The Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team will play Anguilla in an international friendly at the Ato Boldon Stadium from 6pm on Sunday 10 November and not Monday 11 November, as previously advertised.
A Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) release stated that ‘the shift in date has come about due to FIFA regulations’. The local football body did not state which law it initially violated but it is almost certainly the FIFA Status and Transfer regulations.
Article 1.5 in Principles of Men’s Football states: ‘Representative teams shall play the two matches within an international window on the territory of the same confederation, with the only exception of inter-continental play-off matches.
‘If at least one of the two matches is a friendly, they can be played in two different confederations only if the distance between the venues does not exceed a total of five flight hours, according to the official schedule of the airline, and two time-zones.’
The TTFA, with matches scheduled for Trinidad (11 November), Ecuador (14 November) and Honduras (17 November), had rostered the Soca Warriors to play two friendlies and one Concacaf Nations League fixture within the same match window.
FIFA law states that: ‘an international window is defined as a period of nine days […] which is reserved for representative teams’ activities. During any international window a maximum of two matches may be played by each representative team, irrespective of whether these matches are qualifying matches for an international tournament or friendlies.’
So, to apparently sidestep the FIFA law, TTFA president David John-Williams—again without Board approval—pulled the game back 24 hours. Technically, the Warriors’ outing against Anguilla is now outside the FIFA match window although, in reality, coach Dennis Lawrence will lead his team into three friendlies in three different countries and two separate confederations within eight days.
Ironically, John-Williams is a member of the very committee whose rules the TTFA appears to be defying. The FIFA Players’ Status Committee which, John-Williams joined in 2017, is meant to ‘monitor compliance with the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players and determines the status of players for various FIFA competitions’.
If the Anguilla match does not exactly excite local football fans, it carries an undeniable statistical value to Lawrence. Trinidad and Tobago are on a 14-match winless streak at present and Lawrence’s troops are in danger of becoming the first team to fail to win a match in a calendar year.
The Anguilla team, ranked 209th out of FIFA’s 209 member associations and with a population of 14,000—which is less than the population of La Horquetta—offer an unmissable chance for the Warriors to get that winning feeling back.
Tickets for Sunday’s friendly are TT$40 and can be purchased on match day at the Couva venue.
Less than four days before the Anguilla match, Lawrence, true to form, has not named his training squad or players selected to face FIFA’s worst football nation. It is unclear whether he is trying to hide his squad from Anguilla.