FIFA’s lifting of the suspension of the TT Football Association (TTFA) on Thursday comes as a relief to national men’s coach Terry Fenwick. The decision paves the way for TT to compete in the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup and begin their campaign for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
On Thursday, Fenwick told Newsday he was “relieved the matter was over.”
He said, “It’s great news for football in TT. We want to get on with the game, we want to be competing in tournaments, and (the lifting of the suspension) was the only way forward. I’m looking forward to meeting the normalisation committee and talking about positive things rather than the negatives.”
Had this suspension not been lifted by December 18, TT would have been replaced by Antigua/Barbuda for the Gold Cup and would not have been able to participate in the qualifiers.
But the timing of FIFA’s decision to lift the ban leaves the English-born coach still with a big headache. There are no more FIFA international windows until March 2021, when World Cup qualifiers begin. TT will face Montserrat on July 2 in the Gold Cup qualifiers.
Appointed in December 2019, Fenwick is yet to see his team play an official match. The covid19 pandemic and FIFA wrangling crippled all his plans.
In an interview with Newsday on Friday, Fenwick said he is hoping his men can play at least three friendly matches before the end of the year. As the matches are outside the FIFA window, Fenwick will have to rely mostly on locally-based players as foreign clubs are not mandated to release their players. The Pro League and Super League are on hold due to covid19.
Fenwick said he had invited normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad to one of the team’s training sessions and introduced him to the team.
He is expected to send a proposal to Hadad on Monday, “that will outline the possibility, because nothing is guaranteed because of covid19, that there be some friendlies before the end of the year.”
He said he cannot name the proposed opponents at this time, but he hopes the matches can be held in a “bubble,” similar to the 2020 staging of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL).
He said this proposal must first be approved by Hadad, and then it will be sent to the government for its approval.
“We just got back to training. All the other national teams have been training non-stop over this period of time. It’s going to be very difficult but we’ve got some very good talent out there,” he said.
Fenwick had previously proposed a friendly between Trinidad and Tobago.
The TTFA was banned on September 24 as its ousted executive refused to drop a legal challenge against FIFA from the local court.
The ousted executive had challenged FIFA’s decision to remove it and appoint a normalisation committee to run TT football.