July News

June News

Friday July 6th, 2001

Fergie gives Yorke new chance

EX-TRINIDAD and Tobago international Dwight Yorke has been told that he could still have a future at Manchester United.

But, according to United coach Sir Alex Ferguson, the Tobago-born striker must rediscover the form that helped the “Red Devils” win the treble in 1999.

A stunning four-goal display in United’s 6-1 rout of Arsenal at Old Trafford apart, Yorke struggled for form last season ending with just 12 goals.

The 29-year-old forward also clashed with Ferguson after arriving back late from an international trip last summer and has earned more headlines in the gossip columns than the sports pages.

Ferguson just wants to see the striker get back among the goals for the champions.

“Dwight has got to put everything behind him and show that he wants to stay here,” said Ferguson, after holding a meeting with Yorke. “I don’t think there is any problem on that score. But there has been some interest in him and it is something I will pursue if it is in our interest. We are in no rush to do anything.

“If Yorke finds the form of two years ago, you wouldn’t want to sell him. He is one of the best in the business.”

But, while Yorke may still patch up his differences with United, there seems to be little chance for reconciliation with Fifa vice-president and Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) special adviser Jack Warner.

Warner, incensed at Yorke’s decision to quit international football last week, launched a scathing attack on the star player, saying that he “thought he was bigger than Trinidad and Tobago but he isn’t—nobody is”.

Warner, who is in Argentina for the World Youth Cup tournament, further described the behaviour of “spoilt” players like Yorke, Englishman Sol Campbell and Frenchman Patrick Vieira as a “cancer”.

He lamented that Yorke did not see himself as a role model and said that he—and the entire country—were in full support of Brazilian coach René Simoes’s decision not to play him.

“He’s ruining his career and seems to want to keep putting his finger in the wound to feel some more pain,” said Warner. “It is a tragedy of immense proportions. He could have been the idol of all the young footballers in the Caribbean but the reverse is the case.

“Everyone has turned against him back home,” said Warner.

Player power leaves
Fifa helpless

BLAMING Dwight Yorke’s social life for the ills of modern football seems a little excessive but, as Fifa’s leaders gathered in Buenos Aires yesterday morning, there was presumably widespread agreement with the senior politician who described the behaviour of the Manchester United striker as a “cancer” that could destroy the game.

Player power and spiralling wages are spreading unchecked through the body of football and three days of sitting around a table in Argentina are not expected to produce a cure.

Yorke will argue that he is simply a man who likes a party, but others want to portray him as an example of football’s growing malaise. From scoring the goals that took the treble to Old Trafford in 1999, he has now reputedly turned his sights on collecting trophy women. For Jack Warner, vice-president of Fifa and head of the football federation in Trinidad and Tobago, it is more than just the story of one man’s sad decline.

“What has happened to Dwight is a symptom of football today,” Warner said. “There is a small group of spoilt footballers who, in my view, will destroy the sport like a cancer. Patrick Vieira, Sol Campbell. What legacy are they leaving the game? What has Dwight given to Trinidad and Tobago? The sport has been good to them. I say give something back.

“What has happened to Dwight is more painful for me than anyone else because he lived in my home for one year and I paid for his schooling. I had refused to acknowledge the other side of him and made excuses for him, but that compounded the issue.

“He would not travel on the players’ bus and he wouldn’t stay in the players’ hotel. We arranged a helicopter to take him off the pitch against Canada so he could catch a flight back to Manchester, but he landed at the airport and then took a taxi straight back to town to party.

“I talked to him last weekend but no more. He said his private life was his own. It is a tragedy of massive proportions because Dwight could have been the idol for all the young footballers. He thought he was bigger than Trinidad and Tobago. Now you couldn’t say what might happen to him if he went back to his country. I hope he would survive.”

Yorke now claims to have retired from international football, but his problems at Old Trafford will not be so easy to resolve. United are seeking to sell him but, with two years left on his contract, Yorke can refuse to leave and keep picking up his wages. The helplessness of the club was certainly shared by the executive committee of Fifa, football’s world governing body, when it met yesterday morning to approve the new global transfer system with a reluctant show of hands.

A “revolution” in football is how Michel Zen-Ruffinen, Fifa’s general secretary, measured the extent of the changes this week and, although most of his colleagues are attempting to play down the impact, it is only because nobody can be sure what they are about to unleash.

In essence, the football authorities are making breach of a contract a punishable offence like the professional foul or dissent to the referee. The punishments are considerably tougher, with a four-month ban written down in the new statutes, but that will not deter those who are promised vast rewards.

The only certainty is that the best players will benefit from less binding contracts and higher wages, and yet still they are demanding more.

National U-20 duo
for Scottish trials

ARIMA Fire striker Devon Mitchell and CL Financial San Juan Jabloteh utility player Colin Samuel have both been granted five-week trials at Scottish First Division club Falkirk.

The players, who represented Trinidad and Tobago in their unsuccessful 2001 World Youth Cup qualifying campaign, left for Scotland yesterday morning.

The pair will attempt to convince Falkirk manager Tony McArthur that they can be an asset to his team.

McArthur was in Trinidad last week where he met with Jabloteh coach Terry Fenwick.

Fenwick, a former English international, is understood to have been instrumental in arranging trials for the pair.

Fenwick said he expects several other local players to head to the United Kingdom for trials in the coming months.

In related news, Jabloteh has invited former national Under-20 captain Marvin Lee and his family to be the guests of honour at the L-Sporto President’s Cup Final on Sunday at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar.

“We thought it was fit to have Marvin and his family as our guests for this game,” said Fenwick. “It will give the young lad a chance to spend a nice evening with some of his national teammates who are now playing with Jabloteh.”

—Lasana Liburd

United boss sticking with T&T star - Ferguson gives
Yorke a lifeline

By Irving Ward

TRINIDAD and Tobago's England-based striker Dwight Yorke was thrown a lifeline by Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson on Wednesday.Yorke has constantly been linked to other clubs in the British press in recent months, a situation which has upset the £12.6 million-rated striker, who had responded by pledging his commitment to the club.But following a meeting with Ferguson on Wednesday, Yorke was told that he may yet be able to keep his job at Old Trafford.However, Ferguson has given Yorke a test to pass.He must now prove himself by returning to the form which brought Ferguson knocking at Aston Villa's doorstep to get him four seasons ago.Anything else and Yorke may well find himself out the Old Trafford door. "Dwight has got to put everything behind him and show that he wants to stay here," Ferguson told reporters after the session.

"I don't think there is any problem on that score. If Yorke finds the form of two years ago, you wouldn't ever want to sell him. He is one of the best in the business."He added, though: "But there has been some interest in him and it is something I will pursue if it is in our interest. We are in no rush to do anything."The 29-year-old Yorke has been linked to Chelsea, Newcastle United and his old club, Villa, since Ferguson brought Dutch marksman Ruud Van Nistelrooy to United recently.With Andy Cole and Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer also recently signed up to new long-term contract extensions, many feel Ferguson will let Yorke-who scored just 12 goals last season-go rather than chance another season with a player becoming more popular for his playboy lifestyle off the pitch.

Yorke's recent decision to quit the Trinidad and Tobago team, after being dropped by Brazilian coach Rene Simoes for last Saturday's World Cup qualifier against Jamaica, is the last in a series of indiscretions by a player once adored by local fans.But Yorke, like his buddy Russell Latapy, who also quit the team, once again reiterated the point that the decision was to allow him to concentrate on his United career."I don't think I have anything to prove or justify to anyone," Yorke told reporters."Being at the top is fantastic. Remaining at the top is another challenge. I want to win back that place (in starting lineup) and I'm more determined to do that."

But even as Yorke and Ferguson, who clashed during the past season after the former "Strike Squad" player returned to the club late following international duty, his compatriot Jack Austin Warner was blasting him yet again in the British press for his controversial retirement from the World Cup squad. "Dwight's behaviour is a symptom of football today," Warner said."What has Dwight Yorke given to Trinidad and Tobago? The answer is nothing compared to a great player like George Weah in Liberia who is an ambassador to his country and puts it first."Dwight thought he was bigger than Trinidad and Tobago but he isn't - nobody is."

T&T U-20 duo off to Scotland


Two of Trinidad and Tobago's Under 20 players, Devon Mitchell and Colin Samuel left for Scotland yesterday for separate five-week trials with First Division club Falkirk.The trial was arranged for the pair by Terry Fenwick, coach at Professional Football League outfit CL Financial San Juan Jabloteh.

Samuel is under Fenwick's charge at Jabloteh while Mitchell plays with rival club Arima Fire.Fenwick, a member of the England squad which played in the 1986 World Cup Finals, said yesterday that several clubs from the United Kingdom continue to express strong interest in local talent."We are very anxious to have these two players go on trial at Falkirk," Fenwick said."Through my contacts in the United Kingdom, several players can have the opportunity to go on trials and several clubs are constantly showing interest in having players from here at their organizations."

The pair drew the interest of Falkirk manager Tony McCarthy, who was in Trinidad last week but did not have the chance to look at them in action.Fenwick added that Norwegian Premier League club Tromso had originally expressed interest in the two players but is now on a mid-season break.In related news, Fenwick revealed that former National Under 20 skipper Marvin Lee and his family will be Jabloteh's guests of honour during the L-Sporto President's Cup Final this Sunday at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar.

Thursday July 5th, 2001

Last Porterfield man goes

Chance resigns

Sports Desk

TRINIDAD and Tobago national football team manager Neville Chance has offered his resignation to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF).

Chance, who was hired by the T&TFF on March 3 to replace axed manager Richard Braithwaite, handed in his resignation on the eve of the Soca Warriors’ World Cup qualifier against Jamaica last Saturday.

However, the resignation was effective July 1, the day after the qualifying match that the Warriors lost 2-1 at the Queen’s Park Oval.

Chance yesterday refused comment on the matter, saying only that “any statement in the development of the football now will come from the Football Federation”.

A source close to the T&TFF told the Express that Chance was asked to resign like several other members of the former Technical staff. But Oliver Camps, T&TFF president, claimed to have no knowledge of a resignation letter from Chance and insisted that local football’s governing body had never asked for the resignations of its technical staff.

He did say, though, that if such a letter does exist, it would be reviewed and an appropriate decision made on it.

But Richard Groden, T&TFF general secretary, left little doubt that Chance’s resignation was real.

“He has resigned,” said Groden yesterday. “But we have to talk about it. (...) It was done on June 29th.”

The T&TFF emergency committee will meet in Argentina within the next three days to discuss Chance’s letter.

Any three members of the T&TFF executive committee, according to Groden, can convene an emergency meeting.

Fifa vice-president and T&TFF Special Adviser Jack Warner is in Argentina, at present, for the 2001 Under-20 World Cup.

Camps, Groden and Dr Iva Gloudon will join him today for a Fifa congress which features three members from each national association.

Apart from Camps, Groden and Warner, the T&TFF executive comprises vice-presidents Lennox Watson and Raymond Tim Kee.

Chance is, at present, the last surviving member of the technical staff which was headed by axed Scottish coach Ian Porterfield.

Porterfield replaced a similarly dismissed Bertille St Clair at the helm in March 2000 and steered T&T to the final round of 2002 Concacaf World Cup qualifying.

However, the Warriors’ form dipped dramatically in this round and, after the squad managed just one point from their first five games, Porterfield was shown the door.

Assistant coach Jimmy Blanc and assistant manager Neil Mollineaux promptly resigned, leaving just Chance to work with newly appointed coach René Simoes.

It is Chance’s second shot at managing a squad to the World Cup Finals. The former Arima United coach was assistant to Camps during the “Strike Squad’s” unsuccessful “Road to Italy” campaign in 1989.

At present, Simoes is out of the country as well.

The Brazilian coach left for a South American tour on Monday with the national Under-17 team—dubbed “Team 2001”—while his assistant, Julio Cesar Leal, remains as interim coach.

Simoes is expected to make a decision on a caretaker coach for the Warriors for September when he would be engaged in the Junior World Cup tournament hosted by Trinidad and Tobago.

He is also expected to select a local coach to serve as his understudy before the end of the year.

Latapy joins Rangers

Sports Desk

HAVING become a bargain basement recruit for Rangers in the manner of Celtic’s Lubomir Moravcik, Russell Latapy has vowed to silence the critics of his maverick lifestyle.

The former Hibernian playmaker, who celebrates his 33rd birthday on August 2, insists his retirement from a gruelling international schedule with Trinidad and Tobago can help him extend his top-level shelf life to defy those who question his attitude.

The former Easter Road midfield star has indicated that he is looking forward to joining up with his new teammates for the new campaign ahead as Rangers try to rebound from a trophyless 2000/01 season.

Latapy played for four seasons in Portugal’s top division with Porto and then Boavista before he was lured to Scotland by Hibernian boss, Alex McLeish.

The former international star was a firm favourite with the Hibees and put in some dazzling performances but, in the later stages of his sojourn at the club, ran afoul of McLeish, making a move more or less inevitable.

Despite his recent bad press, Latapy’s résumé still contains three years of success on the field at Easter Road, testimony to his consistency.

He was Scottish First Division Player of the Year in 1999 and then named on a four-man shortlist by his fellow professionals in the SPL in both 1999-2000 and 2000-2001.

At 36, Moravcik, who seemed to have barred the Little Magician’s path to Parkhead after the investment of barely £300,000 by Dr Jozef Venglos, remains a masterful example that age can often be but a number.

“I feel good right now and, if I am dedicated enough and apply myself, then I can have a few more years at the top,” said Latapy.

“There are many players you could mention who are still playing at a good level of competition at the age of 36 and 37. They are dedicated and have extended their careers and I can do the same.”

Latapy flew into Glasglow on Monday and was due to complete the paperwork and medical requirements on the Rangers transfer in readiness for today’s departure for a pre-season tour in Holland with Advocaat and his squad.

“Russell is having a medical and, everything being equal, will fly out with us on Wednesday,” Advocaat told the club website. “He has shown with Hibernian what a good player he is and he gives another dimension to my squad.”

But, while fellow thirty-something-year-old Claudio Caniggia harbours hopes of an Argentina recall, Latapy’s withdrawal from international football may yet endear him to his new manager.

“My international career is over now,” said Latapy who, along with Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke, last week announced his retirement from national duty after a 12-year run spanning 80 official caps and countless arguments with employers and the Trinidad and Tobago football hierarchy.

“Time and again international fixtures have clashed with important club games,” he explained yesterday and I’ve been in the middle, which is difficult.”

“I wanted to make the World Cup Finals but that isn’t to be now,” he ended. “We won’t qualify and the time was right to leave that scene behind. I can now give my best...”

Camps backs Simoes’ plan


Oliver Camps, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF), is in full support of technical director René Simoes’s plan to experiment during T&T’s remaining World Cup qualifiers.

After T&T lost 1-2 to Jamaica on the weekend, Simoes told the media that the “Soca Warriors” would use their final qualifying matches to restructure the team after being virtually eliminated from the 2002 World Cup tournament.

Camps agrees.

“We have to continue to play our World Cup matches as hard as we can,” said Camps, “with our sights on developing the team to play in the Gold Cup. So he will be taking a good look at all the players from the (local) Professional League and other leagues outside who he has not seen.”

Camps said that Brazilian coach Julio Cesar Leal is expected to be given control of the national team while Simoes is away.

Simoes, also a Brazilian, flew out yesterday with the national Under-17 team—dubbed “Team 2001”—for a four-week South American tour which starts in his homeland.

No coach has as yet been named to steer the Warriors through two qualifying matches in September while Simoes will be engaged in the 2001 U-17 World Cup.

However, Camps said that there is still room for a local coach in the senior technical set-up.

“He is going to be looking at all the (local) coaches,” said Camps. “And will eventually make his choice as to who he wants to understudy them. All coaches will have an opportunity to be brought in and evaluated.”

The veteran administrator expressed delight with the country's performance on Saturday when they went under to Jamaica in the must-win World Cup qualifier.

“I was elated,” said Camps. “I have never seen the team play a better first half. We have been starting our games very slow and lackadaisical and then have to fight back. On this occasion, Jamaica had to fight back and we fought them down to the end of the line...”

“I knew they had that all the time,” Camps added, “but where it was I don’t know.”

Camps also scoffed at calls for Fifa vice-president Jack Warner to resign his post as T&TFF Special Adviser.

“Funding is always a concern for our national teams,” said Camps. “That is why I have to laugh at these people who want to suggest that Warner pull out of football. The sponsors’ funding, while we welcome it, is no way sufficient for what we want to do.”

The national senior team will now have a two-month break from competitive action before their next qualifier, which is at home to Costa Rica on September 1.

Latas looks past T&T


SCOTLAND-based professional Russell Latapy remains unrepentant in the wake of his controversial resignation from the Trinidad and Tobago World Cup squad.The 32-year-old midfielder, who along with buddy Dwight Yorke, resigned from the team on Thursday after being sacked for Saturday's qualifier against Jamaica, completed his move to Scottish giants Glasgow Rangers, yesterday after passing a medical, signing a two-year deal reportedly worth £10,000 (TT $100,000) a week.But long before he had put his signature on the deal which will effectively see him playing out his career in Scotland, the Little Magician was adamant that his decision to quit the T&T team was best for his career.

"My international career is over now," Latapy told the Soccernet Web site."I wanted to make the World Cup Finals but that isn't to be now. We won't qualify and the time was right to leave that scene behind."He added: "I can now give my best (to Rangers) because playing for my country has always involved an eight or nine-hour flight and that is with no delays."Time and again international fixtures have clashed with important club games and I've been in the middle, which is difficult."

Latapy trained with his new teammates for the first time yesterday at Ranger's new £14m training complex at Auchenhowie and will travel to Holland today for a pre-season tour.A series of unscrupulous deeds off the pitch in the last couple months ultimately cost the former T&T skipper his place in the T&T squad for last Saturday's Jamaica clash, which T&T eventually lost 2-1.But, once he was sacked by T&T coach Rene Simoes, Latapy did not hesitate to tender his resignation and make his way to Scotland on Sunday to complete the deal he should consider himself fortunate to have clinched.
However, he is promising to put all this behind him.

"I feel good right now and, if I am dedicated enough and apply myself, then I can have a few more years at the top," he said."There are many players you could mention who are still playing at a good level of competition at the age of 36 and 37. They are dedicated and have extended their careers and I can do the same."The former Portugal-based star turns 33 on August 2 and noted: "Rangers is a massive club and I will be happy to represent them next season. The challenge of playing for a big club and trying to win things is appealing to me."

T&T footballers for Asian tour


DESPITE having their 2002 World Cup hopes dashed, newly-appointed Trinidad and Tobago skipper Marvin Andrews and his teammates travel to Asia for final tour in preparation for the team's last four matches of the final round of qualifying.The T&T squad will be involved in a mini-tournament in China, which is expected to involve Kuwait and Japan in August.Plans have also been put in place for the Under-17 team, currently touring South America, to play two warm-up matches against Japan's Under-17 team on July 22 and 24.

TTFF president Oliver Camps said yesterday that the tour was planned for the continued development of local football.Noting that the team, currently placed at 35th on the FIFA rankings, had earned the respect, admiration and hearts of the fans following Saturday's 2-1 loss to Jamaica, Camps said: "Your World Cup 2006 bid starts now and if you continue playing from the heart, you will always have the support and gratitude of the people of T&T."

Camps and general secretary Richard Groden leave today for the FIFA Congress in Argentina, on Saturday. They will also view the third place playoff and final matches of the World Under-20 Championship.FIFA vice-president Jack Warner also praised the efforts of technical director, Professor Rene Simoes, pointing out that the Brazilian had done a fantastic job in such a short space of time.

History will say they failed T&T

By Valentino Singh

Two down, one to go. That's what the the supporters of Trinidad and Tobago's football and West Indies cricket are saying.You don't have to guess as to whom they are referring.I consider it quite unfortunate that three young men who have provided so many moments of thrills, so many great moments of which we can be proud, have now found themselves in a position where even their most ardent supporters are happy to see them go.What could have gone wrong? Did Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy, through their association with big money, outgrow Trinidad and Tobago?

Is it that the pair found themselves with so much money that the pride and pleasure which they experienced when wearing the red, white and black colours, was replaced by the so-called "big world" mentality where money talks and everything else becomes unimportant?It is indeed ironic that they have exited in the middle of the World Cup campaign where disciplinarian Rene Simoes, well-known for his no-nonsense approach as coach, has taken over the team.Latapy and Yorke could not have chosen a worse time to announce their resignations. The message is clear.

It says: "We don't need you, you need us. When we are here, we are doing you a favour. Just be thankful we find the time to come down here and represent you. What we do, where we stay and when we train is our business and you are out of place to ask us about that." It would be interesting to find out if Latapy was in the United Kingdom last week or in Barbados with Yorke as has been reported.The point is Latapy and Yorke are not able to send the messages they signal to us here in T&T to their respective clubs in the UK. As both have found out, Manchester United and Hibernian would never allow it.

In 1989, I watched as Yorke was lifted off the field at the Hasely Crawford Stadium following Trinidad and Tobago's loss to the United States in that game where we needed one point to qualify for Italy.I saw buckets of tears from the players and remember Yorke and Latapy, in their footballing innocence almost vowing to lead us to the World Cup one day. But that was before they got a taste of the big life. No longer are they innocent.

On the football fields of the United Kingdom, they may have been powerful.But the level of their performances on the field has not been matched by the inspiration which was required of them to get their country to the World Cup.Given the abundance of talent they possess and the circumstances under which they have left the Trinidad and Tobago football scene, history would have to record them as having failed their country!

Shay sees more for Soca Warriors

By Naz Yacoob

IF TRINIDAD and Tobago is to reach further in regional and international football, a more disciplined approach will be needed.These were the words of former Colts and Trinidad and Tobago top striker Shay Seymour, who is now back home permanently after residing more than 46 years in England.The ace centre forward said that back in the fifties and sixties, footballers played for the love of the game but now the players are looking for what they can get out of the game.Seymour took the time to visit the Trinidad Guardian last week to reflect at the sport that took him to international recognition.He said that there was an abundance of talent in this country at present but the talent must be harnessed and nurtured.Seymour, appeared in 26 matches for Trinidad and Tobago and scored a total of 25 goals against several top teams including Jamaica, Barbados, Suriname and Guadeloupe.

His prowess at centre-forward saw him travel to England with the national team, and his efforts rewarded him with 13 goals from 11 matches against Division One and Two teams.Among those in the TT team were Joey Gonzalves, Squeakie Hinds, Colin Agostini and Allan Joseph. Seymour was well sought by the talent scouts in Britain and his rich blend of quality football and natural skills landed him a two-year contract with the Bury Football Club in Division Two of the English League.He added that although he enjoyed a lucrative professional football career in Europe, his greatest moment of the sport will be remembered locally.

Seymour recalled that in the 1951 Red Cross Classic between North and South at the Grand Stand, Queen's Park Savannah, the Southerners enjoyed a 3-0 lead at the half-time interval."But with the crowd and supporters behind us, we made a spirited effort to lift our game. And with the 'magnificent five'- myself , 'Putty' Lewis, 'Squeakie' Hinds, Matthew Nunes and Horace Lovelace, we made rings around the visitors defence, scoring five goals to win the game in a canter. The crowd went wild with that winning performance. It was and will be my greatest moment in my soccer career," said Seymour.

Upon his retirement from active soccer, he became a qualified football coach with the English Football Association and worked as professional coach with many clubs in England, Wales and Scotland.He said that despite the many setbacks by the national team in its 2001 World Cup campaign, there is always hope if a more discipline and serious approach was taken by the technical staff and players."If I am called upon to assist , I would certainly do so," added Seymour.

Simoes a good example for sport in the region


By Everard Gordon

Rene Simoes' decision to drop Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy from the national squad last week was a big surprise.In the past, administrations in this part of the world have kowtowed to the so-called stars in whatever discipline they operated.Simoes indicated at the start of his appointment that he was intent on developing a team that would be better at the end than it was at the start. He believes that the team is paramount and that discipline is essential. He is a rare animal in the Caribbean.Football has developed rapidly in one direction since Jack Warner's absolute domination of the administration of the game. Regardless of what happens, the men in charge remain in charge and no one will rock the boat.In cricket, the administration elects and re-elects itself because a 'clever' constitution allows the incumbents to hold on till they are ready to let go.In athletics, the incumbents have held on despite the shambles that is the running of the sport in this country.

There are few meetings throughout the year. Athletes who have been selected to represent the country, are unable to leave the country unless they raise the money for their trip, while the administration has several officials, paid for by the NAAA, going to the events.In boxing, there are fewer promotions than are good for the development of what is generally a grass roots sport and even in this, promoters, and matchmakers have contrived to flout the rules and authority of the Board of Control, as they chase a few dollars and the lure of glory.Whatever the discipline, the athlete is finally responsible for his performance but, among the duties of the administration, is ensuring that their charges are disciplined and committed to the cause.To do that one must earn the respect of the athletes and develop the discipline and commitment that is needed by all in the pursuit of excellence.

When our teams perform badly, we talk about the commitment of the players but commitment starts with the administrators. They must be determined to do the best they can for the benefit of the game - football, cricket, athletics or whatever.Their aim must never be popularity. Though they will not set out to antagonise anybody, it may sometimes be impossible to avoid upsetting some players and even some segments of the populace.What have we had, especially in the last 15 years.Players with talent have found that they have been able to secure contracts to play professionally in England, the USA, Italy, Portugal and other parts of the world.They generally earn much more than they would have hoped in their wildest dreams and have made it obvious that they would not jeopardise their professional careers to play for T&T.

When one considers that somebody like Yorke earns about 25,000 pounds a week playing for Manchester United, one can understand the reasoning of the players. But the great players who represent their countries, the Beckhams, Vieiras, Zidanes put out 100 per cent for their clubs and for their countries and see no reason to be less patriotic. They do not consider playing for their countries as jeopardising their careers. Our players are so blinded by the dollars or pounds, they forget that their careers are insured, are so committed to money and that they say to hell with country. In fact without country they would not have had international careers.What have the men in charge done? They have bent over backwards to accommodate the stars and not sought to make legitimate conditions for the continued inclusion of those men.

So Yorke and Latapy seem to believe that they could do anything here and not be brought to book for it. They have both been on the receiving end of the management of their foreign clubs for their indiscretions off the football field.
Yorke has been on United's bench for the longest while for his preference to a lime than to the requirements of his club. Remember him missing his flight to England after a match and Ferguson benching him for it? Since then he has very seldom started for United and in view of United's close season acquisition, he must be wondering how long he will continue to remain a Red Devil.Latapy was unceremoniously sacked by Hibs after his encounter with the Police for driving under the influence of alcohol in England with Yorke.

After the USA match, in which Yorke was reinstated, following intercession by the administration, the two failed to report to the team's training camp, despite management's instruction. One was supposed to have gone to Scotland but it turned out that he went to Barbados and was seen there with Yorke.Jack Warner said from Argentina, that the country was now paying for making too many concessions to British based professionals. "What we have done far too often is to pamper these so called stars. And we have failed to discipline them properly, whether it is Brian Lara (!), Dwight Yorke or Russell Latapy. It is because of this we are paying the price today in cricket, in football, in other sports," he said.

In cricket, Lara has fallen foul of management on several occasions but escaped sanction. The result is the belief that there is one set of standards for him and a different set for others. The way out of the mess is training the grown players as they should have been trained when they were juniors. That is much more difficult and the more profitable course is to make sure the juniors are properly indoctrinated in all aspects that make good athletes, good human beings.It really is an ill wind that blows nobody any good. The T&T football team played better in this last match against Jamaica than they have played all year and the spirit was exemplary.

Even the West Indies have been better, not merely because they won two matches against Zimbabwe but because they have come back from apparent disaster against Zimbabwe in the second match to win with a ball to spare and against India in a losing match, they showed the fighting spirit that saw the get from 47 for five wickets to 169.

Maybe we can hope that the example set by Simoes will spark all the controllers of sport in the country to adhere to principle. A team is better than the sum of its parts and no man is bigger than the team, let alone the game.

Andrews: We can do it without Yorke, Latapy

Trinidad and Tobago's captain Marvin Andrews believes that the departure of Russell Latapy and Dwight Yorke will now bring out the best in his team.Speaking after the Soca Warriors lost 2-1 to Jamaica on Saturday, Andrews said his teammates now know that they are capable of playing well without the pair."We are very proud and I for one am very proud of the way we played. Everyone gave it their best.

There is a lot to look forward to now. There are four games to go and it looks like we are out of the running, but we will continue to work hard. We just didn't get the rub of the green and that's how it goes sometimes," said Andrews.Andrews said that new coach Professor Rene Simoes urged the players to believe in themselves and play as they know they were capable of doing. "This was a major factor behind our performance."He noted that while the players knew that it would be difficult to get back into the run of things in the six-nation group, there was a strong desire to go out on a high note.

"This was definitely an improvement from the past games. Everyone just came out and worked hard as a team. We know that we don't have to look forward to any Dwight Yorke or Russell Latapy again. We have to do it ourselves. The gaffer told us to go out and express ourselves because he knows we can play. He said he didn't know what was holding us back. We just went out and played as we know we could. He more or less urged us to believe in ourselves," said Andrews.

Latapy reaches Scotland

Former national midfielder Russell Latapy was reported to have arrived in Scotland on Sunday and was expected to complete his medical late yesterday.According to a report on the official Rangers website, Latapy was also expected to finalise his terms on a two-year deal before leaving for Holland for a pre-season tour with his new Rangers teammates."Latapy will have a medical today and will train tomorrow. All things being equal, he will travel to Holland on Wednesday. He showed at Hibs he is a good player and will be a good addition to our squad," said Rangers manager Dick Advocaat.

Marvin glad to be home

FORMER Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 captain Marvin Lee is back home and looking forward to continuing his physical progress.

Lee, who lost the use of his legs while representing T&T in a World Youth Cup qualifier earlier this year, returned to his home in Santa Rosa Heights, Arima after spending over a month at the Jackson Memorial Hospital, Florida, US.

The former Tranquillity Government Secondary student has yet to experience any feeling in his legs but has lost nothing of his confidence or his sense of humour.

“Tell Trinidad, I am home,” he said yesterday, when contacted by the Daily Express.

Lee’s home is undergoing remodelling, at present, which should help make things more comfortable for him.

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) will pick up the tab as they did with his medical expenses.

Lee was among many football fans who listened on the radio to the “Soca Warriors” in action on Saturday with the Jamaican “Reggae Boyz” which ended in a 2-1 World Cup qualifying loss.

He stressed, though, that he was very pleased with their performance which came against a backdrop of controversy and internal turmoil.

Lee is undaunted by his own problems as well.

“My short term plan is to get into an organisation to keep me busy for a while,” said Lee. “I will be getting computer lessons soon.”

So will Lee be a computer whiz by Christmas?

“Nah man,” he said, laughing. “I will be a computer whiz long before Christmas. I should be walking by Christmas.”

Lee and his mother Dawn Warrick took the opportunity to also thank those who supported them during the first few difficult weeks of his ordeal.

Latapy's ‘fine’ in Scotland

FORMER Trinidad and Tobago national football captain Russell “Little Magician” Latapy turned up in Glasgow late on Sunday night presumably to finalise his dream move to Scottish Premier League club Glasgow Rangers.

But he still had to endure a parting shot from former employers and club rivals, Hibernian.

The former Hibernian Player of the Year was docked two weeks’ wages by coach Alex McLeish for suggesting that there was a drinking culture at the club’s Easter Road headquarters.

Latapy has denied responsibility for the story nd claimed that his comments—published in the Sunday Express—were taken out of context. He also described the punishment as unfair. McLeish was unmoved, though, as was the Hibs’ fan base.

Still, Latapy should easily make up the difference once he signs with the more illustrious Rangers.

The diminutive midfielder is expected to earn as much as £8,000 per week at Rangers although he is expected to be used as a back-up by coach Dick Advocaat.

Advocaat has indicated that his first choice midfield for the upcoming season will feature team captain Barry Ferguson, newcomer Christian Nerlinger, Dutch international Ronald De Boer and United States playmaker Claudio Reyna.

Reyna is expected to be the player to force out Latapy.

Ironically, Latapy, who announced his retirement from international football last week, should benefit from Reyna’s absences when the US skipper is called away for World Cup duty.

Rangers begin their pre-season build-up tomorrow with a three-match tour of Holland and Latapy will be hoping to get his first taste of first-team action with the famous club. 

Burton sinks battling Warriors


THE Trinidad and Tobago football team produced a valiant effort yesterday in an attempt to revive fading 2002 World Cup aspirations, but it was not quite good enough.

It was Jamaican faces that lit up at referee Gustavo Mendez’s final whistle as the “Reggae Boyz” celebrated a 2-1 win over their hosts in the Concacaf Zone qualifier at the Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain.

Derby County striker Deon Burton had the honour of applying the final dagger for the Boyz as he calmly finished an Andy Williams through ball in the 69th minute following a quick counter-attack.

Aware of the value of his effort—his first goal of the Concacaf final round—Burton stood with hands on hips and glared playfully at his teammates.

“Why couldn’t you give me a pass like that before?” Burton’s body language seemed to imply while his teammates rushed in to congratulate him.

Still, Jamaica’s Brazilian coach Clovis de Oliviera should be the first to admit that the game ran much closer than they could have anticipated.

The 5,000 spectators witnessed T&T’s first defeat at the Oval since their 1-0 loss to Costa Rica in a 1998 World Cup qualifier.

But there was much to admire about the effort of the boys in the red, white and black strip and as the game drew to a close, the entire Jamaican bench were on their feet waving and imploring Mendez to blow off the match.

Certainly miles from the team’s comprehensive 4-2 defeat to Honduras at the Hasely Crawford Stadium—just two weeks ago—when disgusted fans streamed out of the ground before the end of regulation time.

Unlike their last two matches—both defeats—it was the “Soca Warriors” who were first off the mark yesterday.

After conceding six goals in their two previous outings, Brazilian coach Rene Simoes started with three stoppers and two wing backs in an effort to stabilise the T&T defence.

It generally offered suitable resistance against the versatile Jamaican offence of Burton and Onandi Lowe and allowed for a more composed effort from the Warriors.

Nottingham Forest striker Stern John would be an early beneficiary—26 minutes into the game—after good approach work from stopper Marvin “Dog” Andrews.

Andrews gathered a loose ball just inside the Jamaicans’ half and passed firmly towards John while lumbering forward for a return pass.

Ian Goodison, who acted as John’s warden throughout the affair, seemed distracted by the sight of the powerful Andrews in full stride and the English-based striker capitalised in full.

A lowered shoulder and spin allowed the ball to roll past his marker before John buried low to Jamaican custodian Aaron Lawrence’s left.

The goal capped a fine run by the hosts and the only surprise was that Joe Public ace Arnold Dwarika was not involved.

Dwarika, who replaced maverick midfielder Russell Latapy in the starting line-up, was in irresistible form.

Soon after the kick off, the dreadlocked playmaker signalled his intentions by impudently flicking the ball over the head of Jamaican veteran Fitzroy Simpson, who promptly bundled him over.

Micah Hyde, who plies his trade with English First Division team Watford, was next to be embarrassed by Dwarika’s dazzle—five minutes before John’s item.

The Boyz midfielder was left clutching air after Dwarika dragged the ball past him and two more Jamaicans were left in his wake before he hooked his shot wide at the far post.

T&T were humming and it seemed the resignation of star players Latapy and Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke and the sacking of coach Ian Porterfield were finally forgotten.

The crowd, continually frustrated by the team’s lacklustre performances, were lustily chanting “Ole” when Jamaica responded with a Lowe blow.

A fight between supporters of both teams broke out midway through the first half and, as police and onlookers shifted their focus to in front the Geddes Grant Stand, the Boyz struck back.

Simpson whipped in a cross from the left flank, in the 31st minute, and Lowe steered it with his head high to the left of keeper Clayton Ince for the equaliser.

Dwarika and teammate Nigel Pierre gave the Jamaican defence two anxious moments with promising runs in the penalty area, but the teams remained deadlocked at the interval.

The second half got off to a slower start but, once more, it was Dwarika who controlled proceedings in the middle.

Fourteen minutes after the break, he had the Dos Santos Stand screaming in delight as he “spannered” the ball past Jamaican skipper Linval Dixon, although he failed to complete the play.

Five minutes later, he attempted to make John just as happy as he weaved past two defenders before finding the former El Dorado student unmarked in the area.

But John delayed and Goodison dived in to thwart the Warriors’ best chance in the second half.

Within seconds, his miss became doubly costly.

In a flash, Burton was in possession at the edge of the T&T penalty area after an incisive pass from substitute Williams.

The finish was as confident as the celebration that followed.

It was a hard blow for sweeper Anthony Rougier, who played superbly in place of the injured Dennis Lawrence, but the result did not flatter the gutsy Jamaicans by much.

Although often yielding possession, the Boyz were rarely overrun and again showed the benefits of a workmanlike display and competent on-field organisation.

Simpson may have lacked for Dwarika’s guile but he was every bit as assured on the ball, while Lowe literally did the job of two players as he often dropped deep in his own half to handle defensive duties as well.

At the final whistle, the appreciative crowd offered praise to their fallen heroes.

But it was the Boyz who stole the points.


TRINIDAD & TOBAGO: 21-Clayton Ince, 4-Marvin Andrews, 13-Ansil Elcock, 6-Avery John (10-Lyndon Andrews 86), 5-Reynold Carrington, 3-Dale Saunders, 15-Mickey Trotman (8-Angus Eve 57), 14-Stern John, 18-Nigel Pierre (11-Gary Glasgow 87), 17-Anthony Rougier, 9-Arnold Dwarika

JAMAICA: 13-Aaron Lawrence, 15-Ricardo Gardner, 14-Tyronne Marshall, 18-Deon Burton (10-Ricardo Fuller 72), 4-Linval Dixon, 5-Ian Goodison, 19-Frank Sinclair, 6-Fitzroy Simpson, 20-Daryl Powell (8-Jamie Lawrence 42), 12-Micah Hyde (9-Andy Williams 45), 31-Onandi Lowe

REFEREE: Gustavo Mendez (Uruguay). 

Simoes looks to the future


WITH one point from five games in the Concacaf Zone, Trinidad and Tobago coach Rene Simoes says the dream of reaching the 2002 Korea/Japan World Cup is all over. And it’s time to focus ahead.

“It’s sad to see again the team be out of the World Cup...the chances are not there anymore, so let’s look forward to the future,” said the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation’s technical director following yesterday’s 2-1 defeat to Jamaica at the Queen’s Park Oval.

Simoes was more optimistic about the years to come, saying the future could be “very bright” once the T&TFF puts a long-term programme in place and sticks to it.

“It must be ongoing progress,” the Brazilian stated. “You cannot change everytime, change the philosophy, change the players, change everything... Let us put a programme in place.” 

The loss to the Reggae Boyz put a damper on proceedings. But Simoes took some positives out of the game.

“I’m very disappointed for the result but I’m quite satisfied with the progress of the team, especially in the area of compactness and our defensive system,” he stated.

“Of course nobody likes to lose, I don’t like to lose, especially when you see your team put up a beautiful fight. But we had the game in our hands. Unfortunately, that’s the football. We had our chances to score in the second half.”

With more shots on goal than their opponents, Simoes said T&T could not make “excuses” for the result.

“If you don’t make your opponent pay the price, one time they get they are gonna make you pay the price and that’s what happened here today.”

But Simoes intends to change the way the Soca Warriors play

“I guarantee you if I had this team before, they would play very different. I like my team to play football. Our team plays long ball too much, I think it sometimes kill us and kill our creativeness.”

Jamaica’s coach Clovis de Oliviera said despite the “off field” problems that plagued the Soca Warriors’ campaign, T&T put up “a very tough fight”.

“I knew you didn’t play with two stars (Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy) and it made it harder for you but it was not easy for us to win this game...It was a very balanced game, a tight game.”

Concacaf Zone standings

Standings in the Football Confederation's final round of qualifying for the 2002 World Cup after Jamaica beat Trinidad & Tobago 2-1 yesterday. 


United States 5 4 1 0 7 1 13 
Costa Rica 5 3 1 1 9 5 10 
Honduras 5 2 2 1 11 8 8 
Jamaica 6 2 2 2 5 8 8 
Mexico 5 1 1 3 7 8 4 
T&T 6 0 1 5 4 13 1 

NB: Top three qualify for Japan and Korea 

Remaining matches: TODAY—Mexico vs United States at Mexico City, Honduras vs Costa Rica at Tegucigalpa; SEPTEMBER 1—Trinidad & Tobago vs Costa Rica at Port of Spain, United States vs Honduras at Washington DC; SEPTEMBER 2—Jamaica vs Mexico at Kingston; SEPTEMBER 5— Honduras vs Jamaica at Tegucigalpa, Mexico vs Trinidad & Tobago at Mexico City, Costa Rica vs United States at San Jose; OCTOBER 7—Honduras vs Trinidad & Tobago at San Pedro Sula, United States vs Jamaica at Boston, Costa Rica vs Mexico at San Jose; NOVEMBER 11—Jamaica vs Costa Rica at Kingston, Trinidad & Tobago vs United States at Port of Spain, Mexico vs Honduras at Mexico City.

Yorke still has his supporters


MANCHESTER United striker Dwight Yorke has been widely criticised at home for his decision to quit international football. 

However, former United midfielder Sammy McIlroy believes that Yorke’s decision to turn his back on Trinidad and Tobago could save his career at the club.

Yorke and national team captain and close friend Russell Latapy called it quits on Thursday after being dropped by T&T technical director René Simoes for failing to attend training.

But Northern Ireland manager McIlroy feels United manager Sir Alex Ferguson will be delighted by Yorke’s decision which has removed a source of friction between the pair.

“Without a doubt his international commitments were a big stumbling block between the two,” he said. “I feel a bit sorry for Dwight and it’s not like he’s jetting off to Belfast or Glasgow when he goes on international duty; he’s flying halfway round the world for eight or nine hours. 

“I’m sure deep down the boy wants to play for his country, but he’s coming back jetlagged and tired and I think he’s realised he can’t go on any longer.”

McIlroy also suggested that the timing of the Concacaf qualifiers meant that Yorke was virtually playing a 12-month season. 

His commitments with the “Soca Warriors”, according to McIlroy, precipitated his fall from favour at Old Trafford last season, from first choice in the strikers’ pecking order to number four—last!. 

Yorke missed a sizeable chunk of pre-season training last July to play in World Cup qualifiers before Ferguson blew his top with him when he returned injured and late from another trip in September. 

“There’s enough pressure trying to hold down a place at United and perform in the Premiership without all that.” 

Yorke lost his place to the rejuvenated Teddy Sheringham last season prompting widespread speculation that he could leave Old Trafford.

McIlroy feels Yorke will remain at United because the departure of Sheringham and the arrival of Ruud van Nistelrooy maintains the status quo of four strikers, which is the minimum number Ferguson thinks he needs. 

“Ferguson has always said he wants four strikers and that’s the number he’s got at the moment,” he said. “He likes to be able to rotate them and rest one or two of them when he feels the time is right. 

“Don’t forget that Dwight has proved he is a quality player who can score goals and he hasn’t become a bad player overnight. 

“He was also unlucky that Teddy Sheringham started like a house on fire and had his best season for years. Dwight can still do a job for United and I think he will stay.” 

Should Yorke be sold, though, a much touted return to Aston Villa—who signed the Tobago-born player as a teenager—now seems unlikely.

Villa’s finance director Mark Ansell denied any interest in the Trinidad and Tobago star yesterday and dismissed reports of an £8 million bid. 

“It is purely newspaper speculation and nothing more,” said Ansell, speaking to the club’s official website. 

“The price reported and the age of Dwight Yorke simply don’t fit into our transfer strategy and, even if that were not the case, I wouldn’t be convinced that our supporters would want Dwight Yorke back at Villa Park.” 

Latas and Yorke
were in Barbados

RUSSELL Latapy and Dwight Yorke did not turn up for practice last Wednesday because they were in Barbados where Latapy signed his contract with Glasgow Rangers.

Both players, who resigned from the national team on Thursday, left for England yesterday, a week earlier, to begin training following their resignations.

Both players will return to their respective clubs tomorrow for training, Yorke with Manchester United where he has two more years on his contract, while Latapy will start a two-year contract reportedly worth a weekly £10,000 with Glasgow Rangers.

There was speculation that Latapy was in Scotland last week to sign the contract, but the Sunday Express learned that his agent made arrangements for the signing to be done in the Caribbean, as the Glasgow Rangers manager was on vacation. It was arranged that both parties would meet in the region to make matters easier.

“Russell Latapy’s agent had made all the arrangements in advance when he heard that the Rangers boss was on holiday. With pre-season camp beginning in a short time, everything was set for Barbados and there is where the contracts were signed with the Glasgow Rangers people,” a source close to the players said.

“Both of the players never expected to be dropped from the team against Jamaica because of this, but when they came back and heard all the trouble, it totally left them surprised about everything,” the source added.

Both players left for Barbados last Tuesday and returned to Trinidad and Tobago on Thursday when they received the news of their sacking from the national team. They then resigned.

Latapy will also earn a transfer fee of between £250,000 and £350,000 from the deal with Glasgow Rangers, the source said.

Latapy, a free transfer player under the Bosman Ruling, had to sign the contract by July 1 in order to get all the benefits, including the transfer fee which will all go to him and none to any club, the source added.

“At the time of negotiating that point was still being finalised and the latest is that the figures being mentioned are between £250,000 and £350,000. 

“Although Latapy’s agent was hoping for figures closer to £1m,” he stated.

Yorke and Latapy were not reached for comment but the source said “they know now that they have to play out their club careers and believe that what they have done in the past for Trinidad and Tobago seems to have been forgotten by everyone”. 

When contacted yesterday, Latapy’s local manager, Wayne Mandeville, refused to confirm or deny that Latapy was in Barbados.

T&T goes out fighting

By Iirving Ward

Good-bye Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy. And good riddance!
The sentiment was bellowed by fans throughout the Queen's Park Oval yesterday, even as Trinidad and Tobago's 2002 World Cup hopes were laid to rest by goals from Jamaican strikers Onandi Lowe and Deon Burton.
Already clinging to a mere mathematical chance of advancing to Japan and Korea next year, T&T was finally knocked out after a 2-1 loss to the Reggae Boyz.

But even in defeat, the 4,000-odd fans who turned up at the venue to support their compatriots stood proud in tribute to the best effort they had seen by the team in this final phase of qualifying.
Indeed, afterwards, not a fan had anything negative to say about stand-in skipper Marvin Andrews' side.
Rather, it was the duo of Latapy and Yorke who drew the wrath of the fans, some of them even bearing placards scorning the two players they previously adored.

One placard asserted: "Dwight Yorke, Russell Latapy. Traitors! ..."; another "Blight and Lata-pee".
Ironically, but perhaps not unexpectedly, given their fall from grace over the last three days, the duo did not even stay in the country to offer the support they had promised when they resigned from the team on Thursday, having left the night before bound for safer ground in England.

Now that all hopes of qualifying are dead, Brazilian coach Rene Simoes can focus his attention on building a team for the drive to reach the 2006 tournament in Germany. And on evidence of yesterday's game, Simoes has a lot to be hopeful of.

Leading the charge for T&T yesterday was midfielder Arnold Dwarika - who played as though he had borrowed a page from a young Little Magician's book - and England-based striker Stern John, who scored the goal which gave his compatriots and teammates hope that a revival could be initiated.

John collected a through ball from skipper Andrews, who had stolen an errant pass from Jamaican defender Ian Goodison, just outside the penalty area in the 26th minute. The Nottingham Forest marksman then dribbled past Linval Dixon and hit a right-footer past advancing goalie Aaron Lawrence.

The goal brought a huge uproar from the T&T fans, who had now seen their team, which dominated the opening stages of the game as Dwarika tormented the Jamaican defence with some deft dribbling and passing, take the lead in a match for the first time in this phase.

However, the goal also sparked a fight between rival Jamaican and T&T fans in one section of the crowd, forcing police to step in. And while many were distracted by the melee, Lowe equalised for the Reggae Boyz on the half hour mark.

Following a quick counter attack, Fitzroy Simpson moved down the left flank and delivered a looping cross into the penalty box where Lowe out jumped Andrews and headed past the desperate lunge of goalie Clayton Ince.
Undaunted by the setback, T&T continued its surge forward. But the visitors held out doggedly to the half time interval. Two consecutive goalmouth clearances from Ian Goodison, off Dwarika attempts, ensured that the scoreline did not change before the interval.

After the break, it was more of the same as T&T enjoyed the better of the exchanges for long periods.
However, the only goal came for the Jamaicans against the run of play in the 69th minute through the England-based Burton.

The goal was set up after Goodison stopped a run from (S) John inside his own penalty area, then laid the ball off to Andy Williams.

Williams, in turn, delivered a long pass up field to Burton who found himself in a one-on-one situation with Ince and made no mistake, burying his right-footer into the lower right-hand corner of the net to give his team a vital three points.

The Jamaicans joined Honduras on eight points on the six-team table with the win and now await the outcome of today's matches between leaders United States (13 pts) and Mexico (4 pts) and Honduras versus Costa Rica (10 pts), to see whether a second consecutive win against T&T in this phase-they having won the first leg 1-0 in Kingston- ultimately carries them to their second straight World Cup Finals.

New era for T&T soccer squad

By Irving Ward

Trinidad and Tobago will herald in a new era in its history today when it takes the Queen's Park Oval field against Jamaica in a crucial World Cup qualifier from 4 pm.For the first time in this campaign, and indeed the last decade, the men in red, white and black will be without inspirational midfield leader Russell Latapy and striker Dwight Yorke.Both players have been key members of the team since the 1989 "Strike Squad", but unceremoniously tendered their resignations on Thursday night after being dropped for this game by newly-appointed coach, Brazilian Rene Simoes.

The pair has promised to support their team-mates from the sidelines today, although their presence may not be welcomed given the unfortunate timing of their decision. Simoes himself is facing yet another Herculean task.Four years ago, the Brazilian guided the Reggae Boyz to the World Cup Finals in France after an indifferent start to the campaign by them.He is in a similar situation today, although events which preceded today's match and the atmosphere within and around the team is certainly not what pervaded for the Jamaicans back then.

T&T, already only in with the slimmest chance of advancing after a disastrous start, needs nothing less than a win to keep alive a mathematical chance of squeezing into one of the top three CONCACAF Zone spots in Japan and Korea.
However, England-based striker Stern John-the man who will undoubtedly have to shoulder the brunt of the scoring responsibility-yesterday said his team-mates had put the tumultuous events of the past 72 hours behind them.
Furthermore, they are ready to step up to the challenge."The show has to go on," John said after yesterday's final training session in preparations for today's match.

"Those players (Latapy/Yorke) are not here with us again but the other guys are confident that we can still do a job. Everyone has adapted well with the new coaching staff. The coach came in and has already stamped his authority."
He added: "The guys want to get to the World Cup. We still have fifteen points to get and we want to go all out in our attempt to get that. We still have the dream."John himself has been struggling for form all through the campaign.In fact, the Nottingham Forest striker only had one goal in this final phase of qualifying. That came in the team's 4-2 loss to Honduras here on June 16.

However, noting that Simoes had managed to keep team spirit high, John seems ready to deliver today."The coach (Simoes) came in and spoke to the team and I think he instilled more confidence in us," John said."I think after the game in the US, everyone was down. But now, we know that we still have a lot to play for. We have to ensure that we get our points and then we'll see how things go with the other teams, you never know what can happen in football."

Warner: We were all fooled

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation is now paying the price for giving special treatment to British-based professionals Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy.This was the view of TTFF special adviser Jack Warner yesterday, in response to questions about the reasons which may have led to the pair to quit the senior team.

"What we have done in this country, far too often, is to pamper these so-called stars," Warner said."And we have failed to discipline them properly, whether its Brian Lara, whether its Dwight Yorke or Russell Latapy. And it is because of this that we are paying the price today in cricket, in football, in other sports."Yorke's resignation, in a joint letter with Latapy on Thursday night, came just two weeks after he had apologised to the public and promised to redouble his efforts to the cause.

"That tells you the depth of these guys' commitment and their national pride," Warner said."If two weeks ago, you (Yorke) have made that passionate plea, which also fooled me I must confess, and then two weeks after you simply have not turned around or changed your way... You could agree almost totally that they lacked sincerity in what they said then. "This is a lesson to all footballers of how not to be a patriot to your country. Dwight has proven that for me in no uncertain ways and also Russell to a lesser extent."

Asked if he would recommend to the TTFF that it take further action on the players, Warner answered in the negative.
"At the end of the day, they have to ask themselves what's the legacy they gave to this country. The legacy they gave to this country is false hopes and false dreams and if they could live with that for the rest of their lives," Warner said.
"I believe that is more a punishment than to try to punish them through their clubs or otherwise. Good luck to them," he said.

War of the coaches 

Brazilians battle for vital points


“WE must be a warrior.”

Trinidad and Tobago football team technical director René Simoes was in no doubt about what constitutes the most valuable quality when his team plays Jamaica at the Queen’s Park Oval from 4 p.m. today.

The Soca Warriors, who are at the bottom of the six-team Concacaf table, still have a mathematical chance of qualifying for the 2002 World Cup. But the Reggae Boyz have five points and an emphatic win today would see them leapfrog over Honduras into third place.

The Brazil-born coach told the media that although their chances of qualification were slim, the game remains an important one for the team. It will show, he explained, who is really “the champion of the Caribbean”.

Ironically, it was Simoes who helped Jamaica to their current position as the regional superpower after guiding them to the 1998 World Cup.

He played down his role in today’s match and chose instead to focus on the players who are still putting the events of the past week behind them.

On Monday night, Warriors head coach, Scotsman Ian Porterfield, was dismissed while two other members of the technical staff handed in their resignations on the instruction of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF).

The resignations of team captain Russell “the Little Magician” Latapy and star striker Dwight Yorke soon followed.

But, for the first time, Simoes suggested that the team may be better off without the pair.

He explained that the stand-off between Yorke, Latapy and Anthony Rougier and the T&TFF—prior to a home qualifier against Honduras—was not handled in a way that their teammates may have appreciated.

“I think the spirit of the team was there before the return of the players,” said Simoes. “After the players returned, the three players who were out, I think the spirit of the team came down... I think now the spirit of the team is a little bit better.”

However, he said that he did not think the technical staff could have made a different decision after Yorke submitted a letter of apology.

It is now up to the players to prepare themselves mentally for today’s challenge.

Mental toughness and heart, he explained, are the two most crucial factors in a derby encounter.

Still, there is no denying the magnitude of the task facing the Warriors.

St Gallen left winger Jerren Nixon, a former Caribbean Player of the Year, remains unavailable for selection because of a groin injury and looked on from the sidelines along with injured West Ham goalkeeper Shaka Hislop.

Lanky sweeper Dennis Lawrence is doubtful owing to a knee injury and will undergo a fitness test this morning.

Even Simoes was forced to hobble off for treatment after damaging a muscle in his left hamstring during practice yesterday.

It is a reversal of the roles for both teams.

In their first leg, Jamaica overcame the death of right wingback Steve “Shorty” Malcolm and injuries to goalkeepers Donovan Ricketts, Aaron Lawrence, left wingback Ricardo “Bibi” Gardner, the suspension of star striker Onandi Lowe and the unavailability of talented young sweeper Shavar Thomas to win 1-0 at the Kingston National Stadium.

But it is the Boyz who will start as favourites on Trinidad soil today and they were in belligerent mood during their session at the Oval yesterday.
The powerful, brooding figure of Lowe refused to speak to the local media.

“From the time Air Jamaica stop fly here,” he said curtly, “Me a don deal wid Trinidad people.”

Jamaican defender Ian “Pepe” Goodison was slightly more approachable and he claimed to be disappointed at missing another chance at Yorke whom he nullified in the first leg.

Boyz’ coach Clovis de Oliviera—also a Brazilian—was not as sentimental and pointed out that T&T will be starting with 11 players and not nine.

De Oliviera said that he was not put off by having to play at the Oval although he said that there were at least three better grounds in Trinidad.
He also played down the match-up against his old mentor, Simoes.

De Oliviera worked as an assistant to Simoes in Brazil, Qatar and, briefly, with the Jamaican national team.

Today, he will have the added incentive of pulling one over a coach he holds in high esteem.

Jamaican playmaker Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore may turn out to be the ace up his sleeve as the midfielder is understood to be a possible last-minute addition.

But Simoes said that he is also monitoring the situation and will not be tricked.

Neither, he will hope, will his players.