National coach Terry Fenwick and his players have been swimming against the tide, with preparation for the CONCACAF Gold Cup and FIFA World Cup Qualifiers literally around the corner.
Fenwick laments the poor state of the sport, which was caused by a nine-month battle between the T&T Football Association (TTFA) and FIFA, the sport's world governing body, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, which had brought sports to a halt in countries around the world.
Still, however, with football taking place in various countries for the past months, there has been no ease for Fenwick and his men.
The Warriors will contest Group F in the early round of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers, where matches against Saint Kitts/Nevis, Guyana, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas await them in a round-robin format.
The matches will be played within the FIFA match windows of March 2021 and the first FIFA match window of June 2021. Apart from the T&T Group, there will also be action in groups A, B, C, D, and E at the same time.
On Saturday, Fenwick said it is not going to be easy.
"It's going to be difficult for us because of the issues and problems we experienced over the 12 months. It hasn't been easy, it hasn't been good for T&T football. Every other country in the world has had domestic leagues running and national teams playing friendlies and competitive games, where we have just not done anything.
"So it's tough on my players, my staff but we are working assiduously in the background, trying to get things moving again."
For the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the Soca Warriors will begin against Montserrat in one of six preliminary-round matches between July 2-6 to secure one of the three remaining spots for the Group Stage which gets underway, four days later.
Should T&T get past Montserrat, they will face the winner of the clash between Cuba and French Guiana in the second round, for a place in Group A of the competition where the likes of reigning champion Mexico, El Salvador, and Curacao will await them.
The English-born coach who has had successful stints with local clubs San Juan Jabloteh and Central FC is hoping that the FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee will come to their assistance.
He said, "We're hoping that the normalisation committee knows that they've got their position sorted out, so they can give us that support that we need to move the game forward and make sure that we are competitive when these games come around."
Fenwick happy with Guyana home opener
T&T Express Reports.
Trinidad and Tobago will have an opening match against neighbours Guyana after Concacaf confirmed the schedule for the regional qualifiers for the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup on Friday.
On paper, the opening round draw would seem ideal, with the Soca Warriors playing possibly their two strongest Group F matches against the Guyanese and St Kitts & Nevis at home, while having to go away to Bahamas and Puerto Rico.
Immediately, men’s senior coach Terry Fenwick recognised the importance of beginning the series at home. T&T and Guyana last played to a 1-1 draw at the Concacaf Gold Cup, despite the Warriors dominating and missing several good chances when coached by former national coach Dennis Lawrence.
“Being at home in the opening game is good and we will prepare as best as possible for this first game against Guyana which we know has a bit of history with Trinidad and Tobago and will certainly be no pushovers,” Fenwick said. “Matter of fact, no team will be a walkover in these qualifiers.”
T&T host Guyana on March 25, 2021, before meeting Puerto Rico on March 28. In June, the series continues with T&T traveling to Bahamas on June 5 before hosting St Kitts & Nevis on June 8. Should T&T top the group, they will advance to a two-leg playoff against the winners of Group A which contains El Salvador, for a spot in the eight-team final round of Concacaf qualifying.
Fenwick found the schedule both timely and informative.
“It’s a bit of important information for us at this stage as it relates to the schedule of the World Cup qualifiers. We knew the teams before but now we know exactly what we’re going to face,” stated Fenwick, who now hopes that everything will be put in place to facilitate a successful qualifying series.
“With this schedule before us now, it tells you how important it was for us to have gotten the suspension lifted and having the normalisation committee in charge of our football. I know for a fact that chairman Robert Hadad and the rest of the normalisation committee are at work and are putting things together for us to be able to breathe a bit easier and for all the right conditions to be in place for our teams. I’m grateful that we’d been able to restart training last month and now we can look forward to executing our plans ahead of March,” Fenwick said.
The Jaguars will be led in this campaign by journeyman Brazilian coach Márcio Máximo Barcellos, who once steered the Brazil National under-17 and Under-20 Teams and coached former stand-out defender Marvin Andrews at Scotland Premier League club, Livingston.
Only the winning nation advances from Group F with the other teams being immediately eliminated.
(Trinidad and Tobago’s Group F schedule)
Trinidad and Tobago v Guyana, 25 March,
Puerto Rico v Trinidad and Tobago, 28 March;
Bahamas v Trinidad and Tobago, 5 June;
Trinidad and Tobago v St Kitts and Nevis, 8 June