Free Header by Alvin Corneal
October Free Header

The Trinidad and Tobago Sporting scene is hot these days. Most of us would like to claim that Soccer is the major factor, and that is probably correct. But the regional tournament in which our cricket team is engaged, plus boland Amar's commendable financial committment to the progress of Monderoy, and promises from Ato Boldon that his injury sent more positives than negatives to his next year's engagements, all will have had its fair share of attention from this sporting loving public.

However, taking into perspective that the anxiety of our people is focussed upon the probable success of Bertille St. Clair and our national soccer team, a closer look is appropiate. Needless to say, victory against Columbia, and an away draw against Panama had a certain degree of satisfaction, and there are quiet chants of doing well in the Gold Cup. One friend of mine actually drew to my attention that the team which represented Columbia against Mexico and the one that took the field were very different.

Whatever that observation meant to him does not matter. I know that Columbia or no other country would want to send a national team to preserve their reputation, short of quality players. Its unfortunate that the Trini habit of seeing the negative side of anything comes out so forcefully all the time. So let us look ahead and observe what Coach St. Clair has in mind.

Already there are new names coming to the fore as contenders for national selection. Ian cox, a defender who plays for Bournemouth in England is now highly spoken about, in the same way that some of the overseas based players who are preparing to gather in North Carolina for scrutiny from the technical staff of the national team.

There was a time when this approach would never have been a choise, but with the number of our young secondary school stars who are pursuing a higher education in the USA, and others who have migrated before maturing into the players that they are today, this is a good move. there are those who would abhor the concept of tryouts for a national team in the way that its been done by our

Many years ago, a national cap was given only when players performed extremely well for their clubs or zones. They were judged not only by the coaching staff, but the public as well, who spent
much time witnessing the matches and following the progress of teams and players.

A drastic change has brought some complete unknowns to the fore and reduce the opportunity base of the home based players. In this complex situation, the eventual result will determine the merit or
demerit of this process.The names of the players who have already stated their availabiliy for the upcoming friendlies, have outnumbered the usual eleven players who will take the field, a problem which coach St.Clair may have to view carefully.

There are quite a few overseas Based pros who are not good enough to hold places above the locals and the division must be precisely made through analysis and current form and NOT by them offering their services.I think that its safe to say that everyone sees enough of Yorke, Latapy, Stern John, Elcock, Shaka Hislop to admit that therein lies our nucleus.

Those who are fortunate to have seen Brent Rahim, gary Glasgow, and Craig Demming  may make a good claim for their inclusion in a squad of twenty. But the names of Arnold Dwarika, Stokley Mason, Nigel Pierre, Kerwyn Jemmot, Hector Sam, Lyndon Andrews,and Angus Eve should be among the group as well.

I agree with the bringing together of the USA based players, but I do not expect more than a handful to catch the eye. Marvin Oliver stands out in my mind, while Marvin Raeburn needs to be seen again after coming off an injury. Kelvin Jack was seen once, but should address the staff again, while the success of Michel Peters, goalkeeper for St. Francis College in Brooklyn, Kevin Jefferies who already has Olympic team caps and had an excellent four years at University here, Shaun Boney, if he is still interested, and Chris Charles a trini who has played well in the US leagues for sometime, can all make presentations which will be worth their while.

Time is a most essential factor, as there are approximately four months to Gold Cup, and knowing the locals love for the Yuletide season, a month may be swiped away for the festive season to be enjoyed.

Friendlies against Honduras and Morocco have been planned, according to the local newspapers, while a number of recognised European countries are standing in line. Whatever their reason, the competition can certainly be beneficial.Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Iceland usually break for the winter around Christmas and may wish to keep their teams in shape for Euro 2000. They may also wish to add a victory over a top fifty rated FIFA team.

Liking to take one issue at a time, St. Clair's focus should be on careful analysis of Mexico and Guatemala. Beat those two opponents in February and believe me, the momentum for the World Cup qualifying series will gain the biggest jump start.

Incidentally, it may not have dawned on everyone that the Olympic qualifying series is also near at hand and one wonders how coach St. Clair will handle both of those projects which run concurrently. I think that he still only has two hands and feet and one body. Is it not time that our administrators get smart and allow someone else to handle the other team. I suppose that they will await unti a few weeks before their activity and come up with their household name keith Look Loy to fill the vacancy.

Of course, we all knew the results of previous moves similar to that. Nevertheless,
we are on the verge of a make or break situation for our soccer future. Talk will no longer provide the answers, results will. Good luck to all.

If you have any comments or questions for Alvin, contact him