Wednesday April 25th, 2001
‘Warriors’ declare war on Mexico
By LASANA LIBURD
FIFA vice-president and Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) special adviser Jack Warner yesterday slammed the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) for their behaviour in the build-up to tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier at the Queen’s Park Oval.
And as the T&TFF briefed the media on the build-up to the game, talk of war swirled around the Oval VIP lounge.
National team captain and Hibernian midfielder Russell Latapy said little on the exchange of niceties between the teams, merely asking local fans to come out to be the team’s “12th man” on match day.
Coach Ian Porterfield and Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke also chose to keep their comments on the team’s preparations to themselves, dealing instead with issues such as the choice of venue and team morale.
Warner, though, was in no mood to be polite to their guests.
Copies of letters sent to Fifa general secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen by the FMF protesting the T&TFF advertising campaign and choice of match venue were distributed to media personnel in attendance.
The letters informed Ruffinen that the Central Americans felt their safety was being compromised by the aggressive T&TFF campaign leading up to the match and also insisted that the Oval venue was not fit for football.
Warner countered by pointing to the behaviour of the FMF who had ignored several requests for their team lists, travel arrangements, accommodation and training plans while in Trinidad to be forwarded to the T&TFF.
“I am in an angry mood,” said Warner. “I am angry because of the fact that I think far too often people outside of this country, not to mention some from inside, take us for granted. Far too often, we tend to lie down and play dead in every endeavour, particularly football, and to me enough is enough.”
The Concacaf president said that the T&TFF will intensify their aggressive campaign rather than tone it down and slammed the FMF for ignoring football protocol.
“The rules they’re breaking are rules of football protocol,” he said. “The rules of etiquette, good manners, good training, etc. They may not have broken Fifa rules but they have broken all the others.
“It is unheard of, unparalleled, unprecedented!”
Warner also informed the gathering that there were 202 journalists in the country—35 from Mexico—who were looking “at every possible thing to send back to Fifa” and said that the Mexicans had told the world governing body they were playing under protest.
But he insisted that the T&TFF would not be dictated to.
“Let them protest,” he said. “This is our home match, our advantage and we will not allow anyone to come here and dictate to us.”
Porterfield’s address lacked Warner’s energy but he also predicted a win for the “Soca Warriors”. It would be their second home win over the Mexicans coming after their 1-0 win at the Hasely Crawford Stadium last July.
“I certainly believe the lads just need a little bit of confidence,” said Porterfield. “The rub of the green somewhere and I’m sure if that happens...”
Yorke agreed with Porterfield that the Oval surface would suit them fine and explained that playing on the new, slick Stadium surface may have actually given the advantage to the Mexicans.
“I came back here and trained on the Oval surface,” said Yorke. “And I’m finding it a very difficult pitch to play on and I’ve lived here for so many years. If I can find it very difficult to play on, then that’s what the Mexicans will find themselves...”
“Hopefully by bringing them to the Oval,” the Manchester United striker ended, “they’re going to find it very difficult and it will be frustrating for them to play the way they’re capable of playing.”
Mexico drop Campos
THE Mexican national football team were expected to arrive at the Piarco International Airport just after last midnight minus flamboyant goalkeeper Jorge Campos.
Campos, who represented Mexico in the 1994 and 1998 World Cups, was cut from the final 18-man squad selected by coach Enrique Meza, according to information released on the Internet.
He is one of three recognisable faces in the “El Tricolor” outfit that will be missing in tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier at the Queen’s Park Oval against Trinidad and Tobago at the Queen’s Park Oval.
Cuauhetmoc Blanco is yet to return to full fitness after being injured last October, when Mexico trounced Trinidad and Tobago 7-0 at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, while veteran striker Luis Hernández has also been left out.
Hernández is felt to be insufficiently recovered from a hamstring injury but, now in the twilight of his career, he is no longer guaranteed a starting spot.
Meza’s squad: Oscar Pérez, Oswaldo Sánchez, Claudio Suarez, Joaquin Beltran, Duilio Davino, Salvador Carmona, Pavel Pardo, Rafael Márquez, Germán Villa, Marco Antonio Ruiz, Victor Ruiz, Alberto Coyote, Antonio De Nigris, Jared Borgetti, Jesús Arellano, Miguel Zepeda, Daniel Osorno and Francisco Palencia.
Trinidad's Yorke tense before must-win qualifier
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (April 24) - Trinidad and Tobago striker Dwight Yorke said the tension was building ahead of Wednesday's CONCACAF World Cup qualifying match against Mexico.
Yorke was responding to reports that the Mexicans, fearing for their safety, had asked for the game to be switched from the Queen's Park Oval after a highly charged publicity campaign by the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation.
"It's a very difficult atmosphere right now because everyone is aware that we must win this game," Yorke said. "We cannot afford to lose because everybody will be dejected."
The 29-year-old Manchester United forward said he would be disappointed if Trinidad and Tobago, bottom of the standings without a point from two matches, failed to make its home advantage count.
"Home advantage is always important and our two games so far have been away and we lost," Yorke said. "It is now up to us to do everything possible within the rules of football to benefit from our home advantage. If they come into our country, they have got to play by our rules."
Yorke said that helping the team reach the World Cup was still his ultimate goal.
"I have said before that I am taking my responsibility to get the goals for my country seriously. I haven't been able to get on the scoresheet yet but I have every intention of doing so in this game."
Team captain Russell Latapy, who plays for Hibernian in the Scottish Premier league, said it was probably his and Yorke's last chance of appearing on the sport's biggest stage.
"We don't even want to think about failure. I think we are still in with a great chance of getting to the World Cup Finals. We have to pick up points as early as possible and the game against Mexico in front of our people is the best chance so far," he said.
The Mexicans, third in the standings with three points from two games, have been playing a cat and mouse game with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation, failing to inform them of their arrival time and other domestic arrangements.
Trinidad Refuses to Shift Venue for Mexico Match
PORT OF SPAIN (Reuters) - Trinidad and Tobago has rejected a request by the Mexican Football Federation to shift the venue for Wednesday's CONCACAF World Cup qualifying match from the Queen's Park Oval.
The Mexicans lodged a protest with FIFA last week, saying they were concerned about their safety at the venue following a local promotional campaign they regard as inflammatory.
The Mexicans claim the campaign's main catchphrase ``This Is War'' could lead to violence.
The Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) have launched an intensive media campaign in recent weeks in a bid to boost support for the national team following defeats by Jamaica and Costa Rica.
Attached to the letter to FIFA from Jorge Fuentes, secretary of the Mexican Football Federation, was a video of the Queen's Park Oval.
A copy of the letter was sent to Chuck Blazer, general secretary of CONCACAF.
FIFA contacted CONCACAF Vice President Trinidadian Jack Warner who pointed out that the Queen's Park Oval had staged several internationals in the past which had passed off without incident.
Warner said Trinidad and Tobago would be willing to change the venue to the Hasely Crawford Stadium where Trinidad and Tobago defeated Mexico 1-0 in the semifinals last year.
But they said they would do so only if the Mexicans agreed to shift the return encounter on Sept. 5 from Mexico City's Azteca Stadium to a venue at a lower altitude.
The Mexicans had originally refused to advise the TTFF of their travel arrangements, team lists, training schedule and the name of the hotel where they would be lodged, despite several requests for the information.
But following appeals to FIFA by the host nation, the Mexicans have announced their 24-man squad, which was scheduled to arrive in Trinidad and Tobago later Sunday.
T&T down but not out of it yet
It's easy to claim that the loss against Costa Rica in the World Cup qualifier last Wednesday, was disastrous. Those who were disappointed have every reason to be.
The bottom line now reads two matches played, no wins and two losses for T&T. Nothing could have read worse and it's almost like a horse race where one horse was left in the boxes for the first 200 metres.
A likely comeback for that horse is highly probable, but in football, it is slightly different. When we take a look at the fixtures, we expect that there will be winners and losers along the way, which could easily bring the field back to T&T.
Losing away games is not surprising. We have seen it so often in other countries across the football world. Sometimes even the poorest sides hold their home advantage.
So let us not cast aspersions on our chances in this competition. If we remember well enough, Jamaica had gone four matches without a point before qualifying for France 98.
However, that does not stand in the way of a complete and precise analysis of the team's performances, the preparations, and everything leading up our defeats.
Only a total optimist or someone who has no understanding of the game will defend the mediocrity of our field performances. Jamaica helped our cause in Kingston with an equally abysmal display of football where neither team deserved a point from the match. Try desperately to extract some good points from that game and it would be like pulling teeth.
The same or worse can be said about the Costa Rica encounter where the team seemed short of technical, theoretical or mental preparation. This opens the door for a sound critique of the knowledge which guides the destiny of the team play, and maybe it is the first area of change that may be needed.
For many of the disappointed fans, a quick jump to "Fire the coach" would be a chant that sounds good to the ear. Yes, only because the ideas of Ian Porterfield have brought very little to the table for debate on the poor football demonstrated by some of the finest players we have ever been able to put together for many years.
So, where do we go from here. ? Or better still, is it only the coach and his staff to target ? I don't think so.
Some players must be reassessed as they have not shown the ability which they displayed over the years.
It is almost pitiful to see the 'Little Magician' Russell Latapy appear as innocuous as he did in recent times, while the absence of playing time for their clubs have deprived Stern John, Anthony Rougier and to a lesser extent, Ronnie Mauge of some of the effectiveness of which we know them to be capable.
Names do not win matches, performances do. And if that is the case, then Nigel Pierre, Brent Rahim, Lyndon Andrews, and Mickey Trotman, are players who will produce the quality play for T&T.
I hope that its not too late to ask pertinent questions about the whereabouts of players like Gary Glasgow, Darin Lewis, Jerren Nixon, Avery John and a long lost Shaun Boney.
The speed of Glasgow, the excellent skill and guile of Lewis, the mixture of both from Nixon, the aggression of Avery John in defence especially on the left flank, and the variable assets of Boney, his extraordinary aerial play because of his 6ft-7inches, his powerful left foot on freekicks, and his absolute aggression in the tackle, should not be ignored.
Many changes you may say but my suggestion for a more committed effort from our national team will be to recall those players and place them into the hands of Bertille St Clair (give him advisors if you think that he needs them) and set the new machinery in motion.
We are certain to have a more organized team performance when the Mexicans arrive. Please note that I did not emphasise the possibility of beating the shirts off Mexico, because I have the greatest respect for one of the more advanced football countries. However, with full effort and a careful game plan, even Mexico can feel the pain.
What else is needed? Your relentless support for the country's national team. Remember, we are still one of the most recognised football countries in the world with a population of less than a million and a half people. Do not throw in the sponge, you may need it to wipe the tears of our opponents.
Wednesday April 11th, 2001
By SEDLEY JOSEPH
AS has been the case with Trinidad and Tobago football teams participating in top-level competitions, the national Under-20s recently competed in a qualification tournament for a place in the World Cup finals in Argentina and failed to qualify.
I always feel a touch of sadness when one of our youth teams competes, not simply because of their failure, but because of what happens—or does not happen—with these youngsters once the tournament is finished.
The reports that I got on the first game against Costa Rica—which I did not see and which the team lost 3-0—say that the team’s performance was pathetic. In their defence, however, let it be said that they were reduced to ten men just before half-time which might account—at least in part—for the lacklustre showing.
Knowing the strength of the formidable USA team, who had whipped Guatemala 5-0, I made it a point of duty to be present at the second game against the Americans. The match started at a very fast pace, but the T&T youngsters were matching their opponents stride for stride—until they unfortunately lost their skipper, Marvin Lee, who is still seriously ill in hospital.
T&T were holding their own in the game but one could notice the fluency of the USA team’s movements, as they used the first-time pass with efficiency and made intelligent runs off the ball. It seemed only a matter of time before the USA opened the score and so it was. Young DaMarcus Beasley wove his way up the right side where, switching inside to his favoured left foot, he left the T&T goalkeeper beaten all ends up with a swerving, powerful left-footed shot that flew his hands before he knew what had happened.
The USA team added another goal shortly after and Beasley eventually made it 3-0. The T&T team had a couple of scoring chances but were badly let down by their finishing.
The second half was almost a repetition of the first, with the USA having much more of the possession.
What was quite obvious was that the American team has been living and playing together for quite some time. Their crisp, incisive passes underlined the difference between a side who had a lot of exposure to good opposition as against one which had put players together in the hope that they would mesh on match day. It is a fact that for most of the other Concacaf countries, football is not hit and miss business and camps and practice games are planned way in advance of the actual competition dates.
Here in T&T, we have no development programmes, regardless of what some of our administrators seem to believe and and this shortcoming is reflected in the various teams’ performances in competitions.
My sadness is all the greater this time around because there are quite a few talented players among the current Under-20 bunch. Without a serious programme in place, however, the likelihood is that we will not hear anything about or see most of these players within the next few years. That is wrong. These players should be kept together in a well structured programme to serve as a feeder for the national senior team.
They might even be placed as a team in the new PFL reserve league, so that they might gain greater understanding among themselves as had obviously happened with the other teams in the just concluded tournament.
It is pointless having our teams participate in these tournaments merely for participation’s sake. Even when defeated, these youngsters can make real gains from continuing to practise and play together.
It is high time the T&TFF, which has been allowed to get away with doing the same meaningless thing for many years, get its act together. The business of throwing together a few games for a squad that has been often hastily assembled under a coach has to stop. And it should stop with the current Under-20s.
By the way, do we still have an Under-17 squad in training? I await an answer.
By LASANA LIBURD
THIS evening marks the start of a new era for the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force Football Club as they kick off their 2001 Professional Football League (PFL) season from 6 p.m. against Joe Public at the João Havelange Centre of Excellence, Macoya.
For the first time in over a decade, Defence Force will not have the services of inspirational ex-Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Hutson Charles, who has decided to retire his boots.
Joining Charles in the “out box” are fellow Strike Squad members Kerry Jamerson and Dexter Lee, while lanky national stopper Dennis Lawrence has moved on to Wales-based English Division Two team Wrexham.
An equally big blow to the ambitions of last year’s PFL runner-up, though, is the uncertainty surrounding striker Jason Scotland—who topped all scorers in the league last season—and ex-national midfielder Dean Pacheco.
Scotland, who was also the 2001 PFL Best Youth Player, and Pacheco have not yet indicated their desire to represent Defence Force this season, according to assistant manager Roger McLean.
Scotland is understood to be focusing on playing opportunities abroad.
Coach Errol McFarlane will be without Sherman “Ants” Phillip, Shelton Williams, Marlon Sylvester, Marlon Cayonne and Claude Adams as well, due to the timing of their recruit training.
Cayonne and Adams—both recently summoned for national senior team training—are expected to be out for most of the season, while Phillip, Williams and Sylvester should be available soon.
McFarlane’s charge will be led instead by the experienced trio of ex-national goalkeeper Ross Russell, midfielder David George and defender Anton Pierre.
The 1999 PFL champs will have their work cut out for them against the re-energised “Eastern Lions”.
Joe Public shrugged off their disappointing fourth place finish last season to successfully defend their Caribbean Club Championship title and looked fairly organised in the Charity Challenge Cup last Sunday, despite losing 2-1 to Vibe CT 105 W. Connection FC.
Public will be led by returning Yugoslav coach Zoran Vranes, who is their fifth coach in three seasons—excluding Alvin Corneal, who briefly held the post of technical director in 1999.
However, they have made few adjustments to their playing staff with only one new face in combative midfielder Dale Saunders, who joined on a free transfer from CL Financial San Juan Jabloteh.
Former Public hardman Travis Mulraine should also rejoin Public soon after being released from US Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit San Jose Clash, while striker Mickey Trotman and defender Brent Sancho have both headed in the opposite direction.
Trotman has joined A-League team Rochester Rhinos on loan and Sancho has joined fellow A-League outfit Portland Timbers on a similar arrangement.
In other PFL action, Caledonia AIA should receive a stern test of their credentials when they face defending champions W. Connection from 7 p.m. at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
WCFC got off to a flying start in their 2001 season with consecutive wins over Joe Public and Jabloteh in the Charity Challenge and League, respectively.
Caledonia were not complaining about their opening game on Wednesday either as they thrashed hosts Arima Fire 5-1 at the Arima Municipal Stadium.
It is a feat that they are unlikely to repeat in Port of Spain this evening.
RISING South American football nation Ecuador have pulled out of their scheduled friendly match against Trinidad and Tobago on April 21.
Ecuador, who pulled off a famous 1-0 upset win over four-time World Cup champions Brazil last week, cancelled the warm-up game, which they claimed would interfere with their training programme.
The match was set to provide the “Soca Warriors” with a good work out before their crucial April 25 home qualifier against Mexico.
Instead, national senior team coach Ian Porterfield will have to test his troops against regional team Cuba on the same April 21 date at the Queen’s Park Oval.
Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) president Oliver Camps said yesterday that the T&TFF had attempted unsuccessfully to find a replacement from the South American continent and were forced to settle for Cuba.
T&T have played Cuba twice over the past five years, winning both games—2-1 and 4-1, respectively—without the services of their more high-profile players, including Dwight Yorke, Russell Latapy and Shaka Hislop.
Cuba were eliminated during the preliminary rounds of the 2002 World Cup qualifiers after losses to Barbados and Canada.
Admission for the friendly against Cuba is $50 anywhere, while children are free.
Tickets for the April 25 World Cup qualifier against Mexico will go on sale from at least one week before the game. The prices are $100 for grounds, $150 for the cycle track in front of the covered stands, $200 for covered stands and $300 for special reserve seating in the Errol dos Santos stand.
Children will be admitted for half-price in grounds only.
The national senior team will restart training on Tuesday under the new-look technical staff, which now includes technical director Alvin Corneal and assistant coach Zoran Vranes.
By VALENTINO SINGH, Sports Editor
FORMER national football coach Bertille St Clair has accepted an invitation from technical director Alvin Corneal to be part of the Trinidad and Tobago technical staff.
However, St Clair is unlikely to join the staff before the clash against Mexico on April 25. Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) adviser Jack Warner said last night after talks with coach Ian Porterfield and his assistants Zoran Vranes and Jimmy Blanc, it was felt the team did not need more technical help at this time.
"I have spoken to the coach and his assistants and they do not need St Clair." Warner did not rule out the possibility of St Clair returning after the Mexico clash.
"We still have a long campaign ahead of us and there is every
possibility that we may have to utilise St Clair's services. But our
coaches have agreed that there is no immediate need for him."
St Clair's decision to accept Corneal's invitation followed lengthy talks with the newly-appointed technical director Wednesday night.
Corneal said he called on St Clair to be part of the set-up when the TTFF approached him to take over the team. "Initially he was very apprehensive but I am happy to say that he has agreed to be part of the set-up."
Corneal said he has sent sent off a letter to the Football Federation informing it of St Clair's position. Up to late yesterday, the TTFF had not received Corneal's letter, according to Warner. "But this is unlikely to have any effect on the composition of the technical staff for the Mexican game."
By MARK POUCHET
NEWLY-APPOINTED Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF)
technical director Alvin Corneal
said that national senior team coach Ian Porterfield “was no part” of his plans.
That was on Tuesday, but after a meeting with the T&TFF executive
and the senior team technical staff
yesterday, Porterfield is still in the mix.
And it was his predecessor Bertille St Clair who was not on the cards.
After his appointment was announced on Tuesday, Corneal stated that
Porterfield’s ideas were “too far
different” from his, claiming that St Clair, who coached the team to its highest-ever placing at the 2000 Gold
Cup in the USA, would be able to “do a better job”.
But all the wrangling between the new appointee and the current coach
seems to have been settled at a
meeting at the Concacaf office of Jack Warner.
Joining Porterfield and Corneal at the meeting were team manager Neville
Chance, assistant manager Neil
Mollineau and assistant coaches Jimmy Blanc and Zoran Vranes, who was named to his post on Tuesday.
In the chair was T&TFF president Oliver Camps, while Fifa vice president
Warner attended in his capacity as
the football association’s advisor.
Describing this juncture in T&T football as “a new era and a focus
on the future”, Camps said the matter of
re-hiring St Clair never arose.
“That was not even mentioned,” Camps said emphatically. “If they (the
technical staff) discuss and decide they
want to bring somebody else on board then they’ll have to pass it on to our committee and then we’ll make a
decision. But nothing like that came up.”
And the Scotland-born Porterfield confirmed Camps’ statement, telling
the Express he will be at the helm of
the senior team for their April 25 encounter against Mexico at the Queen’s Park Oval.
Porterfield was pleased with the way the meeting went and hoped Corneal,
who was appointed to his new
post following T&T’s dismal showing in a 3-0 loss to Costa Rica in World Cup qualifying last week, would
help the technical staff “to improve the performance of the team” in the remainder of their World Cup
“In the end, our objective is to take this country to the World Cup,”
said the coach, also denying claims there
was any division among the players.
At yesterday’s meeting, a short-term plan for the Mexico game and preparations
for the other games in the
campaign were discussed, as well as “the solidarity, the communication and co-operation” among the technical
Camps added that “everyone pledged to work for the benefit of the team
Warner, too, was in good spirits after the meeting.
The CFU president described the meeting as “very fruitful” and explained
that Porterfield was not given an
ultimatum after the team’s poor performance in Costa Rica.
“Football is a funny game,” he said, “and I appreciate the vicissitudes
of the game. One minute you’re up, then
next you’re down. The thing is not to allow the downward cycle to continue for too long.”
But asked if any changes would come if the senior team lost against
Mexico, Warner had this to say: “So be it.
It’s not the end of the world. Once you are sure you give something your best shot then so be it. But we have
at least to give it our best shot.”
Porterfield defends strategy
By LASANA LIBURD
TRINIDAD and Tobago senior team coach Ian Porterfield has stuck to his
earlier position that the strategy
employed in the 3-0 away loss to Costa Rica was correct.
Porterfield spoke to the media on Tuesday at the Queen’s Park Oval during
a news conference called by the
Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) to address the World Cup qualifying campaign thus far.
However, Porterfield insisted he was not to blame.
“The strategy was okay, I don’t think the strategy was wrong,” said
Porterfield. “I don’t think that the strategy
was wrong against Jamaica (either)...With that system, we came 29th in the world and that’s a fact. The
highest position that this country has ever been in.”
Porterfield did not reveal what the strategy was nor did he give much
by way of his halftime team talk in the
dressing room during last Wednesday’s match against Costa Rica.
He maintained, though, that the “Soca Warriors” performed well in the
first half, despite the statements of
several former national coaches—including former technical advisor Edgar Vidale—to the contrary.
Instead, Porterfield pointed to the absence of players like Wrexham’s
stopper Dennis Lawrence, Joe Public’s
forward Arnold Dwarika and Kansas City Wizards’ striker Gary Glasgow through injury. He also missed the
rugged service of Columbus Crew’s wing back Ansil Elcock, who missed out through suspension.
Elcock will return to the national fold for T&T’s home game against
Mexico on April 25.
The coach admitted that his squad lacked quality left-sided players,
but blamed that on the scarcity of good
left footers in the country.
Porterfield again responded evasively when asked why more support was
not given to Joe Public wing back
Cyd Gray, who was constantly under siege against the speedy Costa Ricans.
“On the training pitch before the game, we tried to make sure that the
problem did not arise,” said Porterfield.
“We knew where their strengths lay, but unfortunately on the day we couldn’t stop it.”
All three Costa Rican goals began with attacks down the right side of
the T&T defence, which was manned
Porterfield will retain his position as head coach—which he accepted
in March 2000—despite two successive
away losses to Jamaica and Costa Rica, but he will now be assisted by Fifa technician Alvin Corneal and Joe
Public’s Yugoslav coach Zoran Vranes.
Corneal and Vranes were officially announced as the new technical director
and assistant coach, respectively,
by T&TFF president Oliver Camps.
Camps, who occupied the head table alongside Fifa vice-president Jack
Warner, Sports Minister Manohar
Ramsaran and team manager Neville Chance, explained that their appointments were deemed necessary after
the team’s performance in both matches.
“Following our matches against Jamaica and Costa Rica,” said Camps,
“it has become clear to us at the
Football Federation, and surely the wider community of Trinidad and Tobago, that our team’s performance in
both matches has been less than what we believe is the team’s capability.”
Porterfield will still be responsible for team selection and on-field changes during the course of the game.
]Thursday April 5th, 2001
T&TFF summon Alvin Corneal
‘I want St Clair’
By LASANA LIBURD
FIFA technician Alvin Corneal was yesterday named by the Trinidad and
Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) as the new technical director of
the senior football team. And his first act was to call for the immediate
return of axed head coach Bertille St Clair.
St Clair held the position of Trinidad and Tobago senior team coach
from May 1997 to March 2000 when he was replaced by Scotsman Ian Porterfield.
Corneal himself was national senior team coach in the early 1990s—after
Everald “Gally” Cummings who nurtured the famed “Strike Squad”—but resigned
when the then T&TFA announced plans to make an English coach his superior
as technical director.
Corneal and St Clair both worked together at national youth level in
In a press conference at the Queen’s Park Oval yesterday, T&TFF
president Oliver Camps declared that Corneal and Joe Public’s Yugoslav
coach Zoran Vranes will take up their posts as technical director and assistant
coach respectively with immediate effect.
The decision comes in the wake of two successive World Cup qualifying
defeats away to Jamaica and Costa Rica. T&T currently lie at the bottom
of a six-team Concacaf table with no points or goals scored and four conceded.
However, the T&TFF told the media that both men must work alongside
current head coach Porterfield and manager Neville Chance who will both
retain their posts.
Mere hours after his appointment, Corneal—who was not present at the
press conference—told the Daily Express that he did not want Porterfield
“Porterfield is not part of my plans,” said Corneal. “I have no problem if they want to keep him but I think his ideas are too far different from mine... With all due respect to Mr Porterfield, I think Bertille (St Clair) will do a better job.
“I think that as technical director, they (the T&TFF) have to respect
my choice of coaches.”
St Clair became the first coach to lead an English-peaking Caribbean
country to a Fifa World Cup tournament when he led the “Soca Babes” to
the 1991 Portugal World Youth Cup. He was not retained after that competition
but, following a stint as head coach in St Vincent and the Grenadines,
was eventually recalled in 1997 to lead the national senior team following
their disastrous 1998 World Cup qualifying campaign.
St Clair lasted roughly three years in that post before he was fired
by Fifa vice-president and T&TFF special adviser Jack Warner after
taking T&T to the 2000 US Gold Cup semifinals—their highest ever placing
in the competition.
Warner, at that time, told the media that he was dissatisfied with the
performance of the team and felt the need to act quickly to preserve T&T’s
chances of earning a spot in the 2002 Korea/Japan World Cup competition.
“In spite of our success and victories,” said Warner, “I still find
the team to be technically deficient in several areas—particularly with
regard to our defence and, to a lesser extent, our midfield. I felt all
along that we would pay for those deficiencies.”
However, Corneal, who has the responsibility of reviving T&T’s floundering
World Cup bid, believes that St Clair is needed to erase the shortcomings
“I think that he (St Clair) will bring back the player respect and discipline
that is needed,” said Corneal. “I think that this has been eroded under
Porterfield and I also understand that there is a bit of division among
the players as well. “
Corneal said that he will approach the T&TFF executive committee
today with his ideas. The committee comprises Camps and Warner as well
as T&TFF general secretary Richard Groden and vice-president Lennox
Corneal admitted that St Clair has had some “off-the-field problems”
with “certain people” but said that their discussions were still positive.
Richard Braithwaite, dismissed as team manager along with St Clair,
was also said to be a “good prospect” to return to the job now occupied
by Chance. Corneal expressed his delight at working with Vranes who, he
said, did outstanding work with the 1996 Olympic football squad, particularly
The T&T defence and the composition and organisation of the players
on the field, according to Corneal, are the main areas of concern.
FC Zurich left winger Jerren Nixon—discarded by Porterfield—was mentioned
as the best option on the left side of midfield while former national youth
defender Avery John may get a chance to fill the vacancy at left back.
Corneal hinted that he liked the attacking duo of Manchester United
striker Dwight Yorke and Nigel Pierre and they should be given the chance
to gel. There was little else that impressed him about Porterfield’s squad.
“Nothing in the last 180 minutes we have played is encouraging,” said
Corneal. “Because we haven’t scored while he have conceded four... We are
going to work hard to try to bring some respectability to the team and
at least try to cover the gaps exposed in the past two games.
“I have the experience, I think,” he ended, “and I will give it a shot.”
Elcock working hard on fitness
Defender Ansil Elcock is working feverishly to get himself ready for
the World Cup qualifying match against Mexico on April 25 and the start
of the new American Major League season.
Elcock was banned by FIFA for three matches for a tackle on Mexican
striker Blanco. He missed T&T's last two matches in the final qualifying
During his break, Elcock underwent surgery to clean up cartilage in
his left knee in late February and has almost fully recovered, according
to a report from the Columbus Crew team. "When I first heard I was banned,
I made the decision to get it fixed," he said. Elcock is enjoying his training
at the moment.
"It's good for me to get the training with the team. I've got to get
back in shape. I'm only about 60 per cent. I've been doing a lot of work
with (assistant coach) Greg Andrulis. I want to be ready to open the season,"
said Elcock, who turned 32 last month. He played on the right and left
flank in a recent preseason game against Dallas Burn.
"We had him on the right side for 15 to 20 minutes, then moved him to
the left flank to get a taste of both sides," crew coach Tom Fitzgerald
said, adding it is not difficult to use the player in various positions.
Crew open their 2001 MLS season against the Chicago Fire on Saturday.
In related news, Elcock's national teammate Dennis Lawrence could recover
from a damaged rib earlier than expected as reports from the club stated
the injury is not as bad as first feared.
His bruised rib is still painful. Carlos Edwards, who damaged a ligament in his knee last month, should be back in training this month while Hector Sam, coming off a double hernia operation, is back in training and awaiting a pick on the Wrexham first team.
Latapy to decide by month end
Russell Latapy intends to help Hibernian to one of the top two places
in the final Scottish Premier League standings and a possible Cup title.
Latapy's fans have been wondering where he will campaign next season,
but the "Little Magician" will decide at the end of the Scottish season.
"I haven't really had time to look into that since I'm on national duty.
I'm not really sure. I want to concentrate on the national team right now.
I have some offers to consider, but I'll just have to wait and see," said
He remains fully committed to Hibs. "We're in with a chance of making the Champions' League and I'll love to do that and also a chance of getting the Cup."
Latapy's Hibs lost 0-2 to St Johnstone on Sunday with the "Little Magician" being unlucky to have a late effort come off the post. Hibs are third with 60 points, behind leaders Celtic (82 points) and Rangers(66).
Prayer, part of T&T preparation
Prayer is a special part of the T&T's preparations, according to
former captain Anthony Rougier. Rougier, a born-again Christian, says it
is something the players now engage in at various times of the day.
"It is a responsibility I take to glorify God in every way I can. It
is something I must do. The players strongly understand their ability and
what they achieved for T&T hasn't come just like that. To achieve what
we have comes by the grace of God. We work hard and, from that point of
view, I try to keep on a level head with the players," said Rougier.
The Reading FC player told the TTFF Media in Costa Rica the T&T
team is now getting back to where it was at last year in terms of cohesion.
"Obviously we have to learn no matter what happens, we have to support
each other. At the moment, Ian Porterfield is the coach and we are the
players. We need the support. I think we have to support the team no matter
Rougier came on in the 46th minute of Reading's 2-1 win over Nottingham County on Sunday. Their promotion push continues as they now lie third on the Second Division table with 73 points, four behind leaders Rotherham.
Yorke's double letdown
Dwight Yorke got a double dose of disappointment over the past week
after having a second goal disallowed while playing for Manchester United
in a 0-2 loss to Liverpool on Saturday.
Yorke had indicated earlier he thought his second half strike in T&T's
match against Costa Rica was valid, but it was ruled offside. Then, during
Saturday's action, Yorke had another second half strike ruled offside and
felt he was onside according to United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
"Dwight thought he was onside, but I asked the question of Phil (Neville),
why he did not score it himself and he said it was a tap-in for Dwight,
so there you go," said Ferguson.
Despite the victory for the "Reds", Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier said
his team still had some way to go before being able to reach the heights
of Yorke and his teammates.
Yorke will undoubtedly be aiming to help the "Soca Warriors" return to winning ways against Mexico later this month.
Hislop, John: Remain positive
West Ham United goalkeeper Shaka Hislop and striker Stern John believe
the race towards 2002 World Cup qualification is still open.
"Of course the group is wide open. The States are obviously the early
favourites. It is important we pick up home points. I strongly believe
we have it in us to grind out the results away from home despite the disappointing
start. It is a long way to go, and many of us have been in similar situations
We know what it takes to get ourselves out of this hole and we can't
let our heads drop. As long as we remain positive and with a little bit
of luck, the results will go our way," Hislop told TTFF Media last Thursday.
Hislop stood in goal for West Ham in English Premiership action on Saturday, but came out 0-2 losers to Everton.
John said T&T will now have to throw everything at the Mexicans
on April 25.
"It was tough in Costa Rica. The first half was really good. We just
fell asleep at the start of the second half. We still have a lot to look
forward to. We just have to throw everything against Mexico."
The former Columbus Crew player came on in the 80th minute of Nottingham
Forest's 1-1 draw with Queen's Park Rangers on Saturday, which virtually
ended his club's chances of promotion into the English Premiership.
They now lie seventh on the table with 60 points. Meanwhile, Ian Cox's Burnley suffered a 0-5 hammering from Blackburn Rovers on Sunday and are now in 10th spot with 55 points.
Benjamin goes to Battery
Former national youth midfielder Glenn Benjamin has been signed by Charlestor
Battery of the American A-League.
The former St Benedict's College player completed his move to the club earlier this month and has been tipped to add depth and experience to their midfield, team coach Alan Dicks said.
"Glenn is a world class player. He's played for the Trinidad and Tobago
National Team at U18, U20 and at the Full-National Team level. That kind
of experience will certainly help the Battery this season, and I am very
pleased to welcome him on-board," said Dicks.
Benjamin played the opening 45 minutes of Battery's 5-0 win over Coastal
Carolina in warm-up game last Tuesday.
The 28-year-old is a former member of the A-League's New Orleans Storm and is a graduate of the University of Mobile (UM) with a degree in Marketing.
Local fans will remember Benjamin as a member of the T&T Under-20 team that participated in the World Youth Cup in Portugal in 1991.
Shaun Fuentes is the communications officer of the Trinidad and Tobago
Commentary with Alan Corneal
T&T down but not out of it yet
It's easy to claim that the loss against Costa Rica in the World Cup
qualifier last Wednesday, was disastrous. Those who were disappointed have
every reason to be.
The bottom line now reads two matches played, no wins and two losses
for T&T. Nothing could have read worse and it's almost like a horse
race where one horse was left in the boxes for the first 200 metres.
A likely comeback for that horse is highly probable, but in football,
it is slightly different. When we take a look at the fixtures, we expect
that there will be winners and losers along the way, which could easily
bring the field back to T&T.
Losing away games is not surprising. We have seen it so often in other
countries across the football world. Sometimes even the poorest sides hold
their home advantage.
So let us not cast aspersions on our chances in this competition. If
we remember well enough, Jamaica had gone four matches without a point
before qualifying for France 98.
However, that does not stand in the way of a complete and precise analysis
of the team's performances, the preparations, and everything leading up
Only a total optimist or someone who has no understanding of the game
will defend the mediocrity of our field performances. Jamaica helped our
cause in Kingston with an equally abysmal display of football where neither
team deserved a point from the match. Try desperately to extract some good
points from that game and it would be like pulling teeth.
The same or worse can be said about the Costa Rica encounter where the
team seemed short of technical, theoretical or mental preparation. This
opens the door for a sound critique of the knowledge which guides the destiny
of the team play, and maybe it is the first area of change that may be
For many of the disappointed fans, a quick jump to "Fire the coach"
would be a chant that sounds good to the ear. Yes, only because the ideas
of Ian Porterfield have brought very little to the table for debate on
the poor football demonstrated by some of the finest players we have ever
been able to put together for many years.
So, where do we go from here. ? Or better still, is it only the coach
and his staff to target ? I don't think so.
Some players must be reassessed as they have not shown the ability which they displayed over the years.
It is almost pitiful to see the 'Little Magician' Russell Latapy appear
as innocuous as he did in recent times, while the absence of playing time
for their clubs have deprived Stern John, Anthony Rougier and to a lesser
extent, Ronnie Mauge of some of the effectiveness of which we know them
to be capable.
Names do not win matches, performances do. And if that is the case,
then Nigel Pierre, Brent Rahim, Lyndon Andrews, and Mickey Trotman, are
players who will produce the quality play for T&T.
I hope that its not too late to ask pertinent questions about the whereabouts of players like Gary Glasgow, Darin Lewis, Jerren Nixon, Avery John and a long lost Shaun Boney.
The speed of Glasgow, the excellent skill and guile of Lewis, the mixture
of both from Nixon, the aggression of Avery John in defence especially
on the left flank, and the variable assets of Boney, his extraordinary
aerial play because of his 6ft-7inches, his powerful left foot on freekicks,
and his absolute aggression in the tackle, should not be ignored.
Many changes you may say but my suggestion for a more committed effort
from our national team will be to recall those players and place them into
the hands of Bertille St Clair (give him advisors if you think that he
needs them) and set the new machinery in motion.
We are certain to have a more organized team performance when the Mexicans
arrive. Please note that I did not emphasise the possibility of beating
the shirts off Mexico, because I have the greatest respect for one of the
more advanced football countries. However, with full effort and a careful
game plan, even Mexico can feel the pain.
What else is needed? Your relentless support for the country's national
team. Remember, we are still one of the most recognised football countries
in the world with a population of less than a million and a half people.
Do not throw in the sponge, you may need it to wipe the tears of our opponents.
Corneal back at T&T helm
Calls for return of St Clair
By IRVING WARD
ALVIN Corneal is back at the helm of Trinidad and Tobago football. Corneal
was yesterday appointed as the new Technical Director of the 2002 World
And one of his first recommendations to the local football federation
will be to bring Bertille St Clair back into the fold.
"I certainly think Bertille did quite a good job while he was in charge,"
Corneal said yesterday. "He (St Clair) may not have had the experience
and knowledge then to take us further, but that's what I'm here for now.
Hopefully, I'll be able to assist him and the other coaches to get the
If the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation were to accept Corneal's
recommendation, then St Clair - if he also accepts the challenge - would
join current coach Ian Porterfield and Yugoslav Zoran Vranes in a new-look
Corneal and Vranes' appointments came as part of a shake up in the wake
of T&T's two opening final round loses to Jamaica and Costa Rica.
Also retained along with Porterfield were assistant coach Jimmy Blanc
and Team Administrator Neville Chance while Clayton Morris and Michael
Maurice were sacked. Confirmation of this came from TTFF president Oliver
Camps at a press conference at Queen's Park Oval, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.
Starting off with his now often used catch phrase "To whom much has
been given, much is expected", Camps said they had drafted Corneal and
Vranes, both former T&T coaches, following a meeting of its emergency
"We are mindful of the fact that the current technical staff had done
well to bring our senior national team to this stage of the World Cup qualifying
series but, in the light of our two most recent experiences, there needs
to be some additional input in this area," Camps said. However, at the
time, Camps could not have been privy to Corneal's intention to ask St
Clair be recalled to duty.
St Clair and the TTFF parted rather unceremoniously last year when he
was sacked in the wake of T&T's failure to win the CONCACAF Gold Cup,
an apparent pre-requisite for his keeping the job at the time.
Corneal - who first coached T&T in 1980 and also had brief stints
in 1990 and '94 - is hoping St Clair will forget all that has past in the
best interest of the country.
"Being Trinidadian, I didn't think it was right to turn my back on it
(coaching job)," Corneal said after revealing he was asked to assist by
FIFA vice-president and TTFF adviser Jack Austin Warner.
Warner, not aware of where the ever busy Corneal was at the time, sent
out an e-mail to his close friend on the matter.
In a strange twist of fate, Corneal is now back home for the funeral of a close relative and contacted Warner after reading the e-mail.
In fact, Corneal said he only discussed the matter briefly with Warner
yesterday morning before making up his mind.
As a result, Corneal did not attend yesterday's press conference and expressed surprise when learning it was announced there that Porterfield was still part of the mix.
"When I spoke to Mr Warner, and agreed to come on board, it was certainly
not with the knowledge that Porterfield would be part of the mix," Corneal
Corneal felt, though, that St Clair's return would be critical to the
team's future. The Tobago-born coach, he said, will be able to re-instill
the drive and discipline the team needs to move forward.
The disciplinary aspect of the team, it was unanimously agreed by TTFF
and team officials at yesterday's conference, and by Corneal, is a major
"We are aware that some off-field problems have affected the team,"
Corneal said. "This is why I believe Bertille will help because he will
bring back the respect between the local and foreign-based players that
will help the team back together."
There is also a major hurdle as Corneal's duties with FIFA, where he
is a technical adviser, often takes him out of the country for long periods.
He has another major assignment coming up next month in Japan.
"I'll try to be here as often as I can but this will still be the coaches'
job. I'm going to do my best to instruct, guide and educate them."
On the field of play, Corneal said he was very concerned about the team's
lack of cohesion especially in its, "transition from defence to midfield
He added: "There is no magical formula for this. We are six points down
and if we were six points down and had played well there might have been
a little more enthusiasm. But we've played two bad games. This doesn't
mean that we are going to roll over. Our duty now is to ensure that we
give it our best shot."
Sancho secures A-league contract
NATIONAL football defender Brent Sancho left for Portland, Oregon, United
States on Sunday to take up a
contract with the Portland Timbers who campaign in the A-League.
The 24-year-old Sancho had participated in the warm-up games in England
prior to the start of this country’s
World Cup qualifying campaign but he was left out of the squad that eventually went to Costa Rica and lost
0-3 last week. His place in the squad went to Cyd Gray who once played as a forward for PFL team Joe
Timbers is a new franchise which hopes to earn “promotion” to the MLS
in three years time. Sancho, who is
the only Trinidad and Tobago player on the Timbers team, secured his one-year contract, with an option to renew, through his English-born US-based agent Graham Smith.
Sancho’s previous clubs include Charleston Battery in the A-League.
Battery won the Eastern Conference title last season but lost in the national
semifinals to Rochester Rhinos, the former club of one-time national defender
Craig Demming who now campaigns with Tampa Bay Mutiny.
Sancho also had stints with Finnish First Division club Mypa in 1999,
the same year the club won the Finnish
league and qualified for European competition.
Sancho told the Express last week that he left the club owing to his
commitments with the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic team. That team lost to
Canada in the Olympic qualifiers last year.
Walsall, an English team, also expressed interest in Sancho after seeing
him play. Say one for Marvin Lee
Prayer for Marvin Lee
By Gregory Trujillo
INJURED footballer Marvin Lee's dream has always been to play for big
bucks as a professional footballer like Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy.
"He wants to be like Yorke and Latapy so that he could make me happy,"
revealed Lee's mother Dawn Warrick, on Sunday just before leaving home
to attend a church service.
At this moment Lee's football career is in jeopardy as he suffered serious
injury to his neck in an on-field collision with star United States player
Landon Donovan last Thursday while representing the Under-20 Soca Warriors
against the USA in a qualifying match for the World Youth Championships.
After undergoing an emergency operation on Thursday night at the St
Clair Medical Complex, Lee, who was captain of the side, remained in an
unsatisfactory condition at the hospital. Doctors are still not in a position
to say whether he will recover or not from the injury. Lee is presently
bed-ridden and fears are that he might not be able to kick a ball again
because of the nature of the injury.
Upon his release from the institution, he will require special care
and physiotherapy if he is to ever walk again or continue his career as
This week was expected to be a big one for Lee. He was to be recruited into the Defence Force and was in line to receive one of the biggest awards, the "Player of the Year" at his club's prize-giving function on Saturday at Belmont Junior Secondary School.
"He was very upbeat and happy when I visited him yesterday evening,"
stated mother Dawn. "He had a big smile on his face." Dawn explained that
her 19-year-old son has been eating good and praying a lot.
"Lee is normally a good eater and a very prayful child," she said. "So I felt good to see him in high spirits." Dawn said that Lee was able to move his right hand and right leg but was still unable to move his left leg. "He has a little feeling on his left side but more on his right," she disclosed.
"The doctor said he is showing improvement and that he is a very strong-minded
person who wants to be back on the field." Dawn said she hopes her son
could return home at Santa Rosa Heights in Arima soon to resume his life
with his brother Miguel, aged six, and sister Mesa, aged 13.
"We all are very close. When Mesa heard that her brother was seriously
injured and had to undergo surgery she kept repeating, 'What you talking
about?'" Dawn said Miguel understands what has happened to his brother.
"He is very close to Marvin." Talking about her injured son, Dawn described
him as a "ball jumbie."
"Marvin loves football so much that he actually plays inside my house.
I am always quarrelling with him to stop it."
She also remember a few years ago when her young son ran away from home despite her refusal to allow him to play in a football final.
"Although he came back home with a trophy, he got a cut-tail." Asked
how she felt when she saw her son lying motionless after the collision,
Dawn said: "My first reaction when I realised that Marvin was down was
"When I rushed to the field, I started to cry because I actually heard
him saying: 'My neck, my neck!'" She said that everybody tried to console
her by saying, "Don't cry everything would be okay." Dawn recalled that
after going to the hospital in the ambulance, she returned to the match
because her younger son and mother were still there.
She explained that the incident has affected her to the extent that
she has lost her appetite and has been unable to sleep.
Lee attended Nelson Street Boys Primary School and then went to Belmont Junior Secondary.
He later moved to Tranquillity Government after sitting the 14-plus
exam and became a permanent fixture on Tranquillity's football and cricket
According to his mother, Lee does not have many friends because he is
not a limer. She said he loves to sit at home and play music. "His favourite
music is dub and reggae and he loves to listen to Glenn Washington and
All Lee's friends, she said, are younger than he is. Last year Lee was
voted Tranquil's " Sports Personality of the Year." Dawn claimed that she
will be frighten if her son plays again. "I am certain that if he gets
well, he will play again."
Oswald "Danny" Davis, manager-coach of Defence Force youth team, the
side that Lee plays for in the National Under-20 League, also spoke highly
of the young footballer. "Lee is a very strong defender. He takes his game
very seriously and his goal was one day to represent the country at the
"He is also very disciplined and any coach will like to work with him.
I will like the nation to pray for Lee so that we will see him back on
the football field."
Englishman Jim Kelman, the Technical Adviser of the National Under-20
side, said Lee was a true captain among the players. "His attitude and
application in training and in games and around the camp was magnificent."
Kelman said Lee moved up by leaps and bounds, and that he is looking
forward to seeing him playing again.
From that group, said Kelman, Lee is among about five players he observed that had the ability to go onto the senior squad.
Mauge turns down Rangers contract
Ronnie Mauge has turned down a contract with English club Queen's Park
Rangers in order to continue representing Trinidad and Tobago as they attempt
to qualify for the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Korea.
The Bristol Rovers midfielder, who scored T&T's opening goal in
a 3-1 victory over Guatemala on Saturday, revealed Rangers offered him
a deal which he turned down last Wednesday.
"They gave me an ultimatum of retiring from international football which
I couldn't do so I'm here now with the national team. They're a good club
and but my main ambition is to see my country get to the World Cup," Mauge
said after the win over Guatemala. His current club is among the bottom
four teams on the English Second Division standings and seem likely to
Mauge was pleased to have scored his first goal for T&T and hopes
to carry his form into today's World Cup qualifying match against Costa
"It great to get off the mark. We're still in the process of gelling but it's nice and we have to take this game into Wednesday's (today's) important one," he added.
Shaun Fuentes is the communications officer of the Trinidad and Tobago
Football Federation (TTFF).
Rahim for trial at Liverpool
Midfielder Brent Rahim will be heading to England for a trial with Premiership
club Liverpool after today's qualifier against Costa Rica.
The former St Anthony's College player revealed on the weekend that
arrangements have been made for his trial. "I'll be heading to England
when we get back from Costa Rica and will be going to Liverpool for a trial
which I'm really excited about," said Rahim.
He added he also will be meeting with former England boss Kevin Keegan
who has strong ties with Fulham.
Keegan was in charge of Newcastle United when Rahim was on a training stint with that club, while still a student of St Anthony's College.
Rahim will be hoping to be on the pitch for today's clash with Costa Rica. He was happy to be wearing the national jersey in front of his home fans against Guatemala on the weekend. "Every chance I get I try to make use of it. It's competitive team with a lot of experienced guys. I'm just coming out of college trying to get in.
Those fellas are seasoned players in England so I just want to get in.
We picked things up in the second half against Guatemala and myself and
'Crock' (Nigel Pierre) were able to do some good things," said Rahim, who
helped the University of Connecticut to the American NCAA Division One
crown last year.
While Rahim will be heading for England, Pierre, currently contracted to Joe Public, is likely to return to Hibernian as manager Alex Mcleish wants to have a second look at him, according to reports out of Scotland. Pierre was on trial at the Easter Road club earlier this month.
Andrews enjoying Livingston
Marvin Andrews seems likely to be playing in the Scottish Premier League
next season in Livingston colours. His club is currently top of the First
Division table and also are through to the semi-finals of the Scottish
Cup. Andrews told TTFF Media on the weekend he is enjoying every moment
of his time with the club since leaving Raith Rovers earlier this season.
"Livingston is absolutely brilliant at the moment. We're on top by one
point with three games in hand. We are in the Cup semi-final so things
are going great. We can't complain," he said.
He is under a one year contract and mentioned there have been no talks
as yet about an extension. "There haven't been any talks about contract.
But I'll continue playing as I have been and something is going to open
up. I'm not worried," said Andrews.
He reflected on T&T's come from behind 3-1 win over Guatemala on
Saturday, saying it showed the team has the potential to win matches, even
when the going is tough.
"We started off slowly. But we came on good and that shows you the character of the team. Don't matter things didn't go our way early on, we can still fight and come back." He will be hoping to keep things tight at the back when T&T takes on Costa Rica on today.
Cox: Guatemala win a boost
English-born defender Ian Cox feels this country is set to get a good
result in the second match of the final 2002 World Cup qualifying round
against Costa Rica tonight.
Cox played the entire match on Saturday and feels it could turn out
an important factor for the match versus the Costa Ricans.
"The pace of the game was a bit slow but it was a good result and it's
only going to give us a boost for the big one tonight, which is what is
really important for us," said Cox.
His club Burnley has dropped out of the top three on the English First
Division table but can still qualify for the playoffs by winning the majority
of their remaining games. Cox said it's a long road to the Premiership
"We've lost too many matches and promotion to the Premiership is now out of our reach. We can still make it to the playoffs but that will take a lot of doing," added Cox, who played his first game in T&T on Saturday.
Mcleish supports Latapy
Russell Latapy says Hibernian manager Alex Mcleish has always supported
him when it comes to representing T&T in the World Cup qualifiers.
Latapy seems likely to be playing elsewhere at the end of the season
after stating he has not agreed to terms in an extension deal offered by
Hibs. Several clubs including Celtic, Fulham, Manchester City and Bradford
City have expressed keen interest in the "Little Magician."
In the meantime, Latapy continued to appreciate the support McLeish
has given him in past months and currently doing in terms of releasing
him for international duty.
"Alex is former player who played at international level so obviously
he understands the importance of being here and wanting to be here with
my country. We just want to keep the good working relationship, Latapy
said in a recent interview with TTFF. -Shaun Fuentes
Porterfield under fire
By Gregory Trujillo
TRINIDAD and Tobago coach Ian Porterfield has come in for some stick
in the wake of the team's 3-0
World Cup qualifying loss to Costa Rica on Wednesday night.
Yesterday, hundreds of irate fans called in on radio and television
programmes to voice their concerns about the team's latest effort under
the leadership of coach Ian Porterfield.
The trend was also the same at the Guardian where fans openly voiced
their concern about not only the team's future in the World Cup but that
of coach Ian Porterfield.
Many called for Porterfield's head and the return of former coach Bertille
St Clair to the helm. Others also felt a change now might be risky but
felt something drastic had to be done to change the team's performance.
Former T&T skipper, Sedley Joseph, was one of the persons who laid
some of the blame for the team's lacklustre effort on the Scottish coach.
Joseph feels that Porterfield is having a serious problem with the team
tactically. "Tactically there are some shortcomings. When you are involved
in a World Cup qualifier with six teams that are fairly evenly matched,
tactics and strategy is what will win you matches," Joseph explained.
"Because your team is made up of a number of professionals, the expectation
is that you must win. But I must point out that you have to plan your tactics
and strategy for each game. And we are badly lacking in this department."
Joseph, who skippered T&T from 1963 to '68, said that if T&T
is to have any chance of having many scoring opportunities, Brent Rahim
has to be in the team playing alongside captain Russell Latapy.
"Latapy is our most creative player and he is not doing what he is supposed
to do. He's not taking on the mantle of playmaker as he is obviously having
problems with getting the ball to his strikers."
As a result of the midfield's failure, Joseph said strikers Dwight Yorke,
Nigel Pierre, and then Yorke and Stern John, were getting the ball long
from the defence instead of being fed from the midfield. "Our midfield
just doesn't comprise players who can create openings in opposing defences,
and I reckon that Latapy is the man to do it and he has not been doing
it," Joseph said.
Joseph, who represented T&T for nine years, also believed that the
local side's defence played reasonably well, tackling and heading the ball,
but the marking was atrocious. "If you look back at the goals, you would
see the T&T defence standing around and the Costa Rican players unmarked,
" he said.
Edgar Vidale, the national senior coach from 1972 to '78 and again from
'90 to '92, agreed with Joseph and said: "If we have so many top class
players and we cannot produce good enough football to win a match, something
"I see it as an organisational problem, especially in defence, and I blame coach Porterfield because he is responsible for the tactical defending."
He added: "If I was the coach I would have to answer that question and find solutions. The team needs guidance from the technical bench which they seem not to be getting."