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Fenwick on the brink after World Cup flop; NC set to clear out Soca Warriors coaching staff

The Robert Hadad-led Fifa-appointed normalisation committee appears set to swing the axe through the Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team’s technical staff, with head coach Terry Fenwick and assistants Kelvin Jack and Derek King on the brink.

The normalisation committee comprises: Hadad, Judy Daniel, Nigel Romano, and Trevor Nicholas Gomez.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago coach Terry Fenwick sits in the technical area of the Félix Sánchez Olympic Stadium in Santo Domingo on 8 June 2021.
(via TTFA Media)

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) has no active standing committees, which means the committee members are acting without the advice of a technical committee.

Wired868 understands Hadad received counsel on the matter from former president David John-Williams and interim Pro League chairman Brent Sancho.

The only delay to a TTFA announcement at present seems to be the committee members’ vain attempt to get Fenwick into an official meeting, with the Englishman apparently unwilling to meet without his attorney Ravi Rajcoomar. Fenwick allegedly asked Hadad to wait another 12 days until he is out of quarantine, while the Fifa-appointed officials are believed to be anxious to part ways before the end of the week.

The impending decision will leave the Soca Warriors without a coaching staff just three weeks before their Concacaf Gold Cup playoff fixture against Montserrat on 2 July in Miami. And, due to the short timeframe, it was felt that Hadad and his gang would either leave the staff in place until after the tournament or sack the Englishman but retain King as a caretaker, so as not to increase costs.

Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart (left) enjoys a light moment with assistant coach Derek King before kick off against Nicaragua on13 October 2015 in Port of Spain.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

King was head coach of the Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Under-20 Team which lifted the Caribbean Cup title in 2014. He also served as assistant coach to Hutson Charles when the senior team qualified for the 2013 Concacaf Gold Cup, and was deputy to Stephen Hart when the twin island republic rose to 48th in the Fifa world rankings and appeared in successive Gold Cup quarterfinals.

However, the normalisation committee appears intent on removing the entire coaching staff, which is contracted for the rest of the year, and will then have to hire a second group at short notice for the Gold Cup.

Club Sando head coach and ex-national youth team coach Angus Eve is believed to head the shortlist of potential replacements.

Fenwick, Jack and King are in quarantine at the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s Home of Football facility at present, along with the Soca Warriors’ other local-based players and staff—with the exception of teenaged player Gary Griffith III who made alternate travel plans following the team’s 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over St Kitts and Nevis on 8 June. 

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago assistant coach and World Cup 2006 goalkeeper Kelvin Jack sings the national anthem before kickoff against St Kitts and Nevis in Santo Domingo on 8 June 2021.
(via TTFA Media)

The Warriors were eliminated from the Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign after just three matches, following successive draws against Puerto Rico and The Bahamas, which made their final triumph against the ‘Sugar Boyz’ redundant.

Fenwick’s monthly salary is US$20,000, which would have risen to US$25,000 if he got the team past Montserrat and either Cuba or French Guiana and into the group stage of next month’s Concacaf Gold Cup. Jack and King, both former Trinidad and Tobago international players, earn a combined US$14,000.

Jack, a former Scotland Premier League goalkeeper, had not been a member of a national team since the Germany 2006 World Cup. He was ‘blacklisted’ by then Fifa vice-president Jack Warner soon after featuring against Paraguay, for his role in the landmark bonus dispute court case.

He was set to be formally appointed as Women’s National Senior Team goalkeeper coach this month. Instead, Hadad and his gang appear set to cut him loose.

Photo: Fifa-appointed normalisation committee Robert Hadad.

As for the glib Englishman, Fenwick first appeared on a shortlist for the national job in May 2006 as the TTFF considered its next move after the June World Cup. In the end, Warner went for Leo Beenhakker’s assistant coach, Wim Rijsbergen.

It was another decade before Fenwick got close to the job again, as he was interviewed for the first time in 2016 and got the nod of technical committee chairman Dexter Skeene. But the TTFA Board chose Dennis Lawrence to replace Hart instead.

In December 2019, 13 years after his first flirtation with the post, Fenwick was finally hired by the William Wallace-led administration. And, even as the United TTFA collapsed under the weight of Fifa sanctions, Fenwick remained—with a surreptitious contract by Wallace and general secretary Ramesh Ramdhan as a lucrative parting gift.

Fenwick survived a public altercation with his TTFA media officer Shaun Fuentes next, who he allegedly butted just moments before a press conference.

But, in the end, he could not escape his own inadequacies as a coach—the one thing that he was supposed to excel at.

Photo: Puerto Rico left back Raúl Gonzáles III (centre) looks to advance past Trinidad and Tobago flanker Levi Garcia (left) during World Cup qualifying action in Mayaguez on 28 March 2021.
Looking on is Trinidad and Tobago coach Terry Fenwick.
(via TTFA Media)

National players voiced concern about Fenwick’s competence even before his first international outing, which was a joint national record 7-0 defeat the United States.

The former England World Cup player then lasted just three games in a group that comprised: Guyana (ranked 165), Puerto Rico (ranked 178), The Bahamas (ranked 201), and St Kitts and Nevis (ranked 135).

St Kitts and Nevis qualified so comfortably that they could afford to field a weakened team in their final fixture against the Warriors.

“You can’t argue: four games away from home, four games without defeat,” said an unblinking Fenwick.

But by then, the gig was up—and he convinced nobody. He apparently was no longer worth the trouble, and the normalisation committee decided to just pay him off and be done with it.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago coach Terry Fenwick’s shadows his team from the sidelines during their 2-0 win over St Kitts and Nevis in Santo Domingo on 8 June 2021.
(via TTFA Media)

Editor’s Note: Click HERE for an update by coaches association president Jefferson George on the removal of Kelvin Jack and Derek King and recent moves by contender Angus Eve.

 

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About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the managing director and chief editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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4 comments

  1. Heartiest congratulations for a job well done… You did it wired 868….
    I hope you still have the fight in your belly when YOUR clowns open up the circus to a wider array of circus performers.

  2. Earl Best

    If you do not, Mr Liburd, have a mole inside the NCC, you are a very brave man. Can’t speak for anyone else but to me this does not sound like mere speculation–especially given your conclusion.

    You will have plenty, plenty, plenty egg on your face if this does not check out.

    BTW, was your original opening line– “…the normalisation committee decided to just pay him off and be done with it–adapted to become your closing line?