Antigua and Barbuda football technical director Rolston Williams has stuck to his guns despite heavy criticism following his insistence that locally-based players were not good enough to match the region’s best teams.

Williams stoked the flames of discontent recently, following claims that the country would have to turn to its internationally based players if it is to compete with the likes of Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Grenada.

“I don’t care who bash and who make their negative comments, I am dealing with the reality because you’re looking at teams like Jamaica, Trinidad, Grenada who [have] gone to the Gold Cup with 15 overseas players. Suriname brought in the same amount so why are being naïve to say that we can make it on our own when we know it’s difficult?” Williams told the Good Morning Jojo Show.

The Benna Boys recently missed out on qualification to the CONCACAF Gold Cup, following a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Jamaica.  On that occasion, the team had featured a number of locally-based players.

“We had the Barracuda [professional team] that were playing 20 games in a season. The players came home and they were playing 18, so that’s 38 games they played in one year, and that’s the same amount of games the English Premier League is playing; but still, we brought in players,” he said.

“Now, we don’t have any Barracuda so the players are only playing amateur football. So why can we do it on our own now and when we had better players and more seasonal players, we did not think we could do it on our own? We still brought in players, but all of a sudden we can do it on our own with all amateur players,” he added.

 

 

Head coach of the Trinidad Tobago senior football team, Terry Fenwick, believes his experience in the T&T Pro League will serve him well as he attempts to turn around the flagging fortunes of the twin-island republic.

Fenwick was offered a two-year deal by the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s Technical Committee earlier this week but must show improvement for that to be increased to four years.

According to the former England defender, who had successful stints with San Juan Jabloteh and Central FC in the T&T Pro League, his experience with the very players who now make up the national squad makes his transition to head coach much easier.

“I know most of the players relatively well and, having been here as long as I have, I know the strengths and weaknesses of Trinidad and Tobago football,” Fenwick told Trinidad and Tobago online news entity, Wired868.

According to Fenwick though, he cannot achieve success without support.

“I will try to tailor my plans to their strengths to bring quick success. I need support around me and I welcome the public’s support to help lift our football back to where it should be.”

Where the Soca Warriors should be and where they are, is a gargantuan distance as Fenwick’s predecessor, Dennis Lawrence, oversaw a period where the team won one of 15 games in the last calendar year, failing to take three points from a competitive fixture since a 2-1 win over the United States all the way back in October of 2017.

But Fenwick believes he has attributes that counteract that slide from grace.

“I’m organised, I’m structured and players know exactly what they have to do in my system,” he said.

“I’m also very flexible tactically and I’m able to change formations during matches and I’ve demonstrated that over the years. I demand plenty from my players.

“We might not have the Dwight Yorkes and Russell Latapys of yesteryear but we have still got lots of quality, particularly in terms of the defenders we have produced over the last 10 years.”

That quality will be called into question as early as March where Fenwick will have to lead the Soca Warriors into friendlies during the FIFA international window in a bid to get them ready for a CONCACAF Gold Cup playoff qualification tie against either Barbados or Guyana in June.

Former England defender, coach of Central FC and San Juan Jabloteh in the Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) Pro League, Terry Fenwick, has been named the head coach of the twin-island republic’s senior football team, the Soca Warriors.

The official draw for the qualifying matches of the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup is in the books and Haiti, Trinidad & Tobago, Bermuda and Cuba, despite already being placed in round two, are not set to have an easy of it.

As announced in March of 2018, the 2019-2020 Concacaf Nations League kicked off the road to 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup. After group stage play, the top two finishers in each of the League A groups and the top finisher in each of the League B groups secured their participation in the 16th edition of the Confederation’s premier tournament for men’s national teams.

 

The road to the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup will continue next year with a two-round qualifier, to be played in a direct elimination format. Beginning in March of 2020, the second-place finishers of League B will face the first-place finishers of League C. The four matchups were drawn as follows:

 

Matchup 1: Guadeloupe vs Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Matchup 2: Barbados vs Guyana

Matchup 3: Bahamas vs French Guiana

Matchup 4: Guatemala vs Monserrat

 

After home-and-away play, the four round one matchup winners will advance to the second round, where they will face the third-place finishers of League A. The second round will take place during the FIFA window of June 2020. The four round-two matchups were drawn as follows:

 

Matchup 5: Winner Matchup 1 vs Haiti

Matchup 6: Winner Matchup 2 vs Trinidad & Tobago

Matchup 7: Winner Matchup 3 vs Bermuda

Matchup 8: Winner Matchup 4 vs Cuba

 

This mean Haiti will play against either Guadeloupe or St Vincent and the Grenadines, while Trinidad & Tobago has the task of trying to turn back either Barbados or Guyana. Bermuda, who have done well to date, have either the Bahamas or the dangerous French Guiana, while Cuba must contend with either Guatemala or Montserrat.

After home-and-away play, the four matchup winners will qualify for the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup, joining (in alphabetical order); Canada, Costa Rica, Curacao, El Salvador, Grenada, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Suriname and the United States.

The gala event in Miami, FL was attended by Concacaf President Victor Montagliani, Concacaf General Secretary Philippe Moggio and the presidents of all 41 Concacaf Member Associations.

The draw was conducted by Concacaf Development Director Jason Roberts and Concacaf Director of Competitions Carlos Fernandez.

The complete schedule, including dates, kickoff times and host venues for the qualifying matches will be announced at a later date.

 

French Guiana picked up a 3-1 win over Saint Kitts and Nevis on Sunday in Group A of League B in the 2019-20 Concacaf Nations League at the Stade Municipal Dr. Edmard Lama in Cayenne, French Guiana.

Tyquan Terrell opened the scoring with his first international goal to put the visitors ahead in the 11th minute.

Jessy Marigard leveled things with his first goal of the tournament for French Guiana in the 19th minute, snapping a three-match goal drought in CNL for the home side.

Marigard would extend the lead for the hosts with his second goal in the 28th minute and become the nation’s leading scorer in CNL play.

Joel Sarrucco made it a 3-1 lead for French Guiana with a header in the 76th minute.

Saint Kitts and Nevis goalkeeper Julani Archibald stood out for his team with five saves on the night.

With the win, French Guiana momentarily takes second place in the group. They will advance to the qualification phase for the 2021 Gold Cup if Belize fails to get a win against Grenada.

The loss assures Saint Kitts and Nevis the last place in the group and relegation to League C.

Grenada took a 3-2 win over Belize on Sunday in the final match of Group A of League B in the 2019-20 Concacaf Nations League at the Kirani James Athletic Stadium in St. George’s, Grenada.

The hosts took the lead in the scoreboard first thanks to a Jamal Charles header in the 14th minute.

Ian Gaynair responded with a header of his own to level the score for Belize in the 32nd minute.

The visitors would take the lead with a goal by Michael Salazar in the 55th minute.

That lead would only last four minutes as Charles completed a brace to draw the score in the 59th minute.

Charles extended Grenada’s lead to 3-2 in the 68th minute of the match. The hat-trick increased the Grenadian’s total to six goals in CNL play.

With the win, Grenada finish the group stage with an undefeated 4-2-0 mark. Grenada also gains promotion to League A as the head of the group.

Belize finish third in the group with the loss and French Guiana’s win earlier in the day. French Guiana finishes second and advances to the first round of 2021 Gold Cup qualifying as a result.

Honduras had already clinched a spot in the Nations League finals next summer heading into the final match of group play, but they didn’t let up in the closer against Trinidad and Tobago, putting up an impressive 4-0 win.

Jonathan Rubio got Los Catrachos off to a flying start, sending a powerful strike from 20 yards out past a diving Marvin Phillip in the 5th minute.

Honduras continued to dominate the early proceedings, culminating in a 20th minute goal from Brayan Moya to double the lead.

Moments before the halftime whistle, Rubio was brought down for a penalty, and Alberth Elis converted in the 45+2 minute.

The second half was more of the same story; Elis netted his second of the day in the 53rd minute to complete the scoreline.

Trinidad did have some shots on goal, but none got past Luis Lopez who ended the day with four saves.

The victory means Honduras finish the group stage with 10 points, and are likely to enter the knockout round as the #2 seed. On the other end, the defeat means Trinidad and Tobago have been relegated to League B and will enter the Gold Cup qualifiers in the second round.

El Salvador have qualified for the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup thanks to a dramatic 1-0 victory over Montserrat in Group B of League B of the Concacaf Nations League on Saturday night at the Estadio Cuscatlan in San Salvador.

Carlos Portillo scored a header in the first minute of stoppage time to clinch a first-place finish in the group for the Cuscatlecos, who have also earned promotion to League A.

El Salvador had the bulk of the scoring chances throughout, but found it nearly impossible to beat Montserrat GK Corrin Brooks.

Rodolfo Zelaya almost broke the deadlock early with a shot that glanced off the crossbar in the 3’, before Brooks denied chances from Ibsen Castro, Zelaya and a point-blank effort from Marvin Monterroza.

Montserrat started gaining a foothold and on the hour mark Spencer Weir-Daley had the best chance for the Emerald Boys, but his volley missed over the crossbar.

Monterroza had a second crack but could only shake his head in disbelief after another fine stop from Brooks, but there was nothing the Montserrat stopper could to prevent Portillo heading in Castro’s cross in stoppage time to give El Salvador the 1-0 winning scoreline.

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) will need a minimum of US$2million a year to fund its objectives of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and winning the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2021.

Jamaica international Leon Bailey expects to be fit for action following the international break, missing another three games due to injury.

The 21-year-old has been out of action since suffering a muscle injury in a match against Lokomotiv Moscow in the Champions League earlier this month.  The setback is just the latest for the talented winger, who has suffered with fitness injuries for a good part of the year.

In April, the player suffered a hamstring injury, only just returning in time to make his debut for the Jamaica national team at the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

The latest injury is expected to keep Bailey out of action for the team ‘s upcoming match against Aruba on October 12 at Jamaica’s National Stadium.  

"I think I'll miss three more games," Bailey said in an interview with Kicker and continued:

 "I'll be back during the international break."

Bailey has scored two goals in six games for Leverkusen so far this season.

Craig Butler, the agent and adoptive father to Bayer Leverkusen star and Jamaica international Leon Bailey, says Jamaica’s football coaching staff is too defensive-minded during games, and he believes their egos will not improve the country’s football.

Jamaica international Junior Flemmings insists he was not bothered by playing somewhat out of position for the national team during the recently concluded CONCACAF Gold Cup campaign.

Flemmings, who currently plies his trade for Phoenix Rising FC in the USL Championship, was deployed by Whitmore as a central attacking midfielder in five appearances. 

The 23-year-old, who on occasion played as a forward during his high school years, has typically been deployed as a wide player New York Red Bull, Tampa Bay and now Phoenix.  For Flemming, who had some noteworthy games in the position, it was a case of stepping up to get the job done.

 “To be honest, it was a moment of ‘Wherever the coach needs me to play, I need to go out there and give 110%,’ whether or not it was my preferred position,” Flemmings said.

“At the end of the day, I’m representing my country and you have to do whatever to get those results. It was just one of those tournaments where I had to play out of position to help the team, and I did,” he added.

The tournament marked seven appearances for the player who made his debut at the 2017 Caribbean Cup in Martinique against French Guiana.

Despite the fact that, for the first time in the competition’s history, two Caribbean teams, Haiti and Jamaica, were in the final four of the Gold Cup, no players from those nations managed to find their way into a Best XI. 

Mexico boss Tata Martino flashed a warning to the rest of CONCACAF after their Gold Cup win, insisting they can be even better with the likes of Hirving Lozano available.

A Jonathan dos Santos goal was enough to defeat defending champions the United States 1-0 in Sunday's final in Chicago, securing El Tri's eighth title.

USA created and squandered their own chances to win the match, yet Martino pointed out afterwards Mexico still have another level they can go to.

PSV ace Lozano was absent with injury, while Hector Herrera, Javier Hernandez and Jesus Manuel Corona also missed the tournament, and Carlos Vela remains out of favour with the coach.

"I keep insisting we will be even better with those who were not here due to different circumstances," Martino told a news conference.

"We were without one of the three best forwards in the Dutch league [Lozano], for example, who had a knee injury.

"Obviously there's no reason to think we can't be better with these players. We'll see which players return and which don't.

"I'm very happy with the first six months of my time in charge."

United States coach Gregg Berhalter, himself in his first year in the job, suggested the final showed how far his side still have to go.

"Over the course of 90 minutes, Mexico were the better team," he said. "Having said that, we started the game really bright. We came out, created some really good chances.

"When you talk about a step the team needs to take, we're close. We're close, but we weren't there tonight."

USA forward Jozy Altidore added: "That's what's hard about these tournaments. You play games that aren't up to scruff until the final. The final is a huge step.

"It's a faster game, just way more intense than some of the group-stage games. In that regard, it was tough but it was a good measuring stick of where we're trying to go.

"I think it's a step forward. If you look at the final here and how we started the game, I think it was terrific.

"I've been on this team a long time. To see that initiative, to see the guys eager to play forward and play out of pressure and keep the ball in a game like this, this is progress in my opinion."

Mexico claimed their eighth CONCACAF Gold Cup title with an entertaining 1-0 win over the United States in the final on Sunday.

Jonathan dos Santos was the hero with the 73rd-minute winner at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Dos Santos took his chance excellently in a game during which USA squandered theirs, with Christian Pulisic and Jozy Altidore missing early opportunities.

Jordan Morris also had a header cleared off the line before Dos Santos' winner came after a period of dominance by Gerardo Martino's men.

USA made a brilliant start and created two great chances in the opening eight minutes.

The first opportunity fell to Pulisic, who was denied in a one-on-one by Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa after being set up by Altidore.

Altidore should have opened the scoring for USA soon after, but he scuffed an effort wide after a wonderful change of direction on the edge of the area.

Mexico responded and almost took the lead through Andres Guardado, who blazed over from inside the area under heavy pressure from Paul Arriola.

In what was a frantic end-to-end first half, Arriola fired another decent chance wide for USA from inside the area.

USA continued to enjoy the better opportunities to begin the second half, with Morris' 51st-minute header from a corner cleared off the line by Guardado.

Mexico were much-improved after that chance, enjoying a good period that included Jesus Gallardo directing a 25-yard volley straight at USA goalkeeper Zack Steffen in the 68th minute.

And they capitalised on their period of dominance with the opener just five minutes later through Dos Santos' third international goal.

A fine move down the right led to Raul Jimenez back-heeling a pass into the path of Dos Santos, whose excellent left-footed effort went in via the underside of the crossbar from just inside the area.

That would prove to be enough for Mexico as they saw out the closing stages to secure the title.

What does it mean? Mexico pull clear

While USA had the better of the chances, Mexico's win marked their eighth Gold Cup crown. That moved them two titles clear of USA, who have won six.

Martino delivers for Mexico

Mexico impressed after Martino took charge in January, although their performances in the knockout stage of the Gold Cup never reached any great heights. Still, the Argentinian helped deliver the title for Mexico.

USA left to rue missed chances

The hosts dominated long periods without capitalising and they were made to pay. Pulisic and Altidore missed good chances and Morris had another cleared off the line, while Mexico saw their period of dominance capped off with Dos Santos' winner.

What's next?

USA are looking ahead to the CONCACAF Nations League in October, while Mexico will face Argentina in a friendly in September.

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