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Rough road to Rio

Sunday, August 7 2011

click on pic to zoom in
Models portray costumes from various section during the launch of Oasis' 2012 Carnival presentation, Nippon  Land of the Rising Sun, at the Anchorage ...
Models portray costumes from various section during the launch of Oasis' 2012 Carnival presentation, Nippon Land of the Rising Sun, at the Anchorage ...

Trinidad and Tobago begin our qualifying matches for Brasil 2014 in less than one month. Our team has not played a single match since November last year when we beat Martinique 1-0 in a friendly encounter, that being Russell Latapy’s last match as coach.

This means that current head coach Otto Pfister is yet to see his team on the field of play.

We must profess our deepest concern over this state of affairs, for the glory which we achieved just five years ago in Germany, plus our subsequent appearances at the FIFA U-17 and U-20 Finals, should have seen us developing into a more promising force for 2014.

But this has not been the case. Whatever else the Federation is trying to say, it is clear to us that the departure of Jack Warner from active participation as Adviser is having a serious, and negative effect upon our football.

Last year we failed to qualify out of the Caribbean Football Union to play in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and have seen no ongoing programme of friendly matches for development since then. So, we are about to enter our first qualifying matches for Brasil 2014 without the team even practising together. The break in the European Football Season is now over, and we failed to use this opportunity to even organise a single match to utilise those overseas players and see how they might blend in with their locally based teammates. We are not aware that there is a Local Organising Committee (LOC) to prepare for all the home matches and to seek the required sponsorships for the team.

Frankly, we are extremely worried about our ability to pull the required programmes — practise and training, event planning and organising, and of course the Player Agreements which need to be in place. Recent signals from Government towards other sporting bodies suggest that it is unlikely that the Federation can expect the funding needed to mount the programmes needed to set us on our way. And in any case, the Federation cannot be totally dependent upon Government for financial support.

We do not believe the current state of our football and the unknown potential of our team will attract corporate sponsorship at this stage, although we do hope that some corporate sponsorship will be forthcoming. The “prize” of being associated with the team in Brasil, should they make it, would be more than worth the sponsorship investment from a corporate sector which appears more financially secure than the State treasury.

In the absence of Mr Warner’s financial support, which we must acknowledge has literally carried the Federation through the 2002, 2006 and 2010 campaigns, we need to know what might be the cost of this campaign, through each qualifying round in which we hope to compete.

First we must win our Group, consisting of Bermuda, Barbados and Guyana between September 2 and November 15 this year. Should we prevail, we will be in a semi-final group, meeting Mexico, Costa Rica and most likely El Salvador through 2012. We must finish first or second in that group to qualify for the CONCACAF final round of six teams in 2013.

Should we actually make it through these two rounds, we believe that we do have a chance of competing for a place in Brasil. We therefore suggest that the Federation take it one step, one round, at a time, and do not think of being in Brasil until they have qualified for the Final Round in 2013.

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