The Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team will launch their 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup bid on Wednesday 5 October at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva when they tackle the Dominican Republic from 7pm.
And Soca Warriors fans might as well as start thinking of the 10,000 seater Couva venue as their home away from home.
Despite early speculation that the inclement weather might be behind the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation’s (TTFA) decision to snub the Hasely Crawford Stadium for Couva, the Port of Spain venue’s facility manager, Anthony Blake, said that the primary reason for the shift is financial.
“It is mainly down to financial considerations,” Blake told Wired868. “Because it is a smaller stadium, you have a $100,000 decrease in costs to put on a game straight away, as the cost is much less for things from the generator to service staff.”
The Ministry of Sport absorbs most match day costs for international sporting events at its venues. However, the Hasely Crawford Stadium is in dire need of a makeover and, inevitably, the 22,000 seater facility would have to be closed for major repair sooner or later.
Blake explained that Trinidad and Tobago’s sporting mecca needs: water proofing, roof repairs, a refurbished media room, car park repairs, electrical work and improved drainage.
“It will be almost like building a new facility,” said Blake.
The Soca Warriors have not played a home game outside of the Hasely Crawford Stadium since their 1-0 loss to Panama in a friendly outing on 27 March 2015. And more than half of coach Stephen Hart’s games in Trinidad were played in Port of Spain.
However, the Warriors have increasingly utilised the Ato Boldon Stadium under current TTFA president David John-Williams, although he has not indicated whether this is a deliberate policy shift under his administration.
The Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 and Under-20 Teams both played their Caribbean Cup fixtures in Couva, earlier this year, with the Senior Team now following suit.
The senior Warriors last played competitive matches in Couva during the 2014 Caribbean qualifying series when they tallied three successive wins over Dominican Republic (6-1), St Lucia (2-0) and Antigua and Barbuda (1-0).
Russia-based defender Sheldon Bateau said the host team will not underestimate their opponents on Wednesday.
“None of these matches are easy but of course if we are on top of our game on the day, then we should be able to take charge and dictate the pace of the game,” Bateau told TTFA Media. “On paper of course we are expected to come out on top but football is changing and teams like Dominican Republic are improving and they are very hungry for success as well.
“The important thing for us is to show our intentions from early to control the game and stamp our authority… Coach Hart will also be looking to ensure that our game is tidy and that everything is in tune with his plans for the [2018 World Cup qualifying] matches in November.”
(Trinidad and Tobago team)
Goalkeepers: Jan-Michael Williams (Central FC), Marvin Phillip (Morvant Caledonia United), Adrian Foncette (Police FC);
Defenders: Mekeil Williams (Colorado Rapids—USA), Aubrey David (FC Dallas—USA), Daneil Cyrus (W Connection), Tristan Hodge (Toronto II—Canada), Radanfah Abu Bakr (JK Silame Kalev—Estonia), Sheldon Bateau (KC Krylia Sovetov—Russia);
Midfielders: Khaleem Hyland (KV Westerlo—Belgium), Andre Boucaud (Dagenham & Redbridge—England), Kevan George (Jackson Armada FC—USA), Neveal Hackshaw (Charleston Battery—USA);
Attacking midfielders: Joevin Jones (Seattle Sounders—US), Cordell Cato (San Jose Earthquakes—US), Levi Garcia (AZ Alkmaar—Netherlands), Kevin Molino (Orlando City—US), Jomal Williams (Murcielagos FC—Mexico);
Forwards: Kenwyne Jones (Central FC), Trevin Caesar (Orange County Blues—US), Shahdon Winchester (Murcielagos FC—Mexico).