DIRECTV W Connection cut two-time TT Pro League champions and current leaders Central FC’s advantage atop the standings to one point last night. But it was not until the following day that they received confirmation of their latest three point haul, after their encounter with Club Sando ended in the 88th minute due to a power outage at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
The “Savonetta Boys” led 3-1 at that point, thanks to a hat-trick by 21 year-old Grenada international striker Jamal Charles, before referee Crystal Sobers brought proceedings to a halt after complaints by Sando coach Angus Eve.
Eve subsequently agreed to conceded the points to Connection rather than play the remaining time at a later date.
Incidentally, it is not the first time that Sando found themselves in this situation this season, after their opening game against San Juan Jabloteh was also interrupted due to a power outage at the Mahaica Oval on September 30.
Sando trailed 1-0 on that occasion and could not change the score when the two clubs completed the final 42 minutes, four days later. There will be no need to revisit their fixture with Connection, though, as Eve accepted defeat.
It means that only the second game of yesterday’s double header, Central FC versus Defence Force, will have to be played at a later date.
SPORTT facility manager Anthony Blake explained that his technicians switched off the lights at the stadium as a precautionary measure due to a blown T&TEC fuse in the area.
“The report that I have from my technical team in the stadium is that there was a blown fuse, one of the fuses that TTEC supplies,” Blake told Wired868. “So what happened is that one of the fuses on the supply line just outside the St John’s facility blew. And that’s what caused the interruption.
“TTEC were contacted. They came and they fixed it and power was restored. At that time, the match commissioner decided not to continue with the game and so on.”
Blake, who previously insisted that the 35 year-old stadium is in dire need of an overhaul, maintained that the power outage was not the fault of the ageing facility on this occasion.
“There were two [previous] times we had a power outage,” said Blake. “There was the St Vincent [World Cup qualifier in March 2016] and we had an outage just before [the November 2015 World Cup qualifier against the US].
“The second one had to do with one of the main breakers in the stadium blowing.”
Blake missed out the National Super League showdown between Prisons FC and QPCC, which was also in late 2015.
The Hasely Crawford Stadium relies on power from TTEC’s supply lines for Pro League matches while generator power is used for international games. So, with four home games still to be played in the Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, is the facility manager confident that the 23,000 capacity venue is up to the task?
Or is it that the national stadium is now too unreliable to host events of that magnitude?
“I wouldn’t to be so harsh as to use the word ‘unreliable’ but we have to be realistic,” said Blake. “The infrastructure at the national stadium is in excess of 40 years. It was constructed in the 70s and the same plumbing, electrical infrastructure and generator infrastructure [it had then] is what exists today.
“There has really been a lack of what I call capital asset replacement because every asset has a life cycle. And after the life cycle of that asset passes—for example the life cycle of the generators is twelve years—it needs to be changed out.”
Blake suggested that the best time to begin any infrastructural work on the Port of Spain venue will be at the conclusion of Trinidad and Tobago’s World Cup qualifying campaign.
The Ministry of Sport and Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SPORTT), he said, have already hired consultants to provide detailed estimates on the various sporting facilities across to country to ascertain how many architectural upgrades are actually needed. And, of course, the cost of repairs will not be small.
Blake said the Ministry of Sport is actively looking for a source of funding.
“The level of capital replacement that we will need in the Hasely Crawford Stadium, given the current economic challenge, is one that the Government and Cabinet will have to make the decision as to where that finance is going to come from,” he said. “Because it’s not a piecemeal amount of money. But what I can tell you is that SPORTT and the Ministry [of Sport] have done what we call conditional assessment on all the sporting facilities.
“We have a new Permanent Secretary who started this week also and this is one of the first things she has spoken about in terms of the things that we want to push for funding.”
Blake conceded that the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, which recently hosted the 2017 Concacaf Gold Cup playoffs between Haiti, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago, is the safest bet at present.
However, the Ato Boldon Stadium holds just 10,000 patrons—less than half of the Hasely Crawford Stadium’s capacity.
“If I were to put on an engineering hat now, the safer option would be to play the games at Ato Boldon Stadium,” said Blake, “because the Ato Boldon Stadium is a newer stadia and the life cycle in terms of the assets and the wear and tear is not as bad as the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
“But we try to meet the stakeholder requirements in terms of what the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) needs. We know that the national team prefers to play at the national stadium so we try to do our best to give them as much as an advantage as we can.
“Based on the normal attendance of a World Cup qualifier, we will get at least 15,000 people on a bad day… And the maximum capacity at any one of the other stadia is about 10,000.”
Will last night’s power outage be the last such occurrence in 2017?
Blake was not prepared to make empty promises to the football population.
“It is difficult to say that current will never go at the Hasely Crawford Stadium because at the end of the day we depend on a supply of electricity from T&TEC [and] transformers will blow, circuits will be overloaded and that kind of stuff. And that’s why for the major level events, we take the priority of putting in generators and having the standby crews and the technical teams there to ensure that the system is full proof.
“I will not try to sell the population dreams in the sense that nothing at all can go wrong. But what I can assure them is that everything is being done to mitigate circumstances like this from happening in the future.”
Grenadian striker, Charles, was unlikely to be too disappointed at his outing in the Hasely Crawford Stadium yesterday, as he grabbed the fifth hattrick of the 2016/17 season.
Club Sando did most of the early running through the likes of winger Keron Cornwall and midfield captain Akeem Humphrey. However, the “Savonetta Boys” soon found their rhythm and Charles headed home from close range in the 30th minute after some unselfish play by the nippy Shaquille Bertrand on the left side of the penalty area.
Connection had a 2-0 advantage by halftime but their lead was halved by a 51st minute Cornwall item. And, with the game very much in the balance, the lanky Charles grabbed his hattrick as he rounded goalkeeper Kelvin Henry to tap home in the 73rd minute after another Bertrand assist.
It was the first treble this season that was not scored against table proppers, Point Fortin Civic.
Club Sando (3-4-2-1): 34.Kelvin Henry (GK); 18.Trevin Latapy, 19.Leslie Joel Russell, 29.Keithy Simpson (16.Anderson Toussaint 46); 23.Nicholas Thomas, 27.Jayson Joseph, 7.Akeem Humphrey (captain), 6.Kemuel Rivers; 9.Keron Cornwall, 11.Joel Kevin Lewis (8.Kevon Piper 46); 10.Shaquille Holder (13.Akeem Roach 46).
Unused Substitutes: 33.Alexei Julien (GK), 5.Nical Stephens, 12.Michael Basdeo, 17.Jared London.
Coach: Angus Eve
W Connection (4-2-3-1): 1.Terrence Lewis (GK); 30.Shaquille John, 3.Gerard Williams (captain), 27.Jelani Peters, 2.Kurt Frederick; 8.Briel Thomas, 23.Kevon Goddard; 11.Neil Benjamin Jr (10.Dimitrie Apai 70), 46.Anfernee Frederick (14.Andre Toussaint 70), 26.Shaquille Bertrand; 20.Jamal Charles (37.Daniel Diaz 81).
Unused Substitutes: 18.Julani Archibald (GK), 21.Ronnell Paul, 28.Mickell Charles, 43.Shirvone St Prix.
Coach: Stuart Charles-Fevrier
Referee: Crystal Sobers
Pro League results
(Friday 6 January)
St Ann’s Rangers 5 (Micah Lansiquot 11, Dylon King 14, 76, Jameel Antoine 37, Shakiyl Phillip 85), Ma Pau Stars 3 (Jerrel Britto 43, 87, Hayden Tinto 60) at Barataria;
San Juan Jabloteh 1 (Josiah Trimmingham 64), Morvant Caledonia Utd 0 at Barataria;
(Saturday 7 January)
Police FC 5 (Elijah Belgrave 6, Jameel Perry 32, 65, 69, Kareem Freitas 43), Point Fortin Civic 0 at Larry Gomes Stadium;
(Tuesday 10 January)
Club Sando 1 (Keron Cornwall 50), W Connection 3 (Jamal Charles 30, 43, 73) at Hasely Crawford Stadium;
(Friday 13 January)
St Ann’s Rangers v Point Fortin Civic, 6pm, Hasely Crawford Stadium;
Defence Force v W Connection, 8pm, Hasely Crawford Stadium;
(Saturday 14 January)
Central FC v Ma Pau Stars, 3.30pm, Larry Gomes Stadium;
Morvant Caledonia Utd v Club Sando, 5pm, Barataria Recreation Ground;
San Juan Jabloteh v Police FC, 7pm, Barataria Recreation Ground;
Standings (Tabulated as Won-Drawn-Lost-Goals For-Goals Against-Points)
Central FC 12-10-2-0-26-11-32
W Connection 13-10-1-2-39-12-31
S/Juan Jabloteh 13-7-2-4-22-16-23
Defence Force 12-6-1-5-20-18-19
Ma Pau Stars 13-5-3-5-25-25-18
Club Sando 13-4-2-7-20-25-14
Police FC 13-4-4-5-29-23-16
S/A Rangers 13-4-3-6-19-23-15
M’vt Caledonia 13-2-4-7-17-24-10
Point Fortin 13-0-2-11-10–50-2