Two generations of Trinidad and Tobago football players will miss the chance to push for a place at a world youth cup tournament, as the Bureau of the Fifa Council announced today that it has scrapped the 2021 Men’s Under-17 and Under-20 competitions.
The decision was attributed to the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The Covid-19 pandemic continues to present challenges for the hosting of international sporting events and to have a restrictive effect on international travel,” stated a Fifa release. “Fifa has therefore regularly consulted the relevant stakeholders, including the host member associations as well as the confederations involved in both tournaments originally scheduled to take place in 2021.
“In doing so, it became clear that the global situation has failed to normalise to a sufficient level to address the challenges associated with hosting both tournaments, including the feasibility of the relevant qualification pathways.”
Trinidad and Tobago’s National Under-20 Team, led by head coach Derek King, boasts of a player pool that includes promising Czech Republic-based centre-forward Justin Araujo-Wilson and the Presentation College (San Fernando) duo of winger Jaiye Sheppard and goalkeeper Isaiah ‘Blinky’ Williams.
The Under-17 squad, steered by head coach Angus Eve, includes talented players like Naparima College midfielder Molik Khan, QRC attacker Nathaniel James, Trinity College East flanker Jaheim Faustin and St Mary’s College playmaker Abdul-Quddoos Hypolite.
The next Fifa men’s youth competitions will be held in 2023, with Indonesia and Peru remaining hosts of the Under-20 and Under-17 tournaments respectively.
Concacaf and the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) must now determine whether to still hold competitions for the two age groups in 2021.
While there was bad news for the boys, there was excitement in the women’s game as the Bureau announced the allocation of berths for the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup, which was expanded from 24 to 32 teams.
And Concacaf will go from three automatic World Cup places and one play-off spot to four automatic berths and two play-off places.
To put that change into context, the Women Soca Warriors’ highest ever finish at Concacaf was fourth, which they last managed in 2014 before being eliminated in a play-off with Ecuador.
Fourth place in the next qualification cycle would see Trinidad and Tobago book their place in a Women’s World Cup for the first time—other than as host nation at the 2010 Under-17 Women’s World Cup.
Fifa-appointed normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad had not commented on the developments up to the time of publication and it remains uncertain what his plans are for Trinidad and Tobago’s national youth game.