TRINIDAD and Tobago’s Under-17 footballers will resume training for next year’s World Under-17 Championship in early November.
The local squad, under Nigeria-born coach Adegboye Onigbinde, is currently not in training because of the ongoing Secondary Schools Football League.
From November, they will also be preparing for a mini Caribbean Football Union tournament that will take place in this country in December.
Plans are also under way to have the players enter a live-in camp at the St Ann’s Community Development Centre from November up until the Championship next year. The President’s Ground will be utilised for daily training.
The Under-17 side, dubbed “Team 2001,” are coming off tours to Miami, United States and Haiti which ran from August 6-28.
T&T played some nine games, winning six, drawing one and losing two in those tour matches, including a 4-1 victory over St Kitts/Nevis and a 2-1 defeat to Haiti.
According to team manager Russell Tesheira, the success of the national senior team is having a positive impact on the youngsters.
“It’s having a tremendous impact on the boys. The more successful the senior team becomes, it will obviously filter down to us. A lot of the senior players, including Dwight Yorke, Anthony Rougier and Russell Latapy among others, have already been around the team while here offering advice and so and have indicated their willingness to assist where necessary in the future,” said Tesheira.
The manager added that Chief Onigbinde did at first have reservations about allowing the players to represent their respective schools in the current Secondary Schools Football League.
Some of the players have been enjoying good performances in the SSFL including Nkosi Blackman, Wacey Benjamin, Michael Carrington, Lee Haynes (St Benedict’s College), Roderick Anthony, Lyndell Pompey (Naparima College), Kenwyne Jones (St Anthony’s College), Khalil Mathura (St Mary’s College), Devon Daniel (Arima SC), Ochieng Abosi (El Dorado SC) among others.
Currently 41 players are in training and that figure is expected to be reduced to 35 by the end of November with a further reduction at the beginning of 2001.
There are also plans for Team 2001 to tour Africa in December and South America in April.
Thursday September 28th, 2000
NEWCASTLE United are interested in him putting pen to paper. But Trinidad and Tobago defender Dennis Lawrence still has to wait on the British Department of Employment to give him the all-clear.
According to a release from the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation, Lawrence, recently on trial with the English Premier League club, is being offered a contract. But then he must get a work permit.
“We are now in the process of sorting out the work permit application,” said Newcastle’s Caribbean representative Peter Miller.
“It’s now a situation where Newcastle like what they’ve seen in him and will make him an offer once the work permit is granted.”
Lawrence has been allowed to return home to represent his local club Defence Force in tomorrow’s PFL Cup final against CL Financial San Juan Jabloteh.
According to the release, Lawrence will also be allowed to take part in the national team’s preparation’s for the World Cup qualifying match against Mexico. Newcastle are also interested in seeing their potential acquisition perform in a competitive setting.
“We have sent Dennis home because we want to see him playing competitively. We will have someone taping the game for us,” said Newcastle manager Bobby Robson.
“We like him as a character but now we really need to see how he plays in a competitive game.”
Robson added: “We have seen a lot we like in his play. But we have not seen him play competitively-only in training and a couple of friendlies.”
Football Federation president Oliver Camps, while noting the possible departure of another top player from local football, was nevertheless pleased with the progress Lawrence was making.
“There is no way we can avoid things like this occurring,” Camps said.
“It’s happening all in the best interest of the player and the country. The only problem will be the Professional League suffering a loss. But we have catered for this type of thing so I say hats off to Dennis.”
Should he eventually sign for Newcastle, Lawrence will become the third national team player playing in the Premiership between Dwight Yorke at Manchester United and Shaka Hislop at West Ham United.
Dwight Yorke gets support from Cole
MANCHESTER United's Andy Cole has come out in support of striker Dwight Yorke, urging him to maintain his focus as he attempts to get back into the club's starting line-up.
Since the start of the new season, Yorke has found it tough coming
to terms with the fact that 52 goals in two previous seasons has not guaranteed
him a starting place on the team. A frustrated Yorke was said to have walked
out on the team on Saturday
after he was left out of the side which played Chelsea. Cole and Teddy Sheringham were the starters.
"People try to make out that Dwight has been a bad boy. He's had a few niggling injuries lately but he'll be back because he's a bouncy type of character. Remember, he had a testing time last season and came through it all right. "Teddy and myself have been flying so far. It's difficult to leave players out when that happens. Dwight will understand even if it is a bit frustrating," said Cole.
The scenario has left a more understanding Yorke. "Right now I can understand how Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer felt when I was always in the side and they weren't. But I'm here to play," said the 28-year-old striker, who will miss T&T's next two World Cup qualifiers against Mexico (October 8) and Panama (November 15).
Latas the dangerman
Russell Latapy was described by a Dunfermline player as Hibernian's most dangerous player and the national captain delivered the goods by scoring a penalty to help his club to a 1-1 draw on Sunday. The "Little Magician", released by his club to lead this country against Mexico on October 8, came in for praise from Justin Skinner, a former Hibernian player now with Dunfermline.
"Russell was Hibs' secret weapon last season. Everyone had seen
him do it in the First Division, but there was still the little question
mark as to whether he could play as well in the SPL. He certainly answered
that last Saturday," said Skinner.
Latapy's Hibs (20 points), currently second behind Celtic (24 points), face St Johnstone on Saturday.
Best to come from Sam, Carlos
English-based agent Mike Berry has predicted that the best is yet to come from Hector Sam and Carlos Edwards at English Second Division club Wrexham.
Sam has scored seven goals already in less than ten games and
has attracted interest from an unnamed Premiership club according the club
manager Bryan Flynn. Edwards also has been doing a good job in midfield.
"I'm delighted Carlos
and Hector have come to Wrexham and have settled in. But Wrexham fans are yet to see the best of both of them," Berry said last week. Wrexham are currently in 19th spot with seven spot on the 24-team Second Division standings.
Midfielder Clint Marcelle continued to impress at English Third Division side Hull City where he scored in a 1-1 draw with Barnet's Underhill on Saturday. Marcelle had a 30-yard volley parried by Barnet's substitute goalkeeper Danny Naisbitt, who then saw the ball bounce back off his colleague Mark Arber into the back of the net to send City ahead after 17 minutes.
Hull manager Brian Little seems keen on Marcelle who is on a free transfer from Barnsley, but the only difficulty could be the Department of Employment approving his work permit because of a lack of action for the past two seasons.
Nixon's Gallen out for Chelsea
Jerron Nixon and his St Gallen team must overcome a 1-0 deficit to English side Chelsea in the second leg UEFA Cup tie tomorrow in England. Nixon was the dangerman and is almost sure to have extra attention paid to him by Chelsea who will be on a high after their 3-3 draw with Manchester United. Nixon is expected to join the national team for the World Cup qualifier against Mexico next month.
Stern aims for starting spot
Striker Stern John will be hoping to force his way back into the Nottingham Forest team when they face Wolverhampton on Saturday. The 23-year-old former Columbus Crew player has been forced to sit on the bench in the last couple of games due to a lack of form. Forest are currently ninth on the standings with 13 points, two spots ahead of Ian Cox's Burnley.
A win for Shaka at last
Goalkeeper Shaka Hislop kept a clean sheet on Saturday to help West Ham United to a 3-0 victory over Coventry City, their first victory for the Premiership season. Hislop was never really troubled. Paulo Di Canio, Joe Cole and Frank Lampard were the goalscorers for the "Hammers" to push them to six points in 18th spot on the 20-team table.
Demming's Rhinos on a roll
Defender Craig Demming had something to smile over countryman Brent Sancho when the Rochester Rhinos defeated the Charleston Battery 1-0 on Saturday night to advance in the American A-League playoffs. Demming saw action in two victories over Sancho's Battery, the first being a 2-0 win on Friday. Sancho was sent off in that game.
The win took Rhinos to the final of the A-League Eastern conference. Earlier this month, Rhinos got the better of Long Island Rough Riders 3-1 in A-League action and Demming, recently recovered from an achilles tendon injury, was presented with the club's "Player of the Week" award before kick off. That was his third straight weekly award.
Newcastle wants Lawrence
By IRVING WARD
TRINIDAD and Tobago defender Dennis Lawrence could soon become the next player from this country to display his talent in the English Premiership.
Lawrence has been offered a contract by Newcastle United after a successful trial there. And now it is left up to the British Department of Employment to grant the 25-year-old Defence Force player a work permit.
Standing at six foot, seven inches, Lawrence had been on trial at St James Park for the last week and a half. He returned home on Tuesday to play for his local side, Defence Force, in tomorrow's PFL Cup final against CL Financial San Juan Jabloteh.
Thereafter, he will also rejoin the national team to begin preparations for next month's World Cup return-leg clash against Mexico. Speaking from England yesterday, Newcastle manager Bobby Robson said Lawrence was allowed to return home to get some competitive matches under his belt.
"We have sent Dennis home because we want to see him playing competitively," Robson said. "Dennis will play in a Cup-Final and we will have someone taping the game for us. We have seen a lot we like in his play but what we have not seen is him play competitively - only in training and a couple of friendlies."
Newcastle's Caribbean representative Peter Miller confirmed yesterday only the acquisition of a work permit would keep Lawrence from playing in England. "We are now in the process of sorting out the work permit application," Miller said. "It's now a situation where Newcastle like what they've seen in him and will make him an offer once the work permit is granted."
Lawrence made his debut for the T&T senior team in the first round of the 2002 World Cup qualifying series against the Netherlands Antilles in March. In fact, his fine play at the back had also attracted the attention of several other British clubs, including English outfits Wrexham, Sheffield United, AFC Bournemouth and Scottish Premier Division club Hibernian.
Once Lawrence acquires his work permit and signs for the Magpies, he will become the third T&T player to join a Premiership team. Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke and West Ham goalkeeper Shaka Hislop, who formerly played with Newcastle, are the other T&T players now plying their trade in the biggest league in England.
FCOTT scraps Mexico charter
FOOTBALL fans who were hoping to journey across to Mexico to support Trinidad and Tobago in next month's 2002 World Cup return leg clash will now have to find their own way there.
This because the charter flight being organised by the Football Company of Trinidad and Tobago to take both the team and fans to Mexico City for the October 8 game has been scrapped.
A release from FCoTT explained yesterday that the charter, which was being offered at a cost of US$800, had been shelved due to the poor response from the public. Both T&T and Mexico have already qualified for next year's final round of qualifying for the 2002 World Cup.
Praise for Yorke
TRINIDAD and Tobago's England-based professional Dwight Yorke, in one of his rare starts for Manchester United yesterday, was kept quiet as his side went down 3-1 to PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League.
The defeat was United's heaviest in the competition in nearly six years. They lost by a similar scoreline to Gothenburg in the 1994 series. But United boss, Sir Alex Ferguson, played down the loss because he had clearly put a weak side on the field.
Ferguson made six changes to his side, keeping the likes of David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Andy Cole and Teddy Sheringham on the bench at the Philips Stadium.
Ferguson told reporters afterwards that he had kept his star players out to keep them fresh for Sunday's crucial Premiership clash with Arsenal.
Yorke, who is to be fined £55,000 for storming out of Old Trafford at the weekend after being left out the side against Chelsea, had started only twice for United before yesterday.
And the 28-year-old striker missed an easy chance at goal early in the first half after teammate Paul Scholes had given United a lead after just two minutes from the penalty spot.
PSV's goalscorers were Wilfred Bouma, Mark van Bommel and Mateja Kezman. Of Yorke's performance, Ferguson said: "We should have been two nothing up in the first 20 minutes but Dwight Yorke missed a good chance."
He added: "He got a lot of abuse but I thought he did very well overall." With the loss United also slipped from pole position in Group G to third after Dynamo Kiev thumped Anderlecht 4-0. But Ferguson remained confident United could still get the 10 points he feels they need to qualify for the second phase.
Sunday September 24th, 2000
Dwight Yorke swept out of Old Trafford on Saturday morning, casting
doubts over his future at Manchester United.
The £12.6million striker was left out for the 3-3 draw against Chelsea and was seen driving away from the ground before the 11.30am kick-off.
The relationship between Yorke and manager Sir Alex Ferguson has been strained this season, with the striker making only two starts. Yorke upset Ferguson by returning 24 hours late from World Cup duty with Trinidad and Tobago earlier this month.
Ferguson insisted there was no problem. 'All players are disappointed. They all want to play in the big games but they all know the way we operate the pool. There has to be pressure throughout. I spoke to him before the game and he accepted the situation.
'He did well in Kiev on Tuesday but I had to guard against eventualities in the defensive part because Gary Neville had a tight hamstring during the week and Ronny Johnsen was feeling his groin a little.
'My main concern was making sure I wasn't left short so I had to put in Phil Neville and Wes Brown as my two defensive covers (on the bench). I then had to look at the midfield where Nicky Butt covers me in all departments, which left room for one striker and I felt that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would be the freshest.'
Yorke said: 'I was disappointed to be left out of the team but I fully understand the position, bearing in mind how well the other three strikers are playing.
'The manager told me as soon as I arrived at Old Trafford that I was not playing and, as it was a morning kick-off, I decided that it was better to spend the day relaxing at home.
'I'm training hard and staying focused and hopefully I'll be in contention for Tuesday's game against PSV Eindhoven.'
TTFF ask for Stern
By MARK POUCHET
STERN JOHN may not be in the best form of his life. But the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) will be hoping that he can make the trip to Mexico for the senior squad's penultimate 2002 World Cup Football Confederation semifinal round qualifying match on October 8.
With Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke expressing his intention to sit out the final two games of the round, the local football federation is holding discussions with Nottingham Forest .
John’s team have got off to a bad start in the First Division and have lost their last two matches, their latest loss coming against Fulham last weekend. David Platt’s side is currently in 11th place in the 24-team league.
T&T are already qualified for next year’s final round so that Platt may understandably be reluctant to allow the former Columbus Crew player to return.
Skipper Russell Latapy was once rumoured to be unavailable for the October 8 engagement as well. But T&T team administrator Neville Chance yesterday confirmed that Latapy will be in the line-up for the Mexico encounter. He also revealed that Yorke will “definitely not be playing” since the Manchester United striker and the TTFF had arrived at a “mutual arrangement” concerning his absence from the Mexico and Panama games.
Chance revealed that the TTFF had not made a request for Yorke’s services this time around because coach Ian Porterfield had expressed a willingness to allow some of his foreign-based players to sit out the Mexico and Panama games had they won the match against Canada. T&T won that game 4-0.
Yorke, struggling to regain his place on Sir Alex Ferguson’s starting XI, recently publicly cited international commitments as one of the reasons why he was currently struggling at Manchester .
Coach Porterfield is unlikely to be too upset by Yorke’s decision to opt out of the matches. Porterfield, currently in Scotland to spend time with his family, had told the media after the victory over Canada that he planned to use the Mexico match to prepare the team for the next round of qualifying next year.
Lawrence impresses in Newcastle trial
TRINIDAD and Tobago defender Dennis Lawrence has impressed officials of English Premiership club, Newcastle United during a two-week trial.
Lawrence gave a solid performance for the Magpies’ Reserve XI in a 0-0 draw with the Scarborough on Wednesday in England.
It was the first trial match for the 25-year-old Defence Force player in which he created at least one opportunity and held his own in defence.
Newcastle manager Bobby Robson is reportedly keen to see how the lanky player will fare under the testing English conditions.
“He has an army background so he’s got good discipline and organisational qualities in his make-up,” said Robson after seeing Lawrence in action on Wednesday.
“He’s got good feet for a very tall boy and he hasn’t looked out of his depth in the match he’s had,” added Robson.
Lawrence got his big opportunity when he was recommended to Robson for a two-week trial at St James’s Park by Peter Miller, the Caribbean representative of Newcastle United.
Lawrence has impressed for Trinidad and Tobago during the semifinal phase of the Football Confederation 2002 World Cup qualifiers, holding the defence together.
The opposition is yet to score against Trinidad and Tobago as the Caribbean champions have gone undefeated in their four matches to date, scoring 13 goals to top their group and qualify for the final stage of the tournament with two matches still to play.
Thursday September 21st, 2000
TRINIDAD and Tobago's England-based professional Dwight Yorke is still not fully match fit. And that's the reason why the 28-year-old Manchester United striker has not been able to force his way into the team's starting lineup.
The revelation came from United boss Sir Alex Ferguson yesterday as he spoke in the wake of giving Yorke his first start in the Champions League on Tuesday. Yorke started in a 0-0 draw against Dynamo Kiev but was taken off after 68 minutes. Many persons had believed that Yorke was still being reprimanded by Ferguson for his tardy return to the club after T&T's 4-0 victory over Canada in the last 2002 World Cup qualifier.
However Ferguson may have finally cleared the air. "It was his (Yorke's) first real game this season. I felt that by playing him instead of Teddy Sheringham he might be better suited to the conditions in terms of the softness of the pitch and turning with the ball.
"He (Yorke) also has the ability to beat a man and in conditions like that, defenders don't like being attacked." Ferguson added: "But on the night it was proved that he probably needed another game to get a really top performance." Yorke has had to battle with an infected toe and a thigh injury in between his attempts to break into the United starting XI.
In related news, national defender Dennis Lawrence gave a solid performance in his first trial match at Newcastle United yesterday. Playing for the "Magpies" Reserve XI, the 25-year-old player played the entire match and created one scoring opportunity and held his own in defence in a 0-0 draw with Scarborough Reserves.
Newcastle boss Bobby Robson was meanwhile keen to see how well the Defence Force player would fare under the English conditions."He has an Army background, so he's got good discipline and organisational qualities in his make-up," Robson said after seeing Lawrence in action.
"He's got good feet for a very tall boy and he hasn't looked out of his depth in the match we've had today." Robson became aware of Lawrence - currently on a two-week trial at St James Park - through a recommendation from Newcastle's Caribbean representative Peter Miller, who is based here in Trinidad.
Wednesday September 20th, 2000
By GARTH WATTLEY
THE club versus country tightrope Dwight Yorke has had to walk so far this year has taken its toll.And the Manchester United striker feels his starting place at his English Premier League club has been jeopardised by his national team commitments.
“The international situation has cost me, that’s obvious,” Yorke told the English press last week. “It is a major factor in my current circumstances.”
Yorke, United’s £12.6 million signing back in 1998, has played in all four of T&T’s Football Confederation Group C World Cup semifinal round matches so far. And his three goals have helped the national team achieve early qualification for next year’s final round qualifiers.
But Yorke, United’s top scorer over the last two years, but still without a goal in the new Premiership season, has been less active and effective for his Manchester club. He has started in just one match for the English champions so far.
On Saturday, Yorke again came off the substitute’s bench and played in the second half of Manchester’s 3-1 away win at Everton.
In the meantime, Andy Cole and Teddy Sheringham have established themselves as manager Sir Alex Ferguson’s first choice strike pair.
“Barring injuries, the strikers pick themselves at the moment through their form,” said Ferguson.
“Teddy has a real tingle about him, he has been really flying. In pre-season he was probably the best of the strikers in the build-up work. He has now been getting goals.”
But Yorke’s position has not been helped by his late arrival back in England after the last match against Canada. Yorke, who had sustained a hamstring injury in that encounter, arrived a day late and earned his manager’s wrath.
“Yes, I celebrated with my teammates,” Yorke admitted.
“But that’s the way it is in Trinidad, particularly after our success in the World Cup qualifiers. The time difference meant it was too late to ring the manager and by the next day I was on the plane home anyway, so I could be at the training ground for treatment.”
Yorke admitted further: “The manager was not happy with me and told me so. It is fair to say he put his point across very clearly but I did defend myself.”
Yorke has already publicly indicated his intention to miss T&T’s remaining Group C return leg games against Mexico and Panama.
His club struggle has left him a frustrated man
“My record speaks for itself,” he said, “but I know I have to fight for my place. I have to get my head down and stay focused. I have to be patient, there is nothing else I can do.”
Yorke may get an opportunity to stake his claim for a return to the first team when United play at Ukranian team Dynamo Kiev today in second round UEFA Champions League action.
Latas coming for Mexico
TRINIDAD and Tobago skipper Russell Latapy will return to lead his teammates against Mexico in their next 2002 World Cup qualifier on October 8.
The 32-year-old Hibernian midfielder yesterday confirmed his availability for the fifth round Group C game, which will be played in Mexico City, to the T&T technical staff.
There had initially been fears that Latapy's club boss, Alex McLeish, would not release the "Little Magician" for the game.
This because T&T has already qualified for next year's final round of the Football Confederation Zone's qualifying series. However, yesterday, T&T assistant team administrator Neil Mollineaux confirmed his return.
Latapy, who scored a goal in T&T's 4-0 win over Canada in the team's last game, will also be joined by his Hibs teammate Lyndon Andrews.
Mollineaux also confirmed that England-based Stern John (Nottingham Forest), Clayton Ince (Crewe Alexandra), Switzerland-based Jerren Nixon and United States-based Ansil Elcock (Columbus Crew) and Avery John (Boston Bulldogs) will return for the game.
However, there may be some problems acquiring the services of England-based winger Carlos Edwards, who campaigns with Wrexham.
Reports out of England yesterday revealed that Wrexham boss Bryan Flynn was unhappy that he could possibly lose the services of one of his newest signing.
"I've been in contact with Trinidad this week and I'm waiting on a reply," Flynn said. "I've been as tactful as I can be, so now we just have to wait for their decision."
Flynn also revealed that there is one unnamed Premiership club eyeing Edwards' compatriot Hector Sam, who has netted six goals for the Second Division club this season.
"We know clubs are interested in him and it's not surprising, is it? Hector's now got six goals in six League games - seven if you include the one he got at Bangor City," Flynn said.
In related news, national defender Dennis Lawrence went through his first day of training with the Newcastle United first team yesterday at St James Park. Lawrence is there on a two-week trial.
Sunday September 17th, 2000
Dwight Yorke is finding it tough coming to terms with discovering that
52 goals in two seasons carries no automatic guarantee of a Manchester
United starting place.
Laid-back Yorke, at £12.6million United's most expensive recruit, said: 'Right now I can understand how Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer felt when I was always in the side and they weren't. But I'm not here to understand. I'm here to play.'
Seven matches into the new season, Trinidad striker Yorke, 28, has played less than three hours of football, despite coming on for Ryan Giggs at half-time yesterday.
Since his arrival two seasons ago, Yorke has performed with no little swagger and delivered the expected returns as, statistically, United's most successful predator. His goals have mostly been produced with genuine, professional care. The other night his words were selected with the same skill.
He said: 'My record speaks for itself. That, though, is in the past. I've got to deal with the present. And now is the moment for me to fight for my place. I've got to get my head down and remain focused. I must stay patient.
'What can I say, what can I do? There is nothing else I can do. I have to concentrate on what is in front of me and nothing else.' World Cup commitments for Trinidad and Tobago in recent World Cup qualifiers tempted Yorke away from United and when he returned 24 hours late from one Transatlantic trip, there was talk of a conflict with manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
Yorke said: 'The international situation has cost me. That's obvious. Everyone can see that it has been a major factor.'
So, too, has the renaissance of former England forward Sheringham, whose partnership with Andy Cole in the four matches up to Wednesday's Champions League dismantling of Anderlecht produced 10 goals.
The on-field alliance of Yorke and Cole, a close friendship beyond the the pitch, also yielded the goals. Their total of 54 in 1998-9 was instrumental in United's historic Treble.
Cole said: 'People try to make out that Dwight has been a bad boy and all that stuff. In truth, he's had a few niggling injuries just lately. But he'll be back because he's a bouncy type of character. Remember, he had a testing time last season and came through it all right.
'Teddy and myself have been getting a few goals. We have been flying so far. It's difficult for the manager to leave players out when that happens. Dwight will understand even if it is a bit frustrating for him at the moment.'
Friday September 15th, 2000
By PETER BALROOP
RETIRED Director of Sport, outspoken Cecil Walker, is warning local soccer authorities to be careful of the standard of the teams they are going to invite to T&T for friendly matches to hone the skills of our national players as they prepare to climb the final hurdle to qualify for the 2002 World Cup in Japan—South Korea.
His fear is if the teams invited are too good they could inflict such severe beatings on T&T’s representatives that the fans who flock to the games and are in fact this country’s newly unfurled secret weapon could be turned off.
Walker who retired in 1993 and lives in Arima was responding to insistent calls directed to FIFA vice president Austin Jack Warner that we invite the world’s top teams like Brazil, France, Germany and Argentina here to play T&T so that coach Ian Porterfield’s charges will know what it is like to face the best soccer opposition in the world.
T&T will be vying with five other teams including the US, Mexico, Jamaica, Costa Rica and Honduras for three places the Concacaf region will get for the World Cup competition.
All five opponents have World Cup experience.
But according to Walker it would be far better to avoid inviting teams rated among the top ten in the world and ask teams instead rated “ten to 20’’ to come here in the hope that we can successfully match strides with them.
The fans, he believes, will also be encouraged to keep the high standard of faith they now have in this country’s players if T&T keeps up its enviable winning streak rather than suffer from the thrashings the top teams would most likely inflict.
“We have to remember that for these friendly games we will likely not have the services of the overseas-based professionals and our team will not be truly representative so it will not be wise to invite the top teams to come here,’’ Walker said.
He is also critical of the standard of cricket and soccer reporting in Trinidad and Tobago as well as the Caribbean. Hlike to see journalists afforded the opportunity to attend coaching courses in both sports so they would have a better understanding of the games, as happens in the United Kingdom.
According to Walker, even Tony Cozier, the doyen of Caribbean cricket writers who has been a fixture in the coverage of the fortunes of the West Indies Test team, is deficient in terms of his technical knowledge of cricket.
“I would tell Cozier that in front of his face,’’ Walker declared.
He is also eager to see the standard of physical education classes in the nation’s schools raised.
Think again, Mr Porterfield
By SEDLEY JOSEPH
T&T National football team added to their recent run of success in World Cup qualifier with a convincing 4-0 victory over a Canadian team who looked to have lost purpose.
On a very hot and humid afternoon, Stern John had the first chance for T&T and muffed it. Then, seemingly undecided as to whether he should shoot or pass, Stokely Mason kicked overbars from just outside the 18-metre box.
From this attacking start, one sensed that T&T were after an early goal. Canada seemed to be without a plan, lacking ideas as to how they would penetrate a continually improving T&T defence. Russell Latapy and the other T&T midfielders were having a field day, given a lot of room by the Canadian midfielders and it seemed only a matter of time before Canada conceded a goal or two.
After 28 minutes, it finally came. The ball was passed to skipper Russell Latapy unmarked just outside the box. When he let fly with his right foot, goalkeeper Onstad seemed to have the shot covered but it swerved wickedly past him and rattled into the net.
The Sunday afternoon heat and humidity was definitely taking its toll on all the players, but Latapy’s goal damaged the Canadians far, far more.
In the first game against T&T in Vancouver, which they lost 2-0 they had come out with a plan which saw them going down the sides of the field and trying to get crosses into their strikers, Corazzin and Peschisolido. They were not successful then because the two tall T&T defenders, Lawrence and Andrews, intercepted most of the crosses, but at least there was purpose. Not so at the Oval, where they seemed completely out of sorts and never posed any real danger to the T&T citadel.
When Carrington added the second goal for T&T after receiving a pass from skipper Latapy on the left and hitting a low shot home, Canada were clearly a beaten team. For the record, let me say that Onstad may have been distracted by a couple of red jerseys standing around the six-metre box and the replay leads me to believe that Yorke and possibly Dennis Lawrence were in offside positions. But the assistant referee did not see it that way and T&T were two goals up after 30 minutes.
It looked at that stage that a four-nil or five-nil victory was in the making but Canada started the second half in a somewhat more businesslike fashion and gave the impression—briefly—that they could still make a game of it.
But Stokeley Mason added the third in the 54th minute and Angus Eve put the icing on the cake close to the end of the game. One of the Canadian players Hastings seemed to have received a serious neck injury after a tackle from Marvin Andrews, who eventually received marching orders after a second yellow card which, I thought, was totally uncalled for.
So with qualification for the next and most important round already assured, Porterfield is now talking about “experimentation”. I think that would be a mistake. It is not going to be easy by any means to get by any of the teams that qualify for the final round and Porterfield would be well advised to think again.
Mexico, Costa Rica, USA, Honduras and Jamaica will all be fighting to win one of the three places available and consolidation, not experimentation, is what is called for in the coming weeks.
Lawrence heads for Newcastle
By IRVING WARD
TRINIDAD and Tobago defender Dennis Lawrence is heading for English Premiership club Newcastle United.
The tall Defence Force player is expected to leave these shores Sunday night for a two-week trial at the club where his compatriot, goal-keeper Shaka Hislop, formerly played. Confirming this yesterday was Peter Miller, Newcastle's representative for the Concacaf region, who is based here in Trinidad.
Lawrence, who has been impressive in the T&T defence during the team's current 2002 World Cup qualifying campaign, had also caught the eye of English clubs Sheffield United, Wrexham, Bournemouth and Scottish club Hibernian.
But Miller explained they believed Newcastle would offer the player a more lucrative deal if his trial were to be successful. He added that Lawrence would have left for England earlier were it not for a request from the national technical staff.
All players being offered trials by foreign clubs were asked not to accept until after T&T had booked its place in the final round of the 2002 World Cup qualifying series.
Lawrence follows national teammate Stokely Mason to England.
Mason is currently on a two-week trial at English Second Division
club Luton Town. He scored his first goal of the 2002 World Cup campaign
in T&T's 4-0 victory over Canada September 3.
Thursday September 14th, 2000
HE'S done wonders in his two seasons at Manchester United, so when he helps his country to four straight victories and a spot into the last round of qualifying for the 2002 Japan/Korea World Cup, he deserves the chance to celebrate with his countrymen.
That was the view of English journalist, Jim Holden, and fans in England on Dwight Yorke following his recent episode with United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, for arriving back to Old Trafford a day late. Writing in the Daily Express last Friday, under the headline "Yorke earned his calypso night out" Holden stated
"Naturally enough, Yorke joined the party (after the 4-0 win.) "Some said the 24-hour delay to celebrate his nation's greatest soccer triumph betrayed a lack of professionalism. Perhaps it did. Fergie and other football managers with stay-away stars seem duty-bound to think so.
"I can't agree. What it really betrayed was the Caribbean origin
of Yorke's languid, world-class talent. "If you buy a calypso footballer,
you must expect him to sing a little calypso, too."Yorke was reportedly
fined 30,000 pounds but later said he will miss T&T's next two qualifying
matches in the semi-final round against Mexico (October 8) and Panama (November
to concentrate on his United place.
Today Yorke will hoping to get into United's starting line-up in their opening European Champions' League match against Anderlecht at Old Trafford.
Hibs boss: Latapy has been great
Hibernian manager Alex McLeish may have been upset with Russell
Latapy's late return to Scotland last Tuesday following this
country's 4-0 victory over Canada. But at the end of the day, the manager admitted Latapy is such an important member of his side, that the "Little Magician" would find little difficulty in making the team once fit.
He commented on Latapy's double goal scoring performance after coming off the bench against Falkirk on Wednesday."He can play all right. When we have the ball he is dangerous, he takes the ball in tight areas and I prefer to see him in the last third of the field where he can do a lot of damage.
"There's no problem in terms of the football side of things. Russell has been a great player for the club, the fans love him, the other players love him and the coaching staff love him," said McLeish.
The Hibernian Internet website currently has a voting poll running on what decision should be taken against Latapy for his late arrival. Among the options are: Nothing; small fine; suspension; make him captain; sell him or you can't punish God. Latapy couldn't help Hibs from going down 0-3 to Celtic on Saturday.
Marcelle's comeback trail
Former Trinidad and Tobago midfielder, Clint Marcelle, made huge strides in getting his professional career back on track with some impressive performances while on trial with English Third Division side, Hulls City, over the last week.
The former Mucurapo Senior Comprehensive player gave a good showing against Notts City and was given a start by manager Brian Little in a 3-3 draw with Leyton Orient on Saturday.
"I'm really enjoying Hull. I've got a lot of respect for Brian Little - as a person and as a manager. He's got a great knowledge of football. I almost signed for him last season when he was at West Brom, but things didn't work out. When he asked me to join Hull, I had no doubts about coming," said the 32-year-old Marcelle.
Marcelle is available on a free transfer after being released by Barnsley. However, Little will have to agree on a suitable wage and is also said to be worried about the player attracting interest from other clubs with his current form. He has joined Jamaicans Ian Goodison and Theodore Whitmore at City.
Andrews nets in losing effort
Defender Marvin Andrews netted his first goal of the season for Scottish First Division club, Raith Rovers, in action on Saturday, but it was not enough to prevent them from losing 1-2 to Falkirk.
Andrews, back from international duty with T&T, fired home a 68th minute consolation after Raith played most of the action with 10 men following Ray McKinnon's sending off.
Andrews returned promptly to Scotland following T&T's 4-0 win over Canada last Sunday. However, he soon tasted defeat as Raith were hammered 4-0 by Celtic in League Cup action on Tuesday.
Raith officials do not have to worry about losing Andrews again next month following his suspension for the Mexico game on October 8.
Reading will be tough on Rougier
Reading manager Alan Pardew said the best was still to come from his team following their impressive 4-0 win over Brentford on Saturday.
He added the return of local player, Anthony Rougier, to his team's forward line will make them difficult opponents in the English Second Division, where they are currently fifth on the table.
Rougier has been out of action for the last two weeks after injuring his ankle in a League game. He is expected to be out for another three weeks or so and will be battling to be fit for T&T's match against Mexico on October 8.
Shaka getting there
Goalkeeper Shaka Hislop has pulled off a few breathless saves so far this season but word is that he has not yet gotten back to his best form.
The former Newcastle United 'keeper has played in every game for West Ham in the Premiership this season after recovering from a broken leg in February. His lack of movement between the uprights has left English reporters doubting his fitness.
However, Hislop has managed some great saves, as was the case when his side lost 2-4 to Chelsea two weeks ago. He had conceded eight goals in four matches, before Sunday's game against Tottenham Hotspur.
In the meantime, however, manager Harry Redknapp wants Hislop and his teammates to improve their cellar position on the standings.
Sam the man
Striker Hector Sam is the talk of Wrexham club at the moment following his four goals in the early stages of the English Second Division season. Sam netted his latest double in a 3-1 win over Oldham Athletic on Saturday and surely will be anxiously awaiting a call-up to national duty.
The former CL Financial San Juan Jabloteh player is on a three-year deal with Wrexham (16th on standings) along with local midfielder, Carlos Edwards, who also enjoyed a good game on Saturday, setting up the other goal for his team.
Edwards was a second half substitute in Wrexham's 0-3 defeat to Mansfield Town in Worthington Cup action on Wednesday, moments after returning to England following T&T's win over Canada.
Elcock's Crew struggles
Ansil Elcock's Columbus Crew has not been enjoying the best of American Major League seasons. Despite scoring for them in the 59th minute, Elcock could do nothing to prevent his club from going down 1-3 to Chicago Fire last week.
They then fell 2-3 to the same team on Saturday, hence failing
to make the MLS playoffs. Elcock's first goal of the season last week stopped
a streak of eight unanswered goals by opponents in the previous 186 minutes.Crew
is last on the Central Division standings with 38 points, 19 less than
leaders, Chicago Fire.
Elcock will now look to concentrate on doing his best in T&T's
defence in upcoming World Cup qualifying matches against Mexico next month
and Panama in November. Meanwhile, former Joe Public midfielder, Travis
Mulraine, was a
57th-minute replacement for San Jose Earthquakes. Mulraine helped set up his team's only goal in the 59th minute but they ended 2-1 losers to Dallas Burn.
Tuesday September 12th, 2000
By IRVING WARD
ENGLAND-based professional Dwight Yorke will get an early Christmas gift this year.
The 28-year-old Manchester United striker, upon request, will be released from further duty with the national team so he can concentrate on his club career.
Yorke was quoted in England on the weekend saying he would ask Trinidad and Tobago's coach Ian Porterfield to leave him out of the final two World Cup semifinal matches against Mexico (October 8) and Panama (November 15) respectively. Yesterday, Porterfield confirmed, while he had not yet received official word from either United or Yorke, he would be obliged to meet the request.
In fact, the Scotland-born coach explained that this was part of an incentive deal he had offered his top foreign-based players prior to the team's last game against Canada on September 3.
"The two games are still very important to us because we must keep progressing as a team," Porterfield said. "But I did emphasise to various players prior to the game against Canada that if we got a good result and they wanted to miss out after... that was fine."
T&T subsequently beat the Canadians 4-0 to clinch one of two spots from Group "C" in the next phase of the series. Mexico took the other spot from the group and will be bidding for one of three spots in Korea/ Japan in 2002 during next year's final phase.
The 54-year-old Porterfield said that the team's early qualification now afforded him the luxury of meeting such demands from Yorke. Yorke's request came in the wake of his late return to United last week following T&T's success against Canada.
The former Aston Villa star was one of several T&T players who decided to stay back to celebrate instead of immediately returning to England after the game.
He returned to Old Trafford a day later than scheduled and was
subsequently reprimanded by United boss Sir Alex Ferguson who deducted
a week's pay (£30,000) from his salary. Needless to say, Yorke's
decision to pull out of the T&T team was a
definite move to get back on good terms with Ferguson.
Porterfield may also have a similar request from T&T skipper Russell Latapy and Lyndon Andrews as Hibernian boss Alex McLeish is also seeking to have them released from the Panama encounter. Apparently, all requests will be entertained.
"Every game of this series, we've had one or two players out and we've still done very well. So if one or two players rest, we will bring one or two new ones for these games.
"We basically know where we're going. We've (technical staff) met this morning, assessed everything and, in due course, we will name the squad we're taking to Mexico."
The Scotsman also revealed that he would be taking his team into Mexico the day before the match in order to counteract the problems they expect to have with the high altitude there. "This is an experiment for us because some people feel this is the best way to go, while some people say go two weeks before," he said.
"So we'll go to Mexico the day before. When we get there we can assess from the medical people and we'll see what's right and wrong.
"And, hopefully, we can learn because the game in Mexico in October is important, but the game when we play them next year is more important."
Soca Warriors get $2m Carib booster
By EVERARD GORDON
CARIB has showed that it is a company that is "part of the landscape and a partner in the aim for football dominance of the Concacaf region."
At a time when Trinidad and Tobago was split about the team and its new management and coach, Carib stepped in to sponsor the T&T effort to qualify for the World Cup in 2002, to the tune of $2 million.
In a media briefing, Colin Murray, Carib's public relations manager, took the opportunity to thank the team and especially, "the back room boys," the support management, who work so splendidly out of the limelight, for the job they have done.
Carib came on the scene when the team's fortunes were at a low ebb, after Jamaica had defeated T&T and the fans were split in their loyalty to the team and to the previous coach.
In addition to sponsoring the team's football needs, Carib has been the financiers of the ads which whip up support for the team. Remember the sea of red at the Queen's Park Oval and at the Stadium for the home matches.
A charter has been arranged for the match in Mexico. It leaves
at 7am on October 7 and returns at 4 pm the following day. The fare (US
$800.) includes a ticket to the match, transport and a night at the Radisson
Sunday September 10th, 2000
By IRVING WARD
TRINIDAD and Tobago striker Hector Sam stole the show in Britain yesterday.
On a day when some of his compatriots produced indifferent performances for their teams, Sam notched a double to lead Wrexham to victory in the English Second Division.
Sam started and ended the scoring as Wrexham earned a 3-1 win over Oldham Athletic, only their second win of the season.
The nippy marksman found the net after just nine minutes. Collecting a pinpoint accurate pass from teammate Darren Ferguson—the son of Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson—Sam turned on defender Shaun Garnett before beating Oldham keeper Gary Kelly.
And after Oldham’s Canadian international Carlo Corazzin made the score 2-1, Sam sealed the issue for his Welsh club in the 89th minute.
Sam hit powerfully to goal only to see Kelly get a hand to it. But the ball hit Wrexham substitute Andy Morrell on its way out of the goal. And as Kelly tried to recover, Sam ran in, took the ball around him and slotted it into a gaping goal to the delight of his teammates.
Sam has now scored four goals this season.
Earlier, Sam’s compatriot Carlos Edwards had also seen Oldham keeper Kelly—the Man of the Match for his team—just keep out two of his shots with brilliant saves.
Edwards, who returned to the club during the week following international duty with T&T, also received a yellow card in the 75th minute. But Sam was not the only Trinidad and Tobago player to find the net yesterday.
Scotland-based defender Marvin Andrews scored his first goal of the season for First Division outfit Raith Rovers.
However, the goal, a 69th minute header, came in a 2-1 loss to Falkirk.
The news was better for Dwight Yorke, Ian Cox, Anthony Rougier and Ronnie Maugé, though.
Yorke's Manchester United stopped Sunderland 3-0 to regain the lead in the English Premiership on goal differential over Leicester.
However, the 28-year-old striker did not play as a result of a hamstring injury he picked up while in action for T&T last weekend in their 2002 World Cup semifinal 4-0 triumph over Canada.
Yorke left the field five minutes into the second half during the match after feeling some tightness in his hamstring. However, he returned to Old Trafford still complaining of soreness and was not risked by Ferguson yesterday.
Cox’s Burnley meanwhile edged out Crystal Palace 1-0 in the First Division.
Rougier's Reading shut out Brentford 4-0 in the Second Division but the former T&T skipper is still recovering from an ankle injury.
Maugé's Bristol Rovers managed to hold Notts County to a 1-1 draw in the Second Division as well.
But there was bad news for T&T skipper Russell Latapy and striker Stern John.
Latapy, who pulled off some heroics for Hibernian in a 2-1 victroy over Falkirk in the CIS Cup in mid-week, could do little as his club was downed 3-0 by Celtic in the Premier Division.
The result cost Hibs their lead in the 12-team Premier Division, now held by Celtic.
John’s Nottingham Forest were also overwhelmed by Blackburn Rovers 3-0. But John, who had scored his first goal of the season in mid-week, was taken off early in the second half.
Saturday September 9th, 2000
By Shaun Fuentes
MANCHESTER United striker Dwight Yorke could be fined a week's wage amounting to TT$300,000 for arriving late at his club after representing Trinidad and Tobago in a World Cup qualifier on Sunday.
Yorke reportedly arrived at United on Tuesday after T&T hammered Canada 4-0 at the Queen's Park Oval. Together with Russell Latapy, Yorke was originally scheduled to leave T&T shortly after the game but did not.
Hibernian manager Alex McLeish also had some stern comments to make about Latapy's late arrival, but the "Little Magician" responded by scoring two goals in the club's 2-1 victory over Falkirk on Wednesday in the Scottish Premier League. Latapy only told reporters in Scotland: "I've been canned in the newspapers all day."
While McLeish added: "There are no problems on the football side of things. We had a wee problem with the return from Trinidad, but there are no grudges. Russell has been a great player for the club."
Another late arriver, Stern John, also found the net in the eight minute as Nottingham Forest fell 2-3 to Third Division side Darlington on Wednesday. Reports by the English Press Association on Thursday noted T&T officials backed the players, saying they all had utmost respect for their clubs.
It is understood that Yorke, Latapy, John, Carlos Edwards and Lyndon Andrews decided to remain in T&T at the last moment on Sunday night. Jerren Nixon and Marvin Andrews were the only players to depart for England on Sunday.
Manger Neville Chance stood firmly behind his players saying: "We were aware of this after the fact. But I don't want to pursue it. There may have been an incident, but we don't really know what has happened.
"What I prefer to talk about is the bigger picture and all the players who play professional football in England and Scotland love their individual clubs. We know there's no doubt about that.
"They earn their living there and they fully respect their clubs. When they come back to Trinidad and Tobago and are interviewed, they are always expressing their great joy and love for their clubs.
"So Dwight Yorke, Russell Latapy and the other players all feel comfortable at their clubs." The former 1989 Strike Squad official also said there should be no club versus country rows to affect T&T during the remainder of the 2002 World Cup qualifying campaign.
"CONCACAF is not the only region playing qualifying games and England is going to have qualifying matches as well over the next year," he said. "And what is happening is FIFA is trying to synchronise the matches so that when Dwight Yorke is coming to play for Trinidad and Tobago, David Beckham will be playing for England.
"We have a very good relationship with the clubs and as far as we're aware there's no conflict. "We appreciate their concerns, but the clubs must understand we are trying to build football in this region. Football is a global phenomenon and it's not just about one region or area. We're confident we can continue to work together for the benefit of everyone," added Chance.
English journalist Ken Lawrence, said Yorke was likely to lose a week's wage for his late arrival, and may be ruled out of today's game against Sunderland. However, Ferguson, always anxious to give his strikers a rest period, is not expected to put results at risk with a hasty disciplinary decision.
"But Ferguson has always seen Yorke as someone special, as bright as he is bright-eyed, despite his off-duty adventures," said Lawrence.
By IRVING WARD
TRINIDAD and Tobago skipper Russell Latapy may be forced to sit out the team’s final 2002 World Cup semifinal qualifying game against Panama.
The 32-year-old Hibernian midfielder’s boss, Alex McLeish, is set to ask local football federation to withhold a request for his services, as well as those of teammate Lyndon Andrews, for the November 15 game.
The club’s website was yesterday reporting that McLeish was preparing to make the request because Hibs will have two important league clashes during the period in question.
“Trinidad and Tobago have already secured qualification from the first phase with two games to go so we will request that our players don’t have to go for the last match in November,” McLeish told reporters yesterday.
“We knew the situation we were in with someone like Russell Latapy and you have to accept that but there will be several other games later in the season which they (T&T) will want him for.”
The Latapy-led T&T side booked its place in the final round of the World Cup competition last Sunday after shutting out Canada 4-0 to take one of two automatic places from Group C.
The T&T skipper scored the opening goal himself in the victory. But he and Andrews got into trouble with McLeish after arriving back at the Edinburgh club a day later than originally scheduled.
The pair, along with Dwight Yorke and several other players, decided to stay on in the country to celebrate their qualification for the next phase despite being shuttled off to Piarco Airport by helicopter immediately after the match to get a connecting flight to England.
Yorke had £30,000, the equivalent of a week’s pay, deducted from his salary by Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson as a sanction for his indiscretion.
Latapy, meanwhile, went a long way towards atoning for his error of judgment with McLeish by scoring a double to help his side overcome Falkirk 2-1 in the CIS Cup on Wednesday.
McLeish has remained tight-lipped about the action he has taken against his T&T stars, saying only that he had dealt with the matter “internally”.
Friday September 8th, 2000
By IRVING WARD
MANCHESTER United striker Dwight Yorke will be hit hard in the pocket for his failure to report back to his club promptly following last Sunday’s 2002 World Cup semifinal round return leg success against Canada.
According to reports out of England accredited to Soccernet yesterday, the 28-year-old England-based striker is set to lose a week’s wages—£30,000 (TT$300,000)—as part of a sanction imposed by team boss Sir Alex Ferguson for his late return to the club following the weekend international which T&T won 4-0.
Yorke was one of six players, T&T skipper Russell Latapy among them, who decided to stay on in the country on Sunday evening after the game to celebrate the team’s early qualification for the final round of the Football Confederation Zone’s 2002 World Cup series.
Their decision came despite the fact that the players were rushed off to Piarco Airport by helicopter immediately after the end of the match to catch a flight back to England.
Also, Yorke, on his return to United a day after schedule on Monday, complained of a sore hamstring and had to miss the club’s 6-0 triumph over Bradford the next day.
The last straw came when the talented striker also arrived 25 minutes late for the Bradford clash, the first two of his team’s goals already having been scored.
Soccernet, a top football web site, also suggested that Yorke’s relationship with Ferguson may currently be strained as a result of this indiscretion.
Latapy and Hibernian teammate Lyndon Andrews meanwhile got off a little easier.
Hibs boss Alex McLeish eased up his T&T duo after they admitted that they had acted badly.
However, Latapy was left on the bench by McLeish for the start of Tuesday’s CIS Cup clash against Falkirk. But Latapy would have helped his cause considerably when he came on in the 66th minute and scored a double to lead his side to a 2-1 win.
An elated McLeish was quick to point out to reporters afterwards that the matter had been resolved.
“He’s been a great player for Hibernian apart from a couple of aberrations (late arrivals from international duty),” McLeish told reporters.
“The fans love Russell, he is a very popular player and the coaching staff love him, too. Both he and Lyndon Andrews owned up about being late and were honest and it has been dealt with internally.”
In related news, England-based striker Stern John scored his first goal of the season for First Division outfit Nottingham Forest in Worthington Cup action on Wednesday.
Unfortunately the goal, which John scored on a set-up from player/manager
David Platt after just nine minutes, came in a 2-1 losing effort to Third
Division club Darlington.
UK scout impressed with T&T skill, spirit
By Shaun Fuentes
TRINIDAD and Tobago's England-based scout John Stubbs was highly impressed with this country's performance in last Sunday's 4-0 victory over Canada at Queen's Park Oval, Port-of-Spain.
Stubbs, who left for England on Monday night, is expected to be part of arrangements which will see T&T attend a training camp as well as play warm-up games against clubs in England in December.
"It was good for me to see the team play on Sunday because I have been looking at the opposition and I decided that at some stage with all the reports and assessments done and knowing we were close to qualifying for the next stage that I should come and see the team play. Now when I'm assessing I can look at how we play in relation to the systems the opposition are playing.
"Two things struck me about this Trinidad side. I was very impressed with the high technical level of the players on a surface which in England will be seen as not a good footballing surface. Many of the English players would find it difficult to actually perform technically well on a surface like the one used on Sunday, but the T&T players were terrific on it.
"The other thing which left me impressed was the tremendous spirit among the players and the technical members in the camp. I think we all have the confidence to continue doing well into the next stage," said Stubbs, who is another official who feels that T&T must not step off the gas with still 10 important matches to play before qualifying for 2002 Japan/Korea.
Recommended by coach Ian Porterfield and hired by the T&T Football Federation, Stubbs has looked at T&T's opponents in past games, providing Porterfield with assessments and video footage of their performances, as well as supplying reports on local European-based players and others eligible of representing T&T.
He also worked as a scout with former England coach Glen Hoddle during that country's 1998 World Cup campaign and also has worked with clubs in England, including Arsenal and Leeds United.
Porterfield and TTFF president Oliver Camps have already indicated that though already advancing to the final qualifying round of six teams, starting next February, T&T must not take their two remaining games in this semifinal round against Mexico (October 8) and Panama (November 15) too lightly.
Wednesday September 6th, 2000
DWIGHT Yorke will switch his attention to Manchester United over the next few weeks where he will aim to regain a spot in the team's starting 11.
Yorke has not been able maintain a starting position in Alex Ferguson's side since the start of the season, but indicated recently that he wants to partner Andy Cole again and is keen to get on the scoresheet as United chase another Premiership title.
Cole is on a high having been recalled to the England side and the two will obviously be raring to return to the form which saw them as a dynamic duo previously. Yorke is nursing a toe infection but that didn't prevent him from starting for T&T in their 4-0 win over Canada on Sunday.
United fans in England were following Sunday's game, anxious to see if Yorke had played any part. One of the club's Internet websites carried live updates, and word is that supporters were relieved that he was not ruled out by injury following his failure to take the field against West Ham United last week.
Yorke was taken off by coach Ian Porterfield just after half time
on Sunday and was suspected to be carrying a left knee injury because of
a bandage being placed on it while on the bench. However, Porterfield later
said the player was fine and taken off because T&T were in a comfortable
position. Yorke would have also been taken off to avoid risk of a second
and sending off.
United take on Sunderland in the Premiership on Sunday and kick off their European Champions' League campaign against Anderlecht next Wednesday.
Latapy's Scottish fans back T&T
Fans of Russell Latapy's Hibernian side are hoping that the "Little Magician" can share some of the magic spells he has been casting for this country for the club, as they seek to stay among the leaders in the Premier League.
Several of the club supporters were celebrating Latapy's goal against Canada on Sunday and are backing T&T to go through to the 2002 Japan/Korea World Cup.
While concentrating on doing his best for the club, "Latas" will also be keeping an eye on local midfielder Lyndon Andrews who will also be trying to make an impact at the Easter Road club. Latapy recently commented on his playing in Scotland, saying he was enjoying it while also being tracked by English clubs Manchester City and Ipswich Town.
"This is a big question and I am happy you asked me. I watched Scotland beat England at Wembley and there is no choice but to say Scotland is moving in the right direction. In short, you played them off the park.
"Turning to domestic football, I have played in the First Division, which is hard and fair, and in the Premier League in which there are a lot of good teams."
Mauge eyes return Trinidad and Tobago
English-born midfielder Ronnie Mauge is hoping to make a return action next month . While paying tribute to the teenaged duo of Simon Bryant and Lewis Hogg who are currently filling his position at Bristol Rovers, Mauge has warned they will face a strong fight for the starting spot when he returns.
"Things are going OK and if I'm back in October I'll be happy. At the moment the physio is just having to rein me back a bit because I can get carried away. But I won't come back until I am 100 per cent and confident that I can play to the best of my ability," said Mauge who is in light training with Rovers following his broken leg injury in February.
"We've got a great youth system here at Rovers and there are five or six of the youngsters who could go straight into the team. "I think the gaffer was a bit reluctant to put Lewis in so soon, but he has responded magnificently as I always knew he would. I've never been one to shy away from a challenge and that is certainly what I face when I get back to fitness.
"I'll be looking to win my place back, but I know there is no guarantee I'll walk straight back in. The team is picked on merit. But a bit of competition for places is good for the club and means that we have got the strength in depth that we will need this season. After the disappointment at the end of last season and the departures over the summer we are all determined to prove everyone wrong and bounce back," said Mauge.
Rahim, Lewis in All Stars National
Midfielder Brent Rahim and Darin Lewis were named on the College Soccer Online Preseason All-America First Team last week. Their University of Connecticut teammate, Chris Gbandi, was also included, making UConn the only team to have three players selected.
Rahim, was in T&T up to recently and should have been in the national squad to face Panama had it not been for a calf injury. The former St Anthony's College midfielder was a NSCAA/Adidas Second Team All-American, a NCAA College-Cup All-Tournament Team member, was selected to the All-BIG EAST First Team and the NSCAA All-New England First Team as well as a finalist for the Hermann Trophy Award last season.
Lewis also enjoyed a good season last year being named on the NCAA College Cup All-Tournament Team and he finished as UConn's second leading scorer with 11 goals.
Hibs boss pleased with Andrews
Hibernian manager Alex McLeish, says he is pleased with the progress that local midfielder Lyndon "Chubby" Andrews has made since joining the Scottish Premier League club last month.
Andrews made his debut for Hibs in a 2-1 victory over Second Division side Stenhousemuir in the CIS Insurance Cup second round two Wednesdays ago. He played for 80 minutes while countryman Russell Latapy was rested.
"Lyndon showed some great touches and once he gets confidence and used to the Scottish game I am sure he will be a great asset to Hibs," McLeish said after the win, also warning the former Vibe CT 105 W Connection and Joe Public player, that he will have to continue working hard to earn a spot in the Hibs side for future matches.
Rougier out at wrong time
Just when Reading manager Alan Pardew was hoping Anthony Rougier would become an integral part of his team, the new three-year signing picked up an ankle injury which has put him out of action for a month.
Rougier suffered the injury in a 3-3 draw with Stoke City last week and was ruled out of this country's 4-0 win over Canada on Sunday. The former national captain is hoping he can make an earlier return than prescribed by doctors.
"It's a big blow for me as it's the first time I've ever been injured like this in my career. But I thought I had broken my leg at first but the x-ray shows there is no fracture so I will just rest and look forward to coming back," said Rougier, who also sat out a 1-0 win over his former club Port Vale on Sunday.
"It's no secret that I've been looking for a player who can play on the left-hand side of the team to give us a better balance. I see Tony as being something of a catalyst who can take people on, go past them and make things happen," Pardew said. He joins teammates Nicky Forster, Adie Williams and midfielder Keith Jones on the injured list.
West Ham boss backs Shaka
West Ham United manager, Harry Redknapp, is confident that goalkeeper Shaka Hislop and his teammates can sustain their current level of performance and will soon reap the rewards they deserve.
Hislop has played in all of West Ham's three Premiership games so far, in which they have obtained just one point which came in a 2-2 draw with Manchester United. But Redknapp isn't worried.
"If we play like we did in all three games, we will climb the table, and come the end of the season we won't be down at the bottom. It's not where you start, it's where you finish and we will finish up the table as we have done for the last three years," he said.
Redknapp is also backing Hislop to return to his best form following a broken leg which kept him out of action for almost six months. Reports have indicated that Hislop is not fully fit as yet because of a lack of movement between the uprights.
The former Newcastle United custodian will hope to join the national team within the next few weeks for their World Cup qualifiers against Mexico and Panama.
John blanks Bohemians
National defender Avery John is close to moving out of Irish First Division side Bohemians FC.
John spent the last few months on loan with American A-League side Boston Bulldogs but Bohemians were keen to get him back for the start of their season. However, John has not been in their line-ups and said his agent was looking at offers from Shelbourne as well as a couple teams from France.
St Patricks Athletic are another club interested in him. The former Presentation College, San Fernando captain was in the T&T side against Panama and Canada but did not see any action.
Hibs still keen on Ince
Scottish Premier League club Hibernian are still interested in signing local goalkeeper Clayton Ince. Club manager Alex McLeish said last week that he was looking to have the 'keeper as a back up to Nick Colgan. However, Ince's agent Mike Berry, in this country for T&T's 4-0 win over Canada, indicated that Ince would only go to a club where he would be the first choice 'keeper.
He is currently on the Crewe Alexandra transfer list at a 90,000
pounds transfer fee and is also wanted by Wrexham.
MEXICO, Costa Rica, Honduras, Jamaica, the United States and Trinidad and Tobago.
Although there are still two games to be played by each team in the Concacaf semifinals, it is from among these six countries that the three teams to represent the CONCACAF region in Korea/Japan in the 2002 World Cup Finals will come.
The six will complete their CONCACAF semifinal programme within four weeks and will start preparations for their next assignment, a period of intense action in early January.
The series of home and away matches will see each team playing ten matches over a nine-month period that is certain to test the commitment of the overseas based professional players.
Many of them will find themselves having to choose between their country and club, particularly those whose teams are having a good run. It will also be a testing period for coach Ian Porterfield.
The non-commital coach who survived a severe pounding from members of the football community here, including players, coaches, other officials and journalists, now finds himself being the "darling" within the fraternity.
He has taken control of a team which was chockful of talented players, but which sadly needed a defence, and did what was necessary.
Porterfield's greatest achievement must surely lie in the fact that no goals have been scored on T&T in the four games in the series.
Contrast this with the last friendly before the series when Jamaica scored four goals, and one would have to say that Porterfield knew exactly what he was doing. He did say, for example, that he was still in the experimental stages during that game and that one could expect a serious difference of approach when the tournament started.
One would have to say that T&T has grown from strength to strength during this series and I would hate to think that Porterfield will listen to the critics who have spoken about taking things easy and giving some of the younger players a "run" during the next two games.
For one thing, we need Yorke, Latapy and if possible Stern John on the team as much as possible.
Their presence helps the other players to lift their game. They provide the inspiration. Without them, the players are relegated to their own standards which will not do against Mexico.
There is also another school of thought. T&T will again be meeting Mexico in the next round of competition and we need to establish a psychological advantage. We've worked too hard to give that up. Mexico must know that whenever they meet T&T, they have a real match on their hands. By leaving out Yorke and Latapy, we would be giving away this advantage.
Yep, we've been improving and playing really good football. Our lads are cohesive. They seem to know exactly where each other is. We can only get better. But we need the inspiration from the heroes Yorke and Latapy. We must not give away that edge now!
Dwight will be fit for Sunderland
REPORTS out of England yesterday stated that Dwight Yorke was carrying a tight hamstring after T&T's 4-0 victory over Canada on Sunday. However, it is not thought to be serious and the Tobago-born player is expected to be fit to face Sunderland on the weekend.
Manager Sir Alex Ferguson did not include him in the United side against Bradford City yesterday because he had just arrived back at Old Trafford from T&T.
When Yorke, nursing a toe injury, left the field just after half -time on Sunday and had his left knee strapped, there were fears that he may have suffered another injury.
Meanwhile, Hibernian boss, Alex McLeish, yesterday was upset over Russell Latapy's and Lyndon Andrews' delayed arrival at the club following Sunday's game. The two were expected to return to Scotland on Sunday night but decided to stay in T&T for an extra day at the last moment.
McLeish said he was unable to contact either player for training on Monday ahead of yesterday's League Cup clash with Falkirk. "I think it's the duty of the countries to get them out on the first available flight and not necessarily just try to make it within the 48-hour deadline.
"If they can get home quicker they must do that because we have to see how they are. We're paying their wages. We can't have them wandering in a day later when they could have been here a day earlier and then say that they were tired."
Tuesday September 5th, 2000
By Shaun Fuentes
"IT doesn't get too much better than this, it doesn't get too much better than this." That popular chorus from David Rudder's calypso blasted from the DJ speakers at the Queen's Park Oval after Trinidad and Tobago's 4-0 trouncing of Canada on Sunday.
And it was still ringing in the minds of local fans and players yesterday which was made obvious by a decision by captain Russell Latapy, Dwight Yorke, Stern John, Lyndon Andrews and Carlos Edwards to miss their flight to England on Sunday night in order to be part of the victory celebrations.
According to Yorke's local representative Tim Nafziger, the players along with Jerron Nixon and Marvin Andrews were taken to the Piarco International Airport by helicopter.
But on arriving there, only Nixon and Andrews (M) boarded the flight. "Dwight and they are obviously very happy that we have qualified for the next stage with two games remaining in this round," said Nafziger.
The five players were scheduled to leave for England on a BWIA flight last night. In the midst of all the victory celebrations, local officials refuse to get carried away, adding T&T still has ten important matches in the next phase to get through before qualifying for the 2002 World Cup.
Already assured of a spot in the final round of six, along with Mexico who hammered Panama 7-1 on Sunday, T&T face the Mexicans at the Azteca Stadium on October 8 and Panama on November 15.
The draw for the final round is expected to take place in December with the home and away series starting in February.
"We are without a doubt very happy with the team's progress in the last few matches but we also have to realise that we are not into the World Cup as yet, and there is still a lot of work to be done before we get there," Football Federation president, Oliver Camps, said yesterday.
"What is most pleasing about the 4-0 win over Canada is the quality of football we played. I have not seen Trinidad and Tobago played as well as that probably since the 1974 campaign when we beat Mexico 4-0.
The way we played on Sunday was even more pleasing than getting the three points.
"In saying that we cannot afford to let our advantage slip. We have to start focusing on the next round from now and so I feel we should take the next two games in this round easily," added Camps.
Monday September 4th, 2000
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (CP) -- The Canadians were among the first
to leave the Queen's Park Oval on Sunday evening.
The 20,000-plus fans stayed to celebrate Trinidad and Tobago's 4-0 victory over Canada, a win that moved T&T into the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying and eliminated Canada.
The party had started much earlier in the day.
Two hours before game time, the cricket ground was a sea of red, rocking to the deafening sound of soca -- the harder-edged offshoot of calypso that is the music of choice here. At the bottom of the giant cricket scoreboard, a speaker bank that would have done Metallica proud boomed out the sound.
To the uninitiated, even with clouds shielding the sun overhead, just sitting in the 30-degree-plus heat was a sweat-inducing workout. A thong would have been overdressing.
The grey practice T-shirts of the Canadians were drenched with sweat by the time they finished their pre-game warmup.
While there was the occasional cooling breeze before the 4 p.m. start, the clouds soon faded away and the game kicked off under bright sunshine.
There is little relief to the heat on an island located just 15 kilometres off the coast of Venezuela where caterpillars look like colourful candy chews and the locals beat the heat by wearing suit-jacs, a combination shirt-jacket.
Canadian coach Holger Osieck opted for the more traditional slacks and short-sleeved shirt.
Prior to the game, the master of ceremonies turned up the heat by using the PA system to work the crowd like a DJ at a club.
A particular favourite was the national team's theme song: C'mon T&T, Show Them What You've Got. Another hard-rocking song, Latapy Superstar, to the tune of Jesus Christ Superstar was a tribute to star midfielder Russell (Little Magician) Latapy.
A giant T&T flag, red with a black diagonal stripe with white trim, covered the stand behind one goal.
Behind one end of the circular ground, the lush Northern Range mountains loomed. At the other, stood giant cranes used to offload cargo in the harbour.
With the West Indies cricket team struggling in the current Test series
in England, all eyes in T&T were on the high-rolling Soca
Sold Out! was the banner front-page headline in Sunday's tabloid Express while the Guardian reported Football Fever Grips T&T.
The stadium opened four hours before the 4 p.m. kickoff. Pre-game festivities included a team of youngsters showing off their ball skills and a gang of dancers waving flags and showing off rock-hard abs.
O Canada was performed by a steel drum band.
Trinidad and Tobago usually play at the National Stadium, a more conventional football setting. But the facility is being renovated so Sunday's game was shifted to the Oval, ringed by five two-tier and two three-tier stands.
By MARK POUCHET
Coach Ian Porterfield was a proud man yesterday.
After the T&T squad whipped Canada 4-0 in their return leg game at the Queen’s Park Oval for their fourth consecutive victory, Porterfield was also certain that local fans would be pleased with the team’s performance.
“It must be great to be a Trinidadian and Tobagonian tonight (last night). I would say at this stage, let’s enjoy the occasion ‘cause I think it is wonderful for everyone,” the T&T coach said.
The win gave the local team 12 points, and ensured them a place in the six-team final qualifying round next year.
Porterfield added that despite his side’s comfortable position before the match, they did not change their approach to Canada.
“We approach all our games the same way. I thought our performance in Canada was excellent, very professional, very thorough...today was marvellous, it was a different game altogether, we scored a great goal, got another, so I am very pleased the way things have worked out for all the boys,” Porterfield said.
The Scotsman was also pleased with the work done by his main striker Dwight Yorke, suffering from a toe problem, before his substitution five minutes into the second half. But he said the decision to replace the Manchester United attacker was merely precautionary.
“To be honest, he didn’t really train much this week, he’s got a problem with his toe and if we needed Dwight on the pitch he would have stayed on.”
With two games remaining against Mexico and Panama, Porterfield will opt to experiment a bit with his squad.
“In the next two games, it gives us an opportunity to maybe look at our younger players like Carlos Edwards, Lyndon ‘Chubby’ Andrews...I would say we are going to take both games serious but we can now experiment.”
Canadian coach Holger Olsieck explained his team failure on a lack of intensity.
“We played this match as if it were a friendly and not a qualifying match.”
When asked about his future with the team, Olsieck was not too optimistic.
“I don’t wanna kill myself today,” he stated.
Olseck’s mood was not reflected in that of the T&T fans. While they celebrated, though, Russell Latapy, Dwight Yorke, Lyndon Andrews and Carlos Edwards were whisked off to the airport.
By Shaun Fuentes
TRINIDAD and Tobago's coach Ian Porterfield was high in praise of all his players and technical officials following yesterday's 4-0 win over Canada and appealed to local fans to "sit back and smell the flowers."
The win sent T&T through to the final qualifying stage on the road to 2002 Japan/Korea, along with Mexico, who overcame Panama 7-0 yesterday.
Still with two games remaining in this round against Mexico (October 8) and Panama (November 15), but with little importance for T&T, Porterfield said there will be no stepping of the gas.
He will however, use the games to allow the younger players some exposure. "I think the important factor now is really that everyone, players, officials, all the fans should smell the flowers and enjoy this occasion. We've qualified for the big phase. It must be great to be a Trinidadian and Tobagonian tonight.
"My sister is here and to me there is only one thing that's missing today and that is my two little girls not being here. But it's a great day for everyone," said Porterfield, who added that there were no major changes to the side yesterday from the one which defeated Canada 2-0 in July.
"I thought our performance in Canada was excellent. Today was a different occasion."
We"ll sit down and analyse things. We've looked at most players we've got. We've got people like Shaka Hislop, Ian Cox, Ronnie Mauge, Kevin Austin and we might be able to find a couple more over here. "We certainly don't want to the games saying it doesn't matter."
The former Zambia coach admitted he was a bit surprised with T&T's steady progress since he took up the job in March. "I think since the very beginning there has been steady improvement from this team and I don't think people has had the vision to see it.
"The one great quality that I've been so proud of is that the players have responded magnificently. It's not happened by luck or chance. It's been hard work, discipline, dedication to achieve what we've achieved so far.
"When I took the job my aim was to take the team to the World Cup. We know the job not's done. In all honesty, I'm so proud of all the guys and so pleased with the progress.
It's surprised me a little bit how well they've done but the first game I knew they were going to do it was when we played in Haiti. That was the first time I realised that we had a bit of steel, a bit of character and attitude. Since then it's got better and better," said Porterfield.
Canada coach Holger Osieck admitted his side never troubled T&T. "We had a bad game today and Trinidad were the better team. Canada's coach Holger Osieck admitted his team were never a threat to T&T during the 90 minutes.
"The first half our players were too far away from the opponents and they thought obviously it was a friendly match, not a qualification match," said Osieck.
As to his plans now with Canada out of the tournament, Osieck said he will concentrate on involving younger players in the team, adding: "I don't want to kill myself today."
The only sour note yesterday was the sending off of defender Marvin Andrews, an automatic suspension.
Captain Russell Latapy, Dwight Yorke, Lyndon Andrews, Ansil Elcock, Andrews (M), Jerren Nixon, Carlos Edwards were escorted by Police to the Piarco International Airport less than an hour after the game, to return to their respective clubs in the United Kingdom and United States.
The thousands of T&T supporters continued the celebrations last night in Port-of-Spain, basking in the warm afterglow of another fine day for local football.
Sunday September 3rd, 2000
By NEIL DAVIDSON -- The Canadian Press
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (CP) -- FIFA vice-president Jack Warner has an axe to grind with Canada. And the highest-ranking soccer official in North and Central America and the Caribbean can't wait to see Canada bite the dust Sunday against his native Trinidad and Tobago.
"I'll take extreme pleasure," the CONCACAF president told The Canadian Press on Saturday. "Not special (pleasure), special is too mild. "I wear the CONCACAF hat, but (Sunday) I won't."
In an astounding interview, Warner said:
--Canada, which won the CONCACAF championship Gold Cup in February, was not the best team at the tournament. "In fact, to me, if any team deserved not to win the Gold Cup, it's Canada. They came through (to the second round) on a toss of a coin (over South Korea). They came through through a match that they should have lost (against Trinidad and Tobago). And therefore I said this country's luck can't last for ever. And you, of course, have shown it hasn't."
--Canada has no chance of beating Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday in a World Cup qualifying game. "Nothing Canada has done since the Gold Cup has given me any cause for worry. ... I expect them to come with all their guns firing, but they only have blanks."
--While Canada, as Gold Cup champion, won the right to represent CONCACAF at the Confederations Cup next July, it isn't the best team in the region. "And therefore we will have to depend on the fact that we have another team -- (defending Confederations Cup champion) Mexico -- in the competition."
--Trinidad and Tobago is better "by far" than Canada.
"I don't know any other way," Warner said when asked about his unflattering comments. "My strength -- or weakness as you wish to look at it -- is in my candour."
Canadian coach Holger Osieck dismissed Warner's comments with a chuckle.
"That's no surprise. He was really annoyed after our victory at the Gold Cup," Osieck said.
"I think we spoiled all their plans and that he's still, let's say, suffering from that."
Whatever the reason, Warner wasted little time tearing a strip off Canada.
The first question of an interview -- about Sunday's World Cup qualifying game -- turned into a tirade against CTV Sportsnet for a suggestion during the July 16 broadcast of T&T's 2-0 win over Canada in Edmonton that his country's position in the FIFA world rankings was due to his high rank in FIFA. The Canadian telecast was shown in Trinidad and Tobago.
Former Canadian national team coach Bob Lenarduzzi was part of the CTV Sportsnet broadcast crew that incensed Warner.
"I've known Bob a long time and I expected better of him," Warner said.
The FIFA monthly rankings are determined by a complicated mathematical formula. T&T is currently ranked No. 29 while Canada is No. 56.
"The entire country was upset and they called me and said so," Warner said of the comments. "They asked me to write and complain and I said 'No, let us prove it on the field of play.' And to date, knock on wood, we have."
But Warner saw a bright side to the Gold Cup loss.
Warner said he had told the president of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation that their country had to lose the Gold Cup so they could clean house and get the national program on its feet.
Canada obliged, defeating T&T 1-0 in the tournament semifinal.
The next day, Trinidad and Tobago fired coach Bertille St. Clair, later choosing veteran international coach Ian Porterfield as his replacement.
"Had we won the Gold Cup, we would never have qualified for the World Cup," Warner said. "Because I had serious doubts about the competence of my country's coach, I had serious doubts about the quality of players who had been selected and I had serious doubts about the technique and tactics of the team.
"I said to myself 'God, help us to lose the Gold Cup.' And we did. A match (against Canada) which we should have won very easily, we lost. And I said 'Thank God.' For me this is a new beginning."
Warner, 56, is one of seven FIFA vice-presidents. He is also chairman of the Youth Competitions Committee, deputy chairman of the Finance Committee and a member of the Organizing Committee for World Cup 2002.
A former referee, Warner became president of CONCACAF in 1990. He is also president of the Caribbean Football Union, one of the three regions of CONCACAF.
In Warner's 1988 biography Upwards Through the Night, by Valentino Singh, then FIFA president Joao Havelange wrote in the foreword: "His knowledge of world football is unsurpassed and his uncanny ability to quickly solve potentially uncomfortable situations paints a picture of a witty and highly intelligent man. His charisma and love for life are all part of the package that makes him one of the best men to have on any team."
Warner's family also runs Joe Public, one of the leading club sides in Trinidad.
Watson pays for representing Canada
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (CP) -- Mark Watson is the veteran of the Canadian soccer team. He's also its hard man.
But the Vancouver defender, who turns 30 on Sept. 8, is also savvy about what he can get away with. He has never been sent off in 61 appearances for Canada, although he admits he was "a little bit wilder" in his earlier days.
Nowadays there's method to his madness.
"Intimidation can be very effective," he said Saturday on the eve of a crucial World Cup qualifier against Trinidad and Tobago (CTV Sportsnet Sunday, 4 p.m. EDT). "It depends on the characters you're playing against but a little whisper in someone's ear, for certain players, and that's them finished for the game.
"You can say little things -- not the nicest things -- sometimes that will put them off so badly they're finished."
Sometimes subtle isn't what's needed, however. At six foot and 180 pounds, Watson may not be a behemoth but he looks like a toned light-heavyweight boxer, with a slightly battered nose that adds to the touch-me-and-I-will-hurt-you aura.
"In any sport, you have to let players know what your limits are," he said.
Apparently that includes teammates.
In March 1999 in Germany at Canadian coach Holger Osieck's first national team camp, Watson took exception to a scything tackle from midfielder Davide Xausa. Watson responded with a shove to the chest that sent Xausa flying through the air. And there was definite mayhem on his mind as he advanced towards his fallen comrade, before teammates stepped in.
Watson's toughness was illustrated last season when he spilled a pot of boiling water on his foot -- and kept playing.
Off the pitch, Watson is like many enforcers -- engaging, articulate and thoughtful.
Watson is more than a hard man, however. He is also a very solid defender. Last season, Derby of the English Premier League scouted him, only to lose interest after he was sidelined by injury.
Canada's success at the Gold Cup in California in February also cost him. There was more interest from bigger English clubs in January, but the three weeks out of the country ended that.
So perhaps Watson is entitled to take his national team duties seriously. His commitment to Canada has cost him dearly, after all.
Most recently, Oxford United of the English Second Division balked at re-signing him because of the games he might miss while playing for Canada.
"I think in the end it was personal," he said of the breakdown in talks.
Initially, Oxford offered him a "very good" three-year deal and the club captaincy, but retreated when he said he wanted to keep playing for Canada.
"They said: 'Well, if that's your decision, then you're not going to sign here. If you sign this contract, you will not play for Canada every again.'
"And I said there's no way you can ask me to do that. And if you're
asking me to do that, then my answer is no and always will be."
The team did not want to pay for a player who would miss games because of his international responsibilities. Watson countered by saying he would only miss three club matches in the near future.
If Canada loses Sunday, and is eliminated from World Cup qualifying, that number could only be one. He admits his decision was a poor financial one, but "I couldn't have anyone tell me I couldn't play for my country."
All Canadians overseas pay a price when they leave their club team to play internationally, according to Watson.
"Say they win when you're away, more often than not they don't put you straight back in (the lineup) -- unless you're a superstar and we don't really have too many players considered superstars in the European leagues."
Now in soccer limbo, Watson has trained with Wolves and Oldham in England recently. He says he is close to joining another team, but doesn't want to say anything until the deal is concluded.
But look to Watson to return to the U.S., where his girlfriend lives.
His resume already includes a stint with the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer, Watford in England and a team in Sweden.
Watson says he hasn't thought about his international future should Canada lose Sunday. He says the Canadian squad is convinced it can beat Trinidad and Tobago and preserve its slim chances.
T&T hammered an early nail in Canada's coffin with a 2-0 victory in Edmonton on July 16. Dwight Yorke and Co. went on to win their next two matches (1-0 against Mexico and 6-0 against Panama) and lead Group C of the semifinal round of CONCACAF qualifying. Canada, in contrast, is 0-2-1 midway through the round.
Watson, who has seen all of Trinidad's games, isn't quite sure why.
"They haven't played well in any of those three games. They looked very shaky defensively and (yet) haven't given up a goal in three games.
"So I guess it's just their time right now. But we're hoping to change that Sunday."
Canada needs to win its three remaining games and hope Panama takes some points away from the other two countries to preserve any hope of advancing. Only the top two teams in the group move on the final round of qualifying.
Also Sunday, Mexico (2-1-0) hosts Panama (0-2-1). With the Mexicans the heavy favourites and expected to add to their points total, a Canadian tie or loss would end Watson's World Cup bid for a third time.
In 1993, Canada was a win away from qualifying, ending up losing on penalties in a two-game playoff with Australia. In 1997, Canada crashed and burned in the final round of qualifying, ending up in the basement with a 1-6-3 record after dominating a much weaker semifinal round group with a 5-0-1 record.
Canadian soccer team faces do-or-die match
By NEIL DAVIDSON -- The Canadian Press
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad -- Canada's World Cup soccer future could be decided Sunday on a cricket pitch located in the shadow of the lush Northern Range mountains.
The Queen's Park Oval is sold out and local soccer officials are telling fans without tickets not to come to the stadium for Sunday's match (CTV Sportsnet, 4 p.m. EDT).
Organizers expect a crowd of 20,000-plus -- it's hard to predict just how many because some upper stands are reserved for members of the Queen's Park cricket club -- decked in red and all hoping to see Trinidad and Tobago (3-0-0) book a ticket to the final round of World Cup qualifying in the CONCACAF region.
A tie would probably do it, but a win would make it official.
On the other end of the scale, Canada (0-2-1) needs a victory to stave off elimination. In fact, Canada needs to win its three remaining matches and hope Panama does it a favour by taking points away from Mexico or T&T. The top two teams in the four-coutry group advance to the final round of CONCACAF qualifying.
It's a tall order and Canadian coach Holger Osieck looked glum after a 90-minute practice in 33-degree heat Saturday. The practice was watched by acting Canadian High Commissioner Tom Bearss of Niagara Falls, Ont.
The host side, meanwhile, is riding high after outscoring its opposition 9-0 in three games. Coach Ian Porterfield can call on Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke and Nottingham Forest frontman Stern John, with Hibernian midfielder Russell (Litttle Magician) Latapy as the playmaker.
"Their strength definitely is their attack," Osieck said. "They have excellent strikers, and not only two but five at least.
"I wish I had two of those."
But he doesn't. Osieck has Paul Peschisolido, an out-of-favour forward at English First Division Fulham, and Carlo Corazzin, who plays for Oldham Athletic of the English Second Division. Canada is scoreless in four games.
Asked if he had any reason to expect the team's offence to be improved on Sunday, Osieck answered: "I hope so."
The Canadian players didn't look all that accurate in practice, startling workers behind the net as a series of balls flew high and wide. At one point, something broke as it blocked the path of another errant ball.
"I hope that wasn't glass," Osieck said.
Players gave the field a cautious OK, although it seemed to be covered with what appeared to be a kind of weed rather than grass and the middle -- the actual cricket pitch -- appeared higher than the rest of the field.
Trinidad and Tobago normally plays out of the National Stadium, but it is being renovated.
Osieck seemed tired of talk -- he tried to send his assistant coach over to satisfy a group of local reporters after practice before ambling over himself -- and refused to suger-coat his team's performance.
Asked if this Canadian team was good enough to reach the next round of qualifying, he replied: "In football, it's not a matter of being good enough or so. It's just to be there when it counts and everybody had equal chances. So had we. "Actually, I expected us to go through. And still do."
But there was a slight pause before he added the last phrase.
The Canadians know the 2-0 loss at home to T&T on July 16 in Edmonton was a killer. You can't afford to lose home games. The fact Canada appeared the better team that day means nothing; Trinidad and Tobago converted its chances, Canada didn't.
"We all knew after the game that we had really put ourselves in the hole," said veteran defender Mark Watson.
"We didn't play badly. We just couldn't finish. It was very, very frustrating,"
Defender Paul Fenwick said the Canadians have no one to blame but themselves for their precarious position.
"Obviously, a few other results haven't gone the way we might have hoped, but in saying that they never do, to be honest with us," he said."It's down to us now."
An early exit in World Cup qualifying would be a huge blow for the Canadian program, which has struggled to meet unreal expectations after its surprise Gold Cup win in February.
It also would make Canada something of a lame-duck participant in prestigious competitions such as next year's Confederations Cup and Copa America.
It would be two steps back after one giant step forward.
While Osieck has never been one to hide his feelings, his mood after practice seemed as resigned and dark as it has ever been since taking over the national side.
After calling practice to a halt, he walked off the field alone and sat on a hitch to a huge roller used to flatten the field. He had little to offer to an inquiring reporter.
"Let them play," he said. "The truth is definitely on the pitch and not off it."
And the writing appears on the wall.
Football fever strikes again
TRINIDAD and Tobago's football captain, Russell Latapy, yesterday declared that the local side will be out with guns blazing to defeat Canada in today's 2002 World Cup qualifying match.
The match - already sold out - kicks off at Queen's Park Oval, Port-of-Spain, from 4 pm. The game will be televised live on TTT and a wide screen will be constructed at the Car Park of the Cricket Wicket Pub for fans to view the game. There will be no reserve seating at the covered stands, except the CL Duprey Stand.
T&T, under coach Ian Porterfield, needs one point - just a drawn match - to secure a spot in the final qualifying round, which will have six teams involved next year. But Latapy said the aim was to get three points today, "which will push us to a maximum 12 points." That will send the team through as one of two teams from Group C to the final round.
From this, the top three will advance to the 2002 Japan/Korea World Cup Finals. Asked about the mood in the T&T camp, following a final training session at St Anthony's College Ground, Westmoorings, yesterday, Latapy said:
"Very confident. We won in Canada (2-0). I don't see any reason why we shouldn't win here. We want the support of the nation to continue as well, so we don't want any slip-ups."
He said a special bond among the players have made things better on the field.
A cultural programme, featuring top local artistes, will begin at 1 pm, an hour after gates open.
The National Anthems of Canada and T&T will be played by Redemption Soundsetters of Tobago, and Tobago Chief Secretary, Hochoy Charles, has accepted the Federation's invitation to view the game and will be the guest of Prime Minister Basdeo Panday.
Camps said yesterday he was confident of a good result today, but was also cautious. Camps and FIFA vice president Jack Warner issued releases yesterday thanking the public for their support for today's match. Sun or rain, there is expected to be a carnival-like atmosphere in Port-of-Spain today.
Show 'em what we got
TRINIDAD and Tobago will be going all out for their fourth straight victory in the 2002 World Cup qualifying semifinal round when they clash with Canada at Queen's Park Oval, Port-of-Spain, from 4 pm today.
Captain Russell Latapy will lead the local side whose attack will be spearheaded by top-rated Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke and Nottingham Forest's Stern John.
Local fans last got the chance to see this duo up front in a 3-1 win over Haiti earlier in the qualifying campaign and so all will be excited about them getting together again.
John was ruled out with a cartilage injury hours before T&T beat the Canadians 2-0 in July and will make his first appearance in national colours since then, missing the 1-0 and 6-0 wins over Mexico and Panama.
Following a final training session at St Anthony's College Ground, West Moorings, yesterday coach Ian Porterfield sounded confident of T&T's chances today against the team which narrowly beat them 1-0 in the semifinal encounter at the Concacaf Gold Cup in February.
He mentioned that complacency will not step into T&T's game. "We have worked very vary hard and obviously this is a game of great importance for everyone in Trinidad and Tobago. We know the importance of it and we know exactly what we've got to do.
"Hopefully we'll continue the success we've had in the six months. We are in a better position that them (Canada). They had a wonderful run over the last 18 months or two years and you still respect them. We've know about them. We know they are going to come and fight hard.
We don't expect anything else because that's what Canadian people are made of. They are strong and determined. We've got to match them in all departments. We'd love to win the game for all the people here," said Porterfield.
Latapy said there is a special bond among the T&T players which has made things better on the field. "It's a good bunch of boys and most of us have known each other for a very long time besides being team-mates ... we are quite close friends off the pitch." "We are very confident about it. We have two away games after this and mathematically anything is still possible.
We're playing at home. The whole of Trinidad going to be jumping up and waving for the team so we have to be ready. We want to get through to the next phase as fast as possible so we definitely going to go into the game and give everything like the last three games and then we take it from there.
We sitting in a very good position. We don't want to get our foot
of the gas now," said "Latas", who returns from a one-match suspension.
Missing from today's action through injury are England-based defender Anthony
Rougier and local striker Arnold Dwarika.
Avery John has been recalled in place of Rougier, while John (S) will take Dwarika's spot.
Switzerland-based forward Jerron Nixon is also in the team, but it is not definite whether he will start.
Midfielders Angus Eve, Reynold Carrington and Stokely Mason will hope to be in good form, with goalkeeper Clayton Ince hoping to keep a fourth consecutive clean sheet.
Raith Rovers defender Marvin Andrews and lanky Dennis Lawrence, dubbed the "Twin Towers", with the support of Shurland David and Ansil Elcock, will aim to hold off the Canadians who will depend on strikers Carlo Corrazin and Paul Peschisolido to get their goals, with Martin Nash, Paul Fenwick (Latapy's Hibernian team-mate) and Nick Dasovic giving support as they seek victory. Anything else will send them out of the competition.
Surely Latapy and company will want to avenge the Gold Cup defeat against the Canadians who also knocked T&T out of the Olympic qualifying tournament earlier this year with a 2-0 win here.There could be no better time than today for the "Soca Warriors" to show what they've really got.
Let's make sure tomorrow - Corneal
By Shaun Fuentes
FORMER national player and coach Alvin Corneal firmly believes Trinidad and Tobago's senior footballers have improved with each match in the 2002 World Cup semi-final qualifying round, but warns they should by no means underestimate Canada in tomorrow's match at Queen's Park Oval, Port-of-Spain.
Corneal was speaking after viewing the local side train at the Oval Tuesday.
He's happy with the results so far, but said there was obvious room for improvement, something national coach Ian Porterfield has agreed to as well.
"The team is obviously on the right track in terms of results.
We had a good game against Mexico in which there was improvement from the
one against Canada. "We were able to play the game to our own pace against
the Mexicans which is something uncustomary in our football," said Corneal.
"Now we cannot afford to just go into Sunday's match and take them (Canada) lightly because I was not confident after our first win over them when we won as a result of taking our chances rather than dominating. Panama didn't show up as they would have liked, but credit must go to our boys for their performance then.
"The hardest part of this stage begins on Sunday. If I am to judge from
history, Mexico will be a tough battle in Mexico and it seems to me that
Panama always play well at home. "We need at least one point against Canada,
mind you three would be
"We have to look at Canada closely because playing on the road is not difficult for them.
"They lost 2-0 away to Mexico and that was a good result for them. "I have no doubt that we will progress to the next stage but that is when the real contest begins. It's going to be a different ball game from then.
"The time of competition will also be crucial regarding the fitness level of our players and I make reference to Russell Latapy who, not only is he 32 but is a very small guy as well and there could be times when tough games will take a toll on him. "But things have gone well for us and we just need to take one game at a time."
Corneal left for Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday to serve as a
one of four FIFA instructors, responsible for submitting reports on matches
in the football leg of the Sydney Olympics.He was honoured as one of the
outstanding sportsmen of the 1900s by the Sport Ministry last Saturday.
Cox available for T&T but ...
By Shaun Fuentes
TRINIDAD and Tobago coach Ian Porterfield is likely to have the option of using England-born defender Ian Cox in this country's World Cup qualifiers.
While T&T has been running after the Burnley defender ever since he made his debut in a 1-0 loss to Morocco in January, it may now be a case where Cox has to wait his turn before wearing the T&T jersey in one of the qualifiers.
Porterfield has indicated he's happy with the progress of T&T's defence so far and has called only Nottingham Forest striker Stern John and Russell Latapy as the only two new overseas-based players following this country's 6-0 triumph over Panama. FIFA vice president Jack Warner said recently once Cox was fit and wanted by T&T he will be here for any of the qualifiers.
Cox put T&T on hold earlier this year when he moved to Burnley from Bournemouth and then suffered a wrist injury. He has started in all of Burnley's matches this season in the English First Division.
The club's game against Crewe Alexandra scheduled for next week has been cancelled because of the absence of players away on international duty.
Burnley management has listed Cox as a missing player as they were expecting him to be in the T&T side against Canada at the Queen's Park Oval, Port-of-Spain, tomorrow.
There was some good news coming out of England on Wednesday, with England-born midfielder Ronnie Mauge saying he should be able to make a return to the side next month.
Win vital to Canada's World Cup hopes
It's down to the wire for Canada's World Cup men's soccer team.
A loss or even a tie against Trinidad and Tobago tomorrow at Port of Spain means Canada will be relegated to the sidelines a full two years before the finals take place in Japan and South Korea.
But a victory - and that cannot be discounted - means Canada remains alive and kicking with two more matches to be played at home against Panama and Mexico in this semifinal round of qualifying.
The Canadian players and coach Holger Osieck know what's at stake, just as the islanders are aware that victory would propel them to next year's final six, from which three advance to the 32-nation finals in the Far East.
The Trinis lead the four-team Group C with nine points from three games with Mexico in second with six. Canada and Panama bring up the rear with a point each.
A tie is all the Trinis need to advance along with Mexico, which should collect maximum points from its next two games at Azteca.
While Osieck is quietly confident his team can rediscover the form that helped it land the Gold Cup tournament earlier this year, Ian Porterfield, the Scottish-born coach of the islanders, says he's determined to see his team complete the job at home.
``It would be great to win at home in front of our fans because our next two matches are on the road and will be very tough,'' said Porterfield.
Canada finds itself in this unfortunate position simply because of one bad result. That was the 2-0 defeat to the Trinis at Winnipeg. Canada dominated the game but was unable to take advantage of the many chances that came its way.
For Canada to achieve a victory now, means it will have to come out of its defensive shell and go for goals.
``Yes, we cannot hide in this game,'' said Osieck. ``We have to attack and get goals and, at the same time, close them down.''
Canada has conceded four goals in three games but has yet to score even one and this is of major concern to the coach.
The Trinis, on the other hand, are not as durable at the back but make up for that deficiency by scoring. They have a potent attack with Stern John, Russell Latapy and the ever-dangerous Dwight Yorke.
Yorke has scored three of the nine goals in this semifinal round and it's little wonder this striker is worth around $30 million on the transfer market. Last season, Yorke played a major part in Manchester United's amazing run in England and Europe.
But Yorke can be stopped from a sniff at the goal if his midfield supply line - from Latapy, who plays for Scotland's Hibernian, and Reading's Anthony Rougier - is cut.
Canada's defence of Paul Fenwick, Mark Watson, captain Jason de Vos and Tony Menezes have proved a tough foursome to beat in all of the matches this season but what the team desperately requires is some creativity in midfield, which has not been a factor the last few games.
With its midfield under relentless pressure recently, the result has been to reduce strikers Carlo Corazzin and Paul Peschisolido to mere onlookers.
And now, with Marc Bircham out with an injured thigh muscle, Jim Brennan, along with Jason Bent and the recalled Nick Dasovic, will be under pressure to grab control early.
Friday September 1st, 2000
Richard Braithwaite Named Head of FC Technical Administration
Richard Braithwaite has been named Director of Technical Adminstration for the Football Confederation, FC President Jack Warner today announced.
Braithwaite will be responsible for all matters pertinent to the Technical Administration at the Dr. Joao Havelange Centre of Excellence. He will based at the centre, located in Tunapuna, Trinidad.
Braithwaite brings to the position a wealth of experience from private industry, his most recent appointment as Manager of the Public Relations Department of the Petroleum Company of Trinidad & Tobago.
A native of Trinidad & Tobago, Braithwaite holds an MBA. The government of Trinidad & Tobago has generously agreed to pay his salary for the first year of his appointment, after which his salary will be the responsibility of the Confederation.
You can view a preview of the game via TSN.
Yorke proves his fitness
By IRVING WARD
If Canada believes they are going to have an easy time against Trinidad and Tobago’s England-based professional Dwight Yorke, they better think again!
The Manchester United striker is ready and raring to go against the visitors in Sunday’s 2002 WorldCup semi-final Group C return clash at the Queen’s Park Oval. Yorke, who flew into the country on Wednesday, came through his first two sessions with the team unscathed yesterday.
He showed no signs of discomfort from the toe infection which had kept him out of United’s Premiership match against West Ham last Saturday.
In fact, the former Strike Squad star was thirsty for action. That hunger prompted him to do extra work alongside skipper Russell Latapy after the rest of the team had wrapped things up at first session at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
After losing the services of Arnold Dwarika and England-based utility player Anthony Rougier to ankle injuries, Porterfield got discomforting news out of England indicating Yorke had had a troubled toe.
But yesterday, as his £12.6m marksman gave the thumbs up after the session, Porterfield breathed a sigh of relief.
Unfortunately, while members of the local media were invited to yesterday’s early session, they were only allowed to take photos and video footage of the team’s preparations. Interviews will be accommodated at their final session in preparation for the game on Saturday.
However, Porterfield had told the Express earlier that while his team was strongly favoured to advance to the final round of qualifying, they could not afford to take this game lightly.
“I think every game is different but Canada are a team that we respect,” he said. “We know their strengths and they know our strengths. But we know how we’ve got to this point and we need now to maintain that standard again when we play Canada.”
The 57-year-old coach added: “We also know that it’s a game that would be wonderful to win. This is really what we all want because it would be marvellous if we could achieve going into the last six right away.” The Canadians, struggling at the bottom of the Group C table with one point, arrive here today.
T&T — Clayton Ince, Ross Russell, Marvin Andrews, Ansil Elcock, Dennis Lawrence, Shurland David, Avery John, Reynold Carrington, Carlos Edwards, Stokely Mason, Dale Saunders, Lyndon Andrews, Angus Eve, Russell Latapy, Nigel Pierre, Jerren Nixon, Stern John, Dwight Yorke.
Coach: Canadians confidence low
Shurland David is tackled by Canadian captain Jason DeVos
By Shaun Fuentes
TRINIDAD and Tobago captain Russell Latapy and his team-mates will face a Canadian team that have spent the last week working on their morale as they seek victory to keep alive their 2002 World Cup qualification chances.
The 2000 Gold Cup champions, under German coach Holger Osieck, are expected in the country tonight and have made it no secret they will take all necessary measures to defeat the "Soca Warriors" in Sunday's game at Queen's Park Oval, Port-of-Spain.
However, Osieck is hoping his team can regain the confidence they had at the Gold Cup in time for Sunday's affair.
Anything less than a win, coupled with a victory for Mexico over Panama (who also meet on Sunday) will throw the Canadians out of contention. They have one point from three games including, 2-0 losses to T&T and Mexico and a draw with Panama.
"The morale of the team has not been at its best. I'm doing a lot of talking with the guys to get them away from all that negative stuff.
"We have to play our game. If we talk too much about scoring and results, that can lead to some tension inside and that's not that we should have there," Osieck said after a training session in Ontario, Canada, on Wednesday.
Goalkeeper Craig Forrest, recovering from a hernia operation, also spoke of his team's uncomfortable position saying, "It's very difficult for us now. We're almost out before we've even got started."
While Canada have had to work on their morale, that's a problem surely not affecting T&T at this time following their recent results.
National coach Ian Porterfield conducted two sessions yesterday with all players involved, including Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke and Latapy. Missing was Stern John.
Porterfield remained confident, but has warned his players to avoid being complacent: "We've got a lot of admiration and respect for Canada for the progress they've made in the past two years or so.
"But we know what we have to do on Sunday. The boys know it's
not going to be easy and we just have to approach the game in a positive
manner in our own backyard. The Scotland-born coach said he hoped John
can settle again following his
injury problems over the last few months.
"Stern has a very difficult time in the last three months or so but we've got a lot of belief in him. "Hopefully we'll be able to get the best out of him."