Thu, Mar

Members of the T&T senior men’s football team go through a drill session during a practice at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo on yesterday. The team is preparing for a number of international tournament starting in the first quarter of 2021. - ANTHONY HARRIS

One week after the T&T's senior national football team played its first practice against a locally assembled team as part of its preparations towards the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in March, head coach Terry Fenwick provided the media with an update on the squad's preparations following a training session at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo yesterday.

It was the squad first training session away from the Police Grounds at the St James Barracks, which has been used as a training base since the players gathered in March, last year.

T&T's opening World Cup Qualifiers is set for March 25 with the team's opening encounter set to be with regional rivals Guyana, Fenwick said he and his technical staff have seen 335 players before narrowing it down to the squad in training now at 27.

"So, I am getting down to my 23 - 25 squad," he said, adding that the squad is a very young one compared to the old team T&T had a before he was appointed in December 2019.

"T&T will have a very young team, Under-23 players," he pointed out.

Fenwick, a former English World Cup defender, who is attempting to secure a camp in Florida, USA as well as other friendly matches against Dominica, Grenada, and St Vincent and the Grenadines, told the media that: "Under the circumstances, they are doing great. We got the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and if that was not difficult enough, we've got the issues and problems that plagued T&T football for the last 18 months. It's not been easy for them (the players) or the coaches and the administration. Across the board, it had been a difficult time for football."

He explained that COVID-19 has made preparations very difficult for the players and coaches.

"Over the period we had sessions where my group had been limited to five and seven players per coach. So we had lots of coaches coming in and doing great," Fenwick said. "The World Cup qualifiers in March, that's right around the corner and we are pressing upon the administration that we need to organise in advance and that we need good preparation so that we can be more than competitive when the games come around. That's important to me because it's not just the quality we have on the field, but the quality off the field to make sure that we are crossing all the T's and dotting all the I's."

He explained that he has identified 25 players overseas of which 8-10 are in the UK (United Kingdom) that are excellent players that are playing in good Leagues and they are involved in competitive games, regularly.

He said that there's a starting team in training and the players know what that team is, and they are trying to get into that team.

The former San Juan Jabloteh and Central FC coach said players like midfielder Kevin Molino, who is home will continue to rest while he concentrates on the home-grown players.

"When I get that fusion of international players with the quality we got on the ground then we will be starting to shape-up."

Fenwick, who enjoyed a professional career with five top English clubs, said he has is happy with what has been done off the field.

"We've identified new players that will be brand new to T&T football, but I'm not prepared to mention their names now, not yet, not until they touch down in T&T. We have some good players who want to play for T&T and who want to be competitive against Guyana. We know about the opposition," said Fenwick, adding that during the training sessions the objective is to change the mindset.

"We got that sweat...that's Trinidad mindset that if we 3-4 nil in front we give the opposition a chance and we let back into the game. Changing that mindset into a more professional, ruthless situation whereby we are not giving the opposition any lifts."

Fenwick, who has made T&T his home for over a decade, said: "There's comprehensive fitness test for all the players across the board, we are setting the profile so everybody will be under the microscope about how they are performing on and off the field. We're trying to uplift the science of the team."