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While Terry roared, Guyana’s toothless Jaguars could barely scratch the Warriors

“[…] Jaguars are also known as roaring cats, but the only roars in San Cristobal last night came from Trinidad and Tobago head coach Terry Fenwick and captain Khaleem Hyland.

“[…] I am sure attacker Levi Garcia could still imagine himself hearing the Englishman’s voice in his hotel room last night. In fact, Fenwick shouted ‘Levi’ so much that he was still doing so in the 63rd minute, despite the fact that he subbed the Greece-based winger in the 58th minute…”

The following commentary on Trinidad and Tobago’s 3-0 Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying win over Guyana was submitted to Wired868 by ex-director of the TTFA’s North American Talent Identification Programme (TIPP), Sean Powder, who is in the Dominican Republic:

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Khaleem Hyland (right) and Guyana captain Sam Cox (second from left) exchange tokens before kick off in the Dominican Republic on 25 March 2021.
(via TTFA Media)

Trinidad and Tobago’s road to the Qatar 2022 World Cup did not and could not begin in Port of Spain due to existing Covid-19 protocols on the twin island republic. But it definitely begun in Spanish, as a sign referenced the Soca Warriors’  ‘Clasificatoria de Concacaf Copa Mundial Catar 2022’ at the Estadio Panamericano, Santo Domingo—a secluded valley stadium in San Cristobal, 30 kilometres outside the capital of Santo Domingo. 

The road to the Estadio Panamericano was rough, uneven and bumpy, just like the last 15 months of life under the Trinidad and Tobago Football Administration (TTFA), with only the venue’s floodlights to guide visitors. 

The stadium didn’t reveal itself until a sharp left turn led to a short incline, with the facility perched on a plateau. It was one way in and one way out of the cozy venue, where local boys asked national players for their socks. 

There were not more than 25 parking spaces, all clean and painted, with active security and parking assistants. Having visited the Ato Boldon, Hasely Crawford and Mannie Ramjohn stadia over the last five years, the Soca Warriors must have loved their new ‘home’ ground. 

Photo: Children pose for a photograph in the Dominican Republic.

I was temperature checked upon entrance, then released into an exceptionally clean and well-lit building with shining porcelain tiles—although, admittedly, the pitch was not nearly as impressive.

At kickoff, we searched the stadium for a functioning scoreboard and clock without success. In the Caribbean, we often do not handle all the details.

Still, the SporTT Company should visit San Cristobal to decipher how a country with an exchange rate of USD1:57 can take such good care of its facilities, while we, the wealthiest country in the Caribbean, have so many venues in disrepair and with unsanitary conditions.

Observant Warriors may have wondered what could have been if the Spanish didn’t lose control of Trinidad and Tobago in 1797. 

It’s worth noting that Real Madrid has a socio-sporting school and club in the capital of Santo Domingo, which targets boys and girls from vulnerable backgrounds. 

Those of us who support the England Premier League could muse over the potential benefits if the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea offered such support in communities like Laventille.

Photo: Producer Alexander Rodnyansky (left) has a word with Chelsea FC owner and billionaire businessman Roman Abramovich at the closing ceremony of the 2019 Kinotavr Film Festival in Sochi, Russia on 16 June 2019.
(Copyright Vyacheslav ProkofyevTASS via Getty Images)

Last night, Estadio Panamericano didn’t reach five per cent of its 2,800 capacity, and the locals barely outnumbered the officials in the tree-lined parking setting. 

Prior to kick-off, soca music blared to make the Soca Warriors feel at home—and presumably to tame the Golden Jaguars.

The bite of the jaguar, according to Wikipedia, is so powerful that it can pierce turtle shells, and allows the animal to employ an unusual killing method of biting directly through the skull of its prey to deliver a fatal blow to the brain. 

The Guyana football team showed none of that menace and spent most of the match with claws retracted. 

Jaguars are also known as roaring cats, but the only roars in San Cristobal last night came from Trinidad and Tobago head coach Terry Fenwick and captain Khaleem Hyland.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago football coach Terry Fenwick shouts orders at his players during a friendly match against Orange XI at the St James Police Barracks on 6 March 2021.
(Copyright Daniel Prentice/Wired868)

Fenwick roared ‘closer, closer, closer’ and ‘first to the ball’ to his Warriors throughout, with the occasional ‘half a yard’ thrown in. I am sure attacker Levi Garcia could still imagine himself hearing the Englishman’s voice in his hotel room last night.

In fact, Fenwick shouted ‘Levi’ so much that he was still doing so in the 63rd minute, despite the fact that he subbed the Greece-based winger in the 58th minute. Eventually, the Trinidad and Tobago coach realised that his new target was not Garcia, but substitute Noah Powder, my son.

Hyland did not reach to Fenwick’s voice levels, but he also communicated to his teammates constantly—like the panyard boss calling on his bass, alto and soprano pans, when required, to rise to the occasion.

When the whistle blew, the trees surrounding the grounds swayed like my grandmother’s curtains as Trinidad and Tobago welcomed their first victory under coach Fenwick. After 17 matches without a win, it was a welcomed change. 

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (left) takes the Honduras defence for a run during a Concacaf Nations League contest on 10 October 2019.
Honduras won 2-0.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

The Estadio Panamericano’s ‘one way in, one way out’ set-up was symbolic of the pressure on the Soca Warriors. A loss might have meant a one-way ticket out of the Qatar tournament.

About Sean Powder

Sean Powder
Sean Powder works in the real estate and gaming sectors in the United States and hails from Ten Chains, Roxborough in Tobago. He is a former director of the TTFA’s North American Talent Identification Programme (TIPP) and has spent the last 15 years on riding through the bocas of football with his sons, Noah, Samory and Seth.

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