Trinidad and Tobago men’s football team coach Terry Fenwick is still hopeful that his squad will have a few friendly international matches before they start their 2022 FIFA World Cup Concacaf Zone qualifiers in March.
Trinidad and Tobago, who will feature in Group F of the Concacaf First Round qualifiers, will meet Guyana on March 25 (at home), Puerto Rico on March 28 (away), Bahamas on June 5 (away) and St Kitts/Nevis on June 8 (at home).
On Monday, chairman of the FIFA-appointed normalisation committee Robert Hadad said the TT Football Association (TTFA) was looking to confirm warm-up matches in Trinidad against St Vincent/Grenadines and Dominica.
Hadad said then, “We’re waiting on confirmation with regards to timing, and we have to work along with the Ministries (of National Security and Health) to get the Home of Football (in Couva) up and running properly, so we can use it.”
Fenwick, in an interview on Thursday, said, “I’m still waiting on confirmation from the normalisation committee as to the games that are coming (up). Everything is subject to funding.
“We’ve got our proposal in,” he added. “We’ve got the countries replying to the normalisation committee to go ahead with the games, but behind closed doors because of the covid(19) situation. We would be in a bubble.”
Fenwick, who is celebrating a year in charge of the T&T squad this month, has not had the luxury of a competitive match, for two reasons – to the covid19 pandemic as well as the suspension by FIFA of the TTFA (from September to November 2020), due to the former executive’s failure to desist from pursuing a challenge at the local High Court over their removal from office.
Concerning his training squad, Fenwick said, “We’re trying very hard to change the mindset because too many of the local players, because of (the state of) local football, haven’t kicked a ball in 2020.
“I’m trying to change mindsets because local players in particular (are) getting into this fete-match mentality,” continued the T&T coach. “That doesn’t work.”
Fenwick maintained his view that the core of his training squad will be younger players.
“The squad is generally Under-23 (players),” he said. “They’re working very hard, I’m proud of what they’ve done so far. We’re turning things around but we’re still a little distance away.
“We haven’t had any competitive games as yet so it’s a very hard call at the moment. But I can’t argue with the work ethic. I’m changing people’s mindsets as to how we approach games, the professionalism.”
Asked about T&T midfielders Kevin Molino and Joevin Jones, who finished their 2020 season in December, Fenwick replied, “I’ve let them have a break, let them enjoy their families. We will be engaging them very shortly. The World Cup qualifiers in March so I’m looking at players who are playing at good levels. (Molino and Jones) will be at the top of the tree.
“I’m actually meeting Molino on Friday to have a discussion to see where he is, what’s going on and let him know what my plans are.
Fenwick had a look at a few overseas-based players but he said his current bunch are all locally-based.
Commenting on some of the foreign-based players, who he looked at in December, Fenwick said, “(Robert) Primus plays in India, he goes out at the end of this month. (Ataullah) Guerra hasn’t been around for a little while now because it’s a much younger squad that I’m working with. Obviously recognising the qualities that he brings to the table, but we were saddled with the oldest squad in football and I need to change that around. So, we got younger kids that have got open minds as to how football is played and for me to get the message across.”
Among the inexperienced faces in the T&T training squad are John-Paul Rochford, Matthew Woo Ling and Michel Poon-Angeron.
“They’re the types we’re looking for, people with fresh and open minds that want to compete,” said Fenwick.
Is the technical staff looking at the opposition teams to see their strengths and weaknesses?
“Of course,” Fenwick responded. “We’re looking at Guyana, what they’ve got to offer, who they’ve got, who they’ll be bringing in. Similar to ourselves, they’ve been looking all around the world.
“They’re playing their league format in Guyana (whereas) T&T are not. We’re keeping tracks on them. They’ve got a new coach (Brazilian-born Marcio Maximo Barcellos) so things could change up. We’ll need to keep a close eye on the games that they have, the potential friendly games that we’ll have a look at.”
Fenwick, the former England defender and ex-coach of Pro League clubs San Juan Jabloteh and Central FC, has repeatedly stated his intention to include foreign-born players in the squad. How soon does he intend to do so?
“It’s the 14th of January,” he replied. “I still haven’t met with the chairman this year. That will be, as and when, I get around to meeting Mr Hadad so we can plan very quickly how we move forward.”