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Sat, Aug

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FIFA vice-president Austin Jack Warner, took a hard line on local contractors (companies) yesterday, saying not one of them gave a nickle to assist with the team's preparations for the September 13-30 FIFA Under-17 World Cup Championships.

Warner was speaking at a press conference after Trinidad and Tobago announced its 18-man squad for the tournament.

There were 19 players in the room, and so, goalkeeper Kerwin Belgrave, who appeared to be dejected, remained seated with his head bowed for quite awhile.

Technical director and coach Rene Simoes later explained Belgrave, whom he spotted last month, will be called upon as substitute in the event Jan Michael Williams' back injury should act up.

"He (Williams) should be OK. It's just a precaution," Simoes said, adding all the players have been insured.

The team, cut from 25, was mentioned in the La Boucan Room Hilton Trinidad and Conference Room. Fifteen other countries also named their 18-man contingent for the competition, Warner said.

Dropped from the training camp were Kevin Crooks, Venosh Maraj, Raphael Jones, Colin Belgrave, Dwight Scott, Seon Powers and Delano Davis.

But Simoes urged those players not to give up or quit the game, instead asking them to use it as a learning experience.
Simoes said, too, he sent a letter to each of the seven players, which in part states many years ago, a young player was turned down from one of Brazil's team, Vasco de Gama.

That player, whom Simoes later identified as Pele, persisted and believed in himself enough to keep trying.

Seemingly surprised at being named captain, Tobagonian Roderick Anthony, one of four from the Sister Isle, said he has never been appointed to lead any team at any time.

Transferred from Elizabeth's College, Anthony, 17, now a student of Naparima College, said he was feeling great about the captaincy, adding it was his blessings from God.

"I am focussed and I hope to keep the players in the right frame of mind," Anthony said, adding, "I am just waiting on the appointed time to go and make my country proud."

T&T is in Group "A" with Croatia, Australia and group favourites Brazil. Their first match, to be kicked off at 4 pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on the opening day, is against Croatia. All of this country's matches will be played at that venue, the fixtures show.

Warner, special advisor to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF), told the team that it was not by accident they were here, but by hope.

He explained that four years ago things seemed hopeless, that is until principal sponsors CL Financial came aboard.
In 1993, Warner said, the Government of the day asked former FIFA president Dr Joao Havelange to host the said World Cup.

That year, he said, in Egypt on the River Nile, this country was able to beat off bets from Japan, Finland and Ecuador, because FIFA felt this country could show the world.

Warner said three years later, the Federation went back to ask the Government if they were serious, to which, he said, they replied in the positive.

With no team and no facilities, but with hope, Warner said Clico began putting things together in 1998.

"Not a single contractor gave a nickle to the cause," Warner said, adding he had to give thanks to Royal Bank for their assistance and thanked CL Financial for what he said was "keeping the faith."

He also took issue with members of the public for what he termed as their negative responses.

"Father forgive those persons," he said, adding, "they don't understand hope."

Warner, admitting the country seems to be on a losing streak "these days", urged the team to go forth and multiply goals.

"If you play well, there would be a feeling of satisfaction from the country," he said.

Warner also said over 200,000,000 viewers from 39,000,000 homes will be able to tune into the games.