The intricacies of T&T's preparation ahead of the opening World Cup qualifier against Guyana on March 25 in the Dominican Republic is having little to no effect on former national goalkeeper, now ESPN football analyst Shaka Hislop.
The former St Mary's graduate who has stood between the uprights for the Soca Warriors for more than two World Cup Qualifiers, told Guardian Media Sports in an interview on Tuesday that he is eager to see a performance that says that T&T football has found its resilience once more.
Local football has been hard-hit by improper preparation that stems from a persistent coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which has hampered the Normalisation Committee to secure warm-up matches, and has prevented T&T from gaining home advantage against the Guyanese on March 25.
Hislop, who played at the 2006 World Cup in Germany said he has been disheartened by the negative reactions to the series of set-backs in the World Cup campaign to date, most of which have questioned the ability of the team to earn a qualifying berth, without a ball being kicked.
The normalisation committee, being led by businessman Robert Hadad announced on Saturday that the TT vs Guyana World Cup match was moved from T&T and will now be played in the Dominican Republic, a decision that came after sports and community development minister Shamfa Cudjoe told the public that the home-match would not get the approval of the government and the Ministry of Health, if the country's international players, who are expected in for the match, were not subjected to a mandatory quarantine period.
Shaka, a former English Premier League custodian with West Ham United said it is from these challenges that the country's footballers can capitalise.
"It's giving us an opportunity to prove to ourselves that we can adjust, we can adapt whatever the circumstance. For me, the kind of excuse-making and finger-pointing that is happening now, before we've kicked a single ball, points to a lot more than just the Normalisation Committee or the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Sports and the T&T Football Association, not being in sync. We have got to take these punches and roll with them. To see how we've reacted is a little disappointing to me, looking in from the outside," Hislop said.
Shaka, who celebrtaed his 52nd birthday on Monday and who is very outspoken on T&T football further stated: "I hope to see a performance and a result to show that our football has found its resilience again. After the disappointment of 2019 and those disappointing results, we need to show that we can bounce back. We needed to show that we're able to raise our game against both lesser and better opposition, that we're prepared to roll our sleeves up and fight and grind results out in a way that I don't think we've done since the US qualifier for Russia 2018."
The T&T footballers resumed training for this country's 2022 Qatar World Cup final on February 17 with a 23-player training squad under coach Terry Fenwick after the team's 7-0 drubbing in a friendly international match against the USA on January 31 in the USA.
The Soca Warriors opening match against Guyana will be played at a nuetral venue in the Dominican Republic which do not have COVID-19 quaratine protocols.
Following the Guayna match, the Soca Warriors will play their next two matches away to Puerto Rico on March 28 and then the Bahamas on April 5. They will complete the group phase with a match against St Kitts/Nevis on April 8 at home, needing to top the group to be able to advance.