'Stop the politics'
Without knowing whether they will actually be playing or not, interim Trinidad and Tobago senior football team head coach, Hutson Charles has called up a 29-man provisional squad to begin preparing for Caribbean Cup qualifying.
T&T open qualifying on October 10 against French Guiana in Basseterre, St Kitts. They play Anguilla two days later, and hosts St Kitts-Nevis on October 14.
Charles held his first session on Sunday, at the training field of the Larry Gomes Stadium, in Malabar, Arima.
Charles said the main reason for the late start to preparations was a lack of funding, caused by an apparent falling out between the T&T Football Federation (TTFF) and the Ministry of Sport.
"We don't know what is going on between the TTFF and the Ministry of Sport, but basically we don't have any funding," Charles said. "I don't know where the funding is coming from to send the team (to St Kitts), but we have to start.
We have no choice, because all of the other teams in the Caribbean are active. Recently, I have been seeing where Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana and St Vincent and the Grenadines have been playing matches, but we have been inactive."
Charles was an outstanding midfielder with the celebrated Strike Squad unit that just missed out on qualification for the 1990 FIFA World Cup. He said T&T had now reached the bottom rung of football, following the euphoria that followed qualification for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. He said the only direction to go now is up.
"It's sad to see the low at which football has reached in this country. I hope the people who are in a position to do so will let good sense prevail," Charles said.
"My goal in the short term is to win all these qualifying rounds and qualify Trinidad and Tobago for the Gold Cup for the first time in a while. It will not be easy because of what is happening. I will do my part trying to motivate these guys, but we need the help of Government, the TTFF and others."
Charles is hoping to take advantage of the FIFA international dates that coincide with Caribbean Cup qualifying. He has included nine overseas-based professionals in his provisional squad—Khaleem Hyland, Julius James, Carlyle Mitchell, Hughtun Hector, Willis Plaza, Darryl Roberts, Robert Primus, Keon Daniel and Kevin Molino.
"These players have played with the national team before, and I'm hoping they can bring the experience we will need," Charles said.
Among the home-based players named in the provisional squad are former captain Densill Theobald, Jan Michael Williams, Joevin Jones, Devorn Jorsling, Seon Power and Jamal Gay.