Mon, Aug

Members of the T&T football team during a training session in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on Friday, T&T striker Ryan Telfer (closest on the photo) going through his strides. PHOTO COURTESY TTFA MEDIA.

National coach Terry Fenwick has been lifted by the appearance of a few overseas-based professionals including midfielder Daniel Phillips who plays for Championship club Watford, defender Robert Primus who plays in India, and goalkeeping coach Kelvin Jack on Friday.

Fenwick, who faced, among many challenges, an inability to secure much-needed international friendly matches for his team as well as the chance to get all his players back for the World Cup Qualifiers due to either the COVID-19 pandemic or injuries, is expected to be joined also by defensive midfielder Khaleem Hyland and Sheldon Bateau this week.

"We're tightening up," Fenwick told T&T Football Association (TTFA) media officer Shaun Fuentes.

The team has since settled in the Dominican Republic, since leaving T&T on Thursday. They have had two training sessions, which have pleased the English-born coach.

"It has gone very well, it is great to get the overseas-based players in, the camaraderie has been fantastic, the pool of players that we've got is very positive, very vibrant. These guys are bringing their vast experience. Kelvin Jack, a great goalkeeper for T&T and a great coach, and young players like Daniel, what a strong player he is, I think he is going to be such a benefit for T&T.

"I think they've recognised we've got to win this game for T&T, we're going out there, we can't sit on the fence we've got to go and do our stuff, so we're going to need that experience at this stage but we've also brought Duane Muckette and players like that, that have also done very well," Fenwick said. 

Phillips is thrilled to be part of the team saying: "It's been a long time coming and I'm just very happy to be here. Everyone welcomed me here really nicely. I'm just happy to get to work.

"My ambition is to go as far as possible so playing in the World Cup with Trinidad and Tobago, playing on the biggest stage in club competition and international competitions as well.

According to Phillips, his father was born and raised in T&T and his mother born in England but raised in T&T from a very young age and his grandparents are also from T&T.

Phillips, who has been to T&T before but not since 2011, shared on his season with Watford, following his first practice session with the national team on Friday at the Pan American Stadium.

"It's been going so well, this is my breakthrough season of such. I was lucky enough to play in the FA Cup against Manchester United, one of the biggest teams in the world. I've played in the Championship, I've shared the pitch with some legends.

"Every step is another milestone for me, a little push to keep going," he said, adding: I'm hoping to bring a level of quality and push everyone else and they will push me as well.

"Based off the first session, I was really impressed. Everyone gets on really well, it's a team spirit and when it was time to train it was really high intensity right from the start to the finish and thought that was very impressive.

"I can't say I know as much about the level of Guyana or Puerto Rico but with every game, I go with the intention to win and I think that is what we should go in expecting to win and expecting to get results.

A TT Football Association media release said, "The match, which was arranged to be played at the club’s home base, was abandoned on the advice of T&T team doctor Akash Dhanai, after a thorough assessment of the covid19 tests undergone by the Pantoja players was determined to fall short of the TT Football Associations and FIFA’s medical standards. In this regard, the decision was taken to cancel the match to ensure that the safety of T&T players and staff would not have been compromised ahead of next Thursday’s Concacaf World Cup qualifier against Guyana.

The T&T team will open against Guyana on Thursday (March 25), needing to win to have a greater chance of topping Group F which also features the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and St Kitts and Nevis. The winner of this group will march on to play the winner of Group A, which comprises the likes of El Salvador, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Montserrat, and the US Virgin Islands. 

Fenwick said while he was not impressed with the playing venue, the fact that most of the T&T players grew up on community grounds which are similar to the facility in the Dominican Republic and will work in our favour.

Meanwhile, defender Primus said he is excited to be back, and he is ready to get to work.

Watch Daniel Phillips keen to start international career with T&T