By Shaun Fuentes
FIFA vice president Jack Warner was well aware of the fact that the Trinidad and Tobago team which lined up against Jamaica on March 28 was one which consisted of nine overseas players, including Manchester United's Dwight Yorke, West Ham goalkeeper Shaka Hislop and Hibernian magical midfielder Russell Latapy.
Also among the overseas players in the team were Jerron Nixon, Stern John, Marvin Andrews, Anthony Rougier, Clint Marcelle and skipper David Nakhid.
He agreed that the TT "Dream Team" consisted of a calibre of players
that had not played together for quite some time. Still, though beating
Jamaica 2-0, TT were at times chasing the Reggae Boyz
to their own pace. There was obvious signs of misunderstanding among the foreign and local players and still, with the flair of Latapy and the striking abilities of John, TT looked untouchable at times.
Many fans will now hope that a team of this kind will train together for a fair period and be available for TT when the critical stages appear, including the 2000 Concacaf Gold Cup and the 2002 World Cup qualifiers. "This must continue and what we have proved is that with proper planning we can come together and this has to continue in the critical times," said Warner.
The Concacaf president was in jubilant mood, commenting on the side which lined up two Sundays ago: "It's a great achievement. Never in the history of local football, we have had such a team coming together. What has happened here is a dream come true."
However, Warner warned that it wouldn't always be possible for the top professionals to come home for a match with which there is nothing more than pride at stake.
"There will be times when we can't get the 'Dream Team' to come together but it can't be a one man effort. We must have players at home capable of doing the job."
He's aware of the fact that the local members also need to be given the sufficient support. "That it is correct. When these foreign players can't return, we must have a category of local players with the proper support and whom we also show confidence in.
As to the victory over the Reggae Boyz, Warner, was buzzing with excitement. "I want to send a message to Jamaica that what they did in the last World Cup was really of course our position that they borrowed and now we want it back."
Speaking even before March 28, Warner rest assured that, "A whole new era begins in Trinidad and Tobago football today. TT administrator Richard Braithwaite also sent out word of praises to the overseas players in their response to the call for their support. "This is nothing more than a step in the right direction. We were very pleased to see the response of the foreign based professionals to our call. All of them are very keen on representing us in the future and this is why they were back to show this. "I am hoping that after the match the public and the sponsors would realise the potential that is out there."
He also appealed for continued support from the local public and private sectors, even in times when the big names as Yorke and Latapy are not available.
"Clearly one has to show support for our locally based players also. Those that play abroad are ambassadors and we need to recognise this and give them the respect they deserve, but our local players also need to be shown respect and given support. "This is just a glimpse of things to come. The best is yet to come," ended Braithwaite.
In related news, Warner and Braithwaite continued to show their belief
in coach Bertille St Clair's ability. Responding to statements by
Jamaican Federation president Horace Burell that TT needed to employ a
foreign coach to go all the way. Warner said: "I maintain that all coaches
need assistance, but whether we need to replace our coach is something
different. "We don't need to replace our coach. At the end of the day we
have significant faith in our coach." Pointing out that foreign coaches
come to local shores and then pack their bags and leave, Warner said: "There
are particular areas we may need assistance but at the end when these foreign
coaches pack up and leave we must have our own foundation in place to develop
our football," said Warner.