While the move to allow national teams to resume training was well received, former national footballer Brent Sancho said the senior men’s football team head coach Terry Fenwick will have a huge “fitness” hurdle to overcome if they are to be ready for international competition.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley lifted the ban on national teams’ preparations for international competition, and Fenwick said that as early as Wednesday, he would like to have players in training.
The TTFA is still suspended from participating in FIFA competitions, including next year’s World Cup qualifiers however, Fenwick wants to get his players back in training so they will be as ready as they can be, once the FIFA suspension is lifted.
Yesterday, Sancho, acting chairman of the TT Pro League said the FIFA suspension will not affect the national team’s training and preparations but pointed out that locally-based players will be behind the eight ball in terms of their preparation for international competition after playing very little football locally for 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“FIFA suspension is only aligned to international games against countries within FIFA. We can play international games against teams that are not part of FIFA. In terms of training and everything else, you are fine. In fact, we could have training from however long, but we had Covid-19 measures, so FIFA measures could not have stopped that,” Sancho explained.
However, he said the lack of actual matches and fitness work will be a huge obstacle for Fenwick to overcome in the short space of time before the World Cup qualifiers and that player fitness would have been an issue for national teams even before Covid-19.
“The Covid-19 measures are very specific as it relates to contact sports and if you go back to June or July where teams were in training preparing for Ascension league, that didn’t happen because of the Covid-19 measures coming back into the play. Players would have then had to look after themselves in terms of their training regime and keeping themselves fit,” said Sancho.
“There is nothing any club could have done as it relates to training. There was nothing there and nothing put in place for obvious reasons, it was against the law but even when the season is going on, there are a lot of players who are just not fit enough,” he argued.
“A lot of our local players, all due respect to them, have a poor professional approach to the game and it is a situation that has ramifications all the way down to Secondary Schools football etc., because the bad habits that they exhibit from there coming all the way to the T&T Pro League settings and then people expect the Pro League clubs to create miracles,” Sancho continued.
“Those behavioural patterns started a long time ago and to break something like that will take years of drilling something into these youngsters’ heads...I would be very surprised if any of the players are anywhere close to the fitness level required and even if they are close, fitness-wise, there is something called match-sharpness and match-fitness and they certainly won’t be match-fit and match-sharp,” he added.
Sancho said that if he was in Fenwick’s position, he would, “go out and get one of the best strength and conditioning coaches the world could provide to help with the local players and I would also create a large scouting network to open up the opportunities to recruit players who may be playing in the UK or America, who may have Trinidad heritage and who would have played a significant number of games (in foreign leagues).”
“Those two things I would look to do because again, all due respect to the local players, their match-fitness and match sharpness will not be anywhere close to where it needs to be to play international football and it’s not going to change now and it’s not going to change come March unless of course the Covid-19 restrictions are lifted in Trinidad and the professional league and other leagues could start and they could get a couple of games and even then, they would be short,” Sancho continued.
“The fitness issues are a massive hurdle for coach Fenwick to overcome and as I said, he needs to aggressively go after players outside and widen his player pool and look for players with Trini heritage (who are playing matches). Again, all due respect to the local players, but because of the fact that they haven’t played enough games here, you will be asking way too much of them,” he concluded.
SOURCE: T&T Express