Olympic squad for the preliminary round.

Attacker Neil Benjamin Jr was ruled out with an injury. The remaining players who will miss the chance to represent their country due to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s inability to acquire visas in time are: defenders Jibiri McDavid, Maurice Ford, Dario Holmes, Triston Hodge and Gomez, forward Shackiel Henry and goalkeeper Javon Sample.

Holmes, McDavid and Hodge were pushing to make their international debuts.

Gomez, who captained Trinidad and Tobago at the 2015 Under-20 CONCACAF Championship and made his senior debut against Panama in March, was a strange case.

Muhammad said Gomez, who applied for his green card last year, was ruled out, as he was not expected to get his travel documents due to complications related to his previous application.

But this was news to the talented 18-year-old full back who showed up at the US Embassy this morning, only to be told that his name was not on the list of interviewees.

“An appointment was supposed to be made for me to see the immigration section,” Gomez told Wired868, “but when I went there they said I was not on the list. So I had to (apply myself) for another appointment (and) they said they would call to see if I can get one by tomorrow morning.

“But right now, it is not looking as if I will be going to Puerto Rico.”

Apparently, Gomez was not informed by Under-23 officials that he was removed from their 20-man squad.

Ironically, the teenaged defender, who has represented his country at every level, was in consideration for the July 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup squad. Senior Warriors coach Stephen Hart said he left Gomez out of his Gold Cup squad because he felt he would be a fringe player with the adults and might benefit more from playing games with the youth team.

“He would have been a strong consideration,” said Hart.

Gomez said he was disappointed but looked forward to rejoining the Under-23 Team for the July Pan American Games and the next Olympic qualifying round in August.

“It is a disappointing feeling,” said Gomez. “I just have to keep my head up and be strong about it… At least for the Pan Am Games and the next (Olympic qualifying) rounds, I will be there.”

Only the group winner will advance to the final Caribbean qualifying rounds in August. Trinidad and Tobago face Suriname on June 24, St Vincent and the Grenadines on June 26 and hosts Puerto Rico on June 28.

Muhammad said the Warriors are in great spirits, despite the issues, and anxious for success. On Saturday, they played their first warm-up match in a closed doors scrimmage with Nicaragua, which they lost 1-0.

“There is a lot of excitement and anxiety (to do well) in the camp,” Muhammad told Wired868. “The spirit in this team is one of the most enthusiastic I’ve encountered in any team.”

Wired868 could not reach TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips for comment.

(Trinidad and Tobago Under-23 Team due to arrive in Puerto Rico today)

Goalkeeper: Montell Joseph (Unattached);

Defenders: Leland Archer (College of Charleston—USA), Martieon Watson (W Connection);

Midfielders: Neveal Hackshaw (North East Stars), Jelani Felix (Defence Force), Nathaniel Garcia (Central FC), Duane Muckette (North East Stars), Jabari Mitchell (W Connection), Xavier Rajpaul (College of Charleston—USA);

Forwards: Rundell Winchester (Portland Timbers 2—USA), Ricardo John (Virginia Tech—USA), Adrian Welch (St John’s University—USA).

Staff: Zoran Vranes (coach), David Muhammad (manager), Gilbert Bateau (assistant coach/trainer), Michael Taylor (physio), Esmond O’ Brien (equipment manager).

(Remaining squad members still in Trinidad)

Goalkeeper: Aaron Enill (San Juan Jabloteh),

Defenders: Alvin Jones (W Connection), Jesus Perez (North East Stars), Josiah Trimmingham (San Juan Jabloteh);

Midfielders: Jomal Williams, Aikim Andrews (both W Connection), Kadeem Corbin (St Ann’s Rangers);

Forward: Dwight Quintero (Central FC).

Staff: Nigel Neverson (goalkeeper coach).


84
Maylee and St Louis shine as Angels and Fuego take early WPL honours
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)


It was a spanking new competition but some familiar faces hogged the opening credits.

Veteran Trinidad and Tobago internationals Maylee Attin-Johnson and Tasha St Louis produced the golden touches yesterday evening at the Police Barracks in St James as the Women’s Premier League (WPL) got off to a rousing and entertaining start.

St Louis scored twice for Fuego in a 5-3 shootout win over Arin King’s Dragons in the opening match of the inaugural competition while Attin Johnson also notched a double as the Angels shocked Kennya Cordner’s Wave 3-0.

There is nothing like a bucketful of goals and entertaining football to soothe frayed nerves. Close to 400 spectators turned out to watch the WPL opener, which, packed around a tiny ground with three small bleachers, made for plenty of atmosphere.

It is early days but there was evidence yesterday that women’s club football could serve up a product worth watching in Trinidad and Tobago.

The hiccups were still there, of course. Kick off was delayed for close to an hour as uniforms and sundry got to the ground late while some teams did not have a full eleven players until a day or two ago.

Yet, amidst the chaos, a special player stood up and made an early mark on the proceedings.

“It was a great start for us and me,” Attin-Johnson told Wired868. “A lot of people were counting me out… A lot of people thought I should not be a franchise player, so I had a lot to prove.”

Attin-Johnson, a silky and versatile playmaker, is just 29 years old. But she made her international debut at the age of 15; and familiarity breeds contempt.

Her longstanding international teammate, St Louis, was first to winners row, though. Although who would have thought she would end the night with a smile after the Dragons’ storming start?

The WPL was only 57 seconds old when British striker Isabella Hayes ran on to a long kick by Venezuelan goalkeeper Maleike Pacheco to volley Dragons into the lead.

“Within the preparation for the game, there was a lot of confusion and the uniforms only came just before we got out there,” said Fuego coach Richard Hood. “We were disorganised and I think that affected how we started…

“A bad start was kind of expected. But not that bad a start!”

Some football pundits suggest that you should ignore anything that happens in the first five minutes of a match, which is before the pattern of play is properly established.

Hood might agree as Fuego gradually came into their own courtesy of the attacking trio of midfielders St Louis and Jo-Marie Lewis and burly striker Shanelle Warrick.

“We tried to convey to them that they needed to calm down and keep it simple and just keep the ball moving,” said Hood. “And they started to do that and they took over the game.”

Warrick teed up St Louis for a shooting opportunity just inside the opposing penalty area in the 19th minute and, although Pacheco got a touch, the Dragon custodian could not keep it out of her net.

Ten minutes later, St Louis got her second item from the penalty spot after a handled ball by Dragons midfielder Alania Burgin. And Fuego substitute Saucedo made it 3-1 in the 52nd minute.

It could not have been the kind of scoreline that Dragons coach Karla Aleman was expecting when she made King the first pick of the WPL draft and then paired her with fellow “Women Soca Warrior” player Lauryn Hutchinson in central defence.

But, in the Dragons’ defence, their team might have the biggest challenge in settling with seven South American players in the squad plus two foreign coaches in Aleman (Costa Rica) and Joanne Daniel (UK).

Aleman said she was not disappointed with her squad or marquee players, King and Hutchinson.

“(King and Hutchinson) are heroines for the group,” said Aleman. “They are my references. But they need a team.

“We have to fix things and I need time to put together a team and learn all my players.”

The Dragons didn’t go down without a fight though.

Fuego’s Brazilian custodian, Leticia Bussato, produced a fine save to deny a Hayes penalty kick in the 42nd minute. But Hutchinson blasted in the game’s third spot kick in the 57th minute to narrow the score to 3-2.

US Virgin Islands’ Jessica Adams got the final item too with an audacious effort straight from the corner kick and in off the far post. But Lewis grabbed a clinical double in between the Dragons goals as Fuego emerged 5-3 victors.

“I am proud of my team,” King told Wired868. “It was our first time playing together and we fought them all the way… Our chemistry will get better.”

The second match featured arguably the best team of the competition. Wave boasts of the Caribbean’s top two strikers, T&T’s Kennya “YaYa” Cordner and Jamaica’s Shakira Duncan, with Kimika Forbes in goal and rugged, mobile Brazilian Josean Azvedo in defence.

Yet, they didn’t stand a chance against the well-drilled Angels who might have again benefitted by avoiding the language barrier, with nine of their starting eleven from the English-speaking Caribbean.

“(Angels) deserved to win,” said Wave coach Derek Arneaud. “I think we are the better team but we didn’t come out to play tonight and they did.”

There were quite a few outstanding players in white Angels kit last night. St Kitts and Nevis goalkeeper Tynetta McKoy, American central defender Jacqueline Poucel, Women’s Warriors defender Ayanna Russell and Jamaican attacker Jodi Ann Mc Gregor all shone.

But, in the end, it was Attin-Johnson’s quality that settled the affair, just as she scripted it.

The W/Warrior is prone to use negativity as fuel and there has been enough of that about recently. Four coaches passed over the ageing captain with the heavily bandaged knee, at the WPL draft, in favour of younger, more mobile options.

And, like Uma Thurman’s character in Kill Bill, Attin-Johnson made her death list.

Arneaud was first.

“It was great to show people what I can do and especially against this team,” she said, with a grin. “Arneaud is the one who took me to high school (in the United States). But he passed up on me in the (WPL) draft…

“This was the payback.”

After kick off, Attin-Johnson swapped places with McGregor to move upfront and showed she has not lost her finishing ability.

In the 31st minute, she beat Forbes with a clever lob. Nine minutes later, she doubled Angels’ lead with a superb angled drive into the far corner after Poucel’s surging charge through the centre of the field.

By then, Cordner and Duncan were virtually spectators as the Angels midfield trio of McGregor, Sharrain and Tamar Watson dominated the Wave pairing of Colombian Laura Becera and Brazilian Camilla Germano.

Arneaud tried to turn things around at halftime.

“We lost the midfield and conceded two goals and that was it,” said Arneaud. “At halftime, Cordner said she would drop back into midfield to help out. We could have got back into the game or we could have conceded another goal.

“And we conceded another goal.”

Poucel again initiated the third goal with a successful tackle and, on the break, Vincentian winger Kandace Franklin produced a clever low cross into space that Colombian Rafaela De Vargas squeezed past Forbes on her second try.

The Angels offered no charity either and McKoy produce a brilliant late save to keep out Wave substitute Emarie Holland, as the WPL’s most potent strike force ended without a single goal.

Women’s football was the biggest winner on the night though.

During the double header, there was an announcement that the WPL would return to the Barracks next Friday when the Oilers tackle Rush from 6 pm. It was a different day, time and venue than what the Sport Ministry said just two days earlier. But such administrative swivels are unlikely to trouble the public if the games continue to provide this much entertainment.

“It was electric tonight,” said King. “I loved the energy.”

“It turned out better than I expected,” said Arneaud. “Two exciting, competitive games.”

“The Women’s Premier League is a great idea,” said Aleman. “It is a big opportunity for players and coaches.”

And those gushing endorsements came from the opening day losers. For all the inherent issues of the competition, the WPL stood up for itself last night.

Featured game

Angels (4-2-1-3): 1.Tynetta McKoy (GK) (25.Beth Seaman GK 90); 7.Peta Gay Soman, 2.Ayanna Russell, 8.Jaclyn Poucel, 4.Jodie Redgrave; 17.Sharrain (6.Alyssa Budhoo 78), 20.Tamar Watson; 10.Jodi Ann McGregor; 15.Kandace Franklin, 9.Maylee Attin-Johnson (captain), 16.Rafaela De Vargas (13.Bruna Da Silva 86).

Coach: Anthony Creece

Wave (4-4-2): 25.Kimika Forbes (GK); 7.Shanice Stevenson, 5.Josean Azevedo, 4.Jenelle Cunningham, 17.Patrice Vincent (11.Emarie Holland 73); 8.Afiyah Matthias (3.Teneisha Copham 58), 20.Camilla Germano, 10.Laura Becera, 6.Natasha St Louis (14.Stephanie Beam 67); 19.Kennya Cordner (captain), 9.Shakira Duncan.

Unused substitutes: 21.Tenesha Palmer (GK), 2.Samantha Kissoon, 13.Tisha Lee Spicer, 16.Charissa Delzin.

Coach: Derek Arneaud

Referee: Cecile Hinds

Women’s Premier League results

Fuego 5 (Tasha St Louis 9, 29 pen, Saucedo 52, Jo-Marie Lewis 60, 62), Dragons 3 (Isabella Hayes 1, Lauryn Hutchinson 57 pen, Jessica Adams 70) at St James;

Player of the Match: Tasha St Louis (Fuego);

Angels 3 (Maylee Attin-Johnson 31, 40, Rafaela De Vargas 61), Wave 0 at St James;

Player of the Match: Maylee Attin-Johnson (Angels).


85
Football / Re: T&T football in the middle of a political meltdown.
« on: June 11, 2015, 02:23:50 PM »
Worst Sport Minister ever; Sancho and Tim Kee clash while Warriors in uproar
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)


Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee has described Senator Brent Sancho as “the worst Sport Minister ever” as the relationship between the two bodies appears to now be at breaking point.

The senior “Soca Warriors” are due to leave for Jordan this evening but have still not received funding for two nights accommodation in London. And the National Under-23 Team has still not received money for international practice games, a training camp or even visas to fly to Puerto Rico for the preliminary 2016 Olympic qualifying round, which kicks off on June 19.

Tim Kee told Wired868 that he clashed with Sancho last week after various funding issues including the Sport Minister’s declaration that the Government would only pay half of the players’ match fees leading up to the July 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Tim Kee, who is also the Port of Spain Mayor and PNM treasurer, insisted that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s $9 million Cabinet note, last December, guaranteed funding for the Senior National Team straight up to the Gold Cup tournament.

While Sancho retorted that 70 percent of the $9 million was spent on paying TTFA arrears to its coaches and players.

“I told him you would go down in history as being the worst Minister of Sport we ever had,” said Tim Kee, as he discussed his fiery meeting with Sancho last week. “So you would have to tell the players they are only getting half of their match fees. (Sancho) said that is my job not his job.

“I told him the Government has to support the National Team. He said he doesn’t know about that and his shoulders are broad and he can deal with that.

“I said my shoulders are broad too but the difference between you and I is you are a politician and I am not.”

Sancho offered a similarly abrasive response.

“I am not getting into a verbal joust with a renowned incompetent administrator,” Sancho told Wired868. “At the end of the day, it is the players who will suffer. He needs to stop playing politics with the sport.”

The Warriors coaches, players and officials are already suffering.

Just hours before their flight to Jordan via London, which leaves at 7.40 pm on June 11, Warriors manager William Wallace said he still does not know if the team will get the necessary funds to travel.

“It is 11.16 am and I am driving into Port of Spain where a cheque is supposed to be done,” said Wallace, who is also a Carapichaima East school teacher. “I am not sure what time that is going to be finished, so I will have to park up somewhere and wait.

“Then, I have to take (the cheque) to a bank and get it changed, load (the money) on to a credit card for me to use when I get to England and get home (in Chaguanas) to change to get to the airport at 5 pm…

“What we have to go through to get a dollar (from the Ministry of Sport) is dehumanising!”

National Senior Team head coach Stephen Hart, who steered the Warriors into the 2013 Gold Cup quarterfinal round, said he was told to be at the airport this evening to depart for their international fixture with Jordan on June 16. But no one knows if they will travel or not.

He said the current funding situation was harmful to the psyche and morale of his squad.

“This is becoming unbearable,” Hart told Wired868. “We are treating these players as if they are schoolboys and they don’t have arrangements to make with their families and they don’t have lives.

“It is wrong in every way. There is no team, I am sure, that is preparing for the Gold Cup the way we are.”

David Muhammad, who is manager of the Olympic Football Team, referred to their current predicament as a disaster.

“We submitted a budget of $1.7 million for three months, which included three camps, two tournaments and six competitive games plus three international friendlies and local practice matches,” said Muhammad. “That is an absolute minimum budget because just one game for the National Senior Team costs $600,000. But nothing has materialised.

“We asked for three foreign trips to play against Grenada, Antigua and Panama and we didn’t get a single one. Right now, we are hoping we can at least get a camp.”

Muhammad explained that the national players are travelling to training on a nearly daily basis at grounds all over the country. Without a centralised camp, the team officials are forced to give or lend money to players for transport even though the staff members are not being paid either.

Muhammad used a practice match in Toco as one example of the poor support they have received.

“We asked for help in getting transport for the game,” said Muhammad. “We had 42 persons at the time because we were still screening players. The Ministry of Sport said they were sending us a bus but sent a 24-seater maxi instead.

“We ended up having to travel to Toco in five different vehicles.”

Tim Kee said the situation felt more galling when he observes that foreign Women Premier League (WPL) players are being housed at the Chancellor Hotel while the Sport Ministry has approved millions for the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) competition.

According to Sancho, the Government will spend US$3.5 million for the CPL with the burden split between several ministries including the Sport Ministry.

“The Red Steel is not even a Trinidad and Tobago team,” said Tim Kee. “So I would like to know how the Ministry got money for that and we cannot get money for the national football team.”

Sancho retorted that Tim Kee’s football body failed to raise any of its own funds for the Gold Cup or upcoming 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign. And claimed the TTFA refuses to declare its subvention or other sources of funding from FIFA or CONCACAF.

“We have asked them to submit the money they have gotten from FIFA and CONCACAF and other sources and he refuses to,” said Sancho. “Yet he is demanding that we must pay all their bills. He is even asking us to pay for insurance for players when his own company (Guardian Life) refuses to sponsor their insurance…

“We have been very generous despite all their shortcomings and we are trying to work with them. But he is trying to agitate the program and he knows only the teams will suffer.”

Sport Ministry communications manager Shabaka Kambon gave an estimated breakdown of its spending over the past three years to the various sporting bodies.

“Football got over $50 million with $33 million going to the football association,” said Kambon. “Track and field and cricket got less than $20 million each. Hockey, boxing and netball got less than $7, $6 and $4 million respectively…”

Tim Kee said general secretary Sheldon Phillips and himself were trying to raise funds from corporate Trinidad and Tobago. But he conceded that they have been largely unsuccessful.

It is the first time in living memory that the Warriors will enter a World Cup qualifying campaign without a single notable sponsor.

“We have tried and we have not been getting any traction,” said Tim Kee. “We have started a new (income generation) initiative with a new website and so on and we have deals in kind with Blue Waters and Gatorade.

“But we don’t have any direct money coming in.”

In the meantime, temperatures continue to rise and fingers point back and forth between the TTFA and the Sport Ministry.

Another Sport Ministry official, who spoke anonymously, accused football of presenting “reckless budgets.”

“We looked at the budget the Under-23s brought,” he said. “And any player who plays in every match for them would make $20,000 a month in match fees and stipends for their two months…

“Now remember these are under-23 Pro League boys. They are spending recklessly.”

But Muhammad defended the request.

“Whoever said that obviously knows nothing at all about football. even if that were the case, does that mean you cancel all the camps and matches for the team?

“The budgeted (match fee) figure was US$1,000 per game for six competitive games,” said Muhammad. “The justification is the National Senior Team pays match fees of US$1,500 for entry level Caribbean Cup qualifiers. The Pan Am Games are much higher profile games but still we reduced it to US$1,000.

“Our squad is a fully professional squad and we are the only Caribbean team that qualified for the Pan Am Games. Anyone who thinks that is too much probably thinks we are lowly servants or slaves.”

The Under-23 manager claimed that even the mention of match fees was an attempt to play games by the Sport Ministry.

“These players are already getting just US$50 per day stipend and working on a minimum budget and they want to slash match fees too?” asked Muhammad, rhetorically. “But my point is, even if they disagreed with the match fees, does that mean you cancel all the camps and matches for the team because of that?! Why bring up match fees now?

“This goes back to the colonial mentality that black people shouldn’t be making money. Did they cancel the camps because of spite then?”

Sancho did not give a firm commitment to either the senior or under-23 Warriors and said only that the Sport Ministry would do its best.

It suggests an uncomfortable year for football—and the women’s Under-17, Under-20 and Senior Teams also have international engagements—unless the TTFA can raise its own money.

“Football gets far more than everyone else (from the Sport Ministry),” said the anonymous sport official. “Why bite the hand that feeds you? If I was a member of corporate Trinidad and Tobago, I would say if Tim Kee’s company isn’t putting in money then why should I?

“What don’t the loads of businesses he meets as Mayor of Port of Spain or PNM treasurer give money?”

 

Editor’s Note: Trinidad and Tobago National Team Manager William Wallace said he eventually collected a cheque from the Ministry of Sport at 4.03 pm on June 11, which will be used to pay for accommodation. He left the cheque to be processed and transferred on to his credit card tomorrow morning.

In the meantime, the “Soca Warriors” will fly to London and then head for their hotel with the hope that the money will come in time. The technical staff members are still owed salaries while there is insufficient funds to pay the players’ full match fees.

All money mentioned in the article is in TT dollars unless otherwise stated.



86
Jorsling and De Silva in T&T squad for Curaçao friendly; Marcus Joseph axed
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)


The “Soca Warriors” began the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup preparation today under the customary cloud of uncertainty with regards to warm-up matches before their tournament opener against Guatemala on 9 July in Chicago.

Trinidad and Tobago National Head Team coach Stephen Hart hopes to have three internationals before they face Guatemala. But, for now, the only confirmed fixture is a June 16 friendly away to Jordan.

The Warriors have a tentative fixture away to Curaçao on Friday and they began training today with that trip in mind. But Hart will only get confirmation on that proposed match tomorrow.

“We have a squad in training and we were hoping to confirm a game against Curaçao,” Hart told Wired868, “but we are in a limbo…They asked for the game on (June) 5th and then changed it to the 3rd, which means we would have to leave today with no training.

“If that was the case, we would have had to pull the game.”

Hart, who is heading into his second Gold Cup as the Warriors coach, said the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s precarious finances made it near impossible for them to enter into long-term match contracts with other member associations, due to the time delays in accessing State funds.

And, at present, there are few potential opponents around as Asia, South America, Europe and even some CONCACAF nations are playing competitive fixtures.

“Like every other coach, I would like to be on the field more and have games against high quality opposition,” said Hart, “but it is not a reality based on our finance and budget structure.

“All the other teams had their games booked out months in advance.”

Hart had an 18-man squad start training today for the proposed Curaçao fixture while two overseas-based players, Daneil Cyrus and Andre Boucaud, should join them during the week.

Already missing playmakers Kevin Molino and Hughton Hector and defenders Seon Power, Robert Primus and, possibly, Carlyle Mitchell through injury, Hart revealed that he also cut Point Fortin Civic attacker Marcus Joseph for a more disappointing reason.

The 24-year-old Joseph, who has seven international caps and was a substitute in the Warriors’ 1-0 loss against Panama in March, missed a physical evaluation exercise twice and allegedly delivered a suspect reason for his absence through a teammate.

“I can’t have that kind of inconsistency from a player,” said Hart, who took disciplinary actions against players like Keon Daniel, Joevin Jones and Cyrus in the past. “We asked you to come for an evaluation (and) you don’t show up. We make an alternative date and he said he was in Tobago and couldn’t get a flight. But I came over from Tobago that same night on a half-empty plane…

“And, to make it worse, he didn’t contact me directly but sent a message with a player. That is unacceptable.”

Apart from Joseph, Hart made a raft of changes from his squad that faced Panama with San Juan Jabloteh winger Tyrone Charles, teenaged North East Stars midfielder Neveal Hackshaw and Central FC defender Jamal Jack among the exclusions.

In their places, Shahdon Winchester (DIRECTV W Connection), Leston Paul (Central FC) and Devorn Jorsling (Defence Force) were recalled. While Elijah Belgrave (Police FC), Triston Hodge (W Connection), Keron Cummings (North East Stars), Kadeem Corbin (St Ann’s Rangers), Kaydion Gabriel and Sean De Silva (both Central FC) received their first call-ups under Hart.

De Silva, who represented Trinidad and Tobago at two World Youth Cups, can represent Guyana, Barbados and Antigua and Barbuda at senior international level and, according to his father, Chris De Silva, has not ruled out that possibility.

However, despite attracting attention from Guyana coach Jamaal Shabazz, the former St Mary’s College student still hopes to continue to represent the land of his birth.

Warrior captain Kenwyne Jones, who plays with England Championship Division team Cardiff City, and midfielder Khaleem Hyland are the only overseas-based players already in training.

Playmaker Hashim Arcia misses out as he has joined recruit training at the Defence Force, for what should be an eye-opening transfer from W Connection.

National Under-23 midfielder Jomal Williams and 2013 Gold Cup forward Jamal Gay, who is a free agent at present, were both invited to train as well although they are not being considered for the Curaçao fixture.

As previously revealed, Panama reneged on an agreement to have their senior squad play the Warriors on June 12.

The Panamanian FA offered to send their National Under-23 to play the Trinidad and Tobago Senior Team, which was rebuffed by Hart. The TTFA then asked to have the Trinidad and Tobago U-23s face their Panamanian counterparts but the Central American nation refused.

Such wrangles have only added to the anxiety of the Warriors as they aim to match—or better—their quarterfinal finish at the 2013 Gold Cup.

“At this point, we are hoping we will be properly prepared going in to the Gold Cup,” said Hart. “This is just the first day (of or preparations) and we are in a non-residential camp. I would have liked to be in a residential camp but (because of finances) that is not possible at the moment.

“We will move into a residential situation when we return from Jordan.”

Hart revealed that he is considering alterations to his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, due to injuries to key attacking midfield players. However, that will not be easy without warm-up matches.

“I have considered changing the system,” said Hart, “and I have introduced two different systems.

“We have not had that many training camps or international games so it is impossible to see how it would work or experiment.”

The Jordan friendly date falls on a FIFA international match day and Hart confirmed that he will request his full quota of overseas players for that encounter.

It means that Friday’s proposed contest against Curaçao could be key for the Pro League players to force themselves into the reckoning for a Gold Cup place.

Apart from the two goalkeepers, only Cyrus, Boucaud, Hyland and Jones—from the 20-man squad—have previously played in a Gold Cup tournament.

(Team to face Curaçao)

Goalkeepers: Jan-Michael Williams (Central FC), Marvin Phillip (Point Fortin Civic);

Defenders: Kaydion Gabriel (Central FC), Shannon Gomez, Triston Hodge, Daneil Cyrus, Mekeil Williams (all W Connection), Eljiah Belgrave (Police FC);

Midfielders: Andre Boucaud (Dagenham & Redbridge—England), Leston Paul (Central FC), Dwane James (North East Stars), Khaleem Hyland (Unattached);

Attacking midfielders: Ataullah Guerra, Sean De Silva (both Central FC), Keron Cummings (North East Stars), Kadeem Corbin (St Ann’s Rangers);

Forwards: Shahdon Winchester (W Connection), Willis Plaza (Central FC), Kenwyne Jones (Cardiff City—England), Devorn Jorsling (Defence Force).


87
Thanks Dreamer.  :beermug:

88
Terry’s gamble: How Central edged Connection to the Caribbean Cup
By Lasana Liburd (wired868).


Wired868 breaks down the 2015 Caribbean Club Championship final with help from Central FC coach Terry Fenwick, captain Marvin Oliver and W Connection assistant coach Earl Jean:

“I’m absolutely delighted,” said Central FC coach Terry Fenwick. “It is a fantastic feeling to come back in and have such a great run of games with nine consecutive wins. To be Caribbean champion is what every club wants in the region and it gives us a stepping stone for CONCACAF.

“And not just the players but me as a coach. I want to be noted for that.”

Central went into last night’s final on the back of the 2014/15 Pro League title and the First Citizens Cup while a date against Caledonia AIA in the Pro Bowl final awaits this Friday. The “Couva Sharks” are built for now and half of their team will be free agents by month’s end.

In contrast, Fevrier’s young team is at the start of its building process.

However, the absence of both Central strikers Willis Plaza and Dwight Quintero and dependable right back Kaydion Gabriel, through a combination of injury and suspension, unbalanced the Sharks, who had just 16 players to choose from in the final.

Connection had their problems too.

“We had five players that we could not make a decision on until the last minute,” said Connection assistant coach Earl Jean. “Mekeil (Williams) and Maurice (Ford) had knee injuries, Triston (Hodge) felt his hamstring, Hashim (Arcia) had a fever and Shahdon (Winchester) actually left camp yesterday because of a knock on his shin.

“At 3 pm, Shahdon called and said he would come and fight it and see… It wasn’t normal preparation for us.”

Two physically demanding Caribbean Cup semifinal affairs on Friday—and Central needed extra time and penalties to get past Haiti’s Don Bosco FC—had taken its toll. Here, both camps took markedly different approaches.

Hodge was ruled out while Arcia came off the substitutes’ bench. But captain Mekeil Williams, Maurice Ford and Shahdon Winchester all played from the start as Fevrier and Jean kept faith in their regular XI.

Fenwick had no choice with Gabriel, Plaza and Quintero. But he sprung a surprise in leaving out versatile midfielder Sean De Silva and, most jarringly, Central’s best player, Ataulla Guerra.

“Ataulla is the franchise player for Central FC and the Trinidad and Tobago national side,” Fenwick told Wired868, “but sometimes he gets that syndrome where he thinks he doesn’t have to tackle (and) close down (opponents).

“He is our top player with his silky skills but then we end up playing a man less when we don’t have the ball…

“(I think dropping Guerra) wakes everyone up and gets a reaction from the other players in the side. They recognise nobody is bigger than the team and I really felt we could win without them.”

It was not a case of a straight swap either. Central started with Keion Goodridge, a muscular and inelegant left back, in central midfield along with forgotten man Jean-Luc Rochford, who made his first start under Fenwick.

Both played on either side of the 39-year-old Marvin Oliver while Jamal Jack, an aggressive but versatile defender, played his first game at centre forward.

Oliver, who wore the captain’s armband, appeared to be invaluable in helping sell Fenwick’s sometimes unorthodox approaches to his teammates.

“I wasn’t surprised (at the starting line-up),” Oliver told Wired868. “It was something we did with Jabloteh already in terms of playing guys out of position when we needed players who were strong and fit or to outmuscle (our opponent).

“It was unorthodox but we had a game plan and we stuck to our plan.”

Connection started conservatively due to the uncertainty regarding several first-team players. The “Savonetta Boys” clearly hoped to win the match in the second half.

“Because of the injuries, we had to see how well we could hold up in the first half,” said Jean. “We were playing a cautious game. We planned to stick to our game plan, which was to have more control and possession of the game.

“Then, we would have assessed at halftime.”

Winchester had a good chance in the ninth minute as he flicked over bar from 10 yards after a left side cross. But that was against the run of play.

Central dominated much of the first 25 minutes and Goodridge and Rochford both got decent shooting opportunities—the former from inside the box.

It was not that the Sharks were playing slick, attractive football. But they were forcing errors in Connection’s half of the field where Gerard Williams, Alvin Jones and Mekeil were harassed constantly.

“I always feel if you get on top of Gerard Williams and swamp him, you can break Connection down,” said Fenwick. “I think he is a good competitor but I don’t think he is a good footballer… Jackie also did a great job for us, closing down and unsettling players.

“I knew their defenders would be unsettled with Jack stomping around and trying to shut them down.”

Still, it took a goalkeeping error to separate the two teams. Marcano’s speculative left footed effort appeared to have been taken comfortably by Connection custodian and St Kitts and Nevis international, Julani Archibald, in the 27th minute.

But either the slippery conditions or Rochford’s movement off the ball distracted Archibald and he dropped the ball on his landing. And Rochford, a two-time Trinidad and Tobago World Youth Cup player, was rewarded for charging the box with a simple tap-in for Central’s opener.

“Julani had a lapse in concentration and he has to learn to land softer with the ball,” said Jean. “But he is a young lad who has had a really good season with us.”

For the last ten minutes, Central wilted a bit as Colombian midfielder Yhon Stiven Reyes began finding space to link with Connection’s front three.

And Winchester nearly conjured up a fine equaliser in the 34th minute but for a fine flying save by Central custodian Jan-Michael Williams.

Guyanese match referee Sherwin Moore was struggling too and was easily below the standard set by Jamaica’s Karl Tyrell, who officiated in the semifinal.

Ford was cautioned for a late challenge on Oliver while the latter player received his obligatory booking for dissent. But Central’s Nathaniel Garcia escaped uncensored with a dangerous aerial challenge on Gerard—one of four Williams-es on the field—while Gerard and Jones were not booked for lunging tackles on Jack and Oliver respectively.

At halftime, Fenwick warned his players to keep the ball away from Reyes. Whereas Fevrier and Jean pondered about wrestling control in central midfield where Jones, a right back by trade, looked rattled.

“We wanted to get our players into their rhythm and to keep them calm (at halftime),” said Jean. “We had a chat with Arcia too because we wanted more dominance in midfield. But we were not confident that he could have given us everything (for 45 minutes).”

The first 10 minutes of the second half were even. Winchester, who has a great record against Central, was a handful and dragged his teammates along with him. While Devaughn Elliot produced an energetic and forceful performance at left back.

In the 57th minute, Arcia replaced Jones. Fenwick responded, two minutes later, by swapping the tiring Rochford with Guerra.

In the 60th minute, Ford tripped Garcia and received his second caution and a red card. Colombian defender Christian Ocoro Viveros and speedy attacker Neil Benjamin Jr were preparing to come on at the time. But Fevrier and Jean delayed the change to discuss a new approach.

They still had not made their move when, five minutes later, Central’s bustling pair of Goodridge and Jack closed down Reyes and Shannon Gomez in quick succession. And Gerard responded to shut down the Sharks’ promising counter attack with a crude tackle on Garcia.

Moore showed Gerard, also a Kittian international, a straight red card.

“The second (red card) especially took the wind out of us,” said Jean. “We had to take out ‘Chinee’ (Reyes) and put in Viveros because we knew Chinee wouldn’t have the legs (in such circumstances).”

Viveros was barely on the field for a minute when Central doubled their lead. Winger Jason Marcano played a brilliant, angled pass behind the Connection defence and Jack produced a clever clipped finish for the most important goal of his career.

Fevrier reacted again and Benjamin was introduced, although not in the conditions that Connection initially intended to use him.

“We knew (Central) would be tired because they played an extra half hour (in the semifinal),” said Jean. “So we always wanted to use ‘Benjie’ in the second half. Unfortunately, some of the guys were not using the space in front of Benjamin well enough and playing the ball for him to run on to.”

At the other end, Fenwick was trying to close down the game as he replaced Garcia and tiring defender Akeem Benjamin, who had a fine Caribbean Cup, with midfield technicians Leston Paul and De Silva.

“I reverted to Leston Paul and De Silva when they had a man sent off,” said Fenwick, “because I felt that was the time to keep possession better and move the ball around. And I thought we got chances then.”

Central, predictably, were dangerous on the break against nine players. But Jack was still at centre forward and his passing left a lot to be desired. Guerra, in particular, was constantly frustrated by Jack’s inability to work a proper wall pass.

Remarkably, Connection created more opportunities than ever in the final 15 minutes. Was that testimony to a lack of intensity after Fenwick’s three changes? Had Central grown complacent?

Or was Arcia able to have such a galvanising effect on even an undermanned Connection team?

Viveros wasted a golden opportunity in the 79th minute after an Arcia free kick found him unmarked in the opposing penalty area while Jerrel Britto and Arcia also went close.

Archibald did well to deny Jack in the 84th minute, after a threaded De Silva pass, but Connection ended strongly and deserved their late goal.

Goodridge, who dropped into central defence after Benjamin was withdrawn, lost possession on the edge of his own area and his namesake, Connection’s Benjamin Jr, finished with poise.

Both coaches saw the closing 15 minutes differently.

“I felt relatively comfortable until we made a mistake ourselves,” said Fenwick. “They were shooting from distance and I thought we contained them very well.”

Jean felt Connection might have clawed their way back with an earlier goal.

“They scored the two goals and they deserved the victory,” said Jean. “We could have won but they took their chances. That is how football is.

“Now we know there is a challenge in (Couva) with two big teams.”

Central’s players and staff have been embroiled in a bonus dispute with the club’s board in recent weeks. Perhaps Central operations director Kevin Harrison might view Oliver’s conciliatory tone after the final to be even more valuable than trophy.

“With our play, you can see it wasn’t really on the guys’ mind,” said Oliver. “It got blown out of proportion…

“It was just a breakdown in communication after Brent (Sancho) became Sport Minister and left the club.”

So will the players accept Central’s offer of 10 percent from the Pro League’s million dollar first prize? Or did they get the 50 percent demanded for players and staff?

“The final decision is we had a great season,” said Oliver, with a smile. “I don’t want to get into it much. But whatever happens, the guys will be satisfied…

“All in all, the guys really love Central. We are not just about the money.”

Fittingly, Oliver, who Fenwick suggested would become a great coach when he retires, was happy for a composed finish to a frenetic affair and a topsy-turvy season.

“It is an excellent, magical feeling to be Caribbean champion,” he said.

Jean promised that Connection will return stronger than ever to reclaim their crowns next season. More intriguing Couva Clasicos are on the way then.


89
Jan-Michael and Arcia star as Central and Connection set Caribbean final date
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)


A heroic late showing from Central FC goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams and an ice cold finish from DIRECTV W Connection playmaker Hashim Arcia will ensure an all-Trinidad and Tobago showing in tomorrow’s Caribbean Club Championship final from 6 pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.

And not just any two Pro League clubs either. The regional final will be a local grudge match as Connection and Central square off for another “Couva Clasico.”

Connection and Central have both also qualified for the 2015 CONCACAF Champions League while Haiti’s Don Bosco FC and Jamaica’s Montego Bay United FC will fight for the last remaining berth in Sunday’s third place play off from 4 pm at the same venue.

The most important staff member in either camp this weekend probably will not be the coaches, though. It will be the physiotherapists.

Central needed 30 minutes of extra time plus penalty kicks to get past Don Bosco FC in last night’s semifinal. And the “Couva Sharks” were outnumbered for significant portions of the contest as star striker Willis Plaza was ejected in the 66th minute while right back Kaydion Gabriel hobbled through extra time with a thigh injury and is ruled out for the final.

“Last night, we had people falling like flies and a lot of that goes back to Police game which was brutal,” said Central coach Terry Fenwick, who is still without injured striker Dwight Quintero. “Plaza’s sending off is a big blow and we have a problem at right back because we were informed last night that we cannot replace injured players.

“But at least we are through to the (CONCACAF Champions League).”

Connection avoided the physical torment of extra time. But the “Savonetta Boys” were physically pounded too by a fast, strong Montego Bay outfit before eking out a 1-0 win.

“With the battering the two (Pro League) teams got last night, I think (the final) will depend on who is physically and mentally fit,” Connection assistant coach Earl Jean told Wired868. “The game took a lot from them after losing plaza and then having an extra half hour… It will be a very interesting game.”

Five of Connection’s starting line-up last night were below 21 years of age and there was much to admire in the way they dealt with Montego Bay’s challenge in a contest that swung back and forth.

Lanky “MoBay” midfielder Ronaldo Rodney got the best chance of the match, in the 52nd minute, but skied his shot. And, in the 69th minute, Arcia showed him how it is done with his seventh goal of the competition, which placed him on top the scoring charts.

The Jamaicans would not to remember the build-up for the decisive goal.

MoBay winger Allan Ottey was just about to reach the halfway line when, confronted by an opponent, he did an about-turn and fired an outrageous 40-yard dipping ball towards his own custodian. Jacomeno Barrett managed an improvised clearance under duress but Williams quickly relayed the ball back into the opposing area.

And Arcia, as cool and precise as a surgeon, waited for Barrett to lunge before coolly lifting the ball into the back of the net.

“Hashim is one of the most intelligent players in the country,” said Jean. “He is in top form right now and the team is built around him.”

Dino Williams came closest to an equaliser in the 79th minute with a dipping effort that forced a flying save by Connection and St Kitts and Nevis international goalkeeper Julani Archibald. But it was a rare effort on target from the Jamaicans who lacked composure in the opposing penalty area.

And MoBay was lucky to end with 11 players on the field as Winston Wilkinson tried to hack Alvin Jones to pieces, in stoppage time, after the defender-cum-midfielder fell on the ball while trying to waste time.

Barbadian referee Adrian Skeete, in an extreme act of generosity to the Jamaican, only showed a yellow card.

Plaza did not get off so easily in the first match when, in a crazy three-minute spell, he was booked twice. Haitian defender Massigno Joseph clearly made a meal of presumed contact to his face while Plaza was trying to protect the ball in the 66th minute.

But Fenwick, for once, was happy to give the match official, Jamaican Karl Tyrell, the benefit of the doubt.

“Plaza wasn’t holding anything up last night and I think he let himself and his teammates down with that red card,” Fenwick told Wired868. “I didn’t see it but somebody of his experience has to be better than that…

“I thought both of the referees last night were fine. They kept up with the speed of the game and tried to play advantage once or twice… They were light years ahead of (Trinidadian referee Rodphin) Harris for one.”

Even when the fiery Englishman is praising referees, he is criticising them.

Central’s clash with Don Bosco was a cagier affair with both teams guarded and patient rather than adventurous.

In the 42nd minute, the Sharks carved out a wonderful opportunity after a quick passing move that involved Gabriel, Ataulla Guerra, Jamal Jack and Plaza. But Marcano’s shot was saved by the legs of opposing goalkeeper Jaafson Origene.

Such sights at goal were rare for either team, though, even after Central went down to 10 players.

Guerra was neat on the ball and brought spectators to their feet with one surging run after rolling the ball through the legs of opposing midfielder Samuel Desroches. But he played so deep that he sometimes collected the ball between his own defenders, and he was largely ineffectual.

“Guerra shies away from everything that is physical,” said Fenwick, in his withering post-match verdict of the gifted Central playmaker.

In the end, penalties were required to separate the two well organised teams and Jan-Michael, who had made CONCACAF’s shortlist of top goalkeepers for the past two years, had another night to savour. The “Soca Warrior” made one flying save to his left and two to his right to deny three of the four Haitian kickers.

Defender Akeem Benjamin, who put in an otherwise commendable performance, blasted over for Central. But Elton John, Leston Paul and Uriah Bentick all converted to seal a 3-1 win and a chance for the three year old club to secure the Caribbean title on the first attempt.

“It was a tough gritty performance to see it out with ten men,” said Fenwick, “and our goalkeeper pulled us out in the end.”

Fenwick contested a Caribbean title once before, while at San Juan Jabloteh, but lost 1-0 to Connection in the 2006 final.

Jean was Fenwick’s assistant coach then although there has been little love lost between the pair since.

Central are seeking their third major title this season after copping the Pro League and First Citizen Cup crowns while they face Caledonia AIA in next Friday’s Digicel Pro Bowl final. Connection won only the Charity Shield.

Yet, Connection look settled and fresh in the business end of the season. Jerrel Britto is having his most prolific season in the top flight while Arcia is flying and Shahdon Winchester has a terrific record against Central. Captain Mekeil Williams and teenaged right back Shannon Gomez add spunk and pace at the back.

Winchester, Britto, Arcia, Jomal Williams and Alvin Jones, in particular, would hope to use the Caribbean final, which is their final game of the season, to earn a pick on Trinidad and Tobago pre-Gold Cup training squad. Williams (M) and Gomez are almost certain to be invited already.

Jean revealed that Winchester turned down another loan deal in Finland to stay home and help Connection as well as impress Warriors coach Stephen Hart.

“I think Shahdon is getting back to his best and he is a very important player to us,” said Jean. “Our front four are in great form and they have great chemistry between them. The final will be a great challenge for us.”

For Central, a bonus dispute that pits its board against players and staff continues to rage in the background, while 13 players and most of the coaching staff, including Fenwick, are out of contract on May 31.

“It’s been a challenge keeping the morale of the team high and focused on football with all these issues going on in the background,” said Fenwick. “We are looking forward to the final, especially against W Connection, (and) you can see the elation when we won the penalty shoot out…

“It will be a tough game (and) we have no centre forward and several injuries but I know we will put up a hell of a fight. Having got this far, we don’t want anything but the (Caribbean) Championship.”

It should make for an enthralling final. The Couva Clasico is about to regional.

(Teams)

Central FC (4-1-4-1): 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK); 15.Kaydion Gabriel, 2.Elton John, 5.Akeem Benjamin, 4.Uriah Bentick; 10.Marvin Oliver (19.Nathaniel Garcia 87); 7.Jason Marcano, 12.Jamal Jack (6.Leston Paul 54), 45.Ataulla Guerra, 8.Sean De Silva (11.Darren Mitchell 61); 33.Willis Plaza.

Unused substitutes: 1.Javon Sample (GK), 3.Keion Goodridge, 14.Jean-Luc Rochford, 17.Marcelle Francois.

Coach: Terry Fenwick

Don Bosco FC (4-2-3-1): 22.Jaafson Origene (GK); 11.Jean Junior Brenus, 5.Canes Jean-Charles (captain), 14.Massigno Joseph, 15.Jimmy Sara (29.Junior Philemont 108); 21.Constant Junior Monuma, 9.Junior Delva; 16.Samuel Desroches (7.Porky Thermidor 113), 17.Venel Sant-Fort, 8.Kerlins Georges (28.Jean Schwetzer Saint-Hubert 79); 23.Benchy Estama.

Unused substiututes: 12.Calixte Felix Alande, 2.Alain Francois, 10.Dumy Fede, 27.Jean Saint-Hubert.

Coach: Jean Junior Natoux

Referee: Karl Tyrell (Jamaica)

Caribbean Club Championship semifinal round

(Fri May 22)

Central FC 0, Don Bosco FC 0 at Ato Boldon Stadium;

*—Central won 3-1 via penalty shootout

W Connection 1 (Hashim Arcia 69), Montego Bay FC 0 at Ato Boldon Stadium;

(Sun May 24)

Third Place Play Off

Don Bosco FC v Montego Bay United FC, 4 pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;

Caribbean Club finals

W Connection v Central FC, 6 pm, Ato Boldon Stadium.


90
Central chaos: Sancho, Harrison named in bonus battle as Sharks threaten boycott
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)


New Pro League champions, Central FC, appear to be on the brink of meltdown, just two weeks after winning their maiden domestic title, with a feud over bonuses that, ironically, has pitted Sport Minister Brent Sancho and his advisor Kevin Harrison against over two dozen players and staff members.

Central’s players and staff were offered 10 percent of the Pro League’s $1 million first prize but have refused the figure. And some squad members, who spoke on condition of anonymity, insisted that Sancho, in his previous capacity as club CEO, offered to split half the league winnings with the team.

“Sancho said the deal is whatever the players win they get half of and half goes back to the club,” a Central squad member told Wired868, “and you all get 20 percent of what they get. So, the split would be 50 percent to the club, 40 percent to the players and ten percent to the staff.”

The Sport Minister denied the allegation.

“I never said that,” said Sancho, who said he recused himself from club affairs after becoming Sport Minister in February 2015. “We had offered them 50 percent (of prize money) for (cup competitions)… It was 30 percent the first year and then we said we would raise it to 50 (percent).

“The league money was never discussed… In fact, before I became Minister of Sport we were supposed to discuss (bonuses for) the League, Caribbean Cup and CONCACAF. But then obviously I left the club and we never had a chance to sit down before I left.”

Harrison, who is Central’s operations director and an advisor to the Sport Minister, also claimed that the 50 percent offer was only for knock out competitions. And he insisted that the Central board, which is run by SIS official Darren Mohamdally, will only offer $100,000 to the squad from the $1 million prize money.

“I was authorised to tell the players that they can have 10 percent to share between players and staff,” said Harrison. “I was told the players wanted 40 percent and the staff would be dealt with separately. But I’m not a decision maker. I get told by the board and relay decisions.”

The Central team trained from 9 am today in Couva. But the friction has put a question mark over the remainder of their season.

The “Couva Sharks”, who already won the Pro League and First Citizens Cup titles this season, are scheduled to play Police FC from 8 pm tomorrow in the second match of a Pro Bowl semifinal round double header at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva. And they will face Haitian outfit, Don Bosco, in the Caribbean Club Championship semifinals on May 22 at the same venue.

Fenwick, who replaced Zoran Vranes at helm on March 24, admitted the mood is tense on the training ground. The English coach said he was not a part of the alleged bonus deal or the ongoing negotiations but is advised by players on the talks.

“We had a very strong team spirit when I walked in,” Fenwick told Wired868, “but that has been crushed because of finance-related issues, bonus problems and promises that apparently haven’t been kept with the players…

“There is now a very disgruntled squad of which half of them, myself included, are of contract on May 31.”

Harrison admitted that he could not state definitely that Central will turn up for tomorrow’s Pro Bowl semifinal match. But he urged the players to focus on the remaining prize money at stake and try to end their seasons on a high note.

“Obviously we know the guys are upset but I can’t see why they wouldn’t play,” said Harrison. “The bonus problem is about the League but that has finished. The Pro Bowl (first prize) is $100,000 and, if they are so concerned about bonuses, then that is $50,000 for them (to share) if they win it.

“Fifty percent of our players won’t get the chance to play in a Caribbean Cup final and when you finish those are the memories you look back on. If you are going to leave, leave on the top.”

The irony of Sancho and Harrison’s position is inescapable.

Sancho was one of 13 “Soca Warriors” who successfully sued the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) for 50 percent of all income generated from the 2006 World Cup. Harrison, who was a low-level Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) official in England, advised the Warriors.

Sancho was also a founding member of the now defunct Football Players Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT), which also employed Harrison as an advisor.

For now, though, the Sharks promise to play in the Pro Bowl semifinals.

“We have a game tomorrow and we are going to play,” said Central captain Leston Paul. “I don’t think the players are happy. But we are being professional about it and we will play the game.”

Wired868 can confirm that there are divisions within the playing and coaching ranks regarding not only whether they should complete the season with Sharks. But also if a  bonus plan was in place at all and whether a 50 percent take of the Pro League prize money is fair or excessive.

Phone calls throughout the squad found that some believed a bonus deal was in place from the start of the season while others said an offer was just made. Some were prepared to down boots immediately while others wanted to add the Caribbean title to their list of achievements.

And there was no unison among the players and staff on what prize money they should receive either.

Harrison admitted that the club erred by not sorting out a bonus structure before the season got going.

“As far as the board is concerned, they made the decision at the beginning of the season,” said Harrison. “Why it wasn’t relayed to the players, I don’t know. If we had offered them a $100,000 bonus (to share) last summer, they would probably have been happy.

“So it was our fault not to tell them and theirs not to raise it then. But we pay them the best salaries we could and some of the best wages in the league… If they want better bonuses, it would be reflected in (lower salaries).”

If the players are accustomed to getting 50/50 splits on prize money from Cup winnings, is it reasonable for them to expect the same for claiming the League title?

Harrison disagreed and claimed that the Sharks need the League winnings to ensure their survival for next season.

“The amount of money (between the league and cup competitions) is different and we have to make sure the club exists,” said Harrison. “So the $900,000 the club keeps will make sure we exist next season. Why should the club not get the whole of it?

“We pay very good salaries because we want to win competitions and they already receive the best salaries in the league anyway. If we did it the other way and gave poorer salaries and big bonuses then, if they didn’t win, they would be worse off.

“If I were a player, I would prefer bigger salaries and less bonuses.”

Harrison confirmed that Central will not pay out any of its $300,000 returns for finished second in the league for the 2013/14 season.

“We decided we would only pay if we won,” he said. “We didn’t want to pay for being the best losers.”

But don’t all players in England’s professional leagues get a slice of the prize money irrespective of their league placing?

“Well, the (Pro League) might decide on that but then put a cap on wages,” said Harrison. “(Local) clubs don’t bring in anything beside prize money… and if they gave half to the players, many would struggle to stay in the league.

“I have always gone on record as saying I would love to see day when players get a good wage. But, with the falling oil prices and so on, money is hard to come by.”

For now, simmering distrust aside, the Sharks will go on together. But Paul, a two-time World Youth Cup captain and former St Mary’s College schoolboy, did not confirm whether the Sharks would complete their roster of games this season.

“I can’t answer that question right now,” said Paul. “There is a lot of chatter going on about that. (But) I will leave that until the game tomorrow.

“If we don’t get positive feedback, then I don’t know what will be the next step. Right now, we just want to play in the game and get to the (Pro Bowl) final.”

So far, Harrison is not for turning.

“If I was a player and I wanted to leave,” he said, “I would want to say I won the League and the Caribbean Cup, etc (because) it adds value to you as a player. They will be cutting their nose off to spite their face (if they boycotted). All the club would lose is $50,000 (from the Pro Bowl), which isn’t the end of the world.

“I would love to keep the majority of the team together… We had such a great vibe in Guyana, it is a pity it has to end like this.”


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