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Fenwick unsure about squad to face Guyana, P/Rico.
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THE COMPOSITION of the T&T men’s football team is proving to be a tricky one, according to coach Terry Fenwick, ahead of a pair of 2022 FIFA World Cup Concacaf Zone First Round Group F qualifiers.

On March 25, T&T will square off against Guyana at the Estadio Panamericano, San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, followed by a fixture away to Puerto Rico at the Mayaguez Athletics Stadium, Mayaguez on March 28.

The T&T team have resumed training at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, a month after their 7-0 mauling in a friendly international away to the United States.

During an interview on Tuesday, Fenwick said, “We’ve got Khaleem Hyland, Sheldon Bateau, Levi Garcia, all of those guys that we’ve reached out to and their clubs. Obviously, (with) FIFA’s new rules and regulations, (the clubs) are in control of that situation now.”

On February 5, the global governing body for football FIFA announced that players who face mandatory quarantine of at least five days on any part of their intended journey, or government-imposed border restrictions that do not exempt professional sports, can be excused from call-ups by their national team.

Fenwick added, “We’ve applied to all of (their clubs) to see whether they will release the players, so we can physically see what we’ve got. We’re trying to get something sorted out.”

The T&T coach was asked how many players may be selected for the trips to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

Fenwick replied, “(The overseas-based) might not be able to get out until the last minute, some might not be able to get out until the 20th, five days before the actual World Cup qualifier. We’re still waiting on clubs to clarify and confirm whether they’re releasing the players or not.

“That will take a big toll on my final decision as to who I’m carrying,” he continued. “But it will be mid-20 players because we’ve got two games. God forbid we (get) any injuries, we’ve got to be covered for all of that. We’re just playing it safe.”

The former San Juan Jabloteh and Central FC coach is hopeful that the squad will have a few warm-up matches while in the Dominican Republic.

“I’ve left it entirely in the normalisation committee’s hands to organise my friendly games,” he said. “We’re leaving Trinidad on the 12th so we’ll get up there in time. There are six nations up there (T&T, Barbados, St Kitts/Nevis, Turks and Caicos Islands, Dominica and Panama will all use the Dominican Republic as ‘home’ games) so we’re looking to get two, maybe three games, prior to the game against Guyana.

“I want it nailed down and signed off so we can actually plan ahead and get ourselves organised. At the moment, I’m still waiting on them for clarity.”

On the immediate horizon will be a pair of warm-up games in Tobago. Fenwick said on Tuesday evening that he hopes his training squad (he will carry 23 to Tobago) will get to face Phoenix FC on Saturday and a Tobago XI on Sunday.

Reflecting on the well-documented US encounter, Fenwick said, “(the players) don’t get experience unless you give them games. This was just against the best team in our region, in Concacaf. Nobody, more than me, is more disappointed with the scoreline. It was very poor.”

With the Guyana match having been shifted from T&T to Dominican Republic, is that taking a toll on the players?

“That’s more the overseas players that need to travel,” replied Fenwick. “We’ve lost that advantage of playing at home. The players that we’re bringing in, that are subject to the same covid (protocols, as well as) my goalkeeper coach Kelvin Jack.

“Before they leave the UK they’ve got to have their tests sorted out, and they’ve got to quarantine in the countries where they (are based). It’s not easy at all.”

Fenwick touched on another problem he has been facing for several months.

“Everywhere in the world is playing football except in (T&T). So it’s not helping us. La Horquetta Rangers have got three or four players that we’ve invited on a regular basis and have not been given permission by their club to train with the national team.

“There are a number of obstacles involved, it’s been quite challenging but we’ll get over it,” he ended.

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More than half of Concacaf nations concede home advantage; Santo Domingo hosts eight WCQs in one week.
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Trinidad and Tobago were far from the anomaly yesterday as Concacaf revealed that more than half of the nations involved in the opening round of Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying matches have conceded home advantage, due mostly to their respectively Covid-19 protocols.

Seventeen from 30 nations will play their home games on neutral soil and Santo Domingo is easily the most popular destination. The Dominican Republic capital will host eight games from five match days, between 25 and 30 March—split evenly between the Estadio Panamericano and Estadio Felix Sanchez.

The Soca Warriors face Guyana at the Estadio Panamericano from 7pm on Thursday 25 March, in a clash that the twin island republic had hoped to play in Port of Spain.

It is the Dominican Republic’s second-best ground but the island’s top venue, the Estadio Felix Sanchez, was booked by Panama before Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) boss Robert Hadad made his move.

Trinidad and Tobago are still in better shape than St Lucia and the Cayman Islands who have home games on 28 March but are yet to confirm a venue to stage them. The Estadio Panamericano does not have a game booked on that day—so first come, first served.

Apart from Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados, Panama, Dominica, Turks and Caicos, and St Kitts and Nevis will also call Santo Domingo ‘home’ for the opening round of qualifiers.

Elsewhere in Curaçao, there will be no shortage of action at the Estadio Felix Sanchez in Willemstad which is booked for all five match days. Apart from the host nation, Antigua and Barbuda, Montserrat, St Vincent and the Grenadines and the British Virgin Islands will also use the tiny Dutch island as their headquarters.

The Estadio Doroteo Guamuch Flores in Guatemala City will host Guatemala and Cuba for next month’s qualifiers while Anguilla, Aruba and Canada will all play their home games across the state of Florida.

The Warriors, perhaps thankfully, will not have an early return to Florida where head coach Terry Fenwick lost his only international outing thus far—after a record 7-0 hammering to the United States in an exhibition affairs.

Concacaf Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying opening round

Group A: El Salvador, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Montserrat, US Virgin Islands.

(Wed 24 March)

*Antigua and Barbuda vs Montserrat, 7pm/ET, Ergilio Hato Stadium, Willemstad;

(Thu 25 March)

El Salvador vs Grenada, 9.30pm/ET, Estadio Cuscatlán, San Salvador;

(Sat 27 March)

USVI vs Antigua and Barbuda, 7pm/ET, Bethlehem Soccer Complex, St Croix;

(Sun 28 March)

*Montserrat vs El Salvador, 7pm/ET, Ergilio Hato Stadium, Willemstad;

(Tue 30 March)

Grenada vs USVI, 7pm/ET, Kirani James Athletic Stadium, St Georges;

Group B: Canada, Suriname, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Aruba.

(Wed 24 March)

Suriname vs Cayman Islands, 6pm/ET, Dr Ir Franklin Essed Stadion, Paramaribo;

(Thu 25 March)

*Canada vs Bermuda, 8pm/ET, Exploria Stadium, Orlando;

(Sat 27 March)

*Aruba vs Suriname, 8pm/ET, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Florida;

(Sun 28 March)

*Cayman Islands vs Canada, TBD, TBD;

(Tue 30 March)

Bermuda vs Aruba, 6.30pm/ET, Bermuda National Sports Centre, Prospect.

Group C: Curaçao, Guatemala, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Cuba, British Virgin Islands.

(Wed 24 March)

Guatemala vs Cuba, 7pm/ET, Estadio Doroteo Guamuch Flores, Guatemala City;

(Thu 25 March)

Curaçao vs St Vincent and the Grenadines, 8pm/ET, Ergilio Hato Stadium, Willemstad;

(Sat 27 March)

*BVI vs Guatemala, 6pm/ET, Ergilio Hato Stadium, Willemstad;

(Sun 28 March)

*Cuba vs Curaçao, 5pm/ET, Estadio Doroteo Guamuch Flores, Guatemala City;

(Tue 30 March)

*St Vincent and the Grenadines vs BVI, 8pm/ET, Ergilio Hato Stadium, Willemstad;

Group D: Panama, Dominican Republic, Barbados, Dominica, Anguilla.

(Wed 24 March)

Dominican Republic vs Dominica, 7pm/ET, Estadio Felix Sanchez, Santo Domingo;

(Thu 25 March)

*Panama vs Barbados, 8pm/ET, Estadio Felix Sanchez, Santo Domingo;

(Sat 27 March)

*Anguilla vs Dominican Republic, 6pm/ET, Inter Miami FC Stadium, Miami;

(Sun 28 March)

*Dominica vs Panama, 4pm/ET, Estadio Felix Sanchez, Santo Domingo;

(Tue 30 March)

*Barbados vs Anguilla, 7.30pm/ET, Estadio Felix Sanchez, Santo Domingo;

Group E: Haiti, Nicaragua, Belize, St Lucia, Turks and Caicos Islands.

(Wed 24 March)

Nicaragua vs St Lucia, 9pm/ET, Estadio Nacional de Futbol de Managua, Managua;

(Thu 25 March)

Haiti vs Belize, 5pm/ET, Stade Sylvio Cator, Port au Prince;

(Sat 27 March)

*Turks and Caicos vs Nicaragua, 7pm/ET, Estadio Panamericano, Santo Domingo;

(Sun 28 March)

*St Lucia vs Haiti, TBD, TBD;

(Tue 30 March)

*Belize vs Turks and Caicos, 7pm/ET, Estadio Panamericano, Santo Domingo.

Group F: Trinidad and Tobago, St Kitts and Nevis, Guyana, Puerto Rico, Bahamas.

(Wed 24 March)

*St Kitts and Nevis vs Puerto Rico, 7pm/ET, Estadio Panamericano, Santo Domingo;

(Thu 25 March)

*Trinidad and Tobago vs Guyana, 7pm/ET, Estadio Panamericano, Santo Domingo;

(Sat 27 March)

Bahamas vs St Kitts and Nevis, 7pm/ET, Thomas Robinson Stadium, Nassau;

(Sun 28 March)

Puerto Rico vs Trinidad and Tobago, 5pm/ET, Estadio Centroamericano, Mayaguez;

(Tue 30 March)

Guyana vs Bahamas, 8pm/ET, National Track & Field Centre, Leonara.