Like the USA, Trinidad & Tobago opened the Hexagonal with a pair of losses. And like the USA, T&T fired its coach.
Trinidad & Tobago Football Association president David
he was going to give T&T's new coach, Belgian Tom
, two Hexagonal games to turn the Soca Warriors around. But Saintfiet might not last that long.
In their competitive debut under Saintfiet, the Soca Warriors opened the 2017
Gold Cup qualifying playoffs at home with a 2-1 overtime loss to Suriname. Only the winner of the three-team series that also involves Haiti will advance to the final qualifying playoff against
Central America's No. 5 team.
Wednesday night's game followed a tumultuous training camp that featured charges and counter-charges about the commitment (and sobriety) of several
First, Saintfiet dropped T&T captain Kenwyne Jones
from the roster he picked for a pre-Christmas training camp. Then he slammed
Orlando City's Kevin Molino
and the San Jose
Earthquakes' Cordell Cato
, accusing them of turning down invitations to attend the training camp and friendlies against Nicaragua, preferring "a holiday instead of training."
former MLS defender Daneil Cyrus
for arriving 90 minutes late to a New Year's Day check-in and having "still decent smell of alcohol around [them]" -- then backtracked when Cyrus said he only had a glass of Bailey's
cream. (“I never said Daneil smelt of alcohol,” Saintfiet told Wired868
. “I said I smelt alcohol. I stood next
to them and said I smelt alcohol…")
Finally, Saintfiet had a run-in with Joevin Jones
, dropping the Seattle Sounders left back for skipping the camp but playing for T&T
club W Connection in a friendly match against Haiti, which was in Trinidad to prepare for the playoffs.
Jones responded to Saintfiet's charge that he wasn't interest in helping T&T
qualify for the Gold Cup by writing a letter to the editor
at Wired868.com in
which he said he could not play in the two December friendlies at Nicaragua because the Sounders had not yet released him. "I can’t just come in camp just like that," Jones said. "I am under
contract with Seattle. They have to give me clearance."
Jones said he finally got his release from the Sounders on New Year's Day and told Saintfiet through his brother Alvin
was at the camp, he'd be arriving that evening only to get a message back from Saintfiet, again via his brother, he wasn't wanted.
He accused Saintfiet of trying to "to dirty my name" by
saying he chose W Connection over T&T when he wrote that he had permission from Saintfiet -- if not the Sounders -- to play in the Haiti game and join the Soca Warriors on New Year's Day.
"I risked my contract with Seattle by playing," Jones added, "just to maintain some fitness to feature in the upcoming games."
Jones, who started for the Sounders in MLS Cup 2016,
said he was always ready to play for T&T.
"If I wasn’t interested," he added, "why did I talk to Tom and agree face to face to play and to come in camp on the 1st? If I
wasn’t interested, I would have told Tom I had a long season and I needed rest."