TCI Victorious In Concacaf Nations League Match
The Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI) captured its first win in the inaugural Concacaf Nations League by defeating St. Vincent & The Grenadines 3-2 on Sunday, November 18. In a tense, hectic match that would make anyone shake from the nerves, the team exhibited significant improvement in terms of control, possession and positioning. TCI captain, Marc Mechez Fenelus, put all the praise on the Turks and Caicos Islands Football Associaiton (TCIFA) and coach Matthew Barnes for the team’s success.
When asked about the difference between previous team camps and the one chosen for this match, Coach Barnes had this to say “We have more people that truly endeavor to be a part of this, and the guys that are a part of it have shown more discipline and have come back more fit and more motivated. We’ve had a group of young men that have just showed up absolutely to go to work, this camp.” He went on to comment on the “secret changes” that took place during this match. One of these being, and a surprise to most, included removing Marcdonald Fenelus from defense and introducing him to goalkeeping. “We’ve had 8 changes from our last game, and four new players on the field. This is the first camp that we’ve spent anytime on attacking principles. We felt there were some weaknesses against St. Vincent that we could exploit, and we spent the whole week working on those and finding those areas, and the first 2 goals that Billy [Forbes] scored came out on those areas. I was proud of the guys because they really stuck to the game plan. We found the space, we exploited the space, and it paid off.”
TCIFA President Sonia Fulford spoke to the significance of this tournament to countries like ours, and the efforts displayed by our team during this tournament. “The Concacaf Nations League is a breakthrough for countries in our region. Not only for the small ones, like Turks and Caicos, but for larger ones as well. What the Concacaf Nations League has done for us is it has provided more playing opportunities and more competitive games. What was displayed on the field (during this match) was a true example of what can happen when you work together as a unit, what can happen when an FA invests in their national programme, and what can happen when you have the right technical staff to work with your team. But, it all boils down to the players, and how bad they really want it. We saw them play with fight; we saw them play with passion.” President Fulford added, “I think that in itself would go a long way to not only our grassroots and youth players who were out in the stands watching them, but hopefully it resonates with fans as well who are sometimes reluctant in coming out to rally behind a team because they haven’t won. I’m hoping that can give them incentive, not because our team won, but to see the fight that they played with.”
The result of the match left St. Vincent & The Grenadines (VIN) in tatters. When questioned about VIN’s performance, the team’s head coach, Cornelius Huggins, quickly responded “It was just a bad day.” He went on to say, “I know the players could do much better, because I’m around them, I see them; I know what they’re capable of. That was not them today! But as you know, sometimes in football these things could happen. Sometimes, the best team won’t win; it’s the team who want it the most, and Turks showed that they really wanted it today!”
Though it is now too early to tell what division the TCI will be placed when the Group Stages of the Nations League commences in September 2018, the young team continues to strive for progress. TCI will play the Biritsh Virgin Islands in it’s final match of the qualifying stage of the Concacaf Nations League, in March 2019. The venue is yet to be confirmed.