The 1990 World Cup of soccer begins Sunday when Trinidad and Tobago travels to Guyana for the first match of the 20-month preliminary competition among 108 nations.
Twenty-two nations will qualify from the preliminary rounds and join 1986 champion Argentina and host Italy both automatic qualifiers for the finals, which begin in Rome on June 9, 1990.The United States has a first-round bye in the qualifying rounds and plays the Jamaica-Puerto Rico winner in the second round later this year or early in 1989.
A total of 361 qualifying matches will be played between Sunday and Nov. 30, 1989. Thirteen teams will qualify from Europe, two from South America, two from North and Central America and the Carribean, two from Africa, two from Asia and one from the Oceania-Israel region.
Neither Trinidad and Tobago nor Guyana is expected to make the final 24 who go to Italy.
Guyana had sought to postpone the match until April 24 because the Georgetown Cricket Club ground had been closed following the West Indies-Pakistan Cricket Test played here earlier this month.
Desmond O'Brien, Trinidad's manager said he felt that "despite hurrying to Guyana to play this match our chances are very good."
After the request for a postponment was turned down Thursday by FIFA, soccer's world governing body, Guyana officials moved the match to the Guyana Defense Force field at Camp Ayangana in Georgetown, the capital.
Maurice John, manager of the Guyana team, has had a difficult task in getting a team together. After Guyana's lost 9-0 to Mexico last October in Los Angeles, 17 players left the team in the United States.
Six players eventually returned and four are on the team.
"We've been practicing regularly," John said. "We have a bundle of overall talent. We found new players after the national players deserted."
Guyana has yet to pay Mexico a $21,000 fine for failing to show up for a scheduled game in Mexico following the defeat in Los Angeles.
Trinidad won its first-round match four years ago when Greneda withdrew from the qualifying but was eliminated in the second round, finishing last in a group with Costa Rica and the United States in May 1985.
Guyana was eliminated in the first round four years ago, losing at Surinam 1-0 and tying Surinam 1-1 at home in Aug. 1984.
European qualifying begins May 21 when Malta travels to Belfast, Northern Ireland. Oceania starts its preliminary rounds on Nov. 26 when Australia is at Fiji.