Guyana convincingly recovered from an opening-round loss to Trinidad and Tobago with a 4-0 win over the Bahamas in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday.

Goals from Terrence Vancooten (8th), Kadell Daniel (54th), Oman Glasgow (75th), and Emery Welshman (81st) gave the Golden Jaguars a comfortable win, with The Bahamas slipping to a second straight loss and remaining at the bottom of the group.  The win saw Guyana move to third place in Group A, behind second-place T&T and early leaders St Kitts and Nevis.

Elsewhere, Belize also registered a big win with a 5-0 win over Turks and Caicos Island in Group E.  Belize were led by a brace from Carlos Bernárdez (45+3, 48) with addition goals from Jesse August (47th), Deshawon Nembhard (81) and Deon McCaulay (90+1).   The win sees Belize move second behind leader Nicaragua on goal difference and ahead of third-place Haiti.  

A brace from Kane Critchlow (36th, 80th) also ensures that Bermuda were also among the big winners of the round as they registered a 5-0 win over Aruba in Group B.  Other goals in the match came from Jaylon Bather (40th), Dante Leverock (57th), and Knory Scott (64th).  The win moved Bermuda to third spot behind leaders Canada and second place Suriname who both have 6 points.

In other results, Barbados registered a 1-0 win over Anguilla in Group D, Grenada secured a 1-0 win over the US Virgin Islands in Group A, and St Vincent and the Grenadines secured a 3-0 over British Virgin Islands in Group C.  The goals came from Oalex Anderson (10th), Zidane Sam (20th), and Azinho Solomon (86th).

 

 

 

  

On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they have seen throughout the week with different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these trending issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT the 2021 edition with Mariah.

 

Bonner’s maiden test century was worth the wait.

West Indies all-rounder Nkrumah Bonner’s maiden century in the first Test against Sri Lanka helped the team play to a draw in the match that looked like it had slipped away from the home team. Batting at number three, the 32-year-old Jamaican scored 113 not out to achieve what he described as his childhood dream.

After winning the toss the home side bowled out Sri Lanka for 169. In reply, the Windies scored 271 for a lead 102 runs. Sri Lanka scored a massive 476 in their second innings which left the home side requiring 375 for an unlikely victory.

Entering the on 34-1, still 340 runs behind, only two results seemed likely – a Sri Lanka win or a draw. Bonner helped to achieve the latter as the West Indies were 236-4 when play was called off.

It is notable that Bonner came into this series in good form from the 2-0 Test series win over Bangladesh earlier in February. He was named Man of the Series having produced scores of 17, 86,90 and 30.

In the West Indies first turn at bat against Sri Lanka, Bonner scored 31 but was not happy with his performance. Recognizing that there was a problem, he sought and received the help that saw him produce his unbeaten century that prevented the West Indies from slipping to defeat.

 T&T’s Soca Warriors victory is exactly what they needed

Trinidad and Tobago’s 3-0 victory over Guyana their opening 2022 CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers on Thursday, was exactly what the team needed to lift their spirits.

 Prior to the match, T&T’s preparations were limited and were forced to play away from home because of their government’s pandemic protocols that kept their borders closed.

 Additionally, T&T has had many off-field issues including a FIFA imposed suspension after a protracted battle with the football’s governing body. Then, just days before the qualifiers were to begin, head coach Terry Fenwick and Director of Communications Shaun Fuentes were alleged to have been involved in a physical altercation.

On form, the team was coming off a 7-0 thrashing from the United States 7-0 in January.

With this in mind, the 3-0 victory over Guyana, was a welcome respite that gave Fenwick his first official win as national coach.

The coach, who said he was incredibly pleased with the team’s performance, will want to keep the momentum in the second qualifier away to Puerto Rico. 

Trinidad and Tobago will be heading into the match against Puerto Rico in high spirits as it would go a long way to shifting the narrative away from off-field woes.

 

Haiti kicked off the second day of the First Round of Concacaf World Cup Qualifying for Qatar 2022 with a 2-0 home victory against Belize.

The home side dominated the proceedings in Port-au-Prince in the first half but was unable to beat Belize goalkeeper Woodrow West until the 50th minute, with Ricardo Ade getting free in the box to head in a corner kick.

It was another corner kick that doubled Haiti’s lead, with Steven Seance taking advantage of some confusion in the box to knock in another in the 80th minute.

Belize now makes the quick trip to the Dominican Republic for a contest with the Turks and Caicos Islands, who also serve as Haiti’s next opponent when qualification resumes in June.

Meanwhile, the Guus Hiddink era got off to a strong start for Curacao, which beat Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, 5-0.

Curacao applied a press from the opening window and forced a turnover that Juninho Bacuna was able to tap in for the opener. Anthony van den Hurk then scored in his debut in the 17th minute, with Bacuna adding his second of the night in the 35th minute.

Jarchino Antonio sent the teams into the Ergilio Hato Stadium locker rooms at 4-0 with a goal just before the halftime break, before Curacao capped things in the 87th minute with Leandro Bacuna spurring a counter-attack and Elson Hooi finishing the move.

Trinidad and Tobago also enjoyed a big win Thursday, getting past Guyana, 3-0. Levi Garcia got things started early with a lovely individual goal, squeezing past the defenders and the end line and then firing home in the seventh minute.

A free-kick from Ryan Telfer deflected off CB Sheldon Bateau’s thigh and into the goal in the 15th minute to extend the Trinidad and Tobago lead.

It was three when Telfer pounced on an error from Guyana GK Akel Clarke in the 44th minute, with the goalkeeper fumbling an attempt to collect and Telfer able to finish into the open net.

Canada kept pace with Suriname atop Group B, seeing off a challenge from Bermuda with a 5-1 win.

Alphonso Davies whipped in a free-kick from the right side in the 19th minute that found Cyle Larin and went in for the opening goal.

In the 27th minute, Davies came down the left side of Canada’s attack and beat Bermuda GK Dale Eve to a ball. He once again connected with Larin, who was able to power his finish into the net before Eve fully recovered.

Richie Laryea added to the lead, surging forward from left-back in the 53rd minute and scoring the first goal of his national team career.

Milan Borjan kept his net clean for more than an hour but dropped a ball that Kane Crichlow pounced on to bring one back. But Davies and Larin linked up once again in the 68th minute to complete Larin’s hat trick and Theo Corbeanu scored in his debut after his run took Bermuda by surprise and Liam Millar found him in the box.

Panama and Barbados looked destined for a scoreless draw with both teams getting opportunities but sending them wide of the goal or off the post.

Then, in the 82nd minute, Jair Catuy’s run into the box went unchecked and Jose Murillo found him for a diving header that put the 2018 FIFA World Cup participant in the lead.

Thomas Christiansen’s squad saw out the 1-0 result to open qualification with a victory.

In the nightcap at the Estadio Cuscatlan, El Salvador scored a goal in each half to claim a 2-0 win over Grenada.

Gerson Mayen brought a ball down in the box, used his left foot to move horizontally with the ball and then beat Grenada GK Jason Belfon.

Mayen turned provider on the second goal, as El Salvador scored just one minute into the second half on a break.

Mayen’s through ball found David Tony Rugamas, whose shot took a deflection and landed in the goal.

El Salvador now travels to meet Montserrat, while Grenada returns to St. George’s to welcome the U.S. Virgin Islands.

National footballer players in St Lucia demonstrated in front of the St Lucia Football Association (SLFA) headquarters in Castries today against the country’s withdrawal from the FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

With St Lucia withdrawing from the FIFA World Cup qualifiers that begin their players have not been officially informed that they will not be playing Nicaragua in Nicaragua tomorrow.

St Lucia has withdrawn from the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Reggae Boyz Captain Andre Blake has confirmed that the players have rejected the Jamaica Football Federation’s offer on terms and wages for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers and CONCACAF Gold Cup saying that they are willing to boycott all those competitions as they seek respect and fairness from their local football authorities.

“The players are prepared to go all the way,” Blake told Sportsmax.TV today. “They treat us like slaves and we are done being slaves!”

The players had made an initial request of US$7000 per player per match for the World Cup qualifiers set to begin in September. The JFF countered with an offer of US$2000 per match with bonuses of US$1000 for each win and US$500 for a draw. They claim they are unable to afford more.

The players had until last Friday to sign their contracts but sources indicate that the JFF had extended the deadline by a “few days” to give them more time to mull what has been described as a “take it or leave it” offer.

However, on the weekend, the players began to post ‘Take A Stand’ memes on their social media pages, a clear indication that they were not willing to accept the JFF’s offer.

Blake confirmed that to Sportsmax.TV this afternoon.

“The JFF submitted an offer, we countered that offer and they said they weren’t prepared to counter our offer,” Blake said. “We did have a new offer to put to the JFF and they made it clear, so after they did not counter-counter our offer, we reached out to let them know we were going to send in a new offer and they outright let us know that it was almost pointless to send the new offer because they will not entertain it.

“What they have on the table is what it is; you sign it you are eligible for selection, if you don’t then you’re not. So, at this point, yes, I and the players said ‘sorry but we cannot sign that contract, so that’s where we’re at right now.”

Blake said the players have now decided to take a stand because they believe the abuse at the hands of the JFF has been going on for too long. “It’s been generation on top of generation, anybody who has played for Jamaica can attest to this,” he said.

“If we don’t put a stop to this, 20 years later, my kids’ kids or other players’ kids or public members’ kids are going to be playing for the same money and under the same poor organization, structure and poor professionalism and poor communication and Jamaica football will never get better.”

He explained further that the current stance that the players are taking is not just about money.

“It’s more about respect and how the JFF approaches negotiations,” he said referring to the leaked voice note on recent negotiations where JFF officials were heard referring to the players in a disrespectful manner as they tried to negotiate terms for the two-match trip to Saudi Arabia in November 2020.

“The way the JFF goes about business is unacceptable and the players are just at a point where we think we have had enough,” Blake said. “Some things need to change. The JFF can definitely operate in a more professional manner.

“There is just so much more than they make it seem as if players are just in it for the money. They can go ahead and violate negotiations by leaking what they want and keep confidential what they want just to paint a bad picture of the players.”

Asked what he would like to see the JFF do to improve their relationship with the players, Blake said:

“They JFF need to start to put the players first. The JFF is not putting the players in the best possible position to be successful. And when we are not successful using baskets to carry water, everything falls back on the players.

“Travel arrangements are poor, hotel accommodations are poor, communication, poor, organization poor. It’s been going on for a while and we have just had enough. That’s the point where we are at right now and it’s nothing about whether you’re willing to play for free.

“The JFF, they do things backwards. The board should enjoy all the luxury treatment and reap all the benefits while the players go out there and do all the work. It’s slavery and we’re done being slaves for the JFF.”

 Calls to members of the JFF executive went unanswered.

 

A letter released on behalf of Jamaica’s national football players has described recent information circulating in the media, regarding specifics of ongoing negotiations with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), as ‘inaccurate’ but were unable to set the record straight due to contractual obligations.

The details of the report caused bulging eyeballs, with claims the national team’s representatives had requested a few eye-watering sums for the upcoming campaigns.  Among the standout details was a US$7000 ($1,053,791.20) per player, per match request, in addition to a US$1,000 (150,541.60) win bonus, for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers. 

With an assumed squad of 22 players, at that rate, excluding the bonus, the JFF could be forced to fork out US$154,000 ($23,183,406) per match for the 14 match qualifiers.  In total, the bill would amount to US$2,156,000 ($324,567,689) for the period and that would be the wage bill, exclusive of other expenses like travel and accommodation.  If the reports are accurate, the parties remain miles apart as the JFF has insisted the most it can offer is US$2000 ($301,083) per match.

In addition, the information released claimed the players have requested US$5,000 ($752,708), for an international friendly, which includes a US$1,000 dollar win bonus.  For the CONCACAF Nations League, that amount would fall to US$3,000 ($451,624.80).

According to the release issued by the players’ attorney, negotiations remained ongoing and it was premature to offer details on the issue.

“The players have indicated that it would be premature to make comments on an ongoing negotiation of such national importance,” the release read.

 “The players, upon request by the JFF through their attorney, were asked to keep details of the current negotiations confidential. The players are therefore exercising this responsibility and will not dishonour that request.

The players consider qualification to the World Cup and maintaining Jamaica's top 50 rankings as an important responsibility and remain committed to an amicable resolution with the JFF.

 They look forward to continuing meaningful discussions with the JFF around a number of outstanding issues, including, but not limited to, match remuneration.”

 

 

Jamaica’s World Cup campaign is set to be bolstered by the addition of West Ham striker Michail Antonio, who reports say, is to accept an invitation from the Jamaica Football Federation to represent the Reggae Boyz.

Reggae Boyz team manager Roy Simpson believes midfielder Ravel Morrison is finally ready to don the black, green and gold kit of Jamaica after a few years of ambivalence.

The Reggae Boyz have done well to push their CONCACAF rankings and make it directly to the final round of World Cup qualification.

But I don’t believe that this has helped them. I believe it would have been better had the Reggae Boyz not done so well up to this point.

The brand, Reggae Boyz, is not what it used to be and as it stands, the team hasn’t been getting high-quality opponents during friendlies.

I believe that the match windows the team could have used to get sharp and stay sharp will be wasted on teams not of the quality to prepare the Reggae Boyz for the harsh realities of the Octagonal they are to face in June of 2021.

So far, the Reggae Boyz, the number four team in CONCACAF, will play against the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Honduras. Three other teams will join the Reggae Boyz in the final-round fight for a place at the World Cup in Qatar.

The Reggae Boyz, if properly prepared, can compete against any of these teams, but without having to play in further qualifiers before the final round, I fear they may not be.

Outside of a 3-1 defeat to the United States in June of 2019, in the last year, the Reggae Boyz have played against Curacao, Panama, Antigua & Barbuda, Guyana and Aruba.

No disrespect to these teams, but as far as oppositions go, they may not be good enough to accurately prepare the Reggae Boyz for high-quality opposition in the Octagonal.

With no international football since the spread of COVID-19 and attempt to cauterize it from creating further devastation, the Reggae Boyz have been, in a word, idle.

You might say this applies to all the teams in the final round, however, these teams have a greater history of being successful at this level.

It is the Reggae Boyz who need to step up, improve to their level.

The team, I believe, has all the requisite talent to do so. The Reggae Boyz performance in making the second Gold Cup finals in their history is proof of that.

However, coach Theodore Whitmore and standout centre half Damion Lowe, have pointed to one thing while noting the excellent chances of this team of making it to Qatar in 2022.

The two have said the preparations need to be on point.

One of the ways of preparing is to play friendlies against high-enough quality opposition to ensure, match readiness and to figure out how to diminish your weaknesses.

While the opposition the Reggae Boyz have faced over the last year may provide them match readiness, these teams do not adequately show up the Reggae Boyz’ weaknesses.

Those weaknesses will not be shown up because, again, no disrespect to the opposition so far, the Reggae Boyz are better.

The Jamaica Football Federation has kept its plans for the months preceding the Octagonal close to its chest but if the nature of friendlies in the recent past is anything to go by, the Reggae Boyz might find themselves short of work come June.

Despite a rich history in football, the Caribbean has not had many moments to savour on the World stage, making them, interestingly, all the more special.

Cuba provided the first of the moments, making the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup all the way back in 1938.

Cuba had always been a little special island, long proving itself self-sufficient and able to compete with the rest of the world, despite any political or financial issues that could serve to slow its development.

That self-sufficiency and ability to achieve despite significant odds meant that Cuba’s entrance to the FIFA World Cup was not a emblematic moment and the rest of the Caribbean felt no closer to the possibility of making it on the world stage.

Thirty-six years later, Haiti provided the second moment, getting to the FIFA World Cup in 1974.

That feat, for a country, which had long-standing political issues and an overbearing poverty problem, was immense.

Now the rest of the Caribbean began to take note. Maybe now other islands could dare to dream.

While Haiti’s football has ebbed and flowed and they have not quite gotten back to those heady heights, the moment was important.

All of a sudden, the possibilities for Caribbean football were immense.

But it took another 20 years before the Reggae Boyz were on a similar journey. For the first time, CONCACAF had more than the obligatory two spots that would go to Mexico and the United States.

Now there was hope for someone else to join the fray. Still there were obstacles.

In 1997, the Reggae Boyz were up against it. In the final round they were winless, until a series of three games, 1-0 wins over each of El Salvador, Canada, and Costa Rica.

After finishing winless in the first four games of the final qualifying round, Jamaica recorded three 1–0 wins over El Salvador, Canada, and Costa Rica, giving them a chance at history.

Jamaica were on the cusp of becoming the first English-speaking team from the Caribbean to make it to the World Cup.

But standing in their way was the mighty Mexico. Jamaica needed to avoid losing to a team they had lost to 6-0 earlier in those qualifiers. There was hope but it was slim.

History has a funny way of staying the same and no matter how many times this story gets told, the 0-0 draw the Reggae Boyz achieved against the attacking juggernauts that were Mexico still seems unlikely.

An entire nation celebrated, but so did the rest of the Caribbean. After all, there were other countries in the region that had proven worthy adversaries for the Reggae Boyz and that meant somebody else could make it too.

In 2006, somebody else did.

Trinidad and Tobago, still with two of its legends, Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy, in tow would take an ageing team, and prove the Caribbean were now becoming a force to be reckoned with.

Until 2018 when Iceland made their World Cup bow, T&T were the smallest nation to ever play in the tournament.

But it wasn’t easy either, and Trinidad and Tobago, after finishing fourth in the final round had to contend with the unknown quantity that was Bahrain.

The tiny twin-island republic had to play against a team, which had financial resources that would dwarf it.

Things looked even more bleak for T&T after the first leg of the home-and-away tie on November 12, 2005, played at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, ended 1-1.

This meant, T&T had to go away to win against a team they couldn’t get the better of at home.

Again, the Caribbean beat the odds and a 1-0 win at the Bahrain National Stadium on the 16th of November 2005 again changed the course of history for the Caribbean side and the region around it.

The Caribbean has, since those moments made great leaps in the transport of its players all over the world, even if those marginal improvements have yet to bare fruit in terms of consistent Caribbean representation at the ICC World Cup.

But the improvements continue as can be seen with the large number of locally grown players, now turning out for the national teams of countries all over the region.

Today there is more and more competition from the rest of the Caribbean and neither T&T nor Jamaica have a free run of the region anymore.

It is interesting that the success of the three over the last 46 years, is what has created a competitive Caribbean and destroyed the spectre of their unquestioned dominance.  

Trinidad and Tobago Men’s football team captain, Khaleem Hyland, is stuck in Saudi Arabia without his lifeblood, football, but he does send a message filled with hope.

According to Hyland, life without football is tough, especially when he cannot leave Saudi Arabia to be with his family in the twin-island republic, but still, there is opportunity in the midst of all this.

“It’s been difficult for everyone as not being able to play football is very hard to endure. I see everyone posting all this time without football and life is not normal. The supporters and players both here and at home have a challenging time to get through,” said Hyland.

“I wish everyone the best of health and best of luck. We know the procedures we need to follow to be clean and be healthy. We need to rally together as a country to get it all back on track. Hopefully, we can live as one again as a country and as people in this world,” he said.

As for T&T’s football, Hyland believes there is work to be done to get it back to where it should be, but that there are the tools to do it.

“Now we have a new coach. It’s been a while now Terry Fenwick has been aiming and hoping that he would get the job. Congratulations to him. I worked with him at a young age at Jabloteh and I know he is a very good person. He knows what he wants and he knows how to get information to players and get quality out of them. He tends to have his ideas and plans on board,” said Hyland.

According to the Al-Faisaly midfielder, while he has much respect for Fenwick, he is also aware that how quickly T&T can recover post-COVID-19 also depends heavily on the players and fans.

“Hopefully we can all work for the best for our country and for our football to move onto the right track and hopefully we can move on to better ways, winning ways or to even a better structure than the past,” he said.

“We just have to look forward to the future and work hard as a team. Everyone needs to do their own homework also. It’s a new coach in charge now and everyone has a chance to show what they can do and bring forward the best towards the national team. We are representing the Red, White and Black and we need to do our best for our country. It is an honour to always wear the colours of Trinidad and Tobago.”

On a more personal note, Hyland has been keeping fit in the hope that football in Saudi Arabia can restart sooner rather than later.

“I’ve been going through my paces every day, working hard, training hard The last couple months paid off with me getting on the scoresheet and the team doing great before COVID-19 took over,” he said.

Hyland also had a word for his family in a difficult time, assuring them he is safe.

“Right now here in Saudi Arabia and in the world everything is at a standstill and the league has been postponed. It is hard for me to be here with days off and I cannot leave the country and cannot fly to go and be with my loved ones. I have a couple friends here in Saudi Arabia and they make me feel at home away from home. The atmosphere in Saudi Arabia is still good and they are dealing with it well and taking the precautionary measures to ensure we are safe.

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