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Yorke backs Infantino in FIFA race
Former T&T football captain Dwight Yorke has endorsed UEFA general secretary, Gianni Infantino, for the post of FIFA president.
The ex-Manchester United star and current T&T sports ambassador was part of Infantino’s delegation that visited St Kitts and Nevis late in January as the FIFA presidential candidate relayed his plans. Infantino also visited Port-of-Spain to meet with Trinidad and Tobago Football Association president David John-Williams who has also expressed his support for the UEFA General Secretary.
“We know that football has been in a bit of difficulty with our head of government, but we felt that with the experience of Gianni, with his experience of being seven years as General Secretary, we felt that at this stage he was the right person to take football forward and that’s why I’m here supporting his cause,” Yorke said.
“I wanted to see this part of the world is given a fair crack and with Gianni’s influence and with his word of what he wants to achieve and giving to the CONCACAF region is something that I totally supported.”
He also commended Infantino’s approach of hearing the views and concerns of current and former players.
“It’s good that they want to hear from the players’ point of view on what can be improved in the region, and that’s where I come in because I played along these lines for a number of years before I made it onto the big scene, and if I can just participate in some way of giving my expertise in terms of what I think that football can improve within the Caribbean and the CONCACAF region then I think that’s something he’s embraced and he has listened,” he said.
Infantino is one of five candidates seeking to replace Sepp Blatter as president of the world football governing body.
Jones outshines Xavi
T&T’s national captain Kenwyne Jones outshined ex-Barcelona and Spain legend Xavi as he led his Al Jazira club to a 5–4 win on penalty kicks over Al Sadd, clinching a place in the group stages of the Asian Champions League on Tuesday.
Xavi missed the first penalty in the shoot-out after the tie finished level at 2–2 after 120 minutes of action.
Jones levelled the scores on the stroke of half time when he leapt high above the Sadd defence to head in a cross from the Brazilian Thiago Neves. The T&T captain then converted during the shootout to lead Al Jazira home.
Henk ten Cate, the Jazira coach, praised his players for their “never say die” attitude.
“This was a good advertisement for football in this country,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for this team. As I said at the pre-match conference my belief was high.
“Jones scored a very important goal for us to go into the break 1–1. We played better in the second half and could have scored a few more goals from the chances we created.”
Jones was equally elated, saying, “It was a deserving win for us. The team has been improving and today we showed good quality and composure. I think it’s an important win for the club as it put us further on in the competition which is a big step.”
Williams works with local
Verona coaching school
Former National player Brian Williams is currently one of the coaches working with the Hellas Verona Coaching School in Palmiste, south Trinidad.
The school is affiliated with the Italian club Verona and is overseen by Italian-born football enthusiast Stefano Monti.
According to Monti, Hellas Verona Palmiste Football School is “the first affiliated Hellas Verona FC school in the world, an international project aimed to export the training philosophy of the Italian club and its brand out of Italy.
“Brian works with W Connection but he is also one of our coaches. Our aim is to help develop local talent and to teach the game to the kids and spread the Verona brand as well as see how we can export our brand as well,” Monti said.
T&T Women join final
eight in Olympic quest
T&T senior women’s team, Puerto Rico, Guatemala and Guyana, ranked 108th, 76th, 48th and 89th in the world respectively, have significantly less tournament experience under their belts, as their standings in the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking suggest. None of these four teams have ever competed at the Olympics or FIFA Women’s World Cup. But T&T will definitely want to defy the odds as they begin the CONCACAF final round today against Guatemala at the BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.
“We would like to start on a right note and take three points from here,” head coach Richard Hood said. “Maybe we are not the favourites but we know we can compete an we will push on as hard as we can to advance.”
“Although reigning world champions and Olympic gold medalists USA and last summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup hosts Canada will head into the competition as clear favourites on paper, newly-crowned FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football Jill Ellis believes qualifying will not be a walk in the park.
“It’s a tough group,” she explained in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com. “The fact that only two teams get out means there’s no safety net this year. We have to make sure we hit the ground running.
“It’s about making sure we finish top of our group, then that semi-final is a critical game,” the USA coach continued. “What I love about this team is that I think our approach is that ‘nothing’s guaranteed’. We have to earn everything.
Meanwhile, FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 hosts Canada suffered a bitter quarterfinal defeat to end their dream of winning the game’s most prestigious title on home turf. Despite this disappointment, John Herdman’s attention immediately turned to the Olympics—and he is brimming with confidence about his team’s qualifying hopes.
“Right now we’re in a position to focus on the upcoming qualification tournament and hopefully position ourselves to defend our Olympic bronze medal this summer in Rio,” he said.
T&T will face Canada on Sunday. The top two teams from the eight-team tournament will advance to the Rio 2016 Olympics
EDITOR’S NOTE: Shaun Fuentes is the Director of Communications of the TTFA. Follow him - www.TTFootball.org; Twitter @TTSocaWarriors; on Facebook, YouTube -TTFA or tntsocawarriors.