June News

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Friday June 29th, 2001

Latapy, Yorke dropped


Technical director and stand-in Trinidad and Tobago coach, Rene Simoes, yesterday put the hammer down, taking a stand which may either make or break this country's 2002 World Cup effort.In a move which took some testicular fortitude, given the desperation of his team, the Brazilian coach dropped star players Russell Latapy and Dwight Yorke for tomorrow's crucial World Cup qualifier against Jamaica after another tumultuous 48 hours in which both players' commitment to the cause once again came under scrutiny.Both Latapy and Yorke turned up at T&T's training session at the Queen's Park Oval yesterday afternoon dressed down and obviously not prepared for training.

But, as the media would learn afterwards, it was because they had been notified by letter from Simoes earlier in the day of their sacking.Confirming Simoes' move last evening was T&T manager, Neville Chance, who added that the pair was notified before hand that falling afoul of the Brazilian - known to be a hard-nosed disciplinarian - would result in such sanctions."I think it is obvious that the squad that will be playing on Saturday is the one you see here in red and black," Chance said, while Simoes took his squad, minus Latapy and Yorke, through its paces on the Oval turf.

"But it (sacking of the duo) is not an acrimonious sought of thing," added Chance, who said the decision holds for tomorrow's game only."It is something that the coach had identified before, that the players who will be considered for selection are those who would be in the camp from the Tuesday, when we get back (from Bermuda), to the day of the game (against Jamaica)."Once again, Latapy and Yorke ran afoul of Simoes for similar reasons; not fully committing themselves to the team, now in a desperate situation to save a campaign many have already given up on.

Latapy, following the team's warm-up game in Bermuda, had journeyed to Scotland on Tuesday to finalise a new deal with Scottish giants Glasgow Rangers. Yorke, who scored in a 5-0 victory over the Bermudans, meanwhile failed to join the team camp at the Emerald Apartments, St Augustine, since its return to the country on Monday night.
In both cases, Chance said the players - who held discussions with Chance and Simoes during their brief visit at the Oval yesterday - were fully aware of the ramifications of such actions.Taking up each man's case, Chance explained: "In the case of Russell (Latapy), we all know he had an engagement where he had to go to Scotland to sign a contract.

"What the coach said was that he (Latapy) had his responsibility and, certainly, the technical staff and the team has theirs. He (Latapy) chose to go there (Scotland) and that's not a problem."The thing is that we (squad) have to move on. He has to be concerned with his future and Trinidad and Tobago has to be concerned with its future, in terms of football."He added: "I know it had been a difficult decision for Russell, but certainly, when he made that decision I'm sure he would have been aware of the consequences of that decision."

Yorke, who only two weeks ago was sacked and re-instated by former coach Ian Porterfield after a public apology over his absence from the team's last friendly against Panama, meanwhile came with his own excuse.
According to Chance, the Manchester United player is now trying desperately to cope with the events of the past couple months, a whirlwind ride which he is yet, it would seem, to recover from."Dwight (Yorke) is of the view that, at this present point in time, mentally, he is not well prepared (to play). Having considered all the things that are happening in his life, he is not mentally prepared.

"And he always wants to be mentally and physically prepared when representing Trinidad and Tobago. He therefore feels that he will not be doing justice to himself and Trinidad and Tobago at this time if he takes the field."
This from a man who had promised, in a stirring letter of apology which convinced all, including Simoes, that he would fight to the end, to redouble his efforts in helping the team in its bid to reach a first ever World Cup Finals.
The 29-year-old Yorke, whose name was again linked to a move to his former club Aston Villa in England yesterday, bluntly refused to speak to the media during his brief salvo at the Oval.

Latapy meanwhile promised to make a press release on the issue surrounding his decision to fly to Scotland later on.
However, he did offer a few words, urging his teammates to focus on the task at hand, stopping the Reggae Boyz tomorrow."I just want the team to stay focussed on the task at hand, which is playing Jamaica and winning against them," the 32-year-old midfielder said.

Asked if he regretted getting the chance to line up against the visitors, Latapy explained: "Obviously, I'm a football player and I want to play football. But I have to respect all decisions made by the technical staff for the better of the team and I wish the team all the best."But, according to Chance, the squad has already adjusted to the loss of two of its most experienced players.Noting that the team spirit in the camp remained high even after Simoes alerted them to the decision, Chance said: "The mood in the camp is very good. I think they are all prepared to go on Saturday and defeat Jamaica."

Yorke, Latas call it quits

TRINIDAD and Tobago skipper Russell Latapy and striker Dwight Yorke last night tendered their resignations to the local technical staff.The move came hours after the pair had been dropped for tomorrow's World Cup qualifier against Jamaica by T&T coach, Brazilian Rene Simoes.Both players had been notified of Simoes' decision by letter early yesterday and this decision was later confirmed at the Queen's Park Oval when they held conversations with both Simoes and T&T manager Neville Chance.At the time, both players opted not to talk to the media on the issue, indicating they would do so after the game, by press release.

However, in an apparent change of heart, both men issued a joint statement last night, indicating they had effectively hung up their World Cup boots."We wish to express our thanks and appreciation for the opportunity provided and the support rendered by the members of the technical committee and the administrative personnel throughout our tenure on the national senior football, team," the joint release, signed by both men, read."It is thus with heavy hearts that we advise the technical director (Rene Simoes) today of our decision to resign from the senior team with immediate effect.

"This decision, which we believe is in the mutual interests of all concerned, is due primarily to our personal commitment, as well as the increasing and conflicting demands of our clubs Manchester United and Rangers FC and the national team."It added: "Special thanks are extended to the people of Trinidad and Tobago who have supported and inspired us throughout our careers. "We wish to express our sincerest gratitude to the soccer fraternity, and fans in particular, and give our full support to the national team in all their endeavours."

Yorke, Latapy quit

Declare selves ‘mentally unfit’


MANCHESTER United striker Dwight Yorke and national football team captain Russell Latapy yesterday tendered their resignations to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF).

The resignations came just hours after T&TFF technical director, René Simoes, announced that he would not use either player in tomorrow’s all-important World Cup qualifier at the Queen’s Park Oval against Jamaica.

In a tumultuous 24-hour span, both players were given the sack by the Brazilian for their failure to join the team in camp at the Emerald Plaza Apartments or any of their training sessions.

Yorke and Latapy then surprised the technical staff by showing up at yesterday’s training session at the Queen’s Park Oval.

An unhappy Simoes was unwilling to reveal the nature of the discussions that passed between himself and the two. However, a reliable source told the Express that the pair declared themselves “mentally unfit” to play on Saturday.

Less than an hour later, though, they announced their retirement in a letter to the T&TFF, citing “personal commitments as well as the increasing and conflicting demands of our clubs, Manchester United and Rangers FC, and the national team”.

The resignations are the latest in a stream of controversy that has dogged the “Soca Warriors” World Cup bid.

Burnley defender Ian Cox and Bristol Rovers midfielder Ronnie Maugé have already declared themselves unavailable for selection.

Former coach Ian Porterfield, assistant manager Neil Mollineaux and assistant coaches Zoran Vranes and Jimmy Blanc were relieved of their respective responsibilities earlier this week.

Having managed just one point from their five qualifying matches to date, Trinidad and Tobago still has a mathematical chance of getting to the 2002 World Cup Finals in Japan/Korea.

Simoes will also be without the services of suspended midfielder Brent Rahim and West Ham goalkeeper Shaka Hislop, ruled out by an ankle injury. Joe Public back-up custodian Michael McComie and Defence Force defender Anton Pierre have both been added to the squad as replacements.

The abrupt end to the international careers of Yorke and Latapy follows a stormy campaign by the pair.

They have both been at loggerheads with the T&TFF for years and Simoes—known as a strict disciplinarian—was in no mood to grant them preferential treatment.

Upset at the timing of Latapy’s departure from the squad, allegedly for negotiations with Scottish Premier League team Glasgow Rangers, Simoes declared yesterday that there would be no place for the talented midfielder.

Yorke, who didn’t show up at the training sessions or contacted the coach, suffered the same fate.

Yorke ran afoul of Simoes after absenting himself from a friendly match against Panama on June 10—less than a week before a qualifying game against Honduras.

But Yorke and fellow absentee Anthony Rougier were reinstated within four days after the pair—and Latapy—had threatened to retire from international football if they were not used against Honduras.

Rougier never offered a written apology but, according to Simoes, Porterfield accepted the former captain’s explanation of his position and he got his place back.

All three players were eventually fielded in the country’s 4-2 home loss, Latapy scoring the first goal after coming off the bench.

That remains Latapy’s lone goal at this stage of the campaign while Yorke is goalless after five Concacaf final round qualifying matches.

Yorke, who has been the subject of an alleged £8 million offer from former team Aston Villa, will be anxious to reclaim his starting place at United.

Latapy, on the other hand, looks set for a dream move to Rangers who will play in Europe’s elite club competitions next season.

Yesterday’s resignation letter, which was signed by both players, read:
“We wish to express our thanks and appreciation for the opportunity provided and the support rendered by members of the technical committee and the administrative personnel throughout our tenure on the national senior football team.

“It is thus with heavy hearts that we advised the technical director today of our decision to resign from the senior team with immediate effect. This decision, which we believe is in the mutual interest of all concerned, is due primarily to our personal commitments as well as the increasing and conflicting demands of our clubs, Manchester United and Rangers FC, and the national team.

“Special thanks are extended to the people of Trinidad and Tobago who have supported and inspired us throughout our careers. We wish to express our sincere gratitude to the soccer fraternity, and fans in particular and give our full support to the national team in all their endeavours.”

Rangers did not see Latapy

Sports Desk

TRINIDAD and Tobago midfielder Russell Latapy landed himself in some hot water on Tuesday when he declared that he was leaving the national team to finalise negotiations with Scottish Premier League team Glasgow Rangers.

Rene Simoes, technical director of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF), was unhappy with the timing of Latapy’s departure and subsequently dropped the star playmaker from tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier against Jamaica.

But, according to information from Scotland, Rangers’ chairman David Murray is equally mystified by Latapy’s timing. Latapy remains under contract with Scottish rivals Hibernian until Saturday and, therefore, cannot officially join any other club until next week.

Murray is, at present, on vacation in France. However, he made it clear to Scottish Daily Mail reporter Ed Stephen that both parties were not scheduled to meet until next week.

Rangers are expected to offer Latapy a three-year contract worth between £8-£10,000 per week.

Stephen also told the Express that Latapy;s agent, John Viola, had no knowledge of the player being in Scotland on Wednesday and certainly had not seen him. Wayne Mandeville, Latapy;s local handler, would not confirm whether or not the player did travel to Scotland. However, he insisted that Latapy had gone to Europe, where he agreed a “forward contract agreement” with Rangers.

Mandeville also suggested that Latapy may have gone to Holland to personally discuss terms with Rangers Dutch manager Dick Advocaat.

But that has been disputed by Stephen, as well, who said that Advocaat was in Glasgow, where Rangers have already begun pre-season training.

Latapy has plenty of time to think about his club career, though, as both he and Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke yesterday announced their retirement from international football.

Thursday June 28th, 2001

Latapy, Yorke upset Simoes

‘Little Magician’ signs for 
Glasgow Rangers


TRINIDAD and Tobago senior team coach Professor Rene Simoes was upset last night and pondering on whether to retain Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy in the squad for the World Cup qualifying match against Jamaica on Saturday.

Yorke and Latapy have failed to turn up for training since their arrival in Trinidad last Monday following the national team’s tour of Bermuda. And they had no permission to be absent.

The duo have also not been in camp at the Emerald Plaza hotel on the Eastern Main Road along with the rest of the Soca Warriors.

And yesterday, while “Little Magician” Latapy was in the United Kingdom to finalise contract negotiations with Scottish Premiership team Glasgow Rangers, Yorke was a no-show at the national squad’s training session at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar, which was originally scheduled for the Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain.

Last night, when the Express contacted Brazilian Simoes, who steered Jamaica to the 1998 World Cup in France, he was terse in his responses.

Simoes, the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) technical director who took over as coach following Scotsman Ian Porterfield’s dismissal on Monday, simply replied “no” when asked if Yorke and Latapy had given a reason for their absence from yesterday’s practice.

Asked if Yorke will be selected for Saturday’s game against the Reggae Boyz, Simoes stated: “I’ll take that decision tonight (last night).”

Simoes was more generous, though, in his utterances for TV6.

In that interview, Simoes stated that “he did not agree” with Latapy’s decision to fly out to the UK on Tuesday night since he believed Latapy’s trip could have been delayed until after the Jamaica encounter.
“Why not think about the team?” Simoes inquired. “He could have gone on Saturday, Sunday, Monday or Tuesday after the match.” However, Latapy’s local agent Wayne Mandeville claimed that he informed both Simoes and team manager Neville Chance of the former Hibernian player’s need to leave right away.

Mandeville was reported to have said if the negotiations could be done at a later time, it would have been.

However, Chance did not seem to know of Yorke and Latapy’s whereabouts.

“They have not reported to camp or training,” was Chance’s concise response to Express inquiries.

It is not the first time that Yorke and Latapy have gone missing in action.
Yorke skipped the Panama warm-up game some three weeks ago after missing his flight to the Central American country and returning to Trinidad.

Latapy’s previous absence was at a training session before the Soca Warriors’ World Cup qualifier against Honduras when he failed to show, citing a mix-up with the schedule for his non-appearance.

But yesterday, Latapy’s mind would have been occupied with his contract with Rangers.

The Scottish Premier League runners-up signed the midfielder yesterday, getting the nod ahead of Scottish champions Celtic, who had been widely tipped to give Latapy a quick return ticket to Scotland following his acrimonious departure from Hibernian.

And according to the Internet site, Teamtalk.com, the move to Ibrox could be worth some £8,000 a week for Latapy.

Latapy’s contract at Hibs was abruptly terminated prior to the Scottish Cup final, after he was allegedly found to have broken the club curfew of drinking within 48 hours of a match.

Ollie Camps defends Porterfield's sacking

Oliver Camps, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) has denied that sacked senior coach Ian Porterfield was treated unfairly."I don't think so at all. We gave him his best shot. He lost four matches at the helm when coaches all over are replaced for less," Camps said yesterday.Porterfield had said on Tuesday that he was very upset at the way he was treated after learning from Manchester United's striker Dwight Yorke that he was fired while in Miami, intransit from Bermuda to Port-of-Spain on Monday.

"We stuck with him and now we feel that enough was enough. We thought that changes must be made," said Camps.
The TTFF President also rejected Porterfield's assertion that the state of the game in T&T was much better (now) than he met it.Porterfield said this was evidenced by the current ranking of the team, recently listed at 25th in the world by FIFA.Camps said yesterday that T&T's best ever rating is more the result of the quality of organisation at the Federation level than performance on the field."It had nothing to do with the fact that Porterfield was coach of the team. The fact is that the Federation has been actively promoting its showpiece senior team," said Camps.

He said he shared the view of new senior coach Rene Simoes that T&T is still in with a mathematical chance of qualifying for the World Cup finals."We can't give up. In a competition of this kind we have to go down to the wire and give our best shot or risk allowing a lesser team into the finals," said Camps.He said he was optimistic that T&T would beat the Reggae Boyz and is counting on the "inside" information possessed by former Jamaican coach Simoes.T&T play Jamaica in the return leg of the CONCACAF Zone tie on Saturday at the Queen's Park Oval.

Latapy joins Rangers


Russell Latapy, national football captain, flew to Scotland on Tuesday and signed a contract to play next year for the Scottish Premier League runners-up, Glasgow Rangers. He is due to return to Trinidad today to prepare for the World Cup qualifying match against Jamaica, scheduled for Saturday at the Queen's Park Oval.Latapy, who was sacked by Hibernian, another Scottish Premier Division club, has missed the first session under the new coach Rene Simoes, who said he had not agreed for Latapy to go at this time as he could have signed after the match."There is a time for self and a time for the team," he said.

Wednesday June 27th, 2001

Simoes feels it for Porterfield

TRINIDAD and Tobago Technical Director, Professor Rene Simoes, has expressed sadness over the loss of colleague Ian Porterfield.Simoes was given control of the senior team on Monday after the TTFF sacked Porterfield following the team's dismal start to the campaign.

However, the Brazilian was not at all happy when he spoke of the loss of one of his technical staff yesterday.
"First let me say that I feel uncomfortable because I think that coach Porterfield is a very decent person and he's a worker and he tried his best," Simoes said in a TTFF release yesterday."But unfortunately, sometimes in our life, things don't happen as we want it to. By saying that, I think that a coach's life is very difficult. There are moments when we have to stand and face the problems."

Simoes, who will get a chance to revive T&T's floundering hopes on Saturday against Jamaica-the team he led to the 1998 World Cup-also noted that it was critical for the fans to keep hope."I want all Trinidadians and Tobagonians to believe that the possibility (qualifying) is there. The dream is still alive. So let us fight for that. I will not give up until mathematically, there is no way to qualify."Simoes also remains unfazed by the recent turmoil within the team, saying it is unlikely to affect the players psychologically.

Noting, though, that he did see some signs of low morale around the team, Simoes said: "They can't be like that now. They must enjoy the professional way and they must enjoy the country and must make their family and friends very proud about them."When asked if he thought there was a fitness problem for some of the players, Simoes replied: "I am not sure about that. This is something very scientific. "So we have to go for specific tests to see if it is that they are fit or not. We have to understand they are coming off long seasons."

Simoes also ruled out any changes to the squad which lost 2-0 to the United States last Wednesday in Boston, saying time would not allow for it."There is no time to change. There is no time to make any preparations for any player coming into the squad for the game against Jamaica," he said.Meanwhile, Simoes' compatriot, Julio Cesar Leal, arrived in Trinidad on Monday night and will serve as an one of his assistants for the game against the Reggae Boyz.The other two Brazilian assistants coaches who arrived last month, Francisco Santos and Alfredo Monteso, will also be on duty with the senior team.

Meanwhile, Porterfield, while expressing disappointment at not being able to carry on, has revealed he will continue to follow T&T's progress with great interest.Porterfield said yesterday it was England-based striker Dwight Yorke who broke the news of his dismissal to him at Miami International Airport while the team was preparing to return home on Monday night from Bermuda. The Scotland-born coach added he is awaiting a meeting with the TTFF on Friday, during which time his contract agreements will be sorted out. There were nine months left on his contract.

Soca(lled) Warriors did not want to win

By Valentino Singh

PREPARATION.That's the key to success. Not ole talk about commitment and the other flowery language that the So(called) stars have been pitching at us over the last few days.At the expense of being called a few names myself, I am not too sorry about the results of Saturday's nor Wednesday's matches against Honduras and the United States.To put it mildly, we damn well deserved to lose and who vex...well, that's their problem.Both teams were not only two goals better than Trinidad and Tobago but demonstrated a unity of purpose that was so emphatic that I'd be surprised if that alone was not enough to beat that disorganised group of people who poor coach Ian Porterfield threw on the field to represent my country.

Not that I have any sympathy for Porterfield and his technical staff. How could I?Didn't they allow their decision to ban Yorke and Rougier to be overturned? And wasn't it their decision to put an unfit Latapy on our Trinidad and Tobago team? A Latapy and Yorke, mind you, who preferred to spend the weekend prior to the game, scouting the night clubs of Trinidad instead of going to Panama where there was a chance we could have gelled a team...not a group of players, to do battle against Honduras.

As one fan who called in on the pre-match build-up which I hosted on the Vibe CT 105, remarked, the Honduras game was really the warm up match for the United States.Now that the starboys have recognised that Japan and Korea has evaded them, their tone has changed considerably. It seems as though the realisation has just dawn that they won't be qualifying for the next World Cup final.They are now speaking in desperate tones about winning the next five matches and still having a chance to qualify. HUH!

Which five matches, may I ask? Are they going to the Azteca under a coach recently introduced to Mexico, in the altitude that usually makes mice out of men on the football field, and beat them?Do they really think that they can beat a Honduras team, sensing sushi and other Japanese delicacies, in their own back yard.As a matter of fact, we'd be very lucky if we were to leave the Hasely Crawford Stadium on the weekend with a point from our home game against the Reggae Boyz.This, of course, leaves us with Costa Rica and the United States, none of whom this current team, can beat in its current state.

So where do we go from here?Okay, Jack Warner is going away to make his contribution on the international scene where it is more appreciated. Porterfield is going back to Scotland. And Yorke and Latapy will make room for the many Rahims and Spanns that are just waiting in the wings to take over.As they fade into the background, as draconian as it may sound, we must start building for 2006. And this effort must be approached with the same feelings, the verve and vitality which was attached to the Strike Squad in 1989.The people must have the say. No one else!

Tuesday June 26th, 2001

Coach Porterfield fired

By Keith Clement

National football coach Ian Porterfield has been fired by the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) with immediate effect.

And technical director Brazilian-born Rene Simoes, who guided Jamaica to the 1998 World Cup finals in France, takes over.

Simoes is also coach of the Under-17 Soca Warriors preparing for the FIFA Championships here in September.

Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation president Oliver Camps said, "the TT Football Federation has agreed to reduce the technical and managerial staff of the national senior team.
"Letters of resignation have been accepted from Messrs Jimmy Blanc (assistant coach) and Neil Mollineau (assistant manager). We wish to publicly thank them for the unstinting service which they have given to the national team over the past few months. Other letters of resignation are being awaited".

Camps, together with secretary Richard Groden, vice-president Raymond Tim Kee and technical director Simoes, made the decision to relieve Porterfield of his duties with immediate effect.
Simoes, who assisted Porterfield during the Honduras and USA games which Trinidad and Tobago lost 4-2 and 2-0 respectively, will take charge of team against the Reggae Boyz at the Queen's Park Oval on Saturday.

He is the fourth Brazilian coach assigned to Trinidad and Tobago, and the third national coach appointed in three years, the second in 15 months.

Porterfield was not at yesterday's meeting having not yet returned from Bermuda where his team defeated the Bermudians 5-0 in a friendly international.
Porterfield, an ex-player with Scotland's Raith Rovers and England's Sunderland and Sheffield Wednesday, took over on March 1 last year from Tobagonian Bertille St Clair, who was fired after reaching the Confederation Gold Cup semi-finals in the USA.

The 55-year-old Scotsman who coached the national teams of Zambia, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia and Oman from 1993-99, will be remembered for leading Trinidad and Tobago to top of the standings in the semi-final round of the current CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, losing only once to Mexico 7-0 in Mexico City last year.

Porterfield, who was paid an estimated US$12,000 per month (TT$74,400), had a record of 20 victories, six draws and eight defeats from 34 matches during his tenure.
Defeats were to Canada 1-0, Jamaica 4-2, Martinique 2-1, and in the World Cup qualifiers Mexico 7-0, Jamaica 1-0, Costa Rica 3-0, Honduras 4-2 and USA 2-0.
Since the start of the final qualifying phase which involves Jamaica, Mexico, USA, Costa Rica and Honduras, the general public has been calling for the coach to be replaced, especially following defeats by Jamaica and Costa Rica.

There is no word from the TTFF concerning trainer Wayne Lawson, physiotherapist David Cumberbatch and Dr Calvin Inalsingh who complete the technical staff.
Trinidad and Tobago are in last place in the six-team qualifying group with one point from five matches.

The top three teams in the CONCACAF zone advance to the 32-team World Cup 2002 finals in Korea and Japan.


Yugoslav Zoran Vranes quit the coaching staff of the Trinidad and Tobago Soca Warriors yesterday.
Vranes became the first member of the senior technical staff to sever ties with the squad following the team's failure to win a match after five games in the final stage of the CONCACAF zone World Cup qualifier.

Asked whether he was fired or resigned, Vranes said yesterday, "I was not fired and no I did not send a letter to anyone. I told Mr Warner (Austin Jack Warner), the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation adviser and coach Ian Porterfield I could not help anymore and it was best I go back to Joe Public.

"I was asked to help the team two months ago, but I cannot help anymore".
Technical director Rene Simoes, coach Ian Porterfield, assistant coaches Jimmy Blanc and Michael Murice, manager Neville Chance, assistant manager, Neil Mollineau, trainer Wayne Lawson, physiotherapist David Cumberbatch and physician Dr Calvin Inalsingh comprise the current technical staff.

Vranes, who was appointed an assistant coach by an emergency committee of the TTFF along with Alvin Corneal, as technical director following the Trinidad and Tobago 3-0 defeat by Costa Rica in San Jose, in March said, "I did not see my way to stay any longer.
There were differences in ideas towards team strategy, but I did not leave because I was angry with anyone. Not at all.

"I just felt that not much could be done so it was better to go".
Vranes made his announcement about leaving the team before the Honduras World Cup qualifying match with the Soca Warriors were beaten 4-2 and four days later the team lost to America 2-0.
Less than a month later Corneal's appointment was revoked.

Vranes led Trinidad and Tobago to Shell Cup titles in 1995 and 96, coached the 1998 World Cup squad. He said, "I think I did help the team against Mexico and in the Copa Caribe tournament which Trinidad and Tobago won, but I cannot help no more."

The ex-Antiguan national coach explained, "while I agreed Porterfield was the man in charge, I think Mr Simoes needed to get more involved."

Trinidad and Tobago ranked at an all-time best of 25th in the world by FIFA face Jamaica at the Queen's Park Oval on Saturday.

T&TFF moves to steady W Cup ship

Porterfield fired


Ian Porterfield's reign as Trinidad and Tobago coach has officially come to an end.In a move widely expected after the team's hopes of reaching Japan and Korea next year were dashed last week, the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation terminated the Scotsman's contract with immediate effect yesterday evening.This after Porterfield had defiantly refused to step down despite his obvious failure to achieve the job he was entrusted with, taking this country to its first ever World Cup Final.

Also out the door are Porterfield's assistant, Jimmy Blanc, and assistant team manager Neil Mollineau, who both did the honourable thing by tendering their resignations to the TTFF.News of the decision was delivered via a press release from the TTFF yesterday evening.Of course, Porterfield may have been unaware of his fate until late last night as he was en route to Trinidad from Miami with the team for much of yesterday, following its tour of Bermuda on the weekend.Brazilian technical director Rene Simoes, the release added, will take over the job on a temporary basis, while further resignations were anticipated.

Team manager Neville Chance, Yugoslav assistant coach Zoran Vranes and goalkeeping coach Michael Maurice are the only existing members of the current technical staff.The decision has brought an end to five months of turmoil within the T&T World Cup squad's ranks.Things first began to unravel in February when skipper Russell Latapy's side lost its opening final round match to Jamaica in Kingston 1-0. That result apparently set a chain reaction which the team was unable to recover from.Back then, Porterfield - who took over a team which showed real World Cup qualifying potential from Bertille St Clair last February - clung to the fact that there was still time for a recovery.

But, with subsequent problems on and off the field, this never came and subsequent loses to Costa Rica (3-0), Honduras (4-2) and a 1-1 draw against Mexico, the crisis only worsened.The team's 2-0 loss to the United States, last Wednesday in Boston, eventually proved to be the straw that broke the camel's back.TTFF president Oliver Camps could not be reached for comment last night.However, in the wake of the team's recent loss to the United States, Camps had indicated that his body was obligated to do something to stop the slide."We cannot just lie down and play dead," Camps had said.

"We still have five games to go and we must now do everything in our power to ensure that we finish strong because we still have a slim chance. It is unfortunate that it has come to this."Meanwhile, TTFF advisor Jack Austin Warner - the man who recommended to the TTFF executive that Porterfield be fired - promised to severe all ties from national football yesterday.Speaking from Argentina, where he is currently on hand to watch the FIFA World Under-20 Championships, Warner said he was tired of the unfair criticism being levelled against him by the media and public alike, in the wake of the team's failure. And as a result of this, the FIFA vice-president said he is contemplating calling it a day after the FIFA World Under-17 Championships here in September.

"I just thought I could have made a contribution because football has been good to me and, unlike many others, I am giving something back to football," Warner said in a television interview. "But I don't need this (constant criticism). I repeat, the failure, 'yes it hurts', it does hurt and why wouldn't it hurt. "But I will stick with them (team, TTFF) to the end, I will continue to support them to the end and after that is finished, I keep my options open."Pointing out that bigger football nations, including reigning world champions France, had suffered such droughts before reaching its current level, Warner said T&T should prepare itself to endure a similar situation.

And despite the team's floundering form, the former TTFF secretary does not intend to give up on them either.
"I will be there whatever the position of the team and I will be there with them down to the end," Warner said.
"These guys, whatever anybody may say of them, whatever faults they may have and so on, I do not believe they ever went on the field not to win."They have given their hearts out, although they might not have done it in the best way we can... And therefore I will stick with them down to the end."

Porterfield sacked

Simoes takes over

Sports Desk

Ian Porterfield is no longer coach of the national senior football team.

He will be replaced by Brazilian, Professor Rene Simoes, who led Jamaica to the 1998 World Cup in France.

Porterfield’s tenure at the helm of the Soca Warriors came to an end “with immediate effect” yesterday following an emergency committee meeting of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF).

That meeting included T&TFF president Oliver Camps, vice-president Lennox Watson, and general secretary Richard Groden.

But the federation’s special adviser, Austin “Jack” Warner, currently in Argentina for the Fifa Under-20 World Youth Cup, also had a say in the decision according to Camps, who said the T&TFF “had communicated with Warner”.

The general decision taken at the meeting was to “reduce the technical and managerial staff of the national senior football team”.

A T&TFF release issued by Camps yesterday stated that Scotsman Porterfield had “been relieved of his duties as coach of the national senior team with immediate effect”.

According to the federation communiqué, Porterfield will be replaced “temporarily” by T&TFF technical director Simoes, whose first assignment will be Trinidad and Tobago’s Concacaf Zone World Cup qualifying match against Jamaica on Saturday at the Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain. Asked if the T&TFF had a permanent replacement in mind, Camps would only say that “the technical director (Simoes) would take care of that”.

Porterfield was just one of three of the former technical staff who will have nothing to do with the senior team from now on. The T&TFF release also stated that “letters of resignation have been accepted from Messrs Jimmy Blanc (assistant coach) and Neil Mollineau (assistant manager)”.

Even before that, Trinidad and Tobago defensive coach Zoran Vranes had failed to accompany the Soca Warriors to Boston for last week’s World Cup qualifier against the United States.

And the release added that “other letters of resignation are being awaited”.

Camps would not disclose the names of remaining members of the technical staff who he expected to resign. Porterfield’s termination would come as no surprise to the T&T public.

After Trinidad and Tobago were beaten 4-2 at home to Honduras on June 16—the national team’s third defeat in four World Cup qualifying games—Fifa vice president Warner told the media “heads will roll” no matter the result of the encounter against the USA.

The Porterfield-coached team went on to lose last Wednesday’s game with the Americans at Foxboro Stadium, Massachussetts by a 2-0 margin, in arguably T&T’s most disappointing display of the qualifying tournament.

Calls from the public for the Scot’s head came after the opening game against Jamaica, who won 1-0 in Kingston on Ash Wednesday.

The national team also lost away to Costa Rica (0-3) and drew at home to Mexico (1-1).

Although with just one point from five games, T&T still have a mathematical chance of making the trip to the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan with five matches left. Following the loss to USA last week, Porterfield was asked if he would consider stepping down, as Mexico’s coach Enrique Meza did after their poor run of results that saw the Central Americans lose six consecutive matches. His response then was: “I haven’t thought about it.”

The Trinidad and Tobago squad, Porterfield included, were scheduled to fly in last night from Bermuda, where they won 5-0 in a friendly match on Saturday.

Warner: I’ve had it
with T&T football


FIFA vice president Jack Warner has threatened to pull out of local football, citing frustration with the progress of Trinidad and Tobago’s 2002 World Cup campaign as his main reason.

In a television interview on Sunday, Warner, special adviser to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF), said: “The future of football in T&T, from where I am now, does look somewhat bleak indeed so I have decided to withdraw myself at all levels after the Fifa Under-17 World Cup competition (in September).”

Currently in Argentina for the Fifa Under-20 World Youth Cup, the Concacaf boss continued: “I feel drained mentally, emotionally, physically and financially and can no longer continue.”

Warner said he had decided “to pass the baton on to others who have been talking loudly for a long time” and “who seem to have all the answers to all the problems in football locally, but nothing more.

“Talk is the cheapest commodity available,” Warner stated. “There are those who would even be happy over the team’s failure, for this is the kind of society in which we live.”

But he also took a jab at the attitude of the players representing Trinidad and Tobago in the bid to qualify for the 2002 Korea/Japan World Cup.

“In the final analysis, no coach, whether local or foreign, can coach commitment, national pride, grit and determination. In a word, no coach can coach heart,” Warner reiterated. “And that’s what our national team has consistently failed to display.”

But when contacted by the Express in Argentina yesterday, Warner softened his stance somewhat.

Saying he stood by his statements on Sunday, Warner related that “it’s not a decision I want to make in a hurry”, explaining that he had several organisations under his wings, including the Professional Football League (PFL), the Football Company of Trinidad and Tobago (FCoTT), the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) and the national senior football team which, he claimed, he has spent millions of dollars on to keep afloat.

Warner also stated he had spent more than US$200,000 on injured Under-20 captain Marvin Lee’s rehabilitation.

But a sarcastic Warner said he should now leave the rescue act to his detractors.

“It’s time for the critics to take over. I have been reading some of the diatribe your (the Express) correspondents—(Raffique) Shah, (Keith) Smith and (Bernard) Pantin—have been writing and I hope they will be able to run football now.

“I believe it is better to leave gracefully when people want you to stay than to leave reluctantly when people want you to go,” Warner said emphatically.

T&TFF president Oliver Camps said yesterday that Warner had been “hinting” at the move for some time because “he has been tremendously hurt and disappointed with the failure of this (World Cup) campaign so far”.

But Camps will be trying to convince Warner to stay aboard when the federation’s main financier returns to Trinidad Thursday night.

Warner, though, said he is not in the talking mood.

“I plan to meet with nobody. I have a commitment to carry out the Fifa World Under-17 championships. After that, I’ll keep my options open,” he ended.


U.S. jumps on Trinidad early, cruises to 2-0 win

FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) -- Even the U.S. soccer team seems stunned: At the midpoint of the World Cup qualifying finals, the Americans nearly have a berth clinched.

"We're pretty close to being at the big dance next year," U.S. coach Bruce Arena said following Wednesday night's 2-0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago.

The Americans, looking like the region's dominant team, went ahead just 74 seconds in on a goal by Ante Razov -- the fastest U.S. goal in qualifying in at least 12 years -- and Earnie Stewart added a goal on a breakaway in the 20th minute.

"Now we can really say one more win will get us in," U.S. captain Claudio Reyna said. "To be at this position at this stage is incredible."

The United States (4-0-1) leads the North and Central American and Caribbean region with 13 points, probably one or two short of the amount needed to qualify for next year's tournament in Japan and South Korea.

Costa Rica (3-1-1) is second with 10 points, followed by Honduras (2-1-2) with eight, Jamaica (1-2-2) with five and Mexico (1-3-1) with four and Trinidad (0-4-1) with one. The top three nations advance to the 32-nation field.

"We're real close, but we have to push forward until we're mathematically there," Arena said. "Who knows how many points are needed to qualify?"

At this pace, the United States is likely to clinch either on Sept. 1 at Washington against Honduras or on Sept. 5 at Costa Rica.

"You want to qualify as fast as possible. That's the most important thing," said Stewart, who became the American career scoring leader in World Cup qualifying with his seventh goal, one more than Willy Roy scored from 1966-74.

The Americans are unbeaten in nine straight qualifiers since a last-minute loss at Costa Rica last July 23, allowing only one goal over that stretch. They are 14-0-5 in home qualifiers since the Costa Ricans beat them on May 31, 1985, at Torrance, Calif.

On a night with lightning but no rain, Jeff Agoos created the opening goal with a long, looping pass behind the defense in the second minute. Razov, a former Major League Soccer player who spent last season with a small team in Spain's second division, was one-on-one with goalkeeper Clayton Ince and easily beat him with a left-footed shot from 10 yards out.

"Early in the game, they weren't ready for balls over the top, and we surprised them," Agoos said.

"Early in the game, they weren't ready for balls over the top, and we surprised them," Agoos said.

It was the fastest U.S. goal in a qualifier since Bruce Murray connected in the third minute against Guatemala at New Britain, Conn., on June 17, 1989.

Stewart scored when he stripped the ball from Marcin Andrews and came in alone on Ince and easily beat the beleaguered keeper. The Americans dominated, except for the final 10 minutes of the first half and the first few minutes of the second, outshooting Trinidad 15-8.

Trinidad, which has never advanced to the World Cup, probably must win its five remaining games to qualify.

"The hopes are very slim now," coach Ian Porterfield said. "It's a long shot."

Notes: Reyna received a yellow card for the second straight game and will be suspended for the Americans' next qualifier, July 1 at Mexico. ... Kasey Keller started in goal for the second straight qualifier -- it had been thought Brad Friedel would start in a rotation -- and turned in his fifth straight shutout. ... The U.S. team is 6-0-3 at Foxboro, including 3-0-1 in qualifying. ... Moore came in as a sub, then left with swollen right ankle. ... Mexico coach Enrique Meza quit immediately after a 3-1 loss at Honduras, which got three goals from Carlos Pavon. Costa Rica beat visiting Jamaica 2-1.



Foxboro, Mass.
Trinidad       0  0-0
United States  2  0-2

First half -- 1, United States, Ante Razov (Jeff Agoos), 2nd minute. 2, United States, Earnie Stewart, 20th minute.

Second half -- None.

Yellow Cards -- Rahim, Tri, 43rd; Reyna, US, 52nd; John, Tri, 66th. Red Cards-None.

Referee -- Ali Bujsaum, United Arab Emirates. Linesmen-Nasser Abdulla Al Hammadi, United Arab Emirates; Hussain Abddul Hassan, United Arab Emirates.

Attendance -- 31,211.



Trinidad and Tobago -- Clayton Ince; Ancil Elcock, Marvin Andrews, Dennis Lawrence; Dale Saunders, Reynold Carrington (Avery John, 46th), Angus Eve, Russell Latapy, Brent Rahim (Arnold Dwarika, 55th; Stern John (Mickey Trotman, 74th), Dwight Yorke.

United States -- Kasey Keller; Steve Cherundolo, David Regis, Jeff Agoos, Eddie Pope; Chris Armas, Tony Sanneh, Claudio Reyna, Earnie Stewart; Ante Razov (Joe-Max Moore, 71st, John O'Brien, 88th), Jovan Kirovski.


End of the line

Whole system broke down,
say local coaches

EDGAR Vidale, Steve David, Alvin Corneal and Oliver Camps discuss Trinidad and Tobago’s dismal 2002 World Cup campaign


“I DON'T think we have a chance,” said Edgar Vidale, of Trinidad and Tobago’s 2002 World Cup aspirations. “There is nothing in their game that makes me feel they could recover.”

Vidale has given over three decades of his life to national football and he is disgusted by recent events. At present, the “Soca Warriors” have only a mathematical chance of qualifying for the World Cup with just one point from five qualifying games. But Vidale, who coached T&T to within one game of the 1974 World Cup, has already called time on the 2002 campaign.

Former national coach and stand-out player Alvin Corneal and all-time national leading goalscorer Steve David both agreed.

“There’s many things that went wrong,” said David, of the Korea/Japan campaign. “The whole system broke down. The management, players, everything. Basically, if we had won the first game, things might have been different. We didn’t and the whole system begun crumbling.”

It is, he explained, the fickleness of professional sport with which David is well acquainted.

In the red, white and black strip, David plundered goals at will and is arguably the most talented striker that Trinidad and Tobago has ever produced.

His 16 World Cup qualifying goals remains a formidable local record while two MVP titles during the glory days of the North American Professional Soccer League—among the likes of Brazilian legend Pélé and German libero Frantz Beckenbauer—was even more remarkable.

David believes that it was momentum more than meticulous planning which took the Warriors into the final qualifying round. The team simply was not strong enough to successfully rebound from defeats.

Also then the negative things start coming out, like players not staying in the same hotel so on.

“If this is true, then it’s a shame that the management allowed this to happen.”

There were also some barbs for the current national squad.

“I don’t think the players play for the love of the game anymore,” he said. “When we played, money wasn’t important. We played for the coach, manager, fans, family and yourself. I played for Oliver Camps because, as the manager, he was a big inspiration for me... “I think that maybe the players are not trying hard enough to bail out their coach.”

Corneal, who was summoned by the T&TFF to assist the technical staff in mid-campaign, had a bit more to say about the management.

“Our losses have not been because of bad luck or better opponents,” said Corneal. “We have shot ourselves in the foot with ill-disciplined players, a poor training programme and the ignorance of not analysing our opponents. “The folly of using players in strange positions in the last game was the literal end of the line.”

Vidale, who headed the technical advisory committee for the 1998 campaign, also pointed fingers at the technical staff.

“A lack of proper strategies by the present technical staff is the problem,” said Vidale. “They failed to acquire the respect of the players, therefore they could not get the best out of the players.”

The ex-Petrotrin coach disagreed with national senior team coach Ian Porterfield’s assertion that the fruit of his work was evident in the country’s best ever Fifa ranking of 25th.

Instead, he said, the Scotsman’s haphazard approach to discipline eroded the work done by former national coach Bertille St Clair.

“Imagine a crucial qualifier coming up,” he said, “and players asking for time off to spend with sick sister and family. We have to be tough. So the Hondurans don’t have family too?”

Still, Camps insisted that the players were more culpable than the staff in this regard.

However, he opined that the players should be the ones to be held accountable for their lack of commitment and mediocre displays. On the field of play, he blamed the midfield for failing to impose themselves more regularly.

“The midfield has not been moving as a team,” he said. “They have been putting pressure on the defence by marking poorly while they have not been giving enough support to the forwards.”

Camps revealed that Porterfield’s position is being discussed by the T&TFF at present, and it not yet certain that the Scotsman will remain in charge for Saturday’s qualifier at home to Jamaica. Should he go, the post seems likely to pass to Brazilian René Simoes who steered Jamaica to the 1998 World Cup tournament. But can a foreign coach be successful here as well?

David stopped short of passing judgment on Porterfield who, he suggested, was not given as much time with the team as Simoes had had with Jamaica.

Still, he is not sold on the importance of a foreign coach.

“I don’t agree that we need a foreign coach to take us there,” said David. “Everald Cummings did a good job. It’s just what the players respond to.”

Vidale and Corneal agreed wholeheartedly although the former admitted that there is simply no local at the moment who is experienced enough for the job.

He pointed to the likes of Peter Granville, Jamaal Shabazz, Mohammed Isa and Brian Williams who should be groomed for the post in the near future.

No British coach, Vidale opined, can take the national team as far as a local.

“Culture has a lot to do with the way we play football,” Vidale explained. “The closest we have reached is Cummings. People would have paid $300 to see the team under Cummings because they were playing the way people wanted to see us play. “No other coach, not even Simoes, could do that.”

“It is also strange to observe that the discipline of our national team has deteriorated whenever one of these foreigners is in charge.”

Simoes and Porterfield both have a little time to convince the local counterparts otherwise. But one of the pair, it is almost certain, has considerably less time to play with than the other

Latapy wants to end in style


Trinidad and Tobago skipper Russell Latapy is hoping to go out on a high note.
With just one point from five matches T&T, which suffered its fourth loss in the campaign at the hands of the United States 2-0 last Wednesday in Boston, has already been knocked out of contention in the CONCACAF Zone.
Although victories in all of its last five matches can raise some hope, T&T will have to depend on too many other variables to steal one of the three spots available in Japan and Korea next year.

And with his international career possibly set to come to an end after the team's final match in November, also against the US, Latapy is hoping to go out in style.
"After losing Wednesday, there's 15 points to go," he said following the team's 5-0 win in a friendly match against Bermuda on Saturday night.

"That means we have to win every game and if we are being honest and realistic, that makes our chances very difficult, not impossible. I think if we are going to play, we have to play with the belief that we can win."
Latapy, now 32, and Dwight Yorke are the only two remaining players from the 1989 Strike Squad, which failed to qualify for the 1990 World Cup in Italy by a single point.
And just like they did more than a decade ago, the "Little Magician" is hoping that the younger players on the current squad will be able to benefit from this current experience.

"It's been a fantastic experience and one in which we can all learn from in different ways," he said.
"It's good for the younger players like Brent (Rahim) and Stern (John) in that they will still be at the age where they can definitely be around for the next World Cup."
However, the former Hibernian star, who is still looking for a contract with a new club, is not guaranteeing he will be around till the end of the campaign either.

"I want to play out the rest of qualifying games as long as it doesn't interfere with the club situation. It's always a situation where there is a club versus country scenario. As long as there isn't a clash then I surely will be available."
Many people were of the belief that the current squad would have had the best, and perhaps only, chance of taking the country to a first ever World Cup.

But, noting there was still a lot of talent around, Latapy said: "There's always going be a good crop of players in T&T and with the experience that people like myself have had, a lot of people will look to T&T so a lot more players will get the experience of making football a job and learning the tricks of the trade. It's difficult now but I think we just have to make it (World Cup Finals qualification) happen the next time around."
He also re-iterated the point that the squad gave its best shot.

"We are football players and what we do is go out and play football to the best of our ability," he said.
"Sometimes, as hard as you try, things don't go for you. We have to keep going anyway. In the last round we were strong but this time around we had a hard time."

Pointing out that "things just went against us" in this final round, Latapy added: "I don't want to make excuses and I don't want to take away from the other teams. What I can say is that people think it's (World Cup qualifying) only the responsibility of the players. I think it's also the responsibility of the nation as a whole. We have to do it all together.
"We have to fight for each other and encourage each other. Maybe that's one of the things (if we can learn as a nation and implement it), that will give us an additional boost."

As far as his own professional career is concerned, Latapy said he is hoping to go two more season, ending it at the age of 34. Thereafter, he hopes to continue on in the sport but is not sure what area he will branch off into.
"It's (life after retiring) something that I really have to think about. What I can say is that I love football, I love being around the whole atmosphere of football," Latapy said.

"That's what I've been doing my whole life so I will definitely stay in football. At 32 going onto 33, I'm just going to concentrate really hard and enjoy the last couple years of my playing career."



Friday June 22nd, 2001

Brazilian Simoes set to take over

By Irving Ward

The coaching transition which will eventually see Scottish-born Ian Porterfield surrendering his job to Brazilian Rene Simoes has already started here in Boston.Simoes who is touted to take full control of the team soon - even if the "Soccer Warriors" had a positive result in its do or die World Cup qualifier against the United States here, has already begun to take over the mantle.

Previously, Simoes, also at the helm of team 2001 had kept himself out of Porterfeld's sessions offering advise only at the end.However, in the last few hours, Simoes has taken control, conducting sessions and playing a crucial role in a team meeting on Tuesday night which the Brazilian said helped the team thrash out its off the field problems. While the members of the technical staff have been side-stepping questions from the T&T media on the issue, the players have recognised that a new era has already begun.

"It's clear that Porterfield is no longer in charge," said one player."Simoes has been in charge of the last couple of sessions here. Even the body language of the technical staff suggests that they are preparing themselves for changes."FIFA vice-president and TTFF adviser Austin Jack Warner has already stated that major changes would be coming. He is yet to back down on that stand and it would seem that even a win last night would not convince him otherwise. "We have to do some damage control quickly to spare the country and its football further embarrassment ," he told USA Today.

Porterfield meanwhile, who never seems to show his uneasiness, publicly tried to keep the aura of calm when asked if he felt he would keep his job. "I am not really looking at that. My priority right now is to try and win against the US. It's been sad the last couple of weeks... things have been difficult for us. It's worse that we have been unable to perform the way we are capable of doing in this phase. If the right results come, then, that will be good for all of us."
Porterfield's comments are a far cry from those he had echoed earlier, after steering T&T to first place in the semifinal stage of the competition when they lost only to Mexico.

He had such an air of confidence that he treated the T&T media with contempt when questions about some of the technical problems within the team, visible even then and totally exposed now against the big Concacaf guns were raised.Now, his swagger is no more and he admits to failing, bitterly disappointed about the team's run in its opening games where it lost to Jamaica (1-0), Coata Rica (3-0), Honduras (4-2) and drew once to Mexico (1-1). And then there's the mounting pressure."I think I've always been under pressure," he said of his current situation, adding, "I think football coaches are always under pressure, but I'm not thinking about that just now. I'm not thinking about me.

"I just want to see T&T win the game because I feel if we can win, there's three home games left and you never know the team might get back into contention again. I know it might be a longshot in a sense, but it can happen."
The TTFF is expected to make an announcement on the technical staff before the end of the week.But the team is scheduled to head for a camp in Bermuda immediately after the USA game, in preparation for its clash against Jamaica on June 30.And many feel the writing is on the wall for Porterfield. Evidence here over the past 72 hours seems to back that up.

T&T pays for Yorke, Latapy success

By Valentino Singh

NOW that the drunken stupor that clouded the minds of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) last week has been sobered up by Saturday's 4-2 thrashing from Honduras, it will be interesting to see how Mssrs Dwight Yorke, Russell Latapy, Anthony Rougier and the many others who possess the credentials to be considered "big boys" will react to football here in T&T. As I write this column, less than a day after all that we hoped for in the past 12 months came predictably crashing down on the weekend, I am aware that by the time it appears in the ink on Wednesday, a lot will change as far as the footballing landscape here is concerned.

In 1973, as a mere boy, I listened to the reports of our footballers as they courageously threw down the challenge to the world and were robbed of the opportunity to play in the World Cup finals for the first time.Five goals against hosts, Haiti. Four disallowed, only one counted and so we lost that game 1-2, and Haiti were the lone representatives from the region in Germany 1974. T&T second. It was so close and..oh well, yes, so far.In 1989. It was far more painful. We needed just one point from the USA in front of an overcrowded National Stadium and nothing was expected to stop us.

After all, we had drawn with our opponents in their own country so it was unlikely that they could stop us in front of the sea of red that was certain to intimidate them in T&T.Except, of course, that we needed to finish the 90 minutes on the field of play before the celebrations began. And we also needed to put some thought into how we were going to leave the National Stadium that afternoon with the one point with which we began the game. On both fronts, we failed miserably. Unlike 1974, it could hardly be so close and yet so far, instead it was the one we gave away.One would have thought, therefore that, those experiences would have taught us a thing or two.

In 1974 and 1990, it was raw talent on show. Our players did not have had the kind of preparations which some of the other teams did, nor did they have the international exposure or experience.Not so in 2001. Mssrs Yorke, Latapy, Hislop, Rougier, John, Andrews, Lawrence, Ince, Elcock and company have all graduated into the professional ranks.Football is now their life. They are expected to eat, breathe and sleep football. When Tobago-born Yorke played in 1989, he was living in Port-of-Spain, thanks to the generosity of Jack Warner. Today, he rates as high or perhaps higher than Warner, both in international stature and financially, such is the heights he has climbed.

But success has a price. And from my perspective, that price was effectively paid last week when despite all the talk about committed to T&T football, Yorke and Latapy - both present in Trinidad and conspicuous by their nightly rounds in the numerous clubs in the country - found a multitude of reasons why they could not be in Panama, preparing for Saturday's game against Honduras.Could they have done that in 1989? Obviously not! The Association as it was then would never have tolerated it. Coach Everald "Gally" Cummings would not have allowed it and perhaps more importantly Latapy and Yorke would never have thought of it. That is why Mssrs Warner, Camps, Simoes, Porterfield, Chance et al, must accept responsibility for what happens to the country's football in the next few days.

Their actions in reinstating the pair, were gutless and shows exactly where the balance of power is as far as this national team is concerned.To forgive is divine but forgiveness must be served only after a convincing outpouring that reflects remorse. And even then, one must understand that the penance must be an uncompromising commitment not to sin again.Given his track record, I'd be surprised if Yorke is capable of not making those same mistakes a second time. And what of reports of Latapy's threats to withdraw from the team in solidarity with Yorke?

Latapy must know that his actions over the past few weeks are being monitored by Celtic, with whom he is engage in negotiations, and any other club which his agent may be pursuing on his behalf.Perhaps he thinks that his actions as a T&T player would not affect these negotiations. In this day and age when information travels as quickly as it does and considering his age and the reasons why he was dismissed at Hibernian, he would do well to think again.Perhaps the real question to be asked from all that happened last week is: do these players feel that they have a responsibility to Trinidad and Tobago football?

And if so, what sacrifices are they prepared to make in the interest of the national effort.On the evidence of the past few days, one would have to conclude that they could not really be serious about getting T&T to Korea and Japan in 2002.As I see it, the most realistic opportunity for Trinidad and Tobago to reach a World Cup final in my lifetime, ended on Saturday because the main men who were expected to inspire our success, conspired by their actions to throw the whole campaign into a "dead mode."Is there room for revival? The results of today's game against the USA will certainly provide that answer.

Wednesday June 20th, 2001

Do or die for Soca Warriors

By Irving Ward

NEWLY­appointed Trinidad and Tobago skipper Marvin Andrews and his teammates go into tonight's crucial World Cup qualifier against the United States knowing fully well that unless they get full points, they will have to pack their gear and look towards Germany in 2006. Indeed, tonight is put up or shut up for Andrews' men.After mustering only one point from its four games so far, the Soca Warriors must dig deep to pull off a desperately needed win.On the evidence of their latest outing against Honduras last Saturday, many will not give them a chance against an American team doing all the early running in the zonal playoffs.

Coach Ian Porterfield said that much has changed since the reinstatement of Dwight Yorke and Anthony Rougier against Honduras. The squad held a "gut check" meeting on Monday at their base at the Sheraton Hotel, airing their problems and sorting things out.But according to Porterfield there was a change in attitude and mood even before this. "Things are a lot better now. The lads have picked up. Training was a lot better yesterday and the mood was back again. Hopefully we can take that into the game."

However, it will take more than just team spirit to beat the Americans who have never lost at the Foxboro Stadium.
Porterfield accepts that it is a big match situation. "It would be nice to get the right result," he said."If we play the way I know we can, there's no reason why we can't do so."A good result is easier said than done for a T&T team that has had its confidence shattered in the past few weeks. Porterfield acknowledged this. "In this last phase, we are not as confident as we should be but we've got to try to win."

Porterfield said his team must overcome the good organisation expected from the home team and shut out playmaker Claudio Reyna. This suggests a 3-5-2 system. Porterfield will however be without Anthony Rougier who is on an automatic suspension after receiving two consecutive yellow cards. This will leave room for Avery John. Skipper Russell Latapy who missed the first half against Honduras may also be in the starting line-up while Angus Eve is back after suspension.

With Dennis Lawrence and Andrews at central defence and Ansil Elcock on the right flank, Porterfield's problems may be whether to bring in Shaka Hislop and if he should split the Stern John and Dwight Yorke combination which has proven ineffective so far.Technical director Rene Simoes was optimistic that the team meeting on Monday where Latapy took centre stage, could put the squad at ease.Simoes pointed out that it was the tension of the Yorke/Rougier situation that led to the disappointing effort against Honduras but insisted that today's effort would be improved."If we don't win, we die," he said "We must win, there's no choice."

Rougier predicts 3-1 T&T win

Defender Anthony Rougier said last night that all is well in the Trinidad and Tobago camp going into today's crucial 2002 World Cup qualifying match against the United States.Speaking at the Sheraton Hotel, the Reading player was optimistic of T&T's chances."I'm not sure where everyone keeps getting the stories of a rift in the camp. We have always stuck together as a team and we will keep doing that even after losing to Honduras at home last Saturday.

It's unfortunate that we were not able to get the result that we were hoping for. But now is no time to dwell on that," said Rougier."I am confident of us getting the right result tomorrow. We know that things have not gone the way we wanted it to in our last few matches but we must prove that we are capable of going the distance," added Rougier.The former Hibernian winger even went as far as predicting a 3-1 scoreline in favour of the "Soca Warriors.

Liberty or death for Warriors

From Foxboro

“IF WE don't win, it’s die.”

Brazilian Rene Simoes, the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation’s technical director, was describing—in his broken English—the gravity of the situation facing the “Soca Warriors”.

Trinidad and Tobago challenge the US national team in a decisive 2002 World Cup qualifier from 7.30 this evening at Foxboro Stadium, Massachusetts.

And, after four qualifiers, the Warriors are already bordering on elimination with only a solitary point to show for their efforts.

National senior team coach Ian Porterfield, as usual, tried to put a brave face on the situation.

“Things are a lot better,” said the Scotsman yesterday. “...The mood is back again. Hopefully we can take that to the game tomorrow.”

His job is likely to depend on it.

On Sunday, Fifa vice-president and Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) adviser Jack Warner expressed dissatisfaction with the work of the technical staff after their 4-2 loss to Honduras at the Hasely Crawford Stadium last Saturday.

The suggestion from Concacaf’s most powerful official was that heads will soon roll.

Porterfield would not be drawn into comment on the situation, though, and preferred to focus only on the USA.

“Football coaches are always under pressure,” he said obscurely.

Still, this evening’s qualifier is as big as they come.

There has been some added excitement after the local weatherman predicted a thunderstorm which would disrupt the present sunny conditions.

The Warriors, at the bottom of the Concacaf six-team table, must beat the zone’s top team in their own backyard to preserve their qualifying ambitions—although a draw would not mean total disaster.

The US, though, have never lost to T&T in a competitive football match, save the Under-20 1991 World Cup qualifying series.

The winning goal then came from Jerren Nixon, whose eagerly anticipated return to national duty was dashed by a nagging groin injury.
But, while Nixon misses out, the talented Russell Latapy seems likely to get back into the starting line-up.

Latapy came off the bench to bag T&T’s first item against Honduras. However, Porterfield made a point of mentioning how sharp Latapy appeared in training and may decide to test his fitness over the 90-minute period.

There are likely to be more changes as well as the technical staff consider adjusting from a back four to the 3-5-2 system.

This, they believe, may offer more protection against the guile of US playmaker Claudio Reyna and his offensive wing backs.

Unlike Honduras, the US do not possess a dominant striker and rely more on collective play and tight defence. Simoes revealed that the Trinidad and Tobago technical staff had been working on its collective attitude as well.

On Monday night, they chaired a meeting with the players which allowed both parties to speak frankly about team affairs.

The dropping and re-instatement prior to the Honduras game of key players Dwight Yorke and Anthony Rougier was raised, as was the team selection.

Simoes said he was happy with the exercise.

“The spirit of the team is very strong again,” he said.

But, despite the positive words, it was frowns and drooping shoulders that were in evidence among players and technical staff.

Boston natives, on Monday, celebrated Bunker Hill Day in memory of the US Revolution that began there.

Less than an hour’s drive away, the Warriors are fully aware of the magnitude of the battle that awaits them.

Unconsciously, Simoes had already paraphrased from the great war cry of that 18th century battle— “Liberty or death!”

Tuesday June 19th, 2001

Latapy alcohol slur angers Hibs boss

Alex McLeish has angrily hit out at sacked star Russell Latapy's claim that the Hibernian manager encouraged a drinking culture at the club.The Trinidad and Tobago striker was sensationally kicked out of Easter Road last month for missing training and drinking less than two days before a match, and accused his former club of having a drink culture.Latapy told a local newspaper on Sunday: "Me and my coach (McLeish) go out often when we have things to talk about. We drink and get high, all the other players drink heavily when they feel the need to."

The comments sparked an angry reaction from the Easter Road boss, who denied encouraging such behaviour.
According to a story on Sky Sports, McLeish stressed that he was not a fan of footballers and alcohol mixing.
"But players are adults and provided they restrict their consumption and keep it to the appropriate times I am okay with it."Latapy who is currently with the T&T national team in the United States was also linked to Celtic Rangers.
According to the report, Celtic boss Martin O'Neill was busy on the weekend going through the transfer market and has his eyes on the "Little Magician."

Latapy has been linked with a move to Celtic since his acrimonious axing by McLeish before the end of last season for breaking a club alcohol ban prior to the last Edinburgh Derby of the campaign.Bradford manager Jim Jefferies was the first to get in touch with agent Jim McArthur, but he believes the Trinidad and Tobago international has set his heart on a move to Parkhead.McArthur said: "Russell is basically away on international duty until July 3 and he will talk to Celtic when he comes back."

However Latapy, who would link up again with former Easter Road colleague Didier Agathe if he switches to Celtic seems to be top of their list.McArthur added: "There is nothing that Celtic can do at the minute but wait for him to return."Then Russell is free to talk to Celtic and if they want to sign him, he will join them. Jim Jefferies still wants him but I think Russell is holding out for a move to Celtic."Latapy has scored 29 goals in 98 appearances for Hibs since he arrived from the Caribbean in 1998.

Latapy annoys McLeish

Sports Desk

RUSSELL LATAPY'S former boss at Hibernian FC Alex McLeish reacted angrily to the Little Magician’s claims that the Scottish club and the league has “a drinking culture”.

The 32-year-old midfielder, whose contract with Hibs was terminated following a night out in Edinburgh with long-time pal Dwight Yorke, told the Sunday Express that McLeish often joined him out to “drink and get high”, adding that “all other players drink heavily when they feel to.”

In the Sunday Express interview, the former Porto player denied having an alcohol problem, responding “definitely not” to a direct question and adding that “for months” he had refrained from having a drop of alcohol.
The allegations by the Trinidad and Tobago skipper, whose team’s hope of qualifying for the 2002 Korea/Japan World Cup was seriously undermined after their 4-2 loss to Honduras over the weekend, were strongly challenged by McLeish and Hibs players in an Internet story.

“Russell is an experienced professional player,” McLeish said, “and he was well aware of the rules but chose to break two of the most important: he missed training before a vital game and he was out drinking less than 48 hours before a game.”

The Hibs boss explained that while Latapy accepted full responsibility for his wrongdoing in the drink driving matter, his statement now “is puzzling”.

“I am not a fan of footballers and alcohol mixing but players are adults,” McLeish stated, “and, provided they restrict their consumption and keep it to the appropriate times, I’m okay with it.”

He continued: “I have no problems with any other players at this club. But that is not some sort of carte blanche.”

Latapy’s contract was abruptly terminated shortly prior to the Scottish Cup final after he was found to have broken the club curfew of drinking within two days of a match.

The T&T skipper, currently in Foxboro, Massachusetts, for tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier against the United States, also found himself in some trouble before the Honduras encounter.

Latapy failed to turn up at a national training session and put his absence down to a mix-up in the times of the training sessions. The national captain had been spotted at a night club in the wee hours of the morning of the same day.

There was also controversy leading up to that game when his friend Yorke and Anthony Rougier, who had been cut from the roster for the Honduras match after missing the warm-up match against Panama, offered apologies to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation and were re-instated on the eve of the game.

Monday June 18th, 2001

Warner: Changes are coming


THERE IS to be a shake-up in the Trinidad and Tobago senior football team following Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier against the United States.

The changes come in the wake of last Saturday’s result when the Soca Warriors were beaten 4-2 by Honduras at the Hasely Crawford Stadium to remain at the bottom of the six-team Concacaf Zone standings with a single point, after three defeats (to Jamaica, Costa Rica and Honduras) and a one-all home draw (against Mexico).

Yesterday, Austin “Jack” Warner, FIFA vice-president and adviser to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF), told the Express that following discussions it was decided that changes have to be made.

Warner disclosed that a decision was taken after talks with T&TFF president Oliver Camps and the federation’s Brazilian technical director Rene Simoes.

“Whatever the results on Wednesday,” Warner said, “I assure you the changes shall be made.”

He described Trinidad and Tobago’s performance against Honduras as totally disappointing and added that they were also going to assess the commitment of some of the key players to the team.

Warner said the Hondurans gave a committed performance despite several factors acting negatively against them.

At one point, he said, the Hondurans could not even afford to travel to Trinidad and wanted the game postponed. It was only when their government provided a last-minute private charter flight that the Central Americans were able to come for the match.

Added to that, one of the journalists who travels with the Honduran footballers had a heart attack in their hotel on Friday and subsequently died.

Warner suggested that if anyone should have been under pressure, it would be the Hondurans.

He remarked that if Honduras—who Warner pointed out had finished last at the 2000 Gold Cup in the United States—could “embarrass” Trinidad and Tobago the way they did on Saturday, then “something was wrong” with the national team.

“We did well at the Copa Caribe, but this level of football is much higher than that,” stated Warner. “It is felt following the performance against Honduras that there are technical deficiencies within the team which must be addressed now.”

Warner stated that during the discussions with Simoes and Camps it was agreed that team selection was “puzzling” and “there appeared to be a total lack of tactical play”.

He said the recent recruitment of Simoes to coach the under-17 team in the build up to September’s FIFA Under-17 World Championship in Trinidad and Tobago augurs well for the future and that squad and the under-20 footballers would play a role in the “rebuilding process” of the senior team.

Warner said that young talent such as current national midfielder Brent Rahim will form the next team and it would be built around him and other youngsters.

Asked whether Simoes will take over from Ian Porterfield as coach of the Soca Warriors for the World Cup qualifying home game against Jamaica on June 30, Warner would only reply: “By Wednesday everyone will know what is being done.”

The national squad left Trinidad yesterday on their way to Foxboro Stadium, Massachusetts for Wednesday’s qualifier against zone leaders USA.

The time is right for Dwight


WHETHER or not Dwight Yorke should be allowed to wear the Trinidad and Tobago strip has been open to debate of late.

The twin-island republic’s most successful footballer was a controversial inclusion in the “Soca Warriors” line-up against Honduras last Saturday, after being initially cut for missing a warm-up match against Panama the week before.

But an apparent indifference to friendly matches—the Panamanian tour was certainly not the first he turned down—may no longer be the only reason that his superiors are questioning his worth to the team.

Yorke’s returns for the Warriors, of late, have been inadequate at best, while his partnership with Nottingham Forest striker Stern John has fallen woefully short of expectations.

In five appearances this year, Yorke has failed to register an international goal and he managed just one shot on target from two qualifiers at home to Mexico and Honduras.

John’s late item in Saturday’s 4-2 defeat to Honduras at the Hasely Crawford Stadium was the first goal scored by either striker under coach Ian Porterfield while they both shared the pitch.

Porterfield first paired the talented front runners in last September’s 4-0 World Cup qualifying win against Canada, but it was Russell Latapy, Reynold Carrington, Stokely Mason and Angus Eve who got the goals on that occasion.

The two were equally ineffective against Jamaica, Mexico and for the 26 minutes they were on together against Costa Rica.

It is uncertain whether Porterfield would keep faith with the pair for Wednesday’s qualifier away to the United States at Foxboro Stadium, Massachusetts.

Although both are undoubtedly the country’s most talented forwards of the past decade, it is not inconceivable that the Scotsman would experiment up front with their toughest challenge awaiting.

Time is against him.

One point from their first four matches has left the Warriors gazing hopefully into pocket calculators. “Soca Worriers”, it would seem, is now a more appropriate sobriquet.

Trinidad and Tobago must win all three remaining home matches against Jamaica, Costa Rica and the United States, while also picking up four points on the road to have a chance at qualifying as the third-placed team in the Concacaf Zone.

There are just three away games—against the US, Mexico and Honduras—from which to secure those four points.

The Warriors play Mexico at Azteca Stadium, Mexico City, on September 5, just four days after a home qualifier against Costa Rica at sea level.

With no time to acclimatise to the high altitude, Fifa may as well award three points to “El Tricolor” and spare the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) the expense.

The match against the United States may therefore prove decisive.

Lanky T&T stopper Dennis Lawrence would be relieved to know that the “Yankees” do not possess a striker with the quality of Honduran David Suazo. Although US coach Bruce Arena is sure to consider allowing the speedy Cobi Jones, who is back from suspension, to run at the often sluggish Warriors backline.

But the visitors will need more than good fortune to penetrate the stingiest defence in the Concacaf region.

The Yanks have conceded just one goal in their last eight qualifiers—a long-range strike from Honduran midfielder Julio Cesar De Leon—and are unlikely to be bothered by the straightforward, post-up tactics employed by Yorke, and John, thus far.

It is time for Yorke, the £12.6 million man, to show his mettle.

Surely none can ignore the evidence of 40-plus goals on Europe’s grandest stage with Manchester United in the 1998/1999 and 1999/2000 seasons.

Few would have harboured the thought of the talented striker shirking his responsibility when, as a precocious teenager, he led the “Soca Babes” to the 1991 Fifa World Youth Cup in Portugal.

But the goals have not come regularly for Yorke in the red, white and black strip since then.

The late 80s and early 90s were dominated by leading national goalscorer Leonson Lewis.

Latapy’s midfield genius commandeered the mid-90s, while the explosive marksmanship of John characterised local football at the turn of the century.

Yorke must show his class now.

The British tabloids cooed about the Tobagonian striker who played with a smile on his face and scored goals for fun.

The proof would be in the bulging of the net. And Foxboro Stadium is as good as any place to start.


T&T still in it says Latapy

By Irving Ward

TRINIDAD and Tobago skipper Russell Latapy is refusing to throw in the 2002 World Cup towel.
T&T suffered a near fatal blow to its World Cup hopes on Saturday after a stunning 4-2 loss to Honduras at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

With one point from four matches, T&T must now win its remaining six encounters and hope for a combination of poor results from the front-runners and luck, including the USA (10 pts), Costa Rica (7 pts), Honduras and Jamaica, both with five points, to steal a berth.

However, the "Little Magician" says that this only means the hurdle is a bit higher.
"Things have just gotten difficult for us now," Latapy said after Saturday's loss.

"The results in the other two matches today went well for us, but we didn't take advantage of it. Now we have to pick ourselves up again and go into the next match against the US. It's a long road to go now but we must believe that we can still do it."

Latapy was left out of the starting line-up for Saturday's match with coach Ian Porterfield, now under fire from the public and T&TFF alike, choosing instead to entrust Arnold Dwarika with the responsibility of building the plays.
The move failed miserably but Porterfield, who revealed afterwards that Latapy's poor fitness was what led to the decision, only brought on the Little Magician in the 53rd minute.

Still, Latapy managed to score the team's opening goal three minutes after coming on. And while it was clear that he was not up to his full fitness level, he made a big difference during his appearance.

England-based striker Stern John meanwhile, admitted that he let his fans down by not converting the many chances he had in the game.

The Nottingham Forest marksman, who did manage to find the target in the closing stages of the game, was far from his usual optimistic self at the end of the match.

But he too admitted that the team owed it to the country to give a better performance against the United States.
"I really must say that even though it was a tough match for us, we had the chances to score and I for one should have done better," John said.

"We know we have disappointed the fans who turned up at the Stadium to watch us play. Now we have to go and take the game to the US. We must give everything in this game."
John also felt Latapy should have started the match.

"It (his absence) showed that we needed someone like Russell to serve the ball to us. Even if he's not fully fit, Russell is capable of doing something which we missed in the first half.

"He always brings something to the team. But it's no sense pointing fingers at anyone. We have to get on with things now." John will be very familiar with the Foxboro Stadium, having scored there several times during his Major League Soccer career with the Columbus Crew. And he will be looking to reproduce that form on Wednesday.
T&T squad: Clayton Ince, Shaka Hislop, Marvin Andrews, Dennis Lawrence, Anthony Rougier, Ansil Elcock, Avery John, Dale Saunders, Reynold Carrington, Arnold Dwarika, Russell Latapy, Brent Rahim, Carlos Edwards, Mickey Trotman, Lyndon Andrews, Nigel Pierre, Stern John, Dwight Yorke.

Ramsaran says keep Porterfield



Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs, Manohar Ramsaran, is standing firmly behind Scotland-born Trinidad and Tobago senior football coach, Ian Porterfield.

Many fans have been calling for Porterfield's dismissal following Trinidad and Tobago's humiliating 4-2 World Cup qualifying loss to Honduras at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Saturday.

Admitting that he too was disappointed over the result, Ramsaran stressed that all was not lost for Trinidad and Tobago.

"Now is not the time to take decisions and we have to be careful of (making) judgments," Ramsaran said yesterday.
Responding specifically to calls for Porterfield's sacking, Ramsaran said: "We shouldn't react in a panic situation. Who could we put? What could he bring?

"No matter which coach we have, the (T&T) style will be the same. I think changing the coach at this time (with six games still to be played) will do more harm than good."

He also dismissed a suggestion that T&T would have won Saturday's game if it was played at the Queen's Park Oval.
In fact, Ramsaran said he felt the major problem facing the national team maybe a psychological one.
Pointing out that the players must start believing in themselves, Ramsaran added: "That's all that is missing."
He also expressed confidence that T&T would achieve something positive in the next game against the United States, noting "mathematically all is not lost."

The minister said T&T's defeat was the result of the key players not playing to their fullest ability. He said, though, that those players could not have been dropped because they were the stars of the team.

Warner rues loss of $14m W/Cup investment

by Irving Ward

TRINIDAD and Tobago coach Ian Porterfield's days are now numbered.
Indeed, the Scotsman's tenure at the helm of the 2002 World Cup team may not last past Wednesday's fifth round qualifier against the United States in Boston.

And recently appointed Brazilian Technical Director, Professor Rene Simoes, seems to be the man who will be given the responsibility to chart the team's future.

But Porterfield's job will not be the only one in jeopardy.

The future careers of the top stars, including Russell Latapy and Dwight Yorke, may also be on the line as focus will shift on developing the younger players.

This was the word from Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation advisor and FIFA vice-president Jack Austin Warner during a telephone interview yesterday.

Still upset following what he called a humiliating 4-2 loss to Honduras, a team he considered to be one of the weakest in the CONCACAF region, Warner - while not definitively calling names - certainly forecasted the end of Porterfield yesterday evening.
"Mark my words, major changes are coming," an emotional Warner said.

"I am saying, for me, enough is enough. I have told them (TTFF) that come what may changes must come, not so much to qualify, because the more we play, it seems the less our chances are.

"While I wouldn't write off our chances, I have to be realistic and I suspect our chances now are remote at best."
The result, more or less ended T&T's hopes of advancing to next year's World Cup Finals in Japan and Korea.

With one point from four matches, T&T must now win its remaining six matches and hope for a combination of poor results from the front-runners, including the USA (10 pts), Costa Rica (7 pts), Honduras and Jamaica, both with five points, to steal a berth.

This is not the first time Porterfield's job has been on the line. There had been calls for his head after T&T lost its opening final round matches to Jamaica (1-0) and Costa Rica (3-0) earlier this year.

But this only prompted the TTFF to bring in Simoes, who is also at the helm of the Under-17 team, to help the Scotsman from the sidelines.

Now though, Warner seems ready to throw in the towel and focus farther ahead than next year.
"We must now begin to restructure our football," Warner said.

"As far as it seems, the present crop of players' commitment and attitude are not what it should be and we must now give other young players the chance."
Noting that this was his own opinion for now, Warner said he would be taking this recommendation to TTFF president Oliver Camps and his executive.

However, Camps had said before that he and Warner often share the same view on football, making any advice given almost sure to be adopted.

While stopping short at saying exactly who would be on the way out Warner let the cat out of the bag when he said: "That is why (Rene) Simoes is here. We have Simoes and three Brazilian assistant coaches and I will be talking to him about developing a future plan with specific focus now on our Under-17s and Under-21s."

Pointing out that he had also already pumped some TT$14 million into the campaign, Warner said it was time to cut his loses.
"You spend $14m to get one point, I wonder if I need two (points)," he asked out loud?

"I am not bitter, but I am now more at piece with myself because ... I have learned that whenever you feel that you have fallen on your face the time has come to pick yourself up and enter another race."
Contacted yesterday, Camps opted not to "pre-empt" any decision on Porterfield's future.

However, he noted, it was felt that they should delay any decision until after the US game as it could "disrupt the operation" of the team, which left here yesterday for Boston.
Camps too, could not hide his disappointment.

"All of us have been very disappointed. We expected much better," Camps said.
"I am sure that the entire population must be totally confused as to what has taken place. I certainly did not expect a result like this. But we cannot just lie down and die because there are still six matches to play and we must move on."
He added: "We cannot give the team the impression that all is lost. When you have these adversities, you have to get stronger and build up team morale to try and face the next opponent."

Camps also admitted the controversy surrounding the dropping and re-instatement of Yorke and Anthony Rougier must have also affected the team.

"It would be foolish to think that it (decision) did not have any effect on the team. That was very unfortunate but unavoidable. But we must know now that something is wrong and try to get better prepared for next match."

T&T beaten 4-2 by Honduras

STAND-IN Trinidad and Tobago skipper Marvin Andrews and his teammates strode into the Hasely Crawford Stadium yesterday, it would seem, in a daze following a tumultuous 72 hours.

Shaken to the core in the build-up to the crucial clash, after the dropping and re-instatement of teammates Dwight Yorke and Anthony Rougier, T&T's 2002 World Cup dream was all but put to bed after a 4-2 spanking by Honduras.

With CONCACAF Zone leaders United States, Costa Rica and Jamaica all achieving positive results, the Gods will have to smile considerably on T&T now for it to achieve its goal of reaching a first-ever World Cup Finals.

The US - which drew 0-0 with Jamaica - now has 10 points, while Costa Rica jumped to seven following a stunning 2-1 victory over Mexico. Honduras and Jamaica, with five points each, are next, while Mexico has four with T&T still languishing at the bottom on a single point.

There are still those who will argue that skipper designate Russell Latapy's men still have a mathematical chance of reaching Japan and Korea next year.

Yet, it is unlikely that any of the meagre 8,000 fans who turned up at the Stadium yesterday - save the diehards -will bet in favour of a T&T recovery.

Already weakened by the absence of the suspended Angus Eve, absent Ronnie Mauge and injured Jerren Nixon, T&T coach Ian Porterfield also surprisingly decided to go without the inspirational Latapy - due to fitness fears - and experienced England-based goalie Shaka Hislop.
But the men given the responsibility to drive the team forward in midfield, Arnold Dwarika and Reynold Carrington, simply did not spark at all.

Indeed, apart from Mickey Trotman's early close range drive, which was well saved by Honduras keeper Noel Valladares, T&T was mostly under siege by a hungrier and fitter Honduras side in the first half.
The man leading the Honduras charge was speedy David Suazo, who made the T&T defence look leaden-footed whenever he approached the penalty area.

He was responsible for setting up the first goal, forcing defender Dennis Lawrence to bring him down in the penalty area in the 13th minute, after he had run almost the entire length of the field in a swift counter-attack.
Skipper Carlos Pavon then easily beat T&T keeper, Clayton Ince, to the delight of a handful of Honduras supporters.
Pavon was also at the heart of the move which put his team 2-0 up in the 22nd minute. The burly striker sent a neat through ball to teammate Danilo Turcios just outside the penalty area and he shot past an advancing Ince.
After that, the Honduran onslaught was well and truly on.

Porterfield switched to a 3-5-2 system for the second half to counter the opposition's speed. He also brought in Dale Saunders for Anthony Rougier, who had a disappointing game, and Latapy, eight minutes after the resumption.
But it would be Honduran substitute Rony Morales who would strike the most telling blow. He put his side 3-0 up in the 54th minute with a well- placed, long-range right-footer from just outside the penalty area after yet another swift counter-attack.

Latapy then produced his only piece of magic, slotting a loose ball ,which came to him off Stern John, past keeper Valladares to reduce the deficit to 3-1.

But there would be no comeback for T&T, as Amado Guevara restored the Honduran advantage from the penalty spot two minutes from the end, after Suazo was again brought down, this time by Ince, before Stern John got a consolation item in injury time.

Yorke: It’s all rubbish

FOR star footballers Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy, the struggle for privacy dominates their lives. 

Recent events in their professional lives have kept them in the news: Yorke and his fallout and restoration with the local football federation, the T&TFF; and Latapy’s fall from grace with Scottish club, Hibernian. But the two UK-based footballers appeared more concerned with the constant focus on their private lives by the media.

Yorke and Latapy were training at the National Stadium on Friday with the national team in the final warm-up game in preparation for yesterday’s big match against Honduras.

The long time friends, who have stayed close through their sporting careers, told the Sunday Express they were fed up of media interference into their lives off the playing field.

“It is just so tiring and frustrating,” Yorke lamented in-between signing autographs and accepting handshakes from fans observing the training session.

Even as he agreed that as role models, they have an important part to play, Yorke maintained that whatever they did as private individuals was their business. The Manchester United striker said the media should limit the constant probes into their private life. Both he and Latapy insisted their behaviour off the football field was nobody’s concern. 

They also cautioned that the local press be wary of reprinting foreign reports as many were distortions. 

Yorke, whose affairs and romantic romps fuel much of the British tabloid press, said he would have enjoyed coming home to a less prying media. He was particularly peeved at the perception that he only dated caucasian women, and the speculation that every woman he is seen out with is considered his latest lover.

“It’s all rubbish, just rubbish,” he says in his British accent, of the many stories carried in the press linking him to busty models.

“I don’t bother to read, I don’t read any newspaper any more. I just don’t care about what they write because it is untrue.”

Yorke explained that as a rule he never discusses his private life.

“My life, with or without women, I have never discussed with members of the media,” he says, so that unless there is claim to an interview being

exclusive, the details of the story are not necessarily true.

On his perceived preference for blondes, Yorke says he has no rules when it comes to dating.

“...Whether I want to date a Chinese, black, white or Indian woman, it’s nobody’s concern.”

The Soca Warriors’ leading striker feels that as a single man, he could do as he chooses.

“I am a young bachelor. I am free to do whatever I want, see whatever type of woman I like. What rules are there against that?”

Saying that he refused to be stereotyped in his taste for women, Yorke, who has even ignored admonitions to settle down from Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, said he has no intention of changing his lifestyle.

“I am far way from thinking of settling with any particular woman,” he said, identifying his only preoccupation as his work and ability on the football field.

“I play hard all round, yeah, but my real challenge is out there on the football field when I’m in the games. It’s all that matters.”

The last few days in Trinidad and Tobago have been rough, he said, given the breakdown in relations between himself and the T&TFF administrators, so the last thing he needed was to read about his escapades.

“I would really like to be free at least when I’m here,” he said.

Despite reports of his escapades, Yorke admitted to having a deep and special connection with a local girl, ironically a former journalist.

“She is truly special and I respect her a lot.” And, he said, his secret love is black and beautiful. 

“She is as special as they come ...They don’t make them like her anymore.”

Honduras hit T&T hard


THE script called for them to win their home games but the Trinidad and Tobago national football team suffered a devastating blow in their 2002 World Cup qualifying campaign yesterday afternoon. The Soca Warriors fell 4-2 to Honduras at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.

And the defeat by the visiting “Catrachos” was achieved rather more easily than the scoreline might suggest. Honduras now lie in third spot on the six-team Concacaf table with four remaining home matches.

The “Soca Warriors”, on the other hand, need a miraculous turnaround if they are to stand any chance of earning a berth in the 2002 World Cup, to be jointly hosted by Korea and Japan.

There is still a mathematical chance, though, if coach Ian Porterfield can inspire his troops to an away win and consecutive home victories over Jamaica, Costa Rica and the United States.

But on the evidence of yesterday, it is difficult to believe that either the Scottish coach or his men are up to such a task.

After being initially cut from the squad by the technical director René Simoes, Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke had promised, in the pre-game build-up, to let his feet do the talking.

He did not say much in yesterday’s match, though, managing just one shot which rolled wide to the right of the Honduran upright.

Teammate Anthony Rougier, who—like Yorke—had talked his way out of trouble with the technical staff, was no more voluble and was justifiably replaced at the interval.

A few sublime touches from talismanic midfielder Russell Latapy was as good as it got for the hosts.

Relegated to the substitutes’ bench—as was West Ham custodian Shaka Hislop—for the first half, Latapy again confounded his critics by effortlessly shrugging off the rust of over four weeks of inactivity.

The Warriors’ first meaningful shot on target came within seconds of his entrance.

Nottingham Forest striker Stern John suddenly realised there was a game to be won and let fly a blistering right-footer. Custodian Noel Valladares’s desperate block seemed to have more to do with self-preservation than the three points up for grabs.

Ironically, it was the Hondurans who benefitted from their opponents’ attack. They scored a splendid goal on the break through substitute, Rony Morales, in the 54th minute.

But two minutes later, Latapy answered with a composed finish from the edge of the area after some good approach work from Brent Rahim on the left flank.

For the next ten minutes, the small crowd of just under 5,000 patrons willed on their team who seemed to have grown in confidence.

But sent clear by teammate Arnold Dwarika in the 60th minute, John failed to keep his shot down.

Four minutes later, an ambitious effort from Mickey Trotman deflected off the wrong side of the upright after a well worked one-two with Latapy.

But it was a case of showing up at the terminus after the bus had departed. And there were only smiling Honduran faces on board.

Employing a delightful mixture of pace and creativity, the Hondurans were clearly the better prepared team in what began as a bottom of the table clash.

They needed barely ten minutes to show who were the better side. A wayward Rahim pass was picked off by Honduran skipper Carlos Pavón who sent the impressive David Suazo clear only for his shot to flash past the far post, goalkeeper Clayton Ince’s defence left to resemble mere spectators in the play.

It would be a recurring theme during the match.

Suazo, who scored four times in the 2000 Olympic Games, has made just 11 senior team appearances owing to a relentless tug-of-war between Italian Serie B team Cagliari and national coach Ramón Maradiaga.

For almost 90 minutes, the T&T defence struggled to get near the speedy, skilful forward—and rarely managed to stop him.

His pace won two penalties from sweeper Dennis Lawrence and Ince respectively which were converted by Pavón in the 13th minute and playmaker Amado Guevara in the 89th.

Suazo was also instrumental in Morales’s item, early in the second half, after another incisive Honduran counter-attack.

But while his direct approach—which has earned him comparisons with Brazilian superstar Ronaldo—regularly unsettled the T&T backline, the guile of Guevara was equally effective.

Guevara’s slipped pass for midfielder Danilo Turcios in the 22nd minute was worth at least half of his goal.

His partnership with José Luis “Thin Man” Piñeda in the midfield was irresistible and, for once, left Reynold Carrington looking woefully out of his depth.

Still, it was substitute Morales who had the visitors’ best move with just his second touch of the game.

One flick of the left boot created the necessary space, the other sent the ball crashing past Ince at his far post for a then three-nil advantage.

John managed his first goal of the qualifying campaign in stoppage time after a Dwarika through pass but it was too late to save the match.

The technical staff failed to turn up for the scheduled post-game media conference to discuss it but, obviously, a whole lot more is now needed to save the Warriors’ faltering campaign as well.

Latapy: Leave me to 
enjoy my game

SOCA Warriors captain, Russell Latapy, whose playing off the field is yet to gain as much ground as his pal Dwight Yorke’s reputation, is concerned about the lack of appreciation for professional football on and off the field.

Latapy said his troubles with his Scottish team Hibernian, were generally misunderstood by the local media and football fans.

The former Hibernian midfielder said it appeared that not even fans close to him understood the intricacies of his supposed “let-down.”

Many, he noted, preferred to focus on his run-in with alcohol a few weeks ago which resulted in him parting ways with his club.

Saying he was saddened that even seasoned sportswriters did not appear to grasp the factors at play and all the issues surrounding his dismissal, Latapy explained that his decision not to sign a new contract with the team led to him being somewhat victimised. Had the local press not spent so much time trying to build a case against him as an alcoholic, he said, they would have learnt that it is common for sportsmen in the UK to drink large quantities of alcohol.

Latapy told the Sunday Express, “it was not uncommon for any professional footballer in the UK to be high on alcohol while off the field.”

All his Hibernian teammates drink heavily socially; and, he added, both he and his former manager Alex McLeish, had often gone out for drinks while discussing the game.

“Me and my coach go out often when we have things to talk about. We drink and get high ...all other players drink heavily when they feel to.”

Did he feel he had a drinking problem? 

“Definitely not,” he said. “I tell you drinking is like nothing among teams”.

He told the Sunday Express that while headlines here lamented his drinking, there were months when he refrained from “even a drop of rum.”

“All I have ever wanted to do for all my life was play football. I am doing that now and would like to be left alone to enjoy my game and myself when and how I want to.”

He insisted, for example, that the women who were with him and Yorke in the well publicised drinking and driving incident in Scotland were simply two friends. Latapy, who has a six-year-old son with a Portuguese woman, added that he was a responsible individual with goals and dreams like anyone else. But like any other young, unmarried man, he lusts after his freedom and wants to savour life with passion. He said that in due course he would change certain things in his private life but that would remain a private matter. 

The Sunday Express understands this involves his present companion, whom Latapy says he wants to treat fairly and with respect... the kind of treatment, he said, he hoped to receive from the media someday.

T&T still in with a chance

DESPITE yet another disappointing loss, Trinidad and Tobago coach, Ian Porterfield, still believes that this country has a chance of qualifying for next year's World Cup Finals in Japan/Korea.

Desperately needing a win to keep its already floundering hopes alive, T&T was dealt a damaging 4-2 defeat by the visiting Honduras at Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, yesterday.

The defeat left T&T anchored at the bottom of the CONCACAF Zone table with one point from four games and a big game against leaders United States, which drew 0-0 with Jamaica yesterday, on Wednesday in Boston, USA.
The USA moved to 10 points while Costa Rica (7 pts) jumped into second after stunning Mexico 2-1 at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. Jamaica and Honduras are now tied on five points each while Mexico is next with four.
It will, therefore, take a Herculean effort for T&T to turn its fortunes around.
But Porterfield seems to think there is still a chance.

"I am sure we still have a chance," Porterfield said after being caught outside the players' dressing room, the technical staff having avoided reporters by not turning up for the customary post-match conference.

"We need to pick up ourselves again and try to perform well in Boston," added Porterfield, whose side leaves this morning for Boston to prepare for the USA clash.

However, the gloom which existed was easily seen as several players and members of technical staff wore long faces.
Porterfield readily admitted things did not go as planned.

"Unfortunately it wasn't our day, although we created at least three or four scoring chances. It was really sad to see the way we played, " Porterfield said.
"But all credit must go to Honduras which is a useful team."

Asked why skipper Russell Latapy was left out of the starting line-up, Porterfield said: "Russell did not train very much and is still not fit.

"It was an up-hill battle when he came on as we had to come from three goals down."

Latapy was introduced in the game by Porterfield in the 53rd minute and his arrival injected some life into his troops. In fact, he also scored the first of T&T's goals three minues after entering the match.

Newly-appointed Technical Director, Brazilian Rene Simoes, also said the defeat will make it harder for T&T to qualify.

"The loss has made life a little more complicated. But it is still possible that we can qualify," he said.

Afterwards, as the disappointed T&T team made its way to the bus to take them back to the Emerald Hotel in St Augustine, forward Stern John was the only one to swallow his pride and make a comment on the telling defeat.
"We wanted someone who could serve the ball to us properly and this is where we missed Russell in the first half," said the English-based striker, who scored the second goal in injury time when the Hondurans were already assured of victory.

Saturday June 16th, 2001

Nixon pulls up again ... out vs Honduras today

T&T looks to Yorke

By Irving Ward

Trinidad and Tobago's England-based professional, Dwight Yorke, will be going all out to make a statement today when he lines up against Honduras in a crucial 2002 World Cup qualifier at Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, from 4 pm.The 29-year-old Manchester United striker was given a new lease on his international career by coach Ian Porterfield yesterday, after the latter and his technical staff decided to lift a one-game ban to allow him the chance to play.Equally eager to put on a good show will be former T&T skipper, Anthony Rougier, who was also re-instated after a last ditch meeting with the technical staff, local football federation president Oliver Camps and adviser Jack Austin Warner yesterday.

The pair's return to the squad for yesterday's final practice session has already done enough to boost a team morale left sagging in the wake of one of the most gut wrenching episodes in the history of this current team.But after a tumultuous two days, coach Porterfield says his team - having learned a lot from this experience - is ready."This entire episode has made the players realise how important it is to represent their country. They know how much is at stake when they go on to the field tomorrow (today)," he said.

But while skipper Russell Latapy will have the services of two of his most experienced players, he will be without that of Switzerland-based winger Jerren Nixon.Nixon, who was drafted into the team by Porterfield to give some more options on the left flank, limped off the field yesterday after re-aggravating the groin injury he suffered during the team's warm-up game against Panama last Sunday.Yet, Nixon's loss is unlikely to phase the team going into a match which will undoubtedly determine its World Cup future.

At the bottom of the six-team CONCACAF Zone table with one point from three matches and its next match away against group leaders United States (9 pts), T&T desperately needs three points.The closeness of the other teams in the group - Mexico, Costa Rica and Jamaica all tied on four points each and involved in matches today - will also give Latapy's men the belief that a win can revive the team's hopes."We are also aware that a victory will take us from the cellar position in the standings and that is a good thing," Porterfield said.

Honduras, in fifth place with only two points from two draws, is also desperate for a win it needs to keep its own hopes alive. And while admitting that the return of Yorke and Rougier was a boost to T&T, Honduran skipper Carlos Pavon noted that it would be the entire team effort which would make the difference."On the field, there are no stars. The team that wins is the one that does things better," Pavon said.

T&T: Shaka Hislop, Ansil Elcock, Marvin Andrews, Dennis Lawrence, Anthony Rougier, Russell Latapy, Brent Rahim, Reynold Carrington, Arnold Dwarika, Dwight Yorke, Stern John.

HONDURAS: Noel Valladares, Danilo Turcios, Ninrod Medina, Reynaldo Clavasquin, Ivan Guerrero, Samuel Caballero, Juan Manuel Carcamo, David Suazo, Julio Cesar Leon, Milton Nunez, Carlos Pavon.

Dwight's back on

TTFF accepts apology from star striker

By Irving Ward

TRINIDAD and Tobago striker Dwight Yorke will be running out against Honduras today, after all.The Manchester United player was re-instated to the team for today's crucial World Cup qualifier at the Hasely Crawford Stadium after an emotional letter of apology from him so touched Technical Director Rene Simoes and his staff, that they immediately welcomed him back.

Also back for today's game is Reading utility player Anthony Rougier, who also apologised to the technical staff during a last-ditch meeting with Simoes, coach Ian Porterfield, manager Neville Chance, Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation president Oliver Camps and advisor Jack Austin Warner.Both players had initially been dropped from the squad for today's game for failing to make themselves available for last Sunday's final warm- up game against Panama.

The pair had countered with an appeal, which was turned down on Wednesday. Fortunately, they were able to organise yesterday's meeting, Warner having only arrived here Thursday night.And Yorke, who had threatened to quit the team if he were not re-instated, walked into the session with something up his sleeve - an outpouring of emotion on paper which eventually swayed the entire group back to his side.

"I apologise to the coach, my team-mates and the loyal fans and all my supporters and promise that I will give my full effort to our collective success," Yorke said in the letter."The qualifying effort requires your full support and belief in our commitment as a team. I am only one member of a team that will only succeed on the field with total unity of effort. I am prepared to live up to all the expectations of team management."

Living up to team management's expectations of him was what put Yorke in trouble in the first place.Many may not have questioned the need for him to return home from Miami, where he was waiting to travel to Panama. He said this was due to illness of one of his sisters. However, when he was seen liming at several hot spots the same day of his return and during the weekend, some doubt was cast about its genuineness.
Yesterday, Yorke put the issue to rest.

Noting he felt justified in his decision to return home, Yorke said he meant no disrespect to the technical staff by his action. Unfortunately, he admitted he brought trouble on himself by his subsequent actions."I arrived home on Friday and trained twice on Saturday but I also sent the wrong message by being out late on Friday night, an action that is not consistent with a medical emergency and certainly did not contribute to the perception of unity of effort and personal commitment at the most crucial time in qualifying."

He added: "Whether I was right or wrong, and I am prepared to say I was wrong, I have been given another chance and want to thank everyone who played a part in keeping the team together and allowing me to continue to be part of our World Cup dream."For now, though, the £12.6m rated marksman is hoping to put this all behind him and focus on the team's drive to reach Japan and Korea next year."I hope we become stronger as a result of adversity and I will redouble my effort as we strive for success in the game that I love so much. Football has given me more than I could ever want and I will always be grateful to the game for that ..."

Speaking about the technical staff's move to rescind its decision, Simoes said: "The letter is a very touching one. I don't want to consider Yorke as a sinner, but it is the principle. We love the sinner who hates the sin and we have to stand for principle."We have to care for each other. The letter says everything and we are here to say the door is open to every player. The technical staff will always leave the door open to make adjustments to the benefit of Trinidad and Tobago football."The Brazilian official added his staff unanimously voted for the reinstatement and there was no outside interference.

Attack with full force


TRINIDAD and Tobago star striker Dwight Yorke and utility player Anthony Rougier will both be used in today’s 2002 World Cup qualifier at the Hasely Crawford Stadium against Honduras after all.

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) yesterday backed down on their decision to sack Rougier and Yorke from today’s crucial qualifying match after both players failed to join the team for a pre-game friendly against Panama.

Key to their about turn, according to the technical staff and T&TFF, was a “touching” letter of apology submitted by Yorke.

In the letter signed by the Manchester United attacker, Yorke re-stated his commitment to the team’s objective of qualifying for the 2002 World Cup tournament.

He maintained that he returned to Trinidad because his sister was ill. However, he admitted that he may have sent the “wrong message” by being out late on Friday night.

He then apologised unreservedly to his employers and the Trinidad and Tobago public.

“I apologise to the coach, my teammates and the loyal fans and all my supporters,” stated the letter. “And promise that I will give my full effort to our collective success...Whether I was right or wrong and I am prepared to say I was wrong, I have been give another chance...

“I will let my actions on the field do the balance of the talking.”

Copies of the letter were handed out to the media before yesterday’s press conference at the Concacaf Office, Edward Street.

Rougier reportedly also handed over a letter of apology to the T&TFF although the local football governing body did not deem it fit to present that to the media as well.

Fifa vice-president and T&TFF special adviser Jack Warner, T&TFF president Oliver Camps, team coach Ian Porterfield, manager Neville Chance, technical director René Simoes, Yorke, Rougier and their local handlers—Tim Nafziger and Wayne Mandeville respectively—were all present at the brief meeting.

Simoes, said to be the one directly responsible for the imposition of the ban, was asked by Camps to open the batting at the media conference. He began by stated that T&T football was now entering “a new chapter”.

The Brazilian referred to the letter as “thoughtful” and welcomed Yorke back into the team.

“You would be remembered as the man,” Simoes said to Yorke, “who led (the) squad to the World Cup.”

Both men then shook hands.

Porterfield, Rougier and Yorke also gave brief addresses, emphasising their commitment to the cause and the importance of fielding the “best team”.

Camps then abruptly terminated the media conference, saying that he wished to end on a “positive note”.

No questions from the media were entertained. As he rushed off to another meeting, Camps insisted that the T&TFF had not backed down.

“Certainly not,” he replied, when asked if he had bowed to player pressure. “It’s standing up and getting what is right.”

Porterfield said that he was “too busy” to entertain questions while Chance had very little to say.

Asked whether there was a curfew in effect for the team, he responded curtly that he “will not answer that question”.

So with the team at full strength for the all-important game, it is left to see whether the fans will heed the advice of the players and come out and support the team in spite of the high prices of entry.

T&T, I’m sorry

HAVING been announced as ineligible for selection on the team for today’s World Cup 2002 qualifier against Honduras, Dwight Yorke lodged an appeal against the decision. After almost two days of negotiation, he wrote a letter of apology to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation and was re-instated.
Former captain Anthony Rougier also had his name removed from the list of players for today’s game but he, too, was reinstated yesterday. The following is the text of Yorke’s letter:

IMMEDIATELY after the Gold Cup last year, I made a total personal commitment to the Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team with the objective of seeing that we qualify for World Cup 2002 and that commitment remains unaltered.

This commitment, however, has caused me great difficulty to maintain my position with Manchester United, while I strive to give my all to World Cup qualifying. I believe my game on the field in qualifying over the last 16 months attests to my commitment in spite of the sacrifices I have made.

Many of you are concerned when you read the many media reports about my life and activities off the field and the message that is sent as a result. I am entitled to a private life, but accept that as a public figure it is difficult for you to disregard many of the things that are said and that you see. I know that you are proud of me and that I must live (up) to the pride that you give.

The events surrounding my coming home during the week of June 5 are a typical example of this problem. I arranged to come home to join the team in camp, looking forward with anticipation to the next three games. I believe that I made the right decision to come home from Miami as a result of my sister’s illness and did not intend for that action to be seen as a sign of disrespect or indifference to management or the team.

I arrived home on Friday and trained twice on Saturday but I also sent the wrong message by being out late on Friday night, an action that is not consistent with a medical emergency and that certainly did not contribute to a perception of unity of effort and personal commitment at the most crucial time in qualifying.

I apologise to the coach, my teammates, and the loyal fans and all my supporters and promise that I will give my full effort to our collective success.

The qualifying effort requires your full support and belief in our commitment as a team. I am only one member of a team that will only succeed on the field with total unity of effort.

I am prepared to live up to all the expectations of team management. Whether I was right or wrong and I am prepared to say I was wrong, I have been given another chance and want to thank everyone who played a part in keeping the team together and allowing me to continue to be part of our World Cup dream.

I hope we become stronger as a result of adversity and I will redouble my effort as we strive for success in the game that I love so much. Football has given me more than I could ever want and I will always be grateful to the game for that, and will work hard to improve my approach to the game of football, everything that football stands for, and the game of life.

Please support your team on Saturday.

I will let my actions on the field do the balance of the talking.

I take the field with total humility for the love and respect you have shown me. Thank you all and once again I am sorry for the divisiveness that I have caused to all of you who long for that feeling of joy and pride that World Cup qualifying success can bring to our small country!

Soca Warriors in
must-win match

Yorke’s boots will talk


THE Trinidad and Tobago football team, according to Brazilian technical director Rene Simoes, is beginning a new chapter.

Yesterday afternoon, the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) backed down on its decision to omit star striker Dwight Yorke and ex-team captain Anthony Rougier from today’s World Cup qualifier against Honduras.

From 4 p.m. at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Yorke and Rougier will attempt to prove to their employers and the general public that it was the correct decision.

Trinidad and Tobago’s World Cup aspirations depend on it.

The Soca Warriors are currently at the bottom of the Concacaf six-team table with just one point from three outings. It would take at least 11 more points to give them a chance at emulating Jamaica and qualifying for the 2002 World Cup, to be co-hosted by Korea and Japan.

National team coach Ian Porterfield described the mood in the camp as “flat” after the decision by the technical staff to cut Yorke and Rougier from the squad to face the Central Americans earlier this week.

Both players were being punished for absenting themselves from last Sunday’s practice game against Panama. He received a fillip when Simoes, who was said to have played an integral part in the decision, welcomed Yorke back into the fold as a prodigal son yesterday.

“Jesus says we love the sinner but not the sin,” said Simoes, known for sporting a “Jesus saves” T-shirt during Jamaica’s successful 1998 World Cup qualifying campaign.

Yorke will spearhead a T&T offence that has been largely toothless so far in the final round of qualifying. The Warriors’ lone goal thus far came from defender Marvin “Dog” Andrews who headed home from a corner kick against Mexico.

But Manchester United’s former record purchase insisted yesterday that he would let his feet do the talking.

Porterfield will be hoping that talented team captain Russell Latapy feels the same way after a disastrous past four weeks since he was charged for drunken driving in Scotland.

Latapy and Yorke would form the core of the team along with towering stoppers, Dennis Lawrence and Andrews.

There have been fitness concerns over Switzerland-based left winger Jerren Nixon of St Gallen and composed Vibe CT 105 W. Connection central midfielder Reynold Carrington.

Still, neither is certain of a spot even if fully fit.

Porterfield has shown faith in the Joe Public midfield duo of stylish Brent Rahim and the bustling Dale Saunders of late and it is not inconceivable that both will play.

His choice between the uprights and up front are even more difficult.

Crewe Alexandra custodian Clayton Ince is a reliable custodian and was adjudged the best of his position in the recently concluded 2001 Copa Caribe tournament. But he will have difficulty bettering the credentials of West Ham custodian Shaka Hislop.

Likewise, Nottingham Forest striker Stern John is no longer an automatic pick for the Warriors and would be fortunate to keep his place ahead of Joe Public striker Arnold Dwarika.

Promising young Public forward Nigel Pierre and Nixon are both capable of doing the job up front as well.

But the Hondurans will be no pushovers. Their main threat is striker Carlos Pavón whose tally of ten qualifying goals is exactly double Yorke’s quota.

He will be partnered either by the speedy Milton Nuñez or young Italian-based striker David Suazo, who starred in their 2000 Olympic adventure and is compared to Brazilian superstar Ronaldo—in his native land—for size and speed.

Mexican-based playmaker Amado Guevera will be entrusted with providing the task of providing good looks at goal and Simoes has already briefed Porterfield on the danger he may present.

Behind this trio, though, are likely to be four defensive midfielders and three central defenders.

The Hondurans will attack quickly and should threaten from set plays aimed, almost exclusively, at central defender Samuel Caballero. But a draw today—which would be their third from as many away games—is sure to be appreciated.

Yorke and Rougier have been reinstated to ensure that this does not happen.

“We will put the best team out to win the game,” said Rougier at yesterday’s press conference. “And that is the main objective at present.”

Yorke also suggested that it is his prowess on the field—and not his misdemeanours off it—that matters most to his employers today.

“I will let my actions on the field do the balance of the talking,” he said, in a letter of apology to the T&TFF.

Porterfield will hope he has plenty to say then. It is the only way that this chapter would be better than its predecessors.

Hondurans play for country


THE hopes of their entire nation rest with the Honduran national footballers coming away with a victory over Trinidad and Tobago today at the Hasely Crawford National Stadium.

So says Sunderland striker Milton Nuñez who describes today’s World Cup qualifier as “a difficult game’’, but one “which it is possible to win’’.

“We are here to make a victory,’’ he said assuredly.

Nuñez told reporters yesterday that his team was under tremendous pressure and the people of Honduras were frustrated by recent performances in the Copa Naciones which Honduras used as their main preparation for this important qualifier. The poor form displayed in that tournament even saw them beaten 2-1 by lowly Panama. Also frustrating to the Honduran people is a poor run of World Cup form which has seen them notch just two points from three matches. Still, Nuñez believes they can turn it all around away from home where they have gained valuable points against Costa Rica and Jamaica. Nuñez says Honduras will demonstrate what they can do and the hard work they have done recently.

“There is a lot of hope for a good result,’’ he said. “Everyone is hoping.’’

He was well aware that Trinidad and Tobago have had three favourable results against Panama in the recent past, but he was not concerned.

“Every game is different,’’ he said. “Against us, Panama may have played a much different game than they did against Trinidad.’’

Nuñez is buoyed by the team spirit among his comrades which he says is especially good. Honduras is strengthened by the inclusion of Italy-based David Suazo who was not present for last month’s Copa Naciones. Suazo was not released by his club for the recent tournament and Nuñez believes his presence will add much greater depth to the team, which also includes talented Carlos Pavón.

Nuñez described Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy as great players, but he felt Honduras possesses the strength to come through this difficult assignment. His one concern was the rainy weather which he felt might affect their game.

“At the same time,’’ he ended, “you have to be prepared to play in all types of weather.’’


Friday June 15th, 2001

Latapy, Yorke, Rougier miss training

Simoes takes command

By Irving Ward

RECENTLY-appointed Trinidad and Tobago technical director, Professor Rene Simoes, yesterday stepped into the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, and immediately stamped his authority to calm the camp ahead of tomorrow's crucial 2002 World Cup qualifier against Honduras.With Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke, Reading utility player Anthony Rougier and T&T skipper Russell Latapy absent from yesterday's only session, Simoes called on all his experience to keep the players focussed on the goal at hand.

Having watched Porterfield take the team through its paces, minus the trio, Simoes stepped in at the end of it to deliver what can only be called a "pep talk."During the time Simoes held court with the squad, he made it clear that the team owed it to the country to put its best foot forward.However, it is now absolutely clear that Simoes is one of the main advocates of the current stand.

Referring to the decision, Simoes said: "My heart is broken today, but my brain is still confident that (our) qualification is a dream still very possible. Be confident we have a team that can qualify."Simoes revealed that the technical staff had written all the players asking for their full commitment for the crucial period ahead.T&T will have three consecutive matches beginning tomorrow with Honduras, then against the United States (June 20) and Jamaica (June 30). As a result, Simoes said they asked for the players to make a "sacrifice."

"We would all miss events, loved ones, parties and so many other things," Simoes said."However, the letter also explained that it would be a month of rewards, happiness, the incomparable pride of wearing the national colours and the provider of joy to an entire nation. How the players would react was left up to them."The Brazilian added: "For this reason, it is unacceptable that some players (Rougier/Yorke) were not present in Panama with the group. Faced with this problem, we were left with no other choice but to exclude the players from the next game.

"Each one has his reason for the absence. But to do nothing would be to adopt a line of unfairness, when we aim to be fair and establish that consequences are the same for all."Admitting that the team would miss the pair's experience, Simoes countered by saying the move was necessary, "to ensure the harmony and discipline of the group." "We also want to enhance this team as a role model for the youngsters of this nation, who will learn from the example, that rules exist for a reason and must be followed by all without exemption."

He noted once more that while the players would be considered for the USA and Jamaica games they will only be welcomed back, "as long as the players are willing to live up to the philosophy that what goes for one, goes for all and that negative actions have negative consequences." News from TTFF press officer Shaun Fuentes yesterday also noted that Porterfield had a meeting with his players on Wednesday night in an attempt to bring some calm to the tense situation.His main call then was for the maintenance of team unity.

Speaking about the issue, Porterfield said: "We know how important it is for us to rise above any problem. The players know that we need to get a good result against Honduras. A victory will do so much for us."We know it's unfortunate that these things have happened but we have to get on with the job at hand. Football continues and we have to keep things going. We are all saddened for Dwight and Tony."

Fitness tests for Nixon, Carrington


SWITZERLAND-BASED midfielder Jerren Nixon and midfielder Reynold Carrington will face a fitness test from Trinidad and Tobago trainer Wayne Lawson today, ahead of tomorrow's crucial 2002 World Cup qualifier against Honduras.

Both players are still nursing injuries incurred during T&T's last warm up game against Panama and T&T coach Ian Porterfield will only be able to finalise his squad, expected to be named at the end of today's final session at Hasely Crawford Stadium, after getting final word on their status.

Nixon, who plays for FC St Gallen, strained a groin during the Panama game, which ended 0-0 and was played on a water-logged field, brought on by a torrential downpour before the start.However, after receiving treatment on Tuesday, the talented left-footer was able to train with the team for the past two days.

Still, it is his condition today which will determine whether he will be considered for the crucial match.Carrington meanwhile was stamped on the leg by a Panamanian player.But according to Porterfield, who admitted that he thought the Vibe CT 105 W Connection player's leg had been broken when he was taken off the field in the first half of play, Carrington has surprised the technical staff as he has shown no real ill effects since returning home.

Honduras goes to work

TRINIDAD and Tobago's next World Cup opponents, Honduras, arrived here on a charter flight Wednesday night for tomorrow's crucial game.And the visitors apparently wasted no time in getting ready for the clash, heading immediately to the training field yesterday.

Initially, the Hondurans had organised to use the St James Barracks ground of Professional Football League club, Police. But these plans were scuttled due to a PFL reserve league matchup, which was also scheduled for yesterday afternoon.Determined not to miss a beat the Hondurans, based at the Trinidad Hilton, moved up to the João Havelange Centre of Excellence, Macoya, for their session. Today they get a first run at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

Yorke threatens to quit T&T


THE career of Trinidad and Tobago striker Dwight Yorke may well come to an end today, if proposed talks with local football federation advisor, Jack Austin Warner, and Brazilian technical advisor Rene Simoes do not result in his re-instatement to the team.

In a build-up to today's meeting, Yorke opted not to turn up for yesterday's T&T practice session at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, despite being asked to continue training with the team.Rougier and T&T skipper Russell Latapy also missed yesterday's early morning session, prompting fears they were doing so in consolidation with Yorke.However, the pair's local agent, Wayne Mandeville, said yesterday evening this was due to a mix-up in schedule, the pair was of the belief that there was an afternoon session.

This was the word from Yorke's local agent ,Tim Nafziger, yesterday.According to Nafziger, the Manchester United star is so incensed about T&T coach Ian Porterfield's decision to drop him from tomorrow's game against Honduras, that he is contemplating quitting the team if the matter is not resolved."Dwight cannot accept the position which has been taken," Nafziger said."Is he prepared to resign? Probably. "Has he shut the door? I don't know. But if he is going to resign, he has to say so himself.

"However, he has told me he is prepared to retire if the matter is not resolved tomorrow (today)." The 29-year-old marksman, along with Reading utility player Anthony Rougier, was banned from the game after the technical staff deemed their reasons for missing the team's final warm-up game against Panama were unacceptable.An illness to one of his sisters was given as the reason for Yorke's sudden return to Trinidad from Miami, where he had been waiting for a flight to Panama for the game.And according to Nafziger, Yorke has not been able to come to terms with the fact that the excuse was "not legitimate".

"In his (Yorke's) mind, he cannot accept the decision because it is grossly unfair. We've already held some initial talks and we hope to resolve the matter ."Nafziger also confirmed that Yorke shook the hands of both Porterfield and T&T manager Neville Chance at the end of the training session on Wednesday telling them "thanks for everything".However, Nafziger said Yorke's failure to turn up for yesterday's session had more to do with his unstable mind more than anything else.

"This talk of a possible boycott is totally inappropriate at this time. We only have one country and one team and it's our team and we've got to do the best we can," Nafziger said."His objective is not to destroy the team, but to sit here and pretend everything is good and rosy with him would just be far from the fact."Warner was scheduled to arrive here last night, while Simoes joined the T&T camp yesterday, having returned from Brazil following the funeral of his mother.

Latapy stays away


HE will not play against Honduras tomorrow. And beyond that crucial World Cup qualifier, Dwight Yorke’s future with the national team is now in doubt.

And he may not be the only one in that situation. Yorke, Anthony Rougier and skipper Russell Latapy were all absent from yesterday’s training session. Latapy was said to have misread the schedule for the T&T team but his local agent Wayne Mandeville declined comment on Rougier’s failure to show for yesterday’s practice.

Nafziger explained that “because we have not resolved this matter”, Yorke did not turn up.

After missing T&T’s final warm-up match against Panama over the weekend, Yorke and Rougier were not considered for selection for the Honduras encounter. That decision followed a meeting on Tuesday of Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) president Oliver Camps and the team’s technical staff which included technical director René Simoes, coach Ian Porterfield and manager Neville Chance.

The England-based pair through their local agents, Tim Nafziger and Mandeville respectively, appealed against the decision. But that failed to change anything.

On Wednesday night, Nafziger said that the Manchester United striker could not “accept that action” on the part of the T&TFF. And that the 29-year-old, believing that he is in the right, would not play for T&T again if there were no review of the situation.

“ If that means having to resign or retire from international football, he would,” Nafziger declared.

Nafziger added that after Wednesday’s training session, Yorke shook hands with coach Porterfield and Chance and wished them well.

But Nafziger is not throwing in the towel yet.

“I continue to work to communicate to get this matter resolved and I won’t give up until the very end.”

Saying Yorke felt strongly about the issue, Nafziger was up to yesterday trying to meet with the technical staff in a last-ditch attempt to have “the matter resolved” before the Honduras game.

T&TFF president Camps says that decision will be left to the T&T coaching staff.

“The coach is given the authority to select the team....nobody has been dropped, nobody has been selected for the Honduras game,” Camps said. “They (Yorke and Rougier) have been given reasons and told that they will not be considered. That is the coach’s responsibility.”

But according to a TTFF release yesterday, the Scotland-born Porterfield appeared to distance himself from the decision.

“We know it’s unfortunate that these things have happened but we have to get on with the job at hand,” said Porterfield. “I for one want to make it clear that I will always stand up for each of these players. I think the world of them.

“Football continues and we have to keep things going. We are all saddened for Dwight and Tony.”

Recently appointed technical director Simoes, though, was firm in his stance on the Yorke and Rougier issue.

“It is unacceptable that some players were not present in Panama with the group,” the Brazilian stated, “Faced with this problem, we were left with no other choice but to

exclude two players from the next game. Each one has his reason for the absence, but to do nothing would be to adopt a line of unfairness, when we aim to be fair and establish that consequences are the same for all.”

Saying it was a “serious decision” because it involved two players who possess great technical abilities, Simoes however insisted it was the correct decision “to ensure the harmony and discipline of the group.”

The former Jamaican national coach said the decision would send the message that this team should be looked at as a role model for the youngsters of this nation “who will learn from the example that rules exist for a reason and must be followed by all without exemption.”

Simoes has not ruled out Yorke and Rougier’s selection for future matches saying:

“I want to make sure that it is understood that this decision will not affect the players’ selection for future games,” Simoes ended, “as long as the players are willing to live up to the philosophy that what goes for one, goes for all and that negative actions have negative consequences.”


Thursday June 14th, 2001

Coach sticks to his guns

Porterfield drops Yorke, Rougier versus Honduras


DESPITE a letter of protest from Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke and Reading utility player Anthony Rougier, Trinidad and Tobago coach Ian Porterfield yesterday stuck to his decision to omit them from his squad for Saturday's crucial 2002 World Cup qualifier against Honduras.

And although there were fears that T&T skipper Russell Latapy and his team-mates could react negatively to the decision, the squad - including Yorke and Rougier - put on game faces yesterday evening at the Hasely Crawford Stadium as they continued preparations for the crucial game.

Both Yorke and Rougier, through their agents, had forwarded a letter to local football federation president Oliver Camps early yesterday morning, appealing for a reconsideration of the decision.However, Porterfield - who dropped the duo on Tuesday after discussions arising out of their failure to make themselves available for last Sunday's friendly against Panama - did not even have to respond, as Camps did so for him.

"I received a letter from them (Rougier/Yorke) appealing the decision," Camps said yesterday."But I told them there was nothing to consider because, as far as I am concerned, it was the coach's decision. The coach can decide, at any time, the players he wants in his squad. "And if he (Porterfield) were to change his mind about the decision tomorrow (today), he can just as easily bring them back."

Both players avoided the media yesterday evening, concentrating instead on the training session.However, the Scotland-born Porterfield - although showing a bit of reservation - decided to stick to his guns yesterday evening."It's a sad day for me personally, because you don't want these things to happen, really," he said."Everyone wants their best players, that's what its all about. It's a big hole in a sense, but at the end of the day, we've got to get on with the job."

Porterfield said both players were at yesterday's session because he had asked them to continue training in light of the fact that they will be considered for the next two games against the United States (June 20) and Jamaica (June 30).
Team manager Neville Chance meanwhile revealed the decision to drop them was made because the reasons they gave for their absence from the Panama clash "were unacceptable" to the technical staff.
Good shot, TTFF .

Latapy rallies his troops


IN the face of adversity, Trinidad and Tobago skipper Russell Latapy yesterday made a Herculean effort to rally his troops on to give one final fling to revive its 2002 World Cup hopes.With Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke and Reading utility player Anthony Rougier - both dropped for Saturday's crucial qualifier against Honduras - in the camp, Latapy 's men fought gamely to make the best of a sensitive situation.

While the "Little Magician" - who has had his own troubles in recent weeks - opted not to speak to the media, as did the two players affected by T&T coach Ian Porterfield's decision, it was clear that the team was trying its best to rise above the turmoil threatening to disrupt its campaign to reach Japan and Korea next year.

Some of the players who tried desperately to lift team morale yesterday included West Ham goalkeeper Shaka Hislop, who undoubtedly would have encountered such a situation before in his English career, Arnold Dwarika - always jovial during sessions - FC St Gallen striker Jerren Nixon, and the defensive duo of Marvin Andrews (Livingston) and Dennis Lawrence (Wrexham).It may not have been the best situation to train in.

But under the circumstances, it was unavoidable, the course of events which led to the omission of two of the team's most experienced players having already been played out in the 96 hours which preceded yesterday's session.Porterfield was one of the first people to admit that while the players were trying desperately to put the loss of their team-mates behind them, it was still very much on their collective minds."I think the mood in the camp is flat," Porterfield said during a break in proceedings."Yesterday our training session was great. The atmosphere was great, the team was buzzing.

Now, everyone is a bit down today and this sort of thing which I expected because you get this gut reaction to what happened and that sort of thing."He added: "But we've got to get on with it because we have that big game on the weekend."Despite this, Porterfield felt confident the team spirit in the camp was such that the players will overcome and go into Saturday's game fully focussed on the goal at hand."The spirit has always been great and everyone works hard for each other. Today has been a day and a situation which I felt that would happen, really. But everyone's training hard for the game."

Team manager, Neville Chance, meanwhile still felt team spirit was quite high given the circumstances."I think whenever decisions like these are taken, there would be reactions. But certainly, as you can see, the camaraderie is still there."The players are enjoying themselves and being very friendly with each other. So I think, in the initial stage, there would have been a little reaction, but I think now we're getting right back on track."

In related news, TTFF adviser Jack Austin Warner backed the technical staff's decision to omit Rougier and Yorke from Saturday's game.In a letter from Zurich, where he is on FIFA business, Warner said: "When the news reached the FIFA meeting today (yesterday), almost all the members asked me for an explanation of the situation, which explanation I gave on the basis of the facts supplied to me by Professor Rene Simoes, the Federation's Technical Director.

"All of us at the FIFA do urge you (Porterfield) and the team management to stand by your decision, regardless of the outcome of Saturday's match. No player is bigger than the team."He added: "Let me again commend you on the stand taken in football today. Hopefully, those players shall be better for it in the long run and I do wish to advise Trinidad and Tobago that the time to rally around the national team is now." Warner is scheduled to return home today.

Corneal: Yorke decision good for T&T

By Valentino Singh

FORMER national coach Alvin Corneal yesterday came out in full support of the Trinidad and Tobago technical staff for dropping Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke from Saturday's World Cup qualifying game against Honduras.

Yorke failed to make himself available for a warm-up match against Panama last Sunday, claiming to have missed the connecting flight to join the team in Miami on Tuesday. He claimed he intended to regroup on Friday but could not do so because of a medical emergency involving a member of his family.Corneal, who returned home on Monday after officiating at the Confederations Cup in Japan, said it was in Yorke's interest for him to be left out of the team.

"Yorke has had difficulty in respecting the basic principals of the ideal role model that he should be. He seems to have gone adrift with his career after a disappointing season with Manchester."T&T has placed great faith in him over the years and to be treated in this manner at this time will do the country's team no good neither will it do Yorke any good."Corneal said he had spoken to Manchester director Bobby Charlton in Tokyo on Sunday who asked him to talk to Yorke.

"Charlton believes Yorke may be ruining his career by his attitude so the decision by the technical staff is one that should force him to do some introspection. The entire country should support it and go out now and back the team."
Corneal said even with Yorke, T&T was only able to earn one point in three matches. "It is better to run the risk of losing the game and retaining proper disciplinary patterns than to utilise the services of Yorke and destroy the confidence of the balance of the team. No one is indispensable."

Stern says T&T needs Latapy now

Midfielder Russell Latapy should have no problems falling back into the national team.According to teammates Stern John and stand-in skipper Marvin Andrews, the "Soca Warriors" have been keen to get the "Little Magician" back into the run of things following his rough times over the past few weeks."That's life. We don't know exactly what happened but we all support him. We can't judge Russell. Whatever happens at the end of the day has nothing to do with the football that we play. Once we can have Russell fit and ready for the upcoming matches, that's what matters most because we are right there with him. This country needs him," said Andrews.

John added that this was no time for additional pressure to be placed upon Latapy as there was already enough burden on the team to do well in upcoming affairs."Latapy's name continues to be linked to Celtic and Bradford City. His former Hibernian teammate John O'Neil reckons reckons the Scottish champions have won the bargain of the century if they sign the T&T player."I have no doubts Russell can make a huge impact at Celtic as he has done here at Easter Road. He could play at any level and would be a hit in the Champions League," said O'Neil.

John shoots ad

Stern John appeared in his first local advertisement shoot at the KFC Restaurant, Arouca last Wednesday.
The Nottingham Forest player spent at least two hours during the filming for ads to promote KFC's sponsorship with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation.Following a training session at the Larry Gomes Stadium, John drove in his classy BMW motorcar to the KFC outlet and was the focus of attention by many.

It was his second appearance in an advertisement having previously done so at Columbus Crew."It is good experience and I was surprised that I was chosen." Sandy Morrison, creative director of Collier Morrison Belgrave (CMB), a marketing company contracted by FCOTT, said that the filming of the advertisement was the first of many promotional acts/events for the national team and local football which will sponsored by KFC.

Andrews upbeat

Scottish-based defender Marvin Andrews, stand in skipper of the Copa Caribe team, said last week that the recent string of victories was important for the moral of the team as it helped to revive the sort of momentum from last year's semi-final round which included victories over Mexico, Canada and Panama."The togetherness in training has been wonderful. Everyone is working hard and we are really looking forward to Saturday. This match is crucial," Andrews said. "Once you're winning, everything else falls into place. We haven't had the best of starts to this phase but we're getting back on track. A good team falls and then comes back up again,' added the Livingston player.

Shaka laughs

Shaka Hislop was surprised to pick up a local newspaper during his BWIA flight to Trinidad on Saturday and read that he had opted out of this country's World Cup qualifying match against Honduras.The West Ham United 'keeper who had indicated since the ending of April that he would be available for the Honduras match, said on Sunday:

"I was surprised and I really had to take a laugh when I picked up the newspaper on the flight and saw that I was not coming to play against Honduras," Hislop said jokingly."But I'm here and I'm keen to prepare because this is a big game for us," he added.T&T manager Neville Chance made it clear that Hislop was excused from the last qualifier against Mexico because of the birth of his new-born daughter, who also came on the trip, as well as from Sunday's match with Panama.

Nike eyes United

Sportswear giants Nike are set to launch a one billion pound bid to take over Dwight Yorke's Manchester United.
Reports in the English Press state that rumours have been sweeping the London Stock Exchange that the American company could launch a bid to United's board this month. Yorke is already one of several world-rated players to have signed sponsorship deals with Nike which also signed a 15-year £300 million kit deal with the Old Trafford club last September.Yorke is among an impressive list of players on deals with Nike including Luis Figo, Andy Cole, Roberto Carlos, and Ronaldo

Ince gets wish

Clayton Ince could soon be on his way to Wrexham after Crewe Alexandra agreed to let him leave once their second choice 'keeper Jason Kearton signs a new deal.Over the past few months, Crewe manager Dario Gradi has been keeping Ince on the sidelines but has refused to let the former Defence Force man go on a reasonable transfer fee.With Kearton likely to sign a new deal, Gradi is willing to release Ince. Ince's agent Mike Berry has made it no secret that he has been unimpressed with Gradi's way of dealing with Ince.

Now that Crewe may be willing to let Ince move to Wrexham on a £50,000 transfer fee, Berry is breathing a little easier."Wrexham has made a bid for Clayton and are prepared to pay what Crewe are asking, but it hinges on whether Kearton is signing. His future needs to be resolved as there is no way he is going to come back and be treated the way he has been by Crewe when there are clubs prepared to give him chances in their first team," Berry said in England last week.

T&T-born excites

Bobby Zamora, the English-born player is eligible to represent Trinidad and Tobago.
The 20-year-old striker finished as the leading goalscorer in the English Third Division last season with 31 goals and has been linked to several big clubs over the last few months. According to Brighton chief executive Martin Perry, neither Palace nor Portsmouth can afford to have the player. "Portsmouth and Crystal Palace are not big enough clubs for us to sell our top scorer to," he said on the weekend. Liverpool and Sunderland have also been linked with possible bids for Zamora who has been rated at £2.5 million.


Shaun Fuentes is the communications officer of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation

Yorke, Rougier appeal


THE decision to omit Dwight Yorke and Anthony Rougier from the Trinidad and Tobago squad for Saturday’s crucial World Cup qualifying clash against Honduras, following their no-show for Sunday’s warm-up game in Panama, has been appealed.

Yorke’s local representative, Tim Nafziger, told the Express yesterday that he and Rougier’s local rep, Wayne Mandeville, have submitted a joint-letter, protesting the technical staff’s decision.

Nafziger said that before drafting the letter of appeal, he told team manager Neville Chance he is keen to ensure that all the relevant information surrounding the Manchester United striker’s absence from Sunday’s clash with Panama comes to light.

“I told Neville the decision is a harsh one. And I told (T&TFF president) Ollie Camps that if he stands back and looks at the issue, he will see the reasons for what they did. Dwight’s intentions were straightforward and honourable.”

Rougier also missed the Panama game. However, the Reading utility player had apparently been excused from the trip by coach Ian Porterfield.

“I saw Tony on Saturday at the Hilton,” Nafziger explained, “and he said he had returned late because of Second Division promotion play-offs in England. He added that a request to stay at home with his wife to celebrate their wedding anniversary had been approved by Mr Porterfield.”

Nafziger is convinced that Rougier was being honest.

“Knowing Tony as I do, it’s inconceivable that he would tell me that if it were not true.”

Yorke’s rep was shocked that his own integrity had come under question because of the press release he issued last Saturday, explaining that the 29-year-old footballer had opted to return home “due to the health crisis of a family member”.

Nafziger disclosed that Yorke’s sister is a patient at the St Clair Medical Centre.

“I wouldn’t and have never issued a press release that isn’t true. Dwight’s sister is ill. She has a very serious problem. I’m not a doctor, and I don’t even know what is wrong, but it’s very, very serious.

“After missing Thursday’s flight from Miami to Panama because of a check-in glitch,” Nafziger continued, “Dwight spoke to his family. On hearing the seriousness of his sister’s situation, he decided to come home. He also called me to ask if I would assist in getting her over from Tobago.”

The former Carib boss said that Yorke received the letter, informing him of his omission from the team for the Honduras game, at the end of a training session on Tuesday night at the Larry Gomes Stadium in Malabar.

Nafziger explained that the Tobago-born player actually found out about the technical staff’s decision after the rest of the country had been informed via television news.

“Dwight was in disbelief. Given the circumstances, it seemed perfectly normal to come home instead of going to Panama. But I’m not discouraged and believe we’ll find a way to work it out. I have asked for the decision to be reviewed, and have told them I’m available anytime to meet.”

Yorke and Rougier were at the Hasely Crawford Stadium yesterday, training with the World Cup squad. Both are expected to be back at the Stadium on Saturday, but only time will tell if the England-based pair will be on the field or in the stands.

Yorke, Rougier, Eve turn 
up for training


MANCHESTER United striker Dwight Yorke appeared in good spirits yesterday as he trained with fellow-members of the Trinidad and Tobago team at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

Also training with the Soca Warriors yesterday were Reading utility player Anthony Rougier and Angus Eve, who like Yorke, will miss Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against Honduras.

The trio will be reinstated for the June 20 qualifying match away to the United States and the game against Jamaica ten days later.

Yorke and Rougier—who were dropped for the Honduras game by the technical staff in the wake of their missing last Sunday’s warm-up against Panama—did not speak to the media, but Eve, who was suspended by Fifa for one match after being sent off for striking an opponent in the April 25 qualifier against Mexico, stated that he was most disappointed at not being able to play come Saturday.

Team manager Neville Chance told the media that there was initial concern when the decision not to consider Rougier and Yorke for selection was first announced on Tuesday evening, but he felt the matter was now settled and the players had accepted the sanctions.

“The camaraderie is still there,’’ according to Chance.

He explained that in both cases the players were penalised for failure to join the Soca Warriors’ team camp in Panama. “The reasons (for not attending) we believe were unacceptable,’’ Chance asserted.

Based on interviews with the parties, the technical staff made a decision which Chance said is final. He added that the point had to be made that all players had to abide by the same rules.

Despite the absence of three key players, national coach Ian Porterfield believes that the Honduras game could still be won.

“This is a match (Honduras) we have to win,’’ he said, adding that good results were also required in the two other matches, versus USA and Jamaica. “We need seven points...nine would be great. Even six,’’ said Porterfield.

The Scotsman also announced that both Switzerland-based Jerren Nixon and W Connection midfielder Reynold Carrington were coming along nicely after picking up injuries in the match against Panama.

Nixon was able to train yesterday for the first time after sustaining a groin strain.

Porterfield added that he hoped to recapture the spirit which the team had during the triumphant Copa Caribe campaign.

Assistant coach Jimmy Blanc added that everytime the team seems to be “getting a rhythm’’, there is always a disruption.

Referring to the bans on Yorke, Rougier and Eve, Blanc said if the rest of the players pull together, the Soca Warriors will be alright.

Warner supports decision

FIFA vice-president Jack Warner has sent a message from Zurich, Switzerland, commending the management of the national team for the decision not to consider Dwight Yorke and Anthony Rougier for selection for Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against Honduras.

According to a release from Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation press officer Shaun Fuentes, in a letter to T&TFF president Oliver Camps yesterday, Warner stated:

“When the news reached the Fifa meeting today, almost all the members asked me for an explanation of the situation, which explanation I gave on the basis of the facts supplied to me by Professor Rene Simoes, the federation’s technical director.

“All of us at the Fifa do urge you and the team management to stand by your decision, regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s match. No player is bigger than the team.

“Sir Bobby Charlton has asked me, on two occasions in the last week, for Dwight Yorke to call him at home, since he felt that Dwight was making it difficult for (Manchester United manager) Sir Alex (Ferguson) to use his services and, in the process, is ruining his career,’’ Warner added.

“Let me again commend you on the stand taken in football today. Hopefully those players shall be better for it in the long run and I do wish to advise Trinidad and Tobago that the time to rally around the national team is now.’’

Warner is scheduled to return to Trinidad today.

Victory for T&T, says Camps


TRINIDAD and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) president Oliver Camps said he expects that the national team will still emerge victorious in Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against Honduras, even without the services of Dwight Yorke and Anthony Rougier.

Camps also said he does not expect the attendance at Saturday’s game will be affected because Yorke is not in the line-up.

The T&TFF president was speaking with reporters yesterday at a Carib Brewery promotion at the Carib Hospitality Suite, Champs Fleurs.

Camps also made it clear that Yorke and Rougier were neither suspended nor banned.

“To be consistent, the players were not suspended or banned. The technical staff, after considering everything and after speaking with Dwight, decided that he should be left out of the upcoming qualifier.’’

Camps said he had not seen or spoken to either player since the decision was taken.

He said their absence will not affect the team, neither at the level of performance or crowd support.

“Not because a player is not playing a match that does not mean people would not come out to support the team.

“I don’t see why we cannot beat Honduras with the team we have. I expect things to go well against Honduras,’’ added Camps.

Wednesday June 13th, 2001

Yorke axed

Rougier out too vs Honduras


THE career of Trinidad and Tobago's England-based professional Dwight Yorke, hit an all-time low last night after he was dropped from the squad for Saturday's crucial World Cup qualifier against Honduras.The 29-year-old striker was told he would not be considered for the game following a meeting with T&T coach Ian Porterfield and his technical staff yesterday morning, at which he was asked to explain the reason for failing to turn up for last Sunday's friendly against Panama.Former T&T skipper Anthony Rougier was also dropped from the squad for a similar reason after meeting with the technical staff yesterday.However, Yorke's omission comes at the end of a weekend in which his commitment to T&T's cause was once questioned by many.

The £12.6-million rated marksman was supposed to link up with the T&T team in Miami, USA, on Thursday to journey to Panama City for the game. He did in fact do so but failed to get onto the initial flight with the team, then failed to make another flight Friday, and instead came home later that night.A sudden illness to one of his family members was subsequently given as the reason for Yorke's return here.Yesterday, though, having listened to testimony on the matter, Porterfield and his staff did not buy it.The shock decision is likely to cause quite a stir among the footballing fraternity and the public today.

But, contacted last night, a defiant TTFF president Oliver Camps vowed to stick by the decision."I am supporting them (technical staff) 100 per cent," Camps said."I was not present at the meeting but I think they gave both players a chance to explain their absence and I'm sure they would have done their home-work before making the decision."He added: "It is too crucial a period in our qualifying campaign now for us to continue just accepting these excuses. We are dealing with professional people and we expect them to be professional."

Both players are key members of the squad and Yorke in particular, one of the most experienced players in the side, was expected to shoulder the brunt of T&T's attack.However, Camps said the technical staff, and by extension the TTFF, felt it needed to take a stand."We are sticking with this decision. We have to do this because we'd be very irresponsible if we didn't," Camps said."A lot of thought went into this, we didn't just jump to conclusions ... there was a thorough investigation.

We have put our confidence in the technical staff and we stand fully behind the decision."The decision comes at a critical time in Yorke's career.The former Aston Villa star is coming off a season in which he was relegated to the bench and had several run-ins with United boss Sir Alex Ferguson over his off-field activities.With Ferguson signing Dutchman Ruud van Nistelrooy and Andy Cole and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to new United deals, Yorke has been the target of off-season transfer speculation.

Newcastle United, Chelsea and Villa have all been linked to him in recent months although he has been continually quoted as saying he wants to stay at Old Trafford and has absolutely no desire of joining another club.This latest incident could not have come at a worst time.Yorke's closeness with T&T skipper Russell Latapy could also possibly trigger some sort of reaction today from the rest of the team.But, noting that he did not expect such a reaction, Camps said his body was ready to deal with any spin-off from the decision.

"I don't expect it (negative reaction from rest of team)," Camps said. "In fact, I'd be very surprised if something life that happens, because the technical staff would obviously have done its home-work on the matter. But if it does happen, we''ll have to deal with it."Both players were also notified in writing of the decision and of the technical staff's intention to consider them for the team's subsequent games against the United States in Boston (June 20) and Jamaica here on July 1.Even then, Camps said, both players will only be allowed on board after committing themselves fully to the cause.

Eve draws one game ban

Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Angus Eve has been fined and banned once again for the red card he received in the team's last encounter against Mexico at the Queen's Park Oval, Port-of-Spain, on April 25.This time though, Eve's punishment was handed down by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee, which banned the player for one game and fined him 2,000 Swiss francs.The Joe Public player will therefore be forced to sit out T&T's game against Honduras on Saturday.

Eve had already been banned for one game and fined half of his match fee by the local football federation, following the incident in which he was shown a red card for retaliating against Mexican player Antonio Ruiz.The move, it was believed, would have helped to soften the FIFA's committee's stand on the matter when it met to decide on sanctions, which is customary following a red card violation.And it apparently did, as normally acts of retaliation draw at least a two-game-plus sanction.

Ban for Yorke, Rougier

Sports Desk

MAHCHESTER United striker Dwight Yorke and Reading utility player Anthony Rougier have both been cut from the Trinidad and Tobago football team for the June 16 World Cup qualifier at home to Honduras.

The decision was made yesterday after a meeting between Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) president Oliver Camps and the team’s technical staff which comprises new technical director René Simoes, coach Ian Porterfield and manager Neville Chance.

Simoes is currently in Brazil owing to the death of his mother, Nea Augusta Gomes Simoes. He has, however, left telephone numbers at which he can be contacted.

Yorke and Rougier were penalised after the technical staff ruled that their excuses for missing the "Soca Warriors" recent friendly international in Panama lacked credibility.

In both instances, the technical staff had initially attempted to cover for the players.

T&TFF press officer Shaun Fuentes had indicated that Rougier was "slightly injured" when asked the reason for the ex-skipper’s missing the Panama trip.

Likewise a release sent by Fuentes on behalf of the technical staff had claimed that Yorke joined the team in Panama on Friday afternoon and would train with them in the evening session.

However, Yorke was spotted at several night clubs in Trinidad on Friday night and the T&TFF only then admitted that he had failed to travel to Panama.

Chance had reportedly made three trips to the airport in Panama in a vain effort to meet with Yorke on Friday evening.

Tim Nafziger, Yorke’s local manager, subsequently sent a release indicating that the talented striker had returned to Trinidad “due to the health crisis of a family member”.

Checks at local health institutions have revealed that a close member of Yorke’s family was admitted to the St Clair Medical Centre on Friday and is still warded there.

Yorke and Rougier were notified about their suspension in writing yesterday but will be allowed to rejoin the squad for the team’s following qualifier away to the United States on June 20.

National team midfielder Angus Eve will also be available for the US match after being suspended by Fifa for just one match and fined 2,000 Swiss francs. Eve was ejected during T&T’s last qualifier against Mexico on April 25 for striking an opponent with his forearm.

Neither Camps, Chance nor Porterfield answered their mobile or home telephones after the release was issued and none made direct contact with the media.

Earlier yesterday evening, the national senior team had a training session at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar. However, the technical staff made it clear that the media were not invited and made a point of keeping details of the session such as time and venue to themselves.

Yorke’s omission caps a woeful season for the Concacaf’s most expensive player.

The Tobagonian had struggled to reproduce the goalscoring form that made him the darling of Manchester United after a then club record transfer fee of £12.6 million in 1998.

But, it was Yorke’s off-field problems that probably cost him most.

He was publicly reprimanded and fined by club manager Sir Alex Ferguson, at one point, for his late return from international duty.

More recently, he was involved in a drinking binge with national team captain Russell Latapy in Edinburgh just 48 hours before a Premier League fixture.

Latapy, who also missed the Panama trip and was at Yorke’s side on Friday night during their own tour of the local hotspots, was not sanctioned. He had already received permission from Porterfield to stay in Trinidad.

West Ham goalkeeper Shaka Hislop was also excused for missing the tour to Panama and should have trained yesterday although no-one from the T&TFF was able to verify whether he did.

Rougier, though, is in new territory.

A powerful athlete who has represented his country in every position save up front and between the uprights, Rougier has never found himself on the wrong side of the T&TFF before.

In T&T’s unsuccessful 1998 World Cup qualifying campaign, he was one of a handful of players—also including midfielder David Nakhid and winger Jerren Nixon — who flew in for virtually every match.

Latapy, for the record, was banned indefinitely by the T&TFF during that series after failing to show for an important qualifier at home to the United States.

At present, the Warriors are at the bottom of a six-team Concacaf qualifying table with just one point from three matches.

Failure to secure a home win against Honduras, who are just one spot above T&T, would be disastrous for T&T’s World Cup chances—particularly as their next fixture is against group leader, the United States on June 20.

Tuesday June 12th, 2001

T&T gets it rough in Panama

Trinidad and Tobago's senior footballers were scheduled to return home last night following a "physical contest" against Panama which ended 0-0 at the Mujita Sanchez Stadium on Sunday night.Several of T&T's players were on the receiving end of rash tackles from the Panamanians, but according to stand-in captain Marvin Andrews, the "Soca Warriors" gave a good display and was even unlucky not to have pulled off a victory.

Midfielder Reynold Carrington was forced to leave the field inside the opening 10 minutes after being stamped on by a player. He was replaced by striker Jerren Nixon. However, as the first half progressed, things got worse for T&T as Nixon, pulled up with a groin strain and had to leave the match at half time. His place was taken by Lyndon "Chubby"Andrews.

T&T had the better of the exchanges following the interval with Dale Saunders' crack at goal midway through the second period, crashing off the crossbar and back into play. Stern John also had a couple good attempts saved by the Panamanian goalkeeper.Andrews was proud of the team's courageous performance. "It was a very competitive game. We weren't getting anything from the referee, but I must say that all our players worked well. It was a very good team performance even though we had to play on a tough surface.

"Some of our players received hard knocks but we thank God that nothing too serious happened. Jerren had to go off with the groin injury and Reynold (Carrington) also had to leave the field early, but hopefully it's not too serious," Andrews said following the game.He said the addition of the other overseas-based players to the team would be a big boost ahead of Saturday's World Cup qualifier at Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, against Honduras.

Nixon pulls up lame


TALENTED St Gallen left winger Jerren Nixon may be forced to miss out on Trinidad and Tobago’s World Cup qualifier against Honduras on Saturday through a groin injury.

Nixon, who has not represented the “Soca Warriors” since last October, came on as a substitute in Sunday’s goalless draw away to Panama but barely made it to the interval.

He was then replaced by Hibernian midfielder Lyndon “Chubby”Andrews.

Ironically, Nixon was introduced for Vibe CT105 W Connection midfielder Reynold Carrington, who also had to leave the field of play injured.

Carrington, according to a report from Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) press officer Shaun Fuentes, was substituted inside the first ten minutes of the match after being stamped on by an opponent.

The match, according to the T&TFF release, was a competitive one with the Warriors having “the better of the exchanges”.

Joe Public midfielder Dale Saunders struck the post in the second half.

And T&TFF president Oliver Camps should have a clearer idea of exactly what took place on the brief tour by this afternoon.

The technical staff is requested to submit a report to Camps on all matters involving the trip, which includes the absence of Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke, as well as the outcome of the match.

The national football team should have returned to Trinidad last night, although they will be without technical director Rene Simoes.

Simoes was said to have returned to Brazil after the match because of the illness of a family member.

However, the Brazilian has left a telephone number where he can be reached for comment on the tour.

National senior team coach Ian Porterfield and manager Neville Chance will be responsible for submitting a report to Camps.

Porterfield should be joined shortly by the quartet of team captain Russell Latapy, Shaka Hislop, Anthony Rougier and Yorke.

The United States-based duo of Columbus Crew wingback Ansil Elcock and Kansas City Wizards striker Gary Glasgow should also soon link up with their compatriots.

Monday June 11th, 2001

Panama holds T&T 0-0

Trinidad and Tobago's senior footballers were held to a 0-0 draw by Panama in its warm-up international at the Mujita Sanchez Stadium in Panama last night.

Captain Marvin Andrews and his team-mates were forced to play on a slushy outfield, following a heavy rain shower which delayed the kick-off.

T&T, minus skipper Russell Latapy and ace striker Dwight Yorke, was treated to some hard tackling by the Panamanian defence which did well to hold off T&T starting forwards Mickey Trotman and Stern John.

Both Latapy, who is now shopping around for a new contract after being released by Scottish Premiership side Hibernian and Yorke, who flies Manchester United (English Premiership champs) colours, are now in Trinidad.

According to reports, several players were cautioned by the referee during last night's encounter, including T&T's Andrews (M) and Avery John.

The second half of the game saw both teams creating more scoring chances than they had in the opening 45 minutes, but neither team was able to pull off a winner.

The game ended at around 7:15 pm (T&T time).
The T&T squad will be returning home tonight at 11:10.

Meanwhile, West Ham United goalkeeper Shaka Hislop arrived in the country Saturday night and said yesterday he will join the T&T team in training tomorrow.

T&T draw 0-0 in Panama

TRINIDAD and Tobago’s senior footballers played to a goalless draw with Panama in their warm-up international at the Mujita Sanchez Stadium yesterday.

Captain Marvin Andrews and his teammates were forced to play on a slushy outfield following a heavy downpour which delayed the kickoff by an hour and 15 minutes.

In T&T’s final preparation match before their crucial world Cup qualifier against Honduras on June 16, the ‘Soca Warriors’ had a very tough encounter with the Panamanians whom they defeated 6-0 and 4-0 in last year’s Football Confederation’s World Cup semifinal round action. The saturated field lent itself to a lot of slide tackling. And several players, including T&T’s Marvin Andrews and Avery John, had to be cautioned by the referee in charge of the game.

T&T had the better of the exchanges in the first half and the Panama defence worked tirelessly to prevent their starting forwards, Mickey Trotman and Stern John, from opening the scoring. But they did so successfully and both teams went in at the interval with nothing on the scorecard.

The second half saw both teams creating more scoring opportunities than they had in the opening period. But both teams again failed to find the net and the game ended at around 7.15 p.m. with the scorers still untroubled.

The game, described by the Scotland-born T&T coach Ian Porterfield as “the important dress rehearsal’’ ahead of the Honduras game, was played without T&T internationals Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy. The Manchester United striker missed a connecting flight in Miami and returned to Trinidad on Friday instead of joining the team in Panama.

His friend and national captain Latapy had requested leave to miss the match to attend to some business related to the signing of a new contract. The Hibernina midfielder became a free agent at the end of the Scottish season.

T&T is scheduled to return home at 11.10 p.m. today. Meanwhile, West Ham United goalkeeper Shaka Hislop arrived in the country on Saturday night and said yesterday that he will join the team in training tomorrow. Also expected to train with the team is Latapy who had arrived in the country as early as Thursday evening.

Sunday June 10th, 2001

Yorke hits town

By Irving Ward


WITH Trinidad and Tobago's 2002 World Cup future hanging in the balance, England-based international Dwight Yorke should have been lining up in a key warm-up match against Panama today, in preparation for Saturday's crucial qualifier against Honduras.
Instead, the 29-year-old Manchester United striker is high and dry here, following what is either a terrible miscommunication or an absolute failure of the airlines given the responsibility of shuttling him across the globe.
Yorke's team-mates then, will simply have to do without him against Panama at the Mujita Sanchez Stadium 3 pm (4 pm T&T time) in an encounter many consider to be critical to the team's hopes of taking full points from back-to-back matches against Honduras (June 16) and the United States (June 20).

Trinidad and Tobago team management and local football federation officials were all still scratching their heads yesterday after Yorke, having failed to appear in Panama City, was reported as having arrived here.
Yorke himself, according to TTFF president Oliver Camps, had still not yet contacted them to indicate his arrival, though.
"I still don't know what has happened," Camps said yesterday.
"He (Yorke) was supposed to link up with the team in Miami but I got a call saying he had missed his connecting flight and would join them later.

"Then I got a phone call from (Neville) Chance saying they were going to the airport in Panama to meet him. I got another call later saying they were going back a third time, having gone twice before, to meet him ... and that was the last I heard of it."
He added: "I have not heard from him (Yorke) and have not been able to confirm he is here, but people have told me they have seen him so I'd be foolish to think otherwise."
Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation press officer Shaun Fuentes had confirmed to local media Friday evening that Yorke had in fact linked up with the team.

Yesterday though, he backtracked saying he had been told by team management, when last he last spoke to them Friday, they were heading to the airport to pick up the £12.6m-rated marksman up and considered it a done deal.
In fact, according to Fuentes, team manager Neville Chance confirmed yesterday that both he and assistant manager Neil Mollineaux cut short their participation in a press conference to go to the airport to meet Yorke Friday.
But not for the first time, in a scenario which often also occurs with other foreign-based players, Yorke failed to walk through the Customs gates when T&T team officials turned up to greet him.

Fuentes yesterday also confirmed that team coach, Ian Porterfield, had been disappointed that his star striker had not turned up.
And it being said in some circles this latest development has not gone down well with TTFF officials.
Indeed, Camps - while not letting much out of the bag because of his "lack of sufficient evidence" on the no-show - still also expressed his dissatisfaction.
"This is something to be concerned about because we continue to make arrangements to play these friendly matches and key players are not turning up," Camps said.
"This time, it is despite the fact that English clubs are not engaged in any activity at this present time. I don't know what the entire situation is, but I hope team management will review it and take an appropriate stance on the matter and deal with the situation."

He added: "Despite all this, I remain confident that we are going to qualify for the World Cup."
It seems then, that Yorke will now join team-mate and close friend Russell Latapy for their own personal regimens in the build-up to Saturday's critical clash against Honduras.

Yorke out Panama warm-up


HE WAS supposed to be lining up against the Panama national squad today in the capital of that Central American country. But instead of Panama City, Trinidad and Tobago star striker Dwight Yorke landed in Piarco on Friday.

That means that national coach Ian Porterfield will have to do without the services of the T&T international for his team’s final preparation match before the important World Cup encounter with Honduras on June 16.

That “important dress rehearsal” gets under way at the Mujita Sánchez Stadium in Panama City from 3 p.m. (4 p.m. T&T time).

A Friday evening Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation release had informed the media that the Manchester United player had “arrived in Panama on Friday afternoon” and was expected to be part of the team's second training session later that night.

According to the release, the entire 20-man squad was “now together”.

Yesterday, however, the information changed somewhat. Yorke was said to have been with the rest of the team on Thursday night in Miami. But a mix-up forced the T&TFF to make arrangements for him to leave for Panama the following day.

However, the Express understands that manager Neville Chance went to the airport in Panama on three different occasions but Yorke failed to show each time.

Which is not surprising since the Tobago-born Premiership player landed at Piarco Friday.

T&TFF president Oliver Camps was unable to shed any light on the reasons for the 29-year-old footballer’s absence in Panama.

“I have not got any of the facts,” he said. “Last time I talked to the manager he told me Dwight had missed his connection.”

Saying that he had only recently learned that Yorke was in Trinidad, Camps added that he had been “unable” to make contact with either Chance or Yorke himself. Camps admitted to being “disappointed” that Yorke would not be part of the Panama friendly today.

But Yorke was not without friends of his own. In the wee hours of yesterday morning, T&T's most famous footballer was spotted in some of Port of Spain’s popular night clubs in the company of long-time buddies, Hibernian midfielder Russell Latapy and West Indies star batsman Brian Lara.

That means that coach Porterfield will now be without his two most influential players for what he termed “the important final dress rehearsal” before the critical Honduras qualifier.

Porterfield and T&TFF technical director René Simoes had already acceded to a request from Latapy to miss the Panama match and he only arrived in the country on Thursday afternoon after the departure of his teammates.

Latapy had said he wanted time to negotiate with the clubs that are seeking his services after he became a free agent at the end of the Scottish season.

West Ham goalkeeper Shaka Hislop, not included in the Panama squad, was also expected to fly in yesterday to join Latapy—and Yorke—with inclusion for the Honduras game on his mind.

The Rene-ssance man

Simoes set to revive T&T football


IT DOES not take much to get Brazilian coach Rene Simoes going.

The recently-appointed Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) technical director is in the middle of an interview but, so impassioned is he by his own utterings, he appears as comfortable as if lounging with close friends.

Eyebrows raised, hands gesticulating and his sombre voice testing his halting English to the limit, Simoes is painting a picture that would make any Trinidad and Tobago football fan blush.

He is describing, in great detail, the day after the “Soca Warriors” qualify for the World Cup.

“The kind of pride you (are) going to raise,” he says, with a flourish, “is something (you) never experienced before. It is something you cannot imagine. The energy, the...the vibes. 

“When you go outside (in) the street, you see everybody outside make noise, sing, dance. The day you qualify, it is something, I mean...”

His voice trails off as he recalls a precious memory neatly tucked away. No doubt, he is attempting to substitute a celebration of gold and green with one of red, black and white.

Simoes is remembering November 17, 1997, the day after he successfully steered Jamaica to the 1998 World Cup in France. It was the first time that an English-speaking Caribbean country had progressed to the finals of the tournament.

A curious day indeed for T&T football fans who, caught between envy and pride, saluted their northern neighbours.

On May 15, 2001, the T&TFF announced they had acquired the services of the man credited with making it all possible for Jamaica.

And Simoes, as famed for his controversial decrees as he was for his “Jesus saves” tee-shirt, wasted no time in expressing his desire for a successful encore.

Jesus, it would seem, will save again in the Caribbean.

Simoes’ job—at least in the first instance—is to breathe life into the disastrous preparation of the national youth squad, dubbed Team 2001, who will host the Under-17 World Cup in September.

He is the first to admit to the gravity of the task ahead of him.

“I think you are far behind your opponents,” he says with a horizontal shake of the head. “Far, far behind. If the World Cup were tomorrow, really you’d be in trouble. Because I think you lost three years in your preparation.”

Simoes opines that the biggest mistake of his predecessor, Nigerian Chief Adegboye Onigbinde, was to keep the same group of 37 players for three and a half years.

He explained, at that age, the performance of players fluctuates wildly and more benefit would have been gained by holding screening sessions every six months.

The size is another problem and Simoes plans to cut the squad down to 25 players within a week’s time.

But, with the World Cup just three months away, the Brazilian has asked locals to be realistic about the team’s chances.

Already, he has scrapped the team’s 4-4-2 for a steadier 3-5-2 or 5-3-2 system that would leave Team 2001 less vulnerable to the wiles of their group opponents, Brazil, Australia and Croatia.

“When you prepare a team for competition,” said Simoes, “you must look and say I am the best team in the competition, I am the middle or I am the weakest...We have to build a strategy to protect ourselves (and, hopefully) to surprise them.”

But Simoes’ duties go well beyond the September tournament.

In Jamaica, he was responsible for all national teams while also playing an important role in the formation of a semi-professional football league.
He plans to be a catalyst in the progress of football at all levels here as well.

At national level, Simoes plans to introduce a universal philosophy and system for all teams and should also re-introduce an under-15 squad. 

A meeting with Professional Football League (PFL) CEO Colin Prevatt is also in the works to suggest radical changes to the present competition. 

He insists the PFL is unsuitable for a developing football country and should focus on more cup matches and less foreigners.

“I cannot understand (how) one club has 12 Brazilians and one Colombian,” he said, in a clear reference to PFL champions Vibe CT 105 W Connection. “I do not know what benefit this kind of thing can make for Trinidad and Tobago.”

At the start of the 2001 PFL season, W Connection—who recently made headlines for transferring teenager Silvio Spann to Italian Serie A outfit Perugia—had 11 registered Brazilians and seven St Lucians on their roster.

There will be no direct intervention with the national senior team, though, which remains property of Scottish coach Ian Porterfield. But both men will plot the squad’s progress through the remaining 2002 World Cup qualifying matches.

At present, the Brazilian is helping in the construction of a Code of Conduct which will set firm guidelines for players and officials alike.

This is, after all, the man who once declared that West Indies star batsman and double world record holder, Brian Lara, would not be selected on his team.

“I don’t know if Lara didn’t have good commanders,” he said, reflecting on his highly publicised comment. “From what I heard and read, I think Brian Lara, if playing in my team, would have been dropped. But I don’t know the reality.

“Sometimes you do somethings and if somebody didn’t tell you that you cannot do that,” he continued, “well, then you are not wrong. So we are now making a code of conduct for Trinidad players...so we can tell them if they break these, they are wrong.”

Likewise, Simoes is unhappy with Russell Latapy’s recent indiscretion in Scotland which cost him his place with Scottish Premier League team Hibernian. But he makes it clear that he is not yet in a position to pass judgment on the talented playmaker or his role as team captain.

“I do not have any knowledge of his background as captain,” he said. “I do not know if it was his first time or anything.” 

Simoes is yet to see the Warriors in World Cup action but he believes that Porterfield can get them to Korea/Japan.

And, as technical director, he will ensure that the necessary elements are put in place to maintain such success.

Rene Simoes fact file

December 17, 1952: Born to Abel Rodrigues Simoes and Nea Augusta Gomes Simoes.

1974-76: Named coach of Ginastico and Desportivo of Rio de Janeiro, U-17 and U-20 teams, after modest playing career.

May, 1976: Married Maria de Fatima Brandao Simoes, has three daughters, Renata Brandao, Beatriz Brandao and Leticia.

1985-86: Coached first senior team, Mesquita FC, Rio de Janeiro.

1987-89: Named Brazilian Football Confederation coach in charge of U-23, U-20 and U-17 teams. Led both U-17 and U-20 teams to South American championship titles and steered U-20s to third place in 1989 Saudi Arabia World Youth Cup.
Rated his best moment as coach was leading the U-20 team—with the likes of Leonardo, Sonny Anderson and Marcelinho Carioca—to victory in Buenos Aires over bitter rivals Argentina.

1994-2000: Named Jamaica Football Federation technical director. Steered senior team to 1998 World Cup and U-17 team to 1999 World Youth Cup.
Controversially gave debut to 16-year-old Ricardo Gardner who went on to become mainstay of team. Also sparked public outrage by sacking crowd favourite Walter Boyd for disciplinary reasons during 1998 qualifying campaign.

1997: Given Hall of Fame award for Excellence in Caribbean Development for Art and Culture, Jamaica, among a string of accolades.

1998: Awarded Commander of Order of Distinction (Honorary Class) by Jamaican government.
Also given Special Award of Rio Branco Order by Brazilian government which is one of several awards from his home country.

2000: Accepted “dream job” as technical director to top Brazilian club Flamengo but resigned five months later. Simoes claimed that Flamengo officials only wanted to use his name and gave him no authority to run the club.

2000: Appointed Fifa technical instructor.

May 2001: Accepted offer from Fifa vice-president and T&TFF special adviser Jack Warner to become technical director for Trinidad and Tobago.

Saturday June 9th, 2001

Latapy goes to work

Trinidad and Tobago skipper Russell Latapy yesterday began his own workout campaign to get in tune for the team's crucial 2002 World Cup qualifier against Honduras next Saturday.Latapy arrived in the country on Thursday evening, several hours after his T&T teammates had departed for their tour of Panama.And, having been inactive since May 6, the "Little Magician," according to TTFF Communications Officer Shaun Fuentes, yesterday started an individual training programme which included road work and a gym regimen.

The 32-year-old midfielder-now a free agent after his contract with Hibernian expired at the end of May- has put a decision on his future on hold while here for the team's next two game, the second coming up on June 20 against the United States in Boston.According to news out of Scotland yesterday, Hibs appear ready to sign Ecuador international Ulises de la Cruz, a utility player, as a replacement for Latapy.

Latapy spent three seasons with Hibernian, having joined the Edinburgh club in 1998 on a free transfer from Portuguese club Boavista.He became a Hibs favourite during his tenure there but departed rather unceremoniously after he was sacked by boss Alex McLeish after breaking several club rules during a day out with T&T team-mate Dwight Yorke early last month.In related news, England-based goalkeeper Shaka Hislop is due here today and has made himself available for the Honduras clash..

Hislop ready to
rejoin 'Warriors'


WEST Ham goalkeeper Shaka Hislop will join the Trinidad and Tobago football team in preparation for their June 16 World Cup qualifier against Panama.

Hislop was granted time off from the technical staff of the "Soca Warriors" because, according to national manager Neville Chance, his club was without a manager after the sacking of boss Harry Redknapp.
However, Hislop will join his teammates and national senior team coach Ian Porterfield for their upcoming World Cup engagements.

The ex-St Mary's College custodian should arrive in Trinidad today and will await the national team's return from Panama.

The 'Warriors' play Panama in a friendly match tomorrow and should return home on Monday.

Team captain Russell Latapy will also be here to welcome them.

Latapy, now a free agent after parting ways with Scottish Premier League team Hibernian, returned to Trinidad on Thursday.

According to Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) press release officer Shaun Fuentes, the national captain has already begun individual training such as gym work and jogging to improve his fitness.

T&TFF president Oliver Camps also took the opportunity to reiterate his confidence in the 'Warriors' earning a place in the 2002 World Cup tournament.

Camps insisted that, although he was concerned with the absence of several players, he still believed that Porterfield's troops would go all the way.

Porterfield was given a boost ahead of tomorrow's friendly game when Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke reported for duty in Panama. Yorke linked up with the team yesterday afternoon and should have had his first training session last night.

Tomorrow's friendly match should be of particular importance to St Gallen left winger Jerren Nixon and Joe Public attacker Arnold Dwarika. Porterfield has let it be known that both players are in the running for a starting spot for next week's clash against Honduras.

Friday June 8th, 2001

Yorke linked to Newcastle

TRINIDAD and Tobago's England-based striker, Dwight Yorke, could soon be heading from Manchester United to Premiership rivals Newcastle United.Word out of England yesterday suggests that United boss, Sir Alex Ferguson, was considering a deal which would send Yorke over to the Magpies in return for its £20 million-rated striker Kieron Dyer.

Ferguson is currently vacationing here in the Caribbean and Yorke, according to reports, is desperately trying to track down his boss to protest the proposed deal - if in fact it is true.The T&T striker, the reports say, has become increasingly alarmed at apparent attempts to use him as a make-weight in United's recent transfer activities. And he intends to contact his boss to once again reveal his desire to stay on at Old Trafford.

The 29-year-old striker - purchased from Aston Villa for £12.6m three seasons ago - is coming off an indifferent season with United in which he spent most of his time on the bench due to poor form and also fell out of sorts with Ferguson courtesy of some off-field problems.Yorke still has two years left on his current contract, but is now the only marksman not to be offered a new deal by Ferguson, a situation which continues to fuel transfer talk.United currently has three other top strikers at the club inAndy Cole, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Dutchman Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Cole and Solskjaer are both signed up to long term deals, both having been given contract extensions - the latter in fact completing a new deal Wednesday - while van Nistelrooy is one of Ferguson's recent signings.It had been speculated that van Nistelrooy's arrival at Old Trafford would mark the end of Yorke's tenure at the club.However, only time will tell what Ferguson has planned for the man he once rated as his best asset.For now though, Yorke -who was expected to join the T&T team in Miami for its tour to Panama -will just have to wait an see what the future holds.

Russell Latapy back home


TRINIDAD and Tobago skipper Russell Latapy is back home.The former Hibernian midfielder, now a free agent after his contract with the Scottish club expired May 31, arrived here yesterday - several hours after the T&T team had made its way to Miami en route to Panama.The 32-year-old midfielder will not journey to Central America to join his team-mates though.

Latapy's future remains in limbo, he having put a decision on his future on hold to return here to start preparations for the team's crucial CONCACAF Zone 2002 World Cup qualifier against Honduras next week.English clubs Bradford City, relegated to the First Division for next season, Fulham - which will be up in the Premiership next season - and Scottish champions Celtic had all been linked to Latapy.

However, earlier this week, Latapy's Scotland-based agent, Jim McArthur, told the BBC that Bradford had been the only club to keep a keen interest."Bradford are still interested, but Celtic have not been in touch for some time. But they know where we are," McArthur said.Latapy became a Hibs hero after leading the club to the Scottish Premier Division from Division One two seasons ago after joining it on a free transfers from Portuguese outfit Boavista.

However, his tenure at the Edinburgh club was brought to an abrupt end when he was sacked by Hibs boss Alex McLeish just before the club's big Scottish Cup finals date against Celtic (May 31).McLeish made the move after the T&T star missed team practice during a day out with T&T team-mate Dwight Yorke and was subsequently charged by Scottish police for "drink-driving".Latapy could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Soca Warriors roster shrinking

Camps uneasy
about World Cup


OLIVER CAMPS, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF), said he was concerned after West Ham custodian Shaka Hislop pulled out of the national team’s upcoming World Cup qualifier against Honduras on June 16.

Hislop, who campaigns in the English Premier League, has not represented the “Soca Warriors” since their 3-0 away loss to Costa Rica on March 28 in a 2002 World Cup qualifying match.

Trinidad and Tobago were good enough for a 1-1 draw against Mexico without him, while they also retained the Copa Caribe title last month.

However, Camps is worried about the shrinking roster of players available to national senior coach Ian Porterfield. “I was hoping that Shaka would be here,” said Camps. “I am concerned but the next match is not the last match. It is just one of many and we have to look at the team in the long term.

“Because they can’t play in this one does not mean that we should write them off for the long term.”

Camps did admit, though, that it would be “very difficult” for T&T to qualify if they do not take points from their next two qualifiers.

The Warriors, who occupy last spot with one point from three qualifying matches, play Honduras at the Hasely Crawford Stadium next week Saturday before travelling to Foxboro in Boston to face the United States on June 20.

T&T will then return home to host Caribbean rivals Jamaica on July 1.

Hislop, according to national team manager Neville Chance, was granted time off “since his club...is without a manager at present”.

Camps insisted that was “not a sound excuse” in his personal opinion but declined further comment.

The sacking of West Ham manager Harry Redknapp did not prevent Hammers midfielder Joe Cole from making his international debut against Mexico late last month.

Hislop, who also holds a British passport, was excused from the team for their April 25 qualifier against Mexico after asking to be allowed to stay with his newborn child in London.

Still, Hislop is not the only player who has, of late, not heeded the call to serve. Burnley defender Ian Cox has also not been capped since the defeat by Costa Rica. Fifa vice-president and T&TFF special adviser Jack Warner subsequently told the media that Cox had retired from international matches owing to club pressure.

Bristol Rovers midfielder Ronnie Maugé recently requested that Porterfield not consider him for Sunday’s friendly against Panama or for the upcoming World Cup assignment.

Maugé, according to Porterfield, was “depressed” after his team’s relegation to the English Third Division.

Team captain Russell Latapy and Reading FC utility player Anthony Rougier will both miss the trip to Panama but are scheduled to take their places in the team for the game against Honduras.

Latapy, who was sacked by Scottish Premier League team Hibernian on May 11, has been given an indefinite period of time off to conclude contract negotiations with Hibs. He is expected to arrive in Trinidad this weekend but is unlikely to rejoin his teammates before June 11.

Rougier, on the other hand, trained with the team this week but has opted to remain in Trinidad to nurse a slight injury.

The burly ex-national captain is likely to be used in a new position on June 16 owing to the recent success of Columbus Crew defender Ansil Elcock in the right-back slot. Rougier will not, however, get the benefit of a practice game.

Latapy looks likely to retain the captain’s armband but he too may have to be forgiven for carrying some rust in his game as his last competitive outing came on May 6 for Hibernian in a 5-2 defeat to Scottish champions Celtic.

Camps confirmed yesterday that the T&TFF has not deemed it necessary to have any official dialogue with either Latapy or Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke about the alleged drinking incident that led to the Little Magician’s sacking by Hibernian.

Latapy was released by the club after violating a rule which forbids the consumption of alcohol 48 hours before a match. His long-time pal Yorke was present with him when the midfielder was charged with drunken driving in Edinburgh on May 11.


Thursday June 7th, 2001

Latapy backs out Panama trip


Trinidad and Tobago skipper Russell Latapy yesterday backed out of the Trinidad and Tobago team's tour to Panama this weekend.The "Little Magician" informed the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation that he could not return at this point in time due to sensitive negotiations involving his future.

Latapy's contract with Scottish Premier Division club Hibernian expired on May 31 and, having long indicated his desire to leave the club he joined in 1998 on a free transfer from Portuguese outfit Boavista, he is now viewing offers from English First Division club Bradford City and Scottish champs Celtic.But, to add insult to injury, the Panama Football Federation informed the TTFF late yesterday that it will now only be able to accommodate the team for one game.Originally, the teams were to lock-up twice beginning tomorrow. But now they will meet on Sunday. Attempts are being made to arrange a match with one of Panama's top clubs but initial reponses have not been positive.

Unfortunately, because arrangements had already been put in place for the Central American tour, T&T coach Ian Porterfield and his 20-man squad will still fly out this morning for Panama.England-based professional Dwight Yorke, who was due here on Tuesday night, will now join the squad in Miami en route to Panama.With just over a week before T&T's crucial third round CONCACAF Zone 2002 World Cup clash against Honduras (June 16), Latapy will surely be missed by Porterfield during a tour which will now effectively become a training camp.

Indeed, Porterfield echoed this sentiment yesterday at the end of the team's last training session at the Larry Gomes Stadium in Malabar. "Russell is always very important to the team but at the moment he's trying to negotiate a deal," Porterfield said yesterday."We are aware about that so we have to get on with the job at the moment. There's been a lot of hard work being put in by the players and staff. Russell is obviously important to that. We'll give him time and we'll have back within the next few days."

He added: "We'll have to assess his condition when he comes because we need everyone firing on every cylinder in this game against Honduras." Despite the setback, the Scotland-born coach-who will be joined in Panama by Brazilian Technical Director Rene Simoes tomorrow, is confident that the preparations will suffice."Obviously, there's been a change in the programme which has been a bit disappointing. But things happen and you have to manage them as best as you can. And the lads have been in good spirits and the training's gone very well," Porterfield said.

"The big boost is that Dwight will join us for Panama and hopefully he can play an important part in the preparations. The biggest game for us is against Honduras and we have to prepare well for it."Stand in T&T skipper Marvin Andrews added: "This trip is an important one for us. It's more or else to get the guys back together again especially players like Dwight and others."We haven't had the best of starts to this phase but we're getting back on track. A good team falls and then comes back up again."

T&T squad: (Goalkeepers) Clayton Ince (Crewe Alexandra), Michael McComie (Joe Public), (Defenders) Marvin Andrews (Livingston), Dennis Lawrence (Wrexham), Anton Pierre (Defence Force), Avery John (Shelbourne FC); (Midfielders) Lyndon Andrews (Hibernian), Carlos Edwards (Wrexham), Jerren Nixon (FC St Gallen), Brent Rahim, Stokely Mason, Angus Eve, Dale Saunders (Joe Public), Reynold Carrington (W Connection), (Forwards) Dwight Yorke (Manchester Utd), Mickey Trotman (Rochester Rhinos), Arnold Dwarika, Nigel Pierre (Joe Public), Trent Noel (Police), Stern John (Notts Forest).

Latapy misses Panama 

TRINIDAD and Tobago’s senior footballers leave for Panama this morning without skipper Russell Latapy.

And the schedule for the Soca Warriors has changed once more. There will now be a training session tomorrow and the team is to play the Panamanian national squad on Sunday.

Latapy has asked the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) for time to negotiate a deal after he became a free agent at the end of the Scottish season.

But while coach Ian porterfield will miss Latapy for the Panama trip, he will return in time for the crucial World Cup qualifier against Honduras on June 16

“Russell is always very important to the team and at the moment he’s trying to negotiate a deal.” Porterfield stated, “We’ll give him time and we’ll have back within the next few days because we need everyone firing on every cylinder in this game against Honduras...Russell is obviously important to that.”

Porterfield will have Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke at his disposal.

The team leaves today at 11 a.m. and will stay at the Granada Hotel in Panama City before returning on Monday.

Yorke is expected to join the team in Miami on its way to Panama. And TTFF technical director Professor Rene Simoes is scheduled to arrive in Panama City tomorrow.

The 20-man squad for Panama:

Goalkeepers—Clayton Ince (Crewe Alexandra, England), Michael McComie (Joe Public)
Defenders—Marvin Andrews (Livingston, Scotland), Dennis Lawrence (Wrexham, England), Anton Pierre (Defence Force), Avery John (Shelbourne FC, Ireland)
Midfielders—Lyndon Andrews (Hibernian, Scotland), Carlos Edwards (Wrexham, England), Jerren Nixon (FC St Gallen, Switzerland), Brent Rahim (Joe Public), Stokely Mason (Joe Public), Angus Eve (Joe Public), Reynold Carrington (W Connection), Dale Saunders (Joe Public)
Forwards—Dwight Yorke (Manchester United, England), Mickey Trotman (Rochester Rhinos, USA), Arnold Dwarika (Joe Public), Trent Noel (Police), Stern John (Nottingham Forest, England), Nigel Pierre (Joe Public).