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Tue, Jun

Mexico camp called off
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Mexico camp called off

Barring a last minute miracle, the proposed training camp to Mexico for T&T’s Under-20 footballers ahead of next month’s Concacaf Under-20 Championship in Jamaica has been called off.

The camp was scheduled to begin on Wednesday in preparation for the tournament which will be held from January 9-24 next year.

The Under-20 men’s football team, recent winners of the CFU Under-20 Championship are currently involved in the first of three live-in camps and were expected to depart for Mexico on Wednesday for the second camp before returning home on December 23.

However, that camp is now off and the team will instead hold an extended camp in Florida, USA, early next month before heading off to Kingston, Jamaica to face host Jamaica, USA, Panama, Guatemala and Arabia in their Group A matches.

This was stated by T&T Football Association operations manager William Wallace in a telephone interview when contacted on the request for $782,000 from the Ministry of Sports to cover the team’s travel and accommodation expenses during the camp.

In fact, when contacted, Wallace said he was hoping it was a call from a Ministry of Sport official telling him that the funding would be released.

He said: “As of this moment we have not heard anything as yet with regards to the financial request made and we are not able to confirm any flight arrangements or hotel accommodation.”

Wallace added: “The travel agency we are working with had informed us that they would be holding our bookings until Friday (today) and after that it would be very difficult for us to get flights back into Trinidad by December 23, because of the very busy Christmas season.

“So at the moment, our management team are in a real dilemma, but at the same time we clearly understand the Ministry of Sport, because they have been very supportive towards our requests and if on this occasion they cannot fund it, then we will just have to look at alternatives.

Asked what were some of the alternatives, Wallace said: “The technical staff have been holding some discussions and we have already planned a camp for Fort Lauderdale from December 31 where we have scheduled matches against two of the teams in the other qualifying group.

“So will now try and get to Florida a day or two earlier and try and get in another match, because we were looking forward to playing two matches against the Mexico Under-20 team and a top club team there, but that has now been shelved.”

With regards to the Florida camp, Wallace said the T&TFA had already had some meetings with corporate companies to come on board and try and help fund the camp and so far things are looking positive.

Today, the team, which is currently in a live-in camp at the University of West Indies, St Augustine, will continue their preparations with a training session at Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, from 7.30 am followed by a run tomorrow at Chancellor Hill.

Expected to join the team for his first session is former national Under-20 captain Duane Muckette, while Jerren Nixon Jr, the son of former national striker Jerren Nixon Jr, has already linked up with the group, along with former Fatima College student Leland Archer.

Former Under-17 captain Brendon Creed, goalkeeper Johan Welch and Ricardo John are expected to join the team over the next week.

Group B of the Concacaf Championship comprises Mexico, the two-time defending Concacaf Under-20 champions; Cuba, Canada, El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti. At the end of the tournament, four teams will qualify to the Fifa Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand in 2015. Mexico are two-time defending Concacaf Under-20 champions.

The top team from each group after round-robin play advances to the World Cup, and the second and third place nations from each group advance to the final day knockout phase, with the chance to dispute one of a pair of play-in matches which will determine Concacaf’s other two World Cup spots at the FIifa Under-20 World.