September News

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Thursday September 12th, 2001

Play ball

Team 2001 ready to 
counter Croatians


THE Trinidad and Tobago national under-17 footballers, dubbed “Team 2001”, begin their great adventure from 1 p.m. today when they face Croatia in the opening game of the 2001 Fifa Under-17 World Championship at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

And Team 2001 coach Rene Simoes is asking his young players to “suffer with self-control” as they prepare for an early onslaught from their European opponents.

“Of course, the other team has a bit more quality than us now,” said Simoes yesterday. “We have to suffer the pressure they are going to give us at the start of the game. And then try to surprise them at any moment of the game.”

Team 2001 had a light session at the Hasely Crawford Stadium from 8 a.m. yesterday instead of the scheduled 1 p.m. 

That, Simoes explained, would ensure that his players have at least 24 hours to recover from their exertions in the final practice.

Striker Nkosi Blackman, playmaker Devon Leacock and back-up custodian Jan-Michael Williams all participated in the session and have been declared fit after struggling with niggling injuries over the past few weeks.

But Simoes must await a decision from the team doctor, Anyl Gopeesingh, before knowing whether he can select lanky stopper Kenwyne Jones, who is recovering from a strained thigh muscle.

“Jones is recovered but not totally,” said Simoes. “We will make a decision tonight (last night). He is my best defender. I need him.”

The Croatians, according to Simoes, should start with a 3-5-2 formation and attack quickly, particularly down their right flank. 

At T&T’s session yesterday, he instructed his reserves to copy the Europeans as he worked on possible counters.

Simoes is particularly wary of Croatian number 10 midfielder Niko Kranjcar—pronounced Kran-jar—who he rates as their best player and has decided to close-mark the budding talent.

Kranjcar is already a first team player with famous Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb and is considered to be among Europe’s most talented teenagers.

Croatian coach Martin Novoselac stressed that his squad was a collective one which was not built around any individual.

Still, he could not help but wax lyrical about his team's leader.

“He is an extraordinary talent,” said Novoselac, who spoke through translator and team manager, Mladen Ivancic. “He should at least be the same as (national football legend Zvonimir) Boban or greater...He is definitely our strongest player.”

In contrast to their hosts, the Croatian team spent yesterday perusing at the Emperor Valley Zoo and relaxing at the Crowne Plaza hotel.

Novoselac explained that he wants his charges to remain fresh for today’s match and to be able to take the field with as little tension as possible.

He described their game against Team 2001 as “just another match in their young careers”, but admitted that the opening clash was crucial to their eventual finish.

“It is always important to win the first game,” said Novoselac. “Psychologically and to give you safeness in your remaining group matches.”

The Croatians claimed they were not allowed to prepare on the stadium surface by Fifa because of the rainy weather and were also a bit put off by the local heat and humidity.

But Simoes had no qualms about asking local fans to make things even hotter for his guests.

He repeated his request that supporters cheer for Team 2001 throughout the contest and jeer their opponents when they are on the ball.

“In football, if you dream to be in the world stage you have to behave like that,” said Simoes. “When they blow the whistle, boo the referee, boo the opponents. Before the game, treat them very nice and after the game. 

“Don’t throw anything on the field, don’t attack anybody, don’t show any discrimination. Boo them and clap your hands for your team. 

“It is a very civilised way to cheer for the team.”

He admitted, though, he was still uncertain about how his own team would react against Croatia due to their lack of competitive games.

“We never played any competition so we don’t know how they will behave in the competition,” he said. “The great players know how to deal with the adrenaline rush in the blood system without losing composure. The (team) psychologist has addressed that and I hope they learn by listening and experience.”

Team 2001 are only the second T&T squad to play in a Fifa championship after the “Soca Babes”, who qualified for the 1991 Portugal Under-20 World Cup.

The ’91 team, led by the precocious talents of Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke, who then represented Aston Villa, failed to win a match or score a goal in their three group games.

They fell 2-0 in their opening match to Australia and went on to 6-0 and 4-0 defeats against Egypt and Russia.

From 1 p.m. today, Team 2001 captain Roderick Anthony and his teammates will attempt to surpass them.

Live from Trinidad 
and Tobago 


“IT WILL be an exciting 30 minutes.”

So said Norvan Fullerton, artistic director of the Malick Folk Performing Company, who will produce and direct the half-hour segment at the opening ceremony of the Fifa Under-17 World Championship from 11.30 a.m. today at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain. 

Fullerton will first direct “Playing in Paradise”, then “Mr Beats saves the day” which, he said, will show the conflict between bad and good. Both theatrical plays were written by Belmont Boys Secondary principal Felix Edinborough.

Fullerton explained that the dramatisation will be a “colorful and active” display that would have the legendary guardian of the forest, Papa Bois, and his followers “show paradise in times of peace and tranquillity”.

However, Fullerton explained “this peace” is broken by Blue Devils and other evil characters and forces Papa Bois to turn to the gods for assistance.

That’s when Mr Beats, a hummingbird character that is the official mascot of the September 13-30 tournament, makes his grand entrance on the stage along with 100 miniature versions carrying silver footballs. 
The silver footballs are supposed to symbolise the light that, according to Fullerton, will “dissipate the darkness of the evil characters and make them powerless”.

The characters will be portrayed by a number of organisations.

Rosalind Gabriel, leader of this year’s Junior Carnival band of the year, and Edinborough’s Belmont Boys will have key roles in the theatrical drama, as well as pupils from the St Mary’s Home for Children and Sacred Heart Girls School.

The Kilamanjaro School of Arts and Dexter Stewart’s School of Dance will provide the Moko Jumbies, while the Paramin Blue Devils will play themselves.

There will also be performances from the Callaloo Tan Tans and Tan Tanettes, the Clico Shiv Shakti dancers and Carib Vikash School of Dance, together with Marsha Charles Dance Company. And Fullerton’s Malick Folk Performing Company will also play an instrumental part.

Music will be provided by the combined bands of the T&T Defence Force.

The official programme follows immediately after.

As a gesture in tribute to the Ministry of Education’s decision to allow some 5,050 students from schools in Port of Spain and environs time off to come and support Trinidad and Tobago’s Team 2001 in their match against Croatia, Fifa vice-president Jack Warner said Education Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar will now give the welcome adress at high noon.

Minister Persad-Bissessar will be followed by Minister of Sport Manohar Ramsaran, while Prime Minister Basdeo Panday will deliver the feature address.

However, Fifa president Sepp Blatter is no longer part of the programme. Because of the closure of American airports following Tuesday’s terrorist attack in the US, Blatter will not arrive in Trinidad in time.

Blatter’s predecessor, Joao Havelange, who was expected to fly in last night, will attend today’s ceremony. 

Before the T&T/Croatia match, which starts at 1 p.m., the National Anthem will be sung by Calypso Monarch Denyse Plummer and Witco Desperadoes will play the Croatian anthem.

Warner, who is also head of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), said yesterday that tickets for the covered stand have been “sold out”. He added, though, that “tickets for the grounds are still available, so if you come there early you will get”.

But fans can also see the opening ceremony and T&T vs Croatia match live on TTT from 11.30 a.m.

Proud hosts of a great event


WHAT can Trinidad and Tobago hope to achieve from the 2001 Fifa Under-17 World Championship?

That question was posed to several prominent people—past and present—in local footballas the host nation prepares for a 1 p.m. kick-off today in the tournament’s opening game against Croatia at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

Trinidad and Tobago are drawn with defending champions Brazil, runners-up Australia and Croatia in Group A, one of four groups for the September 13-30 championship.

Those interviewed yesterday gave the following responses:

JIMMY BLANC (T&T Football Federation 
talent scout and former national coach):

“First thing, I would hope that we can get into the second round. We are in a difficult group but, if we put our best foot forward, you never know because the result is in God’s hands. 
“Hopefully, we will go into the second round and see what happens from there. I think today’s game would be the most important. 
“Because if you win you are on the right road and if you lose your back is against the wall...
“We don’t want to ride on the back of the youngsters. We will hope that they are successful and the country can enjoy their success.”

KEN BUTCHER (former Trinidad and Tobago 
player, coach and radio sports commentator):

“I am hoping to see a good perfomance in the opening. If we can get a creditable performance in the opening, I think the entire nation will come out to support.
“If we can get past the first round, which will be very difficult, I think we will see an outpouring of love and national pride and that certainly could out the fires of viscidness that going on now. 
“They will come out and be united and it will do extremely well for the country... I think we can capitalise on the event and see so many more visitors coming to the country. 
“I think it could be a good springboard for sports tourism in the country.”

OLIVER CAMPS (T&T Football Federation 
president and former national manager):

“I would like to see that we are successful in running the tournament, that we have a successful tournament and I'd like to see my 2001 team advance to the second round and beyond. 
“But the main thing is that the people of Trinidad and Tobago can be proud of hosting the world’s greatest tournament.”

ALVIN CORNEAL (Fifa development officer 
and former national footballer and coach):

“I believe that the experience of playing against some more advanced countries will serve as a good lesson for our young players. 
Having seen them in their most recent warm-up matches, they did not leave the supporters with much hope of good results. 
“However, the opponents in the group will certainly demonstrate to our youngsters that the game is about proper organisation, intelligent play, and a level of fluid soccer that can act as a catalyst for the years ahead. 
“I would be more than satisfied if the team is able to string their passes together regularly and force the opponents to play hard to earn any victory they get. 
“I will continue to support the team regardless of the results.”

TERRY FENWICK (CLF Jabloteh coach and 
former England World Cup defender):

“It will be a great achivement if they can perfom very well. 
“I think that they are in an extremely hard group and it will be an achievement to give all the other teams in the group a run for their money.”

CLAYTON MORRIS (former “Strike Squad” captain 
and national youth team assistant coach):

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Every player’s dream is to play in a World Cup. And to be given the opportunity to play in a World Cup at just 16 or 17 years...words cannot describe it. 
“It’s a great start to their career.”

PETER O’CONNOR (former Trinidad and 
Tobago Football Association president):

“I hope that (in the end) they get some stadia which are economically feasible for sport to use. 
“I hope that we can begin to develop a little national spirit which we have never had and if we can do it, maybe we can build a national team in the future.”

Warner guarantees safety

FIFA vice-president Jack Warner gave assurances yesterday to a Fifa emergency committee meeting that there would be adequate security measures in place and the Under-17 World Championship could proceed as scheduled from today.

Following the devastating terrorist attacks in the United States on Tuesday, the Fifa emergency committee meeting, which included Warner, president Sepp Blatter and UEFA president Lennart Johansson, there were safety concerns expressed, with some members calling for the postponement of the tournament.

However, Warner, also chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), said he got in contact with the Minister of National Security, Prime Minister Basdeo Panday, relaying to him the concerns of the committee.

Panday replied to Warner via a letter assuring him that “special security measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of all visiting delegations, officials, visitors and the general public” attending the Fifa U-17 World Championship.

That, according to Warner, convinced Fifa to hold their hand and let the event go ahead, making it “the only world tournament taking place in the world today,” he said.

State-of-the-art equipment

THERE will also be extra security on hand for Prisma, the host broadcaster for the event.

Keith Thomas, executive director of Prisma, said his company brought some US$8 million in television and electronic equipment to Trinidad and Tobago.

The state-of-the-art technology, Thomas explained, will be the same used for the 2002 Korea/Japan World Cup. He also disclosed that the equipment had been used in world-class events such as this month’s Goodwill Games in Brisbane, Australia and the World Athletic Championships in Edmonton, Canada in August.

The Prisma official also explained that he got a lot of help in installing the equipment from local technicians.

“Everything has been achieved with the locals. It really could not have been done without local assistance.” 

Thomas added that shipping company Skyline Freight was efficient in delivering their equipment to Trinidad and Tobago, while a company called Standby Power built six “Sealand” containers into modern mobile units in a week. That he described as “a tremendous feat”.

TTT technicians also helped in the laying of seven kilometres of triax cable.

Cameras at every angle

THE Fifa U-17 World Championship will be covered from all angles.

According to Prisma’s Keith Thomas, seven cameras will be used at each of the five sites (Hasely Crawford, Mannie Ramjohn, Ato Boldon, Dwight Yorke and Larry Gomes stadiums) during the preliminary rounds, while that number will be increased to nine during the quarter-final and semi-final rounds.

For the final on Sunday September 30 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, there will be 13 cameras in use and that includes three super slow-motion cameras.

—Compiled by Mark Pouchet

Coach Simoes likens match with Tyson bout as ...T&T ready to rumble

By Wendy Campbell

TRINIDAD and Tobago's head coach Brazilian Professor Rene Simoes has likened today's opening FIFA Under-17 World Championship game against Croatia to that of a boxing match with Mike Tyson.

Simoes said because the technical staff are looking at the game like this, they will have to rumble even harder to prevent Tyson from knocking them down.

"This game looks like I am fighting Mike Tyson, you know how hard he hits, so I have to close all doors and not let him hit us. I have to knock him down," Simoes said.

The Group "A" match kicks off at 1 pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, following a Carnival-type opening ceremony, set to begin at 11.30 am.

For today's proceedings, patrons will have to pay $60 for covered stands and $40 for uncovered stands.

During the group matches, an admission fee of $10 will be charged for uncovered stands and $20 for covered, while for the semifinals and finals on September 30, there will be a charge of $60 and $40 for covered and uncovered stands respectively.

Simoes, first coach to lead an English-speaking Caribbean to the FIFA World Cup with Jamaica in 1998, admitted the Croatians are ahead of Team 2001 in terms of preparation, but he is banking on his players to play as a unit to produce the best possible result.

"Only tomorrow (today) we will know how prepared we really are," Simoes said.

Despite injury concerns to strikers Nkosi Blackman and Jerol Forbes, Simoes said all his players were fit and ready and the mood in the camp was excellent.

He urged members of the public to come out and wear the national colours in support of captain Roderick Anthony's team.

Croatia's manager Mladen Ivancic said positive results were very important to his team in this opening game.

Ivancic said his team was well-prepared and is ready to put its best foot forward. The only problem, he said, was the weather conditions which affected yesterday's practise session. He also said the team will be pressured because it expects a lot of support for the home team.

"But I'm sure we will overcome the pressures," Ivancic said, adding that as part of their training, they visited the zoo.Croatia earned the right to this competition by reaching the semifinals of the European U-16 Championship in England and later winning the third place match, while the local team qualified by virtue of being the hosts.
Both teams held short training stints yesterday.

Defending champions Brazil and Australia are also contenders in that group.

Croatia are looking to their main striker Ivan Grivicic to score their goals, having tallied 11 goals in the past year, including three in as many matches during preliminary qualifying in Greece and two at the European Championships in England last April.

The junior Soca Warriors will also have to watch Niko Kranjcar, recognised as the most talented player on the squad and Drago Papa of Dinamo Zagreb along with Stuttgart's Darko Kresic.

One moment silence for US tragedy

By Wendy Campbell

FIFA'S Director of Communications Keith Cooper is appealing to the 200-plus players participating in the ninth FIFA Under-17 World Soccer Championships to respect fairplay during the event.

The tournament kicks off today at the Hasely Crawford Stadium with Trinidad and Tobago, aka Team 2001 and young Soca Warriors, playing Croatia from 1 pm.

"Even though they are young, we are still appealing to them to respect fairplay during the tournament," Cooper urged the 16 countries that will take part.

Before the start of the TT/Croatia match, the FIFA man said, there will be a minute's silence as a mark of respect for what transpired in the United States on Tuesday.

Cooper said that a similar procedure will be adopted during tomorrow's game between the USA and Japan, to be kicked off from 5 pm at the Dwight Yorke Stadium, in Bacolet, Tobago.

All flags will be flown at half mask on the initial day of games at each of the five stadiums, in Tobago, Port-of-Spain, Malabar, Couva and Marabella.

Cooper said FIFA president Joseph Sepp Blatter has delayed his trip to the tournament because of the tragedy in the United States.

"His trip has been postponed until the situation becomes a bit clearer," Cooper said. He added that all the other FIFA's officers arrived before the tragedy.

Blatter was due yesterday and was expected to pay a visit to injured Under-20 captain Marvin Lee at 8.15 am today.
This was to be followed by visits to Port-of-Spain Mayor Murchison Brown at City Hall, and courtesy calls on His Excellency President Arthur NR Robinson and Prime Minister Basdeo Panday.

Blanc now working with Rene Simoes

JIMMY BLANC, who resigned as assistant senior national football coach after the sacking of Scotland's Ian Porterfield, will be working together with new Technical Director Professor Rene Simoes to unearth young talent for the future.

Brazilian Simoes announced last week that Blanc and Eddie Hart, a former MP in the Ministry of Sport, along with a person from the southland, will be asked to scout for talent all over the country.

Hart runs one of the biggest Minor Leagues in the country, the Eddie Hart Football League at Tacarigua.

"No player shall escape as long as he wants to be part of history," said Simoes, after annoucement of the 18 players to represent T&T in the FIFA Under-17 World Championship which starts from today to September 30.

Simoes has put in place a six-year programme to take Trinidad and Tobago football to greater heights.

"The six-year programme begins with these players," he explained.

...let's show them what we got


WELCOME to September 13, 2001. Open your eyes and take a deep breath. Your country is about to take a giant step into history.

Over the next 18 days, the super skills and probing talents of the world's finest young footballers will provide the veneer to gloss over the widening cracks and deepening wounds of a nation, desperately grasping for a formula to help exorcise its current state of decadence.

Not that Roderick Anthony's inexperienced Trinidad and Tobago team can be expected to wave a magical wand to cast away the demons. Far from it.

Those who support the local youths must be conscious of the magnitude of the task facing them.

Their opponents in the preliminaries, Brazil, Australia and Croatia - as did most of the other teams - have all had extensive build ups with unlimited financial resources in the preparation for this tournament. Unfortunately, this is not the case with the local youths.

That, however, must be no reason to abandon all hope or to dismiss the value of their participation.

The fact remains that we are there, in a World Cup finals - for only the second time in our history.

In 1991, we were in Portugal for the Under 20 finals, courtesy Dwight Yorke's squad. And even if we are there today simply because we are the hosts, it is as good a reason as any for us to feel a sense of achievement. Afterall we did beat off bids from other major countries in our efforts to win the right to host the tournament, didn't we?

After several years of preparation and planning, the FIFA World Cup Under 17 Championships is about to unfold before our very eyes.

Are we ready? Are we capable?

I daresay we are.

It should be 18 days of non stop thrills and excitement.

Welcome to our visitors.

Now, let's show them what we got!

Homeboys 66/1 outsiders

By Glen Mohammed

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO is 66/1, along with Mali to win the World Championships which kicks off tomorrow.
But team manager Russell Tesheira said it is a fair reflection. "We have never qualified for the finals before and we are there because we are hosting the Championships."

He admitted defending champions Brazil and Argentina, both quoted at 9/2, are worthy favourites. He said both teams have good track records in the tournament.

Australia and Crotia, the other teams in group A with T&T are quoted at 9/1 and 12/1 respectively.

Here are the odds offered by Goodwood Racing Service, Henry Street, Tunapuna, Arima and Curepe:

9/2 Brazil; 9/2 Argentina; 6/1 Australia; 9/1 Nigeria; 9/1 France; 12/1 Crotia; 12/1 Spain; 14/1 U.S.A; 16/1 Costa Rica; 20/1 Japan; 20/1 Paraguay; 25/1 Iran; 25/1 Oman; 33/1 Burkina Faso; 66/1 Mali; 66/1 T&T.

Captain keeps eye on goal


He is well known for his accurate passes, ability to score goals, good ball control and speed. But when he steps onto the Hasely Crawford Stadium against Croatia tomorrow, Trinidad and Tobago's charismatic midfielder, Roderick Anthony, will take on new responsibilities. He is the man wearing the captain's armband for Team 2001.

"We had little difficulty in appointing him captain," manager Russell Tesheira said last week.

"He is a very good team player, commands the respect of the players and is very knowledgeable about the game."

Still the announcement that he would be the guiding light on the local team, caught the 17-year old Naparima College student by surprise.

"There were times during the preparations when I thought I would be dropped. Sometimes I was on the team, sometimes I looked on from the stands.

"I really felt like quitting, but I wondered what I would tell my father if I quit. So I continued and decided to work harder," he said.

The results were staggering. Anthony soon found himself a regular starter, and more surprisingly, was named captain.

"Boy, I never led a team in my life," he added.

"I am quite sure it was blessings from God."

Why blessings?

Anthony explained he lived a don't care life before meeting W Connection's goalkeeping coach Anthony Clarke who invited him to the Faith Centre Church earlier this year. Since then he has become a regular visitor and his religious convictions have been boosted.

"I have had no regrets," he said.

Anthony has had to overcome several setbacks, including the death of his mother, on the way to his current place on Team 2001.

His mother Maudress died at the Scarborough General Hospital on October 11, 1998, after suffering a heart attack.
He was then 14, and living at Buccoo Point, Tobago.

Anthony still regrets he was not with her in her last moments. He confided, however, that after the initial shock, he decided he had to be mature about the tragedy.

"My mother died when things were going well for me in football," he said during a 30-minute interview in the hotel area of the Dr Joao Havelange Centre of Excellence.

"It was terrible at first but I decided if I gave up playing, things would be harder."

He said he would have loved his mother to be present when he leads the team onto the field tomorrow.

"I wished she was here to see me now, after all she and my dad sacrificed quite a bit to make sure that I always had my football gear."

Anthony, a staunch supporter of Brazilian Ronaldo, remembered playing the game from the age of nine, with his seven older brothers in his village in Buccoo Point.

He claims to have been a good track prospect but this had to give way to football. He left St Nicholas Primary School in 1995 en route to Elizabeth's College, where he continued playing.

In 1998, he was selected for training with the Under-17 national team, with a view to the 2001 World Cup.

As a result of his selection, Anthony was transferred to Naparima College, where he trained under the watchful eyes of the school's coach, Jan Steadman.

Anthony said because of the football he was unable to sit his CXC exams in mathematics, English language, literature, geography, history, human and social biology and principles of business.

But arrangements have since been made for him to do the exam next year with the Ministry of Education.

Since his relocation, Anthony has played with distinction for Naparima for the past two years, during which time the school won the Intercol triple crown in 1999 and the South Zone title last year.

"Having to relocate was difficult at first but I decided to stick things out in order to fulfil my dreams of becoming a professional footballer."

How does his family feel about Anthony's achievements?

His brother-in-law, Gary Chance, said the entire family was elated and will be backing him 100 per cent.

"His father is very proud," Chance said, adding, Anthony's brother, Inskip Rochford and the senior Anthony will more than likely be coming to the games.

"From where he came, we are all very proud of him. He works hard and takes the game seriously," Chance said.

He added Anthony loved the game so much that from a very tender age, the T&T player used to dress up in long-sleeved padded jerseys pretending he was a goalkeeper.

"I used to tell him when he gets his contract, he should not sign it without me," Chance joked.

The new T&T captain paid tribute to a number of people who have helped him over the past months.

"Professor Rene Simoes not only teaches, but prepares one for life after football while coach Ken Elie is a very dedicated and knowledgeable man."

The young skipper has not allowed his current position to lift him off the ground.

"One must always remember where they came from," he said.

'Bring yuh whistle and come' says coach Simoes

By Andre Baptiste

Technical director Rene Simoes has called on supporters to bring along whistles when they turn up for tomorrow's opening match against Croatia.

"I want them to come with whistles and blow every time the Croatians get the ball. Let them know just how powerful the support is for the Trinidad and Tobago," said Simoes.

"These are young players. One day they will be good but on another day, their mood will be different. Our job is to keep them in high spirits. They have to know our country is behind them.

"We need a sea of red, we need to have so much noise, the Hasely Crawford Stadium must be packed, so when Croatia walks out, they must realise what they are up against," he added

Brown in the ring

THE attitude of the members of Trinidad and Tobago team has changed so much that they will make their country proud when the championships kicks off tomorrow.

That's the strong belief from the team's Minister Bishop Lionel Brown, of the Old Fashioned Gospel Deliverance Temple Ministries in Tunapuna and Tobago.

Speaking after the 18-man team was announced on September 3, Brown said when he first started working with the team about two months ago, the players were not very serious.

"They are young boys, but they have come on nicely in every sense of the word," Brown explained.

The Bishop who prays, lectures and counsels the youngsters, said new desires have developed and the team is working as a cohesive unit.

"I love these boys as my own. I see them giving a good account of themselves, which would make Trinidad and Tobago very proud," Brown said.

Brown said the players have made him comfortable and he is now an integral part of the team.

Brown said members of the team assured him that his continued presence around the team will enhance their performance "considerably."

Dogs bad in their backyards says skipper

By Wendy campbell

HOSTS Trinidad and Tobago know that they are the underdogs in Group "A."Team 2001 has been grouped with tournament and group favourites Brazil, Croatia and Australia.

But team captain Roderick Anthony and his contingent are not too worried about anything.

In fact, Anthony said the team will be "bad" from tomorrow when they come up against Croatia at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

"Dogs are bad in their own yard," he said. "We won't be embarrassed at home at all."

Anthony sees Team 2001 winning the tournament.

"We have no other choice," Anthony said, pointing out that France won the World Cup at home in 1998 and Argentina won the Under-20 contest at home this year.

"So why should it stop by us?" Anthony wanted to know, adding: "We won't let it stop by us. No way."

And what has the team done to make this a reality?

Anthony said the team has been focused in training.

"We are committed. We want to see the flag flown on the field of football at the highest level.

"Money has been spent so we need to give something back. It's your country first," the confident young man said.

Admitting Brazil are the favourites, Anthony shot back saying that the most popular teams lose.

First assistant coach Brazilian Professor Julio Cesar Leal admitted that Team 2001 was in a very strong group.

Leal said Brazil has won the championships twice while Australia was the runner-up to the Samba Boys in 1999 at the same level. In addition, Croatia was the main qualifier from Europe.

Despite this, Leal said the technical staff strongly believes that the team can advance to the second round of competition.

"Home advantage is a major benefit and Trinidad and Tobago has the home support, which could make a significant impact."

Mathura eyes US schol

Midfielder Kahlil Mathura has one main goal to achieve during the FIFA Under-17 World Championship.The St Mary's College player is hoping to make use of the opportunity of a World Cup appearance to obtain a scholarship from an American College.

Then he would be able to continue his studies and football career.

Mathura has been a regular off the bench for coach Rene Simoes' squad and is intent on getting a much playing time as possible.

He has been pinpointed as T&T's best spot kicker and opposing teams will be warned to take guard against him.

"Right now my main goal is to be part of the team for the entire tournament. We have great expectations as a team.

We know it's going to be difficult but we hope we can get the support of the fans because that is important to any team," said Mathura.

Being able to be part of the T&T Under-17 team is more of a dream come true for the 17-year-old.

"It is a dream come true and a great gift from God. It was my goal to represent my country in football at the World Cup level. I will also have the opportunity to gain exposure in order to receive a scholarship or professional contract," added Mathura, whose favourite player is Italian defender Paolo Maldini.

Mathura revealed that if he could meet two persons they would be Diego Maradona and Michael Jordan.

"Keep God in your life and keep faith in him and he will grant you what you want," said Mathura, who also described his father Steve as his role model.

Tough to beat the champs

By Wendy Campbell


LIKE their senior counterparts, the Australian team had little or no trouble with their Oceania competition en route to qualifying for the FIFA U-17 World Championships presented by JVC.

Australia and New Zealand, another Oceania powerhouse, topped the two groups in the first stage of qualification held in December 2000 and March 2001.

The Joeys, as the Australians are known, ran through Group A, which included Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Samoa and American Samoa in a 30-0 blowout. Not counting that one-sided affair, defender Alex Wilkinson, and attackers Matthew Engele and Anthony Danze led all scorers with four goals each.

The Joey's travel here knowing they will have to overcome some serious challenge, particularly Brazil, who defeated them for the FIFA U-17 title in 1999. The two countries meet on Friday in their opening Group "A" fixture.

However, Australian coach Ange Postecoglou is hopeful his team can make a strong challenge for the title.

Along with a spirited attack that helped the team cruise through Oceania qualifying, Australia also has two quality goalkeepers to choose from and a solid back line.


THE Samba Boys come to the tournament with the best of credentials, having won two consecutive world championships and six out of seven South American tournaments at the U-17 level.

The current Brazilian squad, who arrived on Sunday, certainly promises to live up to the country's rich football tradition.

Of the 18 players head coach Sergio Farias brings to this event, at least 12 are expected to be held over from the South American championship squad, thus keeping team chemistry intact for a run at a third consecutive world championship.

The team plays with the traditional flair characteristic of nearly every Brazilian team, and their attack is among the potent of any U-17 side in the world.

Heading up their attack will be striker Anderson and midfielders Leandro and Alberoni, who combined for 12 goals in the South American qualifying tournament.

Brazil's biggest weakness may be a tendency toward overconfidence, something that saw them start slow in several matches during qualifying.

Their first encounter is against the 1999 FIFA World Championship runners-up Australia at 4pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Friday.


CROATIA'S Under-17 coach Martin Novoselac admitted that his squad went beyond "our expectations" by reaching the semi-finals of the European U-16 championship in England and later winning the third place match to earn a spot in the FIFA U-17 World Championships, presented by JVC.

They come into the tournament expecting to continue their impressive run in international competition.

While skilled players, the Croatians are focused on discipline and hard work, with a solid base in technical and tactical knowledge. Despite the team's general lack of first team club experience and relatively few matches together as a squad, Croatia play like a team of much greater experience.

Niko Kranjcar and Drago Papa of Dinamo Zagreb, Hajduk's Ivan Grivicic, upcoming stars of Croatian football, with Kranjcar are widely recognised as the most talented player on the squad.

Team 2001

THE host country is preparing to put itself in the international spotlight at the FIFA U-17 World Championships, and the Soca Warriors want to have as much impact on the field as off it.

Technical Director Rene Simoes, nicknamed the Professor, was the first coach to lead an English-speaking Caribbean nation to the FIFA World Cup finals with Jamaica in 1998, and the Brazilian has high hopes for this Trinidad and Tobago side.

Most of the players on Team 2001 come from domestic clubs' reserve teams, including Naparima College's rising stars Roderick Anthony and Scarborough Secondary's Kerron Phillip.

Also expected to make a name for Team 2001 is Lee Haynes, who marshals the defence in front of goal keeper Jan Michael Williams.

Selection and screening took place between May and July 1998. Some 2000 youngsters were part of the screening sessions throughout Trinidad and Tobago.

The period July 1998 to March 1999, was dedicated to technical development and team building.

One month later the team focussed on tactical development and team building. The next month, organic or physical development was added to the schedule.

As early as 1998, Team 2001 visited Brazil and played against teams in that country. And as recently as July this year, T&T went on their third training camp to Brazil, as part of a South American tour.

Paraguay coach sends warning

Paraguay Under-17 coach Eduardo Villalba has sent a stern warning to the other 15 nations in the championship.
"We want to do well.I think we can compete for the championship," he said last week.

Striker Aldo Jara has been tipped as the player to create the most problems for opposing teams and according to Villalba, "He (Jara) is a very skilled player, a very fast player," he said. "If he gets open, there is nothing that can stop him."

Paraguay is coming off a warm-up tournament in the United Kingdom in which they defeated Manchester United's youth team.

"We are more prepared now with several tournaments under our belt. Now, just getting to the second round will not be enough for Paraguay.Times have changed, a whole new crop of players has developed and expectations have risen tremendously," added Villalba.

Commenting on the other teams in Group "D,"the coach stated: "Mali are the strongest physically of the teams," he said. "It will be like (Under-20 rival) Ghana in the previous tournament (the FIFA World Youth Championship Argentina 2001). Costa Rica are playing very well right now, and Iran are quicker than they have been in the past and play well technically."

Samba Boys ready to dance

Brazil's coach Sergio Farias has been busy over the last few weeks gathering information on first round opponents Trinidad and Tobago, Australia and Croatia and is confident that his team will advance to the second round and beyond.

"Australia was our opponent in the last World Championship final, which they only lost in the penalty shoot-out. Croatia is both physically and tactically strong and the home team will have the added advantage of crowd support, which always helps a team to lift its game," said Farias.

During the 1999 finals in New Zealand, Brazil beat Australia, Germany and Mali in the opening round.

The stage was Auckland in New Zealand, the host of the 1999 World Under-17 Championship, which Brazil won after a hard slog beating Australia in the final. The task will not be any easier this year but hopes are running high that Brazil will bring the title back from Trinidad and Tobago.

The difficulties in 1999 began in the first round with a 2-1 win over Australia and draws to Germany and the Africans from Mali.

A classic South American confrontation followed with Paraguay which Brazil won 4 - 1 and then a victory on penalty kicks against Ghana in the semifinal led to a final clash with the Australians which they scraped through 8-7 on penalties.

The "Samba Boys" are coming to T&T with an excellent record so far this year having won the South American championship in March in Peru for the sixth time in the history of the competition.

For this reason they are being touted as the favourites, which if they are successful would be their third consecutive title after winning in 1997 and 1999.

T&T assistant coach Julio Leal was Brazil's coach for the 1991 Championship before they were knocked out by Ghana in the quarter finals, Midfielder Lendro of club Vitorio, striker Anderson of Vasco da Gama and Caetano of Sao Paulo are among the individuals fans can look out for during the tournament.


Tuesday September 10th, 2001

Oman loses player

Oman's Under-17 football team has suffered its first blow of the FIFA Under 17 World Championship.The visiting Middle East team has lost one of its players, Adil Khalfan, to injury and is expecting to have a replacement arrive here today.

"After the game against Trinidad and Tobago, we had five bad injuries. None of these players are back in training with the squad. Four of them will recover in time for tomorrow, but one has been to the hospital and he will not be able to train for another four weeks. He's out of the tournament with a knee injury after receiving a kick," coach John Adshead said yesterday at Crowne Plaza Hotel, Port-of-Spain.

Khalfan entered the game against Trinidad and Tobago in the 30th minute after replacing a team-mate who went off with another injury. He was forced to withdraw from action eight minutes later. The game ended 2-2.

Adil's replacement, Hafid Abraham, is expected to arrive from Oman today.

Coach Adshead said despite the injury blows his team was enjoying conditions here.

"Yeh, everything's been going fine. We are happy with the hotel and the training and as a matter of fact we are happy with the whole country. We have no problems and we are looking forward to our first game."

About Oman's hopes in the tournament, the coach said, "It's going to be difficult because Oman is a very small country where football is concerned and we are fortunate to have been draw with Argentina and Spain which are very professional nations. We just have to look at our development. If we can at least get one result against these two teams then I think we would have done well here."

He also commented on the T&T team, he said:

"They could be a very good team. They have very skilful players. But on the day I think they were a bit excited because they had gotten beaten by Paraguay. They were just a little over physical. But I think if Trinidad settles down and play, the football I think they can play, then I think they can do quite well."


Injured Lee to benefit from 'Coca-Cola' $$

INJURED Under-20 football captain Marvin Lee is to benefit from proceeds from the selling of Coca-Cola's FIFA Under-17 World Championship Commemorative Bottle, which was launched yesterday in the Flamingo Room, Hilton Trinidad.

Robert Ramchand, Caribbean Bottlers Ltd's General Manager, said for every commemorative bottle sold during the championships, which starts Thursday and ends September 30, part proceeds will go into a fund for Lee. This, he said, will help to defray some of Lee's medical expenses. He also said the price of the drink would not change.

Lee suffered a spinal injury during a match against the United States in March at Centre of Excellence, Macoya. He has been hospitalised since and is not fully recovered, Ramchand said.

Lee's mother, Dawn Warrick, thanking Coca-Cola and FIFA vice president Jack Warner, said her son has improved significantly since the second surgery in Miami, USA, on May 2.

"He can now function without the brace," she said, adding, "I know my son will definitely walk again."

Warrick also congratulated the Under-17s, hoping they do well and asked the public to come out and support them.
She said Marvin may come to the matches, but if he did he may have to be brought in an ambulance. "I do't know if he would want that," she said, however.

Ramchand said the Under-17 event was one Trinidad and Tobago should be proud of and should embrace it.

Derek Waddell, Coca-Cola's Operation's Manager for the Caribbean, said his company had donated $300,000 "worth of support" towards the tournament. The sum, Waddell said, was separate and apart from Coca-Cola's international funding with FIFA. Coca-Cola has been an official sponsor of each World Cup since 1978 and other major FIFA worldwide events since 1974.

Waddell said they had an overwhelming response of over 300 ball attendants, of which 200will be utilised in the tournament.

"It's a first for us to host a World Cup and I doubt we would ever see that again," Waddell said, at which point Warner said: "You're very sure about that."

Warner later said because of the new FIFA policy of rotation, Trinidad and Tobago, in theory, will not host another Under-17 World Cup for 12 years. He, however, said it could host an Under-20 tournament before then.

Brazilians hoping to be ahead of the game

Defending champion Brazil will not be banking on its success in the 1999 Finals in New Zealand during the upcoming FIFA Under- 17 Championships starting here Thursday.

The Brazilians had their first session at Woodford Lodge, Chaguanas, Saturday and then decided to do some light training at Chaguaramas yesterday, with some of their players even enjoying a meal at a KFC outlet located nearby.
Coach Sergio Farias said his "Samba Boys" were intent on pacing themselves during the matches, aware there were high expectations of them andpressure to perform well because of the recent bad streak by their senior team.

Farias said he had little knowledge of Brazilian coach Rene Simoes' Trinidad and Tobago's outfit. However, he warned that fellow Group A teams will get the deserved respectwhich could spell danger for them.

"We don't have special knowledge of the Trinidad team. We will treat Trinidad just as how we will treat any other team. We played Australia two years ago and the Croatian team plays pretty much like they do. Trinidad and Tobago are the hosts so therefore we will treat them all the same way," said Farias.

While local fans will be keen to catch the "Samba Boys" in action, they can expect to witness action from a team hungry to repeat the success of the 1999 Championships.

"Success in the past does not guarantee success in the future, but we are just working hard and continuing training hoping to be ahead of the game," ended Farias.

Australians wary of humid conditions at championships 

Australia will be entering the FIFA Under-17 World Championships very cautious of the humid conditions which they fear will affect its players during the preliminary Group A matches.

The 1999 losing finalist has been unsuccessful in its attempts tohave kick-off times changes, but have said it will nevertheless be aiming to advance as far as possible in the tournament.

According to a report on the Australian official website, its football head of delegation, Les Avory, visited Trinidad recently for meetings with the Local Organising Committee with hopes of having its kick-off times against Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago changed.

According to the report, "Mr. Avory told Mr. Jack Warner he did not want a repeat of the frightening heat stroke episode suffered by two Australian players in Fiji in the Oceania qualifiers in 1999, and referred Mr. Warner to FIFA's own medical document, advisingagainst match play between the hours of 11am and 4 pm.

"I'm disappointed at the outcome of discussions we had in trying to secure a more suitable resolution for all parties concerned, and it seems that our time in Trinidad will be made as uncomfortable as possible," said Les Avory.

Boo Croatia

Simoes urges fans to jeer T&T opponents


TRINIDAD and Tobago Under-17 coach Rene Simoes has called on locals to boo the Croatian team when they take the field on Thursday for the opening match of the 2001 Fifa U-17 World Championship.

Just three days before kick-off, Simoes is adamant that his squad—dubbed “Team 2001”—must benefit from home advantage and is urging supporters to make things difficult for opponents on the field.

“I want our supporters to clap their hands and play with their team,” said the Brazilian native. “And when Croatia has the ball, boo them. After the game give them the best that you can, but during the game let them feel they are away from home. 

“That is how football is played around the world. We need the 12th player (in the stands).”

Simoes also had no sympathy for the Australian and Croatian contingents who have complained about the 1 p.m. kick off times against the host nation.

The Croatian team, who trained at the Queen’s Royal College (QRC) ground yesterday afternoon, complained about dehydration after their session and team doctor Tomislav Vlahovic said that he was concerned.
“We are not used with the kind of conditions here but we will have to cope with it,” said coach Martin Novoselac. “The weather and the climate are a very big problem for our team. We are coming from Europe where the temperature is no way like here. This is unfortunate for our players because we are here only a few days before the first match.”

The Australians went as far as to approach Fifa vice-president and Local Organising Committee (LOC) chairman Jack Warner for a time change.

Les Avory, head of the Australian delegation, pointed to an incident during their Oceania qualifiers when two players suffered from “frightening heat strokes” in Fiji. 

He remained dissatisfied after meeting with Warner and remarked that “it seems our time in Trinidad will be made as uncomfortable as possible”.

However, Simoes said if he had his way all matches would start at 1 p.m.

“Only Fifa can decide about the time,” said Simoes. “I have no control over that. If it was (in) my control I would play all games at 1 p.m...When I play in Canada, they put us to play at 7 p.m. When I go to the US they put you to play in Washington. 

“Why do you think they do that?”

While Australia and Croatia have struggled to acclimatise, the Oman Under-17 team has also suffered here after losing midfielder Adil Khalfan through injury.

Khalfan will not recover in time for the tournament from a knock on his knee sustained in last Friday’s friendly match against Team 2001.

Stand-by Hafid Abraham should arrive to replace Khalfan today, but Oman coach John Adshead was unhappy with the physical nature of their last practice match which ended in a 2-2 draw.

“After the game against Trinidad, we had five bad injuries,” said Adshead. “None of those players are back training with the squad. Four of them will recover in time for tomorrow but one has been to the hospital and he will not be able to train for another four weeks. 

“On the day, I think they (T&T) were a bit excited because they had got beaten by Paraguay. They were just a little over-physical.”

Simoes expressed his regret to the Omani camp over the mishap but denied that Team 2001 was a dirty or “over-physical” team.

Instead, he urged his players to become even more aggressive.

“On the contrary, I think that is the problems we have,” said Simoes. “Sometime we are too complacent, too laid back. I can guarantee you what I miss in the team is aggressiveness.”

Team 2001 continue their preparation today with a practice session at the Hasely Crawford Stadium from 1 p.m.

Australia are scheduled to train at the Larry Gomes Stadium from 9 a.m., while the Croatians should practise from 2 p.m. at Queen’s Royal College.


More $$ for Warners


First it was Jack and then Darryl. Now, Daryan Warner, son of FIFA vice-president Austin Jack Warner, has been awarded a contract to operate concession stands at the FIFA Under-17 World football Championships which begin here on Thursday. 

The concession stand deal makes it at least the third contract that the Warner family has secured for the tournament. 

The senior Warner has reportedly bought the regional television rights for the tournament from Prism Sports. The tournament will be beamed to 120 countries. The awarding of the TV rights to Warner has prompted the threat of legal action by a Virgin Islands-based company known as CSTN whose owner Selby Browne was involved in negotiations with Prism’s parent company, the Kirch group for the same rights.

Darryl Warner, another son of the vice-president has also been awarded a US$1.9 million contract to build five information centre kiosks for the tournament.

And yesterday, Sandra Bachir, Chief Executive Officer of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the tournament, said on Power102’s Ringside radio programme that Daryan Warner’s Coal Pot restaurant had been awarded sole rights to operate concession stands at the five stadiums involved in the tournament. 

“What they decided to do is to award it to one concessionaire, which is the Coal Pot, to manage whether or not there will be additional concession stands for distribution,” Bachir said. 

Pressed to reveal who the owners of the Coal Pot were, Bachir replied: “Well the Coal Pot is owned by Daryan Warner.” 

Bachir’s explanation for the awarding of a concession contract to one party, was that that there was limited space in the stadia. 

“In any case, it would be difficult for you if you had to try to pick people to put in those concessions stands because of the size of the stadiums.” 

Asked to comment on the perception that the Warner family seemed to be benefitting greatly from the tournament, Bachir said that it was not a concern and that she was not prepared to pursue the matter further.

“I must tell you that I am not doing anything, and I’ll tell you why. When I look at what is ahead of us, I think that at times, yes we should be concerned about these things. But, we need to grow up and get over these things and look at the broader picture. We spend sometimes too much time dwelling on little things which we cannot change.” 

Instead, Bachir noted that the exposure this country will receive from the tournament will be great and that the four new stadia will be invaluable for future generations of sportsmen and women.

As far as planning for the tournament goes, Bachir says that most of the necessary infrastructure is well in place, including accommodation. Among the teams already here are Brazil, Oman and Paraguay. A film crew armed with 21 tonnes of equipment is also present.

Home stretch for Under-17s

TRINIDAD and Tobago’s Under 17 footballers are into their final stage of preparations ahead of Thursday’s opening match of the FIFA Under 17 World Championship against Croatia.

Following Friday’s 2-2 draw with Oman, captain Roderick Anthony and his teammates were given light workouts on the weekend. But speaking yesterday evening, Simoes said the final three days before the Croatia match would be an intensive period for Team 2001.

“The boys are doing okay at this time,” Simoes says. 

“I felt that they had spent a lot of energy in the last two matches against Oman and Paraguay and so they were given some time this weekend to recover. From Monday (today) we will lift the intensity again right down until Wednesday to ensure that everything is in place for the match against Croatia.” 

In the crunch period, says Simoes, the focus will be on things tactical.

“We have received all the information on Croatia and now time will be spent in training with the players working on how they must face the opposition. We will give our players as much information that we know about the Croatians.”

The Brazil-born technical director also spoke well of the players’ mental state after having expressed concern about it last month. Dr Campbell Phillips was brought in the latter stages of August to assist.

“I think they are doing well right now. But it is difficult to say exactly how they are because we have not played any qualifiers or competitive matches. We will know exactly what frame of mind they are in when the opening whistle blows on Thursday.”

T&T defender Kenwyne Jones and striker Nkosi Blackman who were ruled out of last week’s friendlies due to a groin and thigh strain respectively, have been declared fit and will be part of the preparations from Monday.

The local lads will train on the Hasely Crawford Stadium training pitch from 1 p.m. today. 

Young hotshots


Today the Express, concludes its look at the players who are likely to catch the eye during the September 13-30 2001 Fifa Under-17 World Championship football tournament here.
Sixteen countries, including hosts Trinidad and Tobago, will participate in the prestigious event, with the best 18 players available to them.
This select group though, is supposed to be extra special.

Jerol Forbes (T&T No. 7)
A tall, lively striker, Forbes has remained at the core of Team 2001 since their formation under Nigerian coach Chief Adegboye Onigbinde.
But it was perhaps his cool finish in T&T's final warm-up match against Oman that finally helped him to step out of the shadow of usual strike partner, Nkosi Blackman.
Forbes's item helped Team 2001 to a 2-2 draw against the Asian outfit and has raised the hopes of the nation as they prepare for their tough group which includes defending champions, Brazil.
The Naparima College student is much more than a goalscorer, though, and it is instructive that he rates an assist in a schoolboy Intercol final as one of his proudest moments.
With Blackman struggling to recover from a groin injury, Forbes seems to be the most likely candidate to score T&T's first World Cup goal. Expect an acrobatic sequence of backflips if he achieves this record.

Lassana Diallo 
(Mali No. 7)
This quicksilver striker almost missed out on the tournament after being forced to choose between club and country.
In the end, Diallo had his choice made for him as Tunisian team Sfax failed to hammer out a deal with his current employers Djoliba Atletico.
It is only this quirk of faith that allowed Diallo to represent his country at the prestigious youth tournament. Mali Under-17 manager Leonce Diarra considers the setback in Diallo's career to be a blessing in disguise and is sure that his chance will come again.
Despite missing the African qualifying tournament, Diallo will be the star of the Mali team where his speed, intelligence and ability to carve out and take chances should make him a handful for defenders.

Niko Kranjcar 
(Croatia No. 10)
Blessed with eye catching offensive skills and good finishing qualities, Kranjcar shoulders the creative responsibilities in a solid Croatian team.
Kranjcar, who has already made his professional debut with Dinamo Zagreb, opened the eyes of scouts with some polished performances in Croatia's third placing at the European Under-16 championships.
A tall player with good ball skills and technique although lacking in pace, Kranjcar hopes to follow in the footsteps of Croatian playmaker Zvonimir Boban who stood out for AC Milan during the 1990s as well as in the 1998 senior World Cup.

OMAN-(goalkeepers) AL AJMI Ali, SABTI Hani, AL JADEEDI Sulaiman, (defenders) AL SHIKAIRI Sulaiman, AL SHIKAIRI Khalid, AL ALAWI Muaz, AL BULUSHI Haifar, AL ARAIMI Yasser, AL SAADI Sami, (midfielders) AL MUKHAINI Ahmed, AL NAUFLI Khalifa, AL HOSNI Adil, AL BULUSHI Nabil, AL MARZOQ Ahmed, AL MUKHAINI Hasan, (forwards) AL MAGHNI Hassan, AL AJMI Ismail, AL HINAI Mohamed.

AUSTRALIA- (goalkeepers) COE Nathan, REXJacob (defenders) WILKINSON Alex, HUNTER Matthew, BOJIC Predrag, DILEVSKI Spase, STUDMAN Brett, BROXTON Darren, (midfielders) VAN DOMMELE Adam, VALERI Carl,DANZE Anthony, AGIUS Fred, (forwards) STEVENS Ben, WALSH Sean, HOLMAN Brett, LUCAS Jay, ENGELE Matthew, SMITH Terry. 


CROATIA-(goalkeepers) KRESIC Dario,PINTARIC Denis, (defenders) ORASCIN Asmir, SKEJA Domagoj, CAVRIC Silvio, BASIC Marko, LOZO Igor, (midfielders) PAPA DRago, CALE Hrvoje, PRIJIC Dejan, GRGUROVIC Mario, JAMBRUSIC Kruno, (forwards) RUZAK Igor, KRANJCAR Niko, GRIVICIC Ivan, SHARBINI Ahmad, LUKASEK Tomislav, BARNJAK Leonardo. 

(goalkeepers) CHAIGNEAU Florent, FABRE Mickael, (defenders) DEBRIS Kevin, BERTHOD Jeremie, COLOMBO Julio, FATY Jacques,DROUIN Stephen, MOHELLEBI Laurent, (midfielders) MAIA Gael, YEBDA Hassan, MEGHNI Mourad, FAE Emmers PIETRE Samuel, (forwards) SINAMA PONGOLLE Floremt, LE TALLEC Anthony, BEN SAADA Chaouki, GLOMBARD Luigi. 

JAPAN-(goalkeepers)TOKUSHIGE Kenta, KIMURA Atsushi, (defenders) AOKI Ryota, OI Kentaro, FUKUO Tadayo, OGAWA Hisanori,TAKAYAMA Junichi,(midfielders)KUBA Masatomo, NEJIME Shingo, KIKUCHI Naoya, NARUOKA Sho, KUDO Kohei,HIRABAYASHI Kiyohiro, FUJIMOTO Jungo,(forwards) MOGI Hiroto, ABE Yutaro, KITANO Sho, YANO Kisho. 

IRAN- (goalkeepers)HORI Hassan, MIRTABATABAEI Seyed, (defenders)ABBASI Gemal, ALEI Ali, REZAEL Shic, MIRTOROUGHI Seyed, ASHORIZADE Amin, HASANVAND Mohammad, ARZANI Mohsen, RASTI Ehsan, (midfielders) AMINIFAR Amir, HAMRANG Mohammad, AHMADZADEH Mansour, KABEI Hossein, BAVIFARD Hassan, (forwards) AKBARPOUR Siavash, ASADOLLAHI Saeid, SHARGHI Vahid. 

MALI-(goalkeepers) TRAORE Mamadou, KEITA Boubaca, (defenders) BAGAYOKO Moussa, DIALLO Boucader, TOURE Alhassane, COULIBALY Bakary, CISSE Modibo, DIAKITE Drissa, (midfielders) BAGAYOKO Daouda, KEITA Fako, KEITA Sidi, BALAHIRA Baba, DIARRA Drissa, (forwards) DIALLO Lassana, COULIBALY Mamoutou, TOUNKARA Karim, TRAORE Alain, DEMBELE Souleymane. 

PARAGUAY-(goalkeepers)ALMEDA Marco, SILVA Anthony, (defenders) AVALOS Cesar, MARECO Victor, CRISTALDO Ernesto, ROMERO Jorge, MEZA Raul, (midfielders) RIVEROS Alejandro, BARRETO Edgar, PERALTA Victorino, LOPEZ Blas, BRITEZ Armando, MACHUCA Anggello, ARZAMENDIA Willian, (forwards) JARA Aldo, PEREZ Andres, FLORENTIN Derlis, BERNAL Ariel. 

USA-(goalkeepers) WILLIAMS Ford, SCHUERMAN Adam, (defenders) CHUN David, WAHL Tyson, LANCOS Chris,HARVEY Jordan, GRIFFIN Gray, MARSHALL Chad, (midfielders) MAPP Justin, SIMO Chefik, JOHNSON David,STONE Jordan, CAPANO Craig, (forwards) JOHNSON Paul, MAGEE Mike, QUARANTA Santino, JOHNSON Edward, DIAZ Erwin.

Simoes: Let 'em see red

Trinidad and Tobago's Under-17 footballers are into their final stage of preparations ahead of Thursday's opening match of the FIFA Under-17 World Championship against Croatia.

Following Friday's 2-2 draw with Oman, captain Roderick Anthony and his team-mates were allowed a weekend of light preparations as coach Rene Simoes believed excessive energy was used up in the two friendly internationals last week.

Yesterday Brazilian Simoes said the final three days before the Croatia match would be an intensive period for the Junior "Soca Warriors".

"The boys are doing okay at this time. I felt that they had spent a lot of energy in the last two matches against Oman (drew 2-2) and Paraguay (lost 3-0) and so they were given some time this weekend to recover.
"From Monday we will lift the intensity again right down until Wednesday to ensure that everything is in place for the match against Croatia," said Simoes.
He said tactical preparations will come into play over the next 48 hours.

"We have received all the information on Croatia and now time will be spent in training with the players working on how they must face the opposition. We will give our players as much information that we know about the Croatians."
The T&T technical director also spoke well of the players' mental state having expressed concern about such last month. Dr Campbell Phillips was brought in late last month to assist.

"I think they are doing well right now. But difficult to say exactly how they are because we have not played any qualifiers or competitive matches. We will know exactly what frame of mind they are in when the opening whistle blows Thursday. The psychologist has spent time with the players on their self confidence and now we will wait to see what happens but I am confident everything will be fine," said Simoes.

Looking ahead to the kick-off of the tournament which will see 15 other nations playing in T&T, Simoes appealed for an atmosphere similar to that of recent Independence Day celebrations during the September 13-30 competition.
"I would like to see a sea of red, white and black at Hasely Crawford Stadium next Thursday. I hope everyone will come out in their national colours. I want to see the whole of T&T looking like

Independence Day again over the next three weeks. It will give the world a great impression of our country," added Simoes.

T&T defender Kenwyne Jones and striker Nkosi Blackman, who were out of last week's friendlies due to a groin and thigh strain respectively, have been declared fit and will be part of the preparations from today.
T&T trains from 1 pm today at Hasely Crawford Stadium's training pitch.

History beckons for 
Group A and Team 2001

FIFTEEN visiting teams and hosts Trinidad and Tobago will square off in the September 13-30 Fifa Under-17 World Championship, to be played at four new stadiums around the country and the Hasely Crawford National Stadium.
For the most part, the young players are completely unknown to local fans, as is the footballing history of some of the nations at this level.
Today, the Sunday Express presents features on the last of four groups involved in the contest for the prestigious title.
Group A is in the spotlight. The four teams—Australia, defending champions Brazil, Croatia and Trinidad and Tobago—will play their first round matches at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.


FROM kick off at 1 p.m. on Thursday, September 13, it is almost inevitable that the Hasely Crawford Stadium would enjoy the largest influx of supporters for the 2001 Fifa Under-17 World Championship.
But it would be wrong to assume that this is merely a result of the presence of the host nation, Trinidad and Tobago, in Group A.

Group B outfits may argue that, with the likes of Japan, France, Nigeria and the United States, they deserve the title “group of death”.

If Bacolet, Tobago seems an attractive proposition to the “Grim Reaper”, surely the Crawford Stadium would be the ideal destination for football historians and walking statistic machines.

Brazil, not for the first time, should be the main drawing card for non-partisan supporters.

The prestigious international youth title would arguably be most cherished by the Brazilian teenagers for more than one reason.

Firstly, it would offer tangible evidence that the land of samba is still the pace setter in the “beautiful game” despite recent dismal performances in the higher age groups and at senior level.

Perhaps more importantly for historians, though, a Brazil victory would make the South Americans the first country to win the Under-17 title for the third time—an honour that can also be achieved by an African team, Nigeria.

It will also be Brazil’s third consecutive win in this tournament after successes in New Zealand (1999) and Egypt (1997).

The output of creative midfield star, Leandro do Bonfim, is key to their eventual placing.

Leandro, who hopes to join Bebeto, Dida and Vampeta as famous products of the Vitoria FC youth system, is considered a throwback to the traditional Brazilian offensive midfielder a la Zico or Didi. Big shoes to fill, but then Leandro is also expected to emulate Romario and Ronaldo as well when he joins Dutch team PSV Eindhoven at the end of the tournament.

He hopes to take a Fifa Under-17 Championship gold medal with him.
“We have to win, whatever it takes,” said Leandro. “I have not had the chance to watch the other teams in action, but we have what it takes to be the champions again. 

“We are going after a third title, and when we want something badly enough and have God on our side then anything is possible.”

Leandro and company may find their first opponent to also be their toughest.

There can be no doubt that Australia also consider themselves title contenders.

Two years ago, only the lottery of the penalty shoot-out separated the Aussies from Brazil in the 1999 final after a 0-0 draw at the end of regulation time.

Coach Ange Postecogluo would not have to wait long for revenge as they open their campaign against the defending champions on September 14.

This group of Australian under-17s have only lost once since coming together, which, ironically, was their last game on a recently-concluded tour of Miami.

United States’ Major League Soccer (MLS) team Tampa Bay Mutiny whipped the Aussies 4-1 on September 4, but Postecogluo is unfazed.
“We felt it was important that, before we go to Trinidad & Tobago, to give the boys a couple of difficult games,” said Postecogluo. “And, with the Mutiny in particular, the kind of physical test they’ve not had before.”

A tough, hard-running team, Australia have regularly showed the ability to dismantle weaker outfits.

Oceania minnows American Samoa fell victim to a ruthless 30-0 assault during their qualifying campaign, while opponents like Papua New Guinea and New Zealand were also comprehensively dismissed.

Striker Jay Lucas, who is attached to English Premier League team Southampton, will be their “go to” man up front.

He should be ably assisted by Southampton teammate and midfielder Darren Broxton and strike partner Brett Holman.

But there is no doubt that captain Carl Valeri is the leader of the team.

A tall, strong player who operates between the defence and midfield, Valeri stands apart for his maturity and has already been summoned to the national senior team.

The Trinidad and Tobago tournament offers an excellent opportunity for him to prove that he can lead the Aussies to greater things.

Croatian star Niko Kranjcar has a similar challenge.

Croatia, as the historians will tell you, are making their debut in this competition and Kranjcar will do his utmost to ensure that it is as spectacular as their maiden World Cup appearance in 1998, when they finished third overall.

Coach Martin Novoseleac, for one, insists that his team are no underdogs.

“We are not a surprise anymore,” said the Croat coach. “Croatian teams are becoming regular contenders in both European and World Championships at all levels. Everyone is used to us now. 

“In England, we showed we have another talented generation.”

England learnt that lesson the hard way as Croatia crushed their hosts 4-1 in the third place play-off to qualify for the Trinidad and Tobago finals.

Kranjcar, who is already a member of the Dinamo Zagreb squad, is the darling of the crop. A tall, attacking player, he compensates for his lack of pace with superb ball skills and technique and seems destined to attract much media attention.

The tournament’s opening match will be as good a time as any for the teenager to announce his arrival to international football.

Trinidad and Tobago coach Rene Simoes will do his utmost to ensure that Kranjcar says little, though.

It is a tall order for the host team, dubbed “Team 2001”, who have progressed rapidly since the appointment of Simoes last May.

But was it enough to tame the world’s elite young football teams?

Captain Roderick Anthony and his teammates have at least three games in which to answer that question.

Simoes, who has pleaded for more vocal support from the home fans, has sensibly constructed a team built more on containing than outclassing opponents.

Out went an open 4-4-2 system used by axed Nigerian coach Chief Adegboye Onigbinde and, in his place, Simoes introduced a more cautious 3-5-2 plan which is conducive to a close marking game.

The Brazilian coach, who has experienced this level of competition with Brazil and Jamaica, knows the magnitude of the task that awaits them.

“You are the weakest team in the group,” said Simoes, soon after his appointment. “So you have to make some protections and try to make something to surprise them.”

A 2-2 draw in a friendly against Oman last Friday showed that there is still a lot to be said for common sense.

An ice-cool finish from Jerol Forbes to tie the scores at two-apiece would have caught the eye of scouts at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

The tall, elegant Forbes should partner the equally imposing Nkosi Blackman—who is recovering from a groin injury—up front for Team 2001.

Behind them, diminutive playmaker Devon Leacock should shoulder the team’s creative burden, if he manages to shake off a string of nagging injuries which can probably be attributed to his small frame.

But it is athletic goalkeeper Marvin Phillip who is likely to have the most opportunities to establish a reputation for himself.

And, while he is busy at the back, he will hope that Blackman and Forbes put away one or two of the chances that come their way.

Trinidad and Tobago are still awaiting their first goal after three barren games for coach Bertille St Clair’s “Soca Babes” in the 1991 Under-20 World Cup in Portugal.

It is that statistic which would most concern Trinidad and Tobago football historians.

How they got here

champions vs American Samoa 30-0 win, vs Papua New Guinea 7-0 win, vs Solomon Islands 1-0 win, vs Samoa 5-0 win.
Play Off
vs New Zealand 3-0 win (home), vs New Zealand 6-0 win (away).

Brazil—South American champions
vs Colombia 4-0 win, vs Chile 3-3, vs Paraguay 2-2, vs Bolivia 4-0 win.
Final Group
vs Venezuela 3-0 win, vs Paraguay 0-0, vs Argentina 2-0 win.

Croatia—UEFA second runners-up
vs Finland 2-0 win, vs France 3-0 loss, vs Scotland 1-0 win.
vs Spain 3-0 loss.
vs England 4-1 win.

Trinidad and Tobago—Concacaf
Qualified automatically as host nation.

Shaka, Latas shine 
in British leagues

TRINIDAD and Tobago football captains past and present produced good showings yesterday afternoon in Britain as action continued in the English and Scottish Premier Leagues.

Russell “the Little Magician” Latapy, who retired from international football in June, managed a goal and an assist for Glasgow Rangers, but still failed to separate his team from Scottish Premier League opponents, Hearts, as they drew 2-2 away.

West Ham custodian Shaka Hislop, who wore the captain’s armband for the “Soca Warriors” in a World Cup qualifier against Mexico last Wednesday, was superb as well in a 0-0 draw away to Derby County.

There was also good news for Dwight Yorke, who played from the start in a 4-1 Manchester United win over Everton at Old Trafford.

Latapy was the only local to figure on the scoresheet, though.

After Hearts scored the opener in the eighth minute, Latapy equalised for the guests—seven minutes later—with a shot that went in off an upright after a cross from Dutch teammate Arthur Numan.

Rangers went ahead in the 58th minute when Norwegian Tore Andre Flo slipped the ball home after a through pass from Latapy.

But Rangers surrendered their slim advantage with just eight minutes remaining for their third tie of the season.

They occupy second spot in the Scottish League, at present, and trail defending champions Celtic by four points.

Celtic whipped Dunfermline Athletic 3-1 to preserve their standing atop the league, while Livingston, without injured Trinidad and Tobago defender Marvin “Dog” Andrews, downed Dundee United 2-0 for their first win of the season.

In the English Premier League, Hislop pulled off some inspired saves to thwart former Italian international Fabrizio Ravanelli and Scottish midfielder Craig Burley as the Hammers held out for their second point of the season.

Twice, Hislop sprinted off his goalline to deny the Derby offence while he left Ravanelli distraught after a diving catch from a point-blank header.

Yorke, who was rebuffed by manager Sir Alex Ferguson for arriving at training late on Monday, enjoyed some success as well with United after being selected up front alongside Andy Cole.

Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, England international captain David Beckham and Welshman Ryan Giggs were all omitted from the starting line-up in preparation for United’s UEFA Champions League match on Wednesday.

Yorke created the “Red Devils’” third goal after heading down for South African international Quinton Fortune to score. But he wasted a good early opportunity when he blazed overbar following a Roy Keane through pass.

Yorke was eventually replaced by van Nistelrooy with 12 minutes remaining in the game.

Former Defence Force teammates Dennis Lawrence and Carlos Edwards both started in a 2-2 draw for Second Division Wrexham against Notts County.

Anthony Rougier was also a starter for Reading but failed to help his team avoid their first defeat of the season as they fell 2-1 at home to Cardiff City.

There was more disappointment for his compatriots in the First Division.

Crewe Alexandra defeated Walsall 2-1 but goalkeeper Clayton Ince would have been disappointed to miss out on a starting spot for Crewe.

Ince opted to miss the Warriors' last two World Cup qualifying matches—against Costa Rica and Mexico—in an effort to break into the Crewe line-up but was again asked to play second fiddle to Nigerian custodian, Ademola Bankole.

At present, Crewe occupy 14th spot in the 24-team First Division table.

Nottingham Forest, employers of T&T striker Stern John, are one place below them at 15th spot.

Forest lost 1-0 to Norwich City yesterday with John left on the bench until the 86th minute to recover from his recent international excursions. 


Wednesday September 4th, 2001]

T&T: Not today Paraguay


TWICE is too much.Those were the simple yet effective words offered yesterday by Trinidad and Tobago's Under-17 captain, Roderick Anthony, as he leads his team into today's warm-up international match against Paraguay, first of the 15 teams to arrive.

Kick-off time is 1 pm at Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo. Admission fee, the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation says is $10 anywhere.

Today's warm-up match is a prelude to this month's FIFA Under-17 World Championships to be played here at five venues across the country.

Anthony yesterdaysaid Paraguay beat T&T twice, about two months ago, in that country.

"Twice is too much. It's very important for us to win these friendly games because we don't have much international games," the T&T skipper said.

Anthony, 17, of Chance Street, Buccoo Point, Tobago, said they observed Paraguay's type of play during those two losses, which ended 4-0 and 2-0.

"We checked their style of play. They are okay, but we are an improving team," he said.

Assistant coach Brazilian Professor Julio Cesar Leal, said since those losses to Paraguay, the technical staff has been able to put the final polish on the T&T team's preparation.

Leal is holding on for compatriot Professor Rene Simoes, who left yesterday for Mexico with the senior team. Simoes is expected back tomorrow.

He described Paraguay as a very good team, brilliant in defence and attack.

"If we perform very well, we could win this game, but our defence must be compact. They must be able to take the ball from their opponents. This will lead to our players scoring goals."

Leal said T&T would not be viewing the game as a revenge one, but as a preparatory one for the tournament.

He said it would be decided today whether goalkeeper Jan Michael Williams, striker Nkosi Blackman and defender Kenwyne Jones will take the field since, they were all nursing minor injuries.

He said the team had a light practice session at Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar, yesterday since,"we had a 'heavy practice' session the day before at Hasely Crawford Stadium."

The Paraguay team, meanwhile, is dissatisfed with the time today's game is scheduled, Rogelio Cattebeke, the team's media officer, said.

Cattebeke said the 34-member squad, staying at the Cascadia Hotel, St Ann's, would have preferred the game to be played at 4 pm because of "the hot sun."

Nonetheless, he said, his team, which he said took 40 hours to get to Trinidad, will be looking for a third win against T&T team.

The team, Cattebeke said, has to its credit Aldo Jara, leading goal-scorer in the South American qualifying round, in which Paraguay placed third to enter the FIFA Under-17 tournament. Jara notched seven goals.

Cattebeke also said the team finished first last month in the European tournament, which was played in Ireland.
The visitors had a short practice stint at Trinity College Ground, Moka, Maraval, yesterday.

Simoes: Defend name of the game vs Mexico today


NATIONAL coach Professor Rene Simoes will be taking no risks in today's World Cup qualifier against Mexico and has decided to go into the match with an all out defensive approach.

Leaving home yesterday morning, the T&T 18-man squad were scheduled to arrive in Mexico City later that day.
According to CONCACAF, the kick-off has been moved to 9 pm local time in Mexico City as announced by the Federacion Mexicana de Futbol (FMF).

The match, set for Azteca Stadium in the Mexican capital, was originally scheduled for noon.

The FMF requested the time change to allow more spectators to attend the match. This was approved by FIFA and the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation.

Going into the game without experienced defenders Marvin Andrews and Ansil Elcock, Simoes made T&T's approach no secret.

"We have to close all doors and play by counter attack. I will put enough players in midfield to close them down.
There is no other way to play. This is also a game for us to play with 14 players. We will definitely need three changes during the match," said Simoes.

The Brazil-born technical director carried a videotape of last Saturday's 2-0 loss against Costa Rica which the players were expected to view last night.

Having to play at the Azteca Stadium will be no easy task.

"They (players) have to suffer and know how to play under the pressure that we will face in Mexico. There will a lot of pressure on us playing in front of 120,000 fans with whistles and horns. We must not be afraid," said Simoes.
Asked about Jamaica's loss to the Mexicans, Simoes said, "I don't think about Jamaica now. I am a
Trinidadian now and I am with the Trinidad team. Jamaica is in the past."

Goalkeeper Shaka Hislop, who could most likely wear the captain's armband in the absence of Andrews, is seemingly very excited about today's contest.

"There's no doubt that it's going to be a tough game but it's an experience we are all looking forward to. I have never played at that stadium. We are looking forward to stepping out in front of 120,000 fans. These are the games that players really enjoy despite how tough it may be. This will also be good preparation for the younger players for future matches in such hostile conditions.

"Our recent record is disappointing to say the very least, but the more games you play it's easier to psyche yourself especially in circumstances like this. I'm looking forward to this game simply because of the atmosphere and the reception that we will be expecting from the Mexicans.

"For some strange reason I enjoy playing in these conditions. These are the sort of games you remember most when you look back at your career. For me it's not difficult to psyche myself up. That's done simply by who we are playing or where are playing," Hislop said before the team left yesterday morning.

Nottingham Forest striker Stern John always goes into a game with intentions of scoring, but today's outing may be a somewhat different scenario.

"We will really have to go out there with our guards up. We know the Mexicans will be trying their best to run us off the field in the first 10 minutes, but we must weather the early storm. I don't think we'll be going out there to really try and win the game. We just have to block everything that comes our way," said John.

"But we also have to play for pride and try and get ourselves out of this bad streak," he added.

Goodbye Korea/Japan, welcome to Under-17s

Valentino Singh

IT is unfortunate that Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy ended their international careers in the controversial manner in which they did in late June.

The pair brought tremendous pride to Trinidad and Tobago, not to mention many hours of pleasure to the many fans who were privileged to see them wearing the red, white and black colours of their country.

How can anyone who was there on November 19, 1989, forget Yorke being lifted off the field following our 0-1 loss to the United States in that tragic World Cup qualifier?

And wasn't it Latapy who promised so faithfully to make sure that his career did not end until Trinidad and Tobago reached the World Cup finals?

Well, another three World Cups have passed and, despite their presence, Yorke and Latapy have failed to provide the inspiration to put their country on the world's most prestigious football stage.

Unfortunately, they will never have the chance again.

But in a few days' time, Trinidad and Tobago will host the Junior World Cup in which 16 of the top teams in the world will be taking part.

Several of the young men in this tournament are certain to make their mark on the international scene in the next two decades.

Within the local team, we will seeking to unearth another pair to fill the boots of Yorke and Latapy and probably go on to realise much more success for their country.

Before Yorke and Latapy, we had Cummings and Archibald. Even before them, stars such as Corneal, Aleong and Gellineau dazzled the fans.

And I could go further back to Matthew Nunes, "The General"Carlton Franco and Squeakie Hinds - naturally talented players who provided yeoman service to the country.

Yorke, of course, led our youth team to the World Cup finals in Portugal and today, we see what that experience has done for him.

There is every possibility that lurking within the T&T team, there are several Yorkes and Latapys, waiting for the opportunity to make their mark.

If only for this reason, Trinidad and Tobago should rally around these youngsters and give them full support during the tournament.

It's farewell to Yorke and Latapy. Let us now welcome the new generation of football hope for Trinidad and Tobago!

Playmaker Leacock intent on bettering Yorke

It is not often that Professor Rene Simoes allows emotion to betray his pragmatic outlook of the game.However, after three months on the job, the Brazilian proudly revealed that he has found something exciting in Trinidad and Tobago.

"It was (Devon) Leacock who made the goal," said Simoes excitedly. "It was his pass that set it up."

The point of discussion was a neat strike by national youth striker, Nkosi Blackman, which gave the Under-17s a 1-0 lead over their Japanese counterparts in a friendly at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.

But Simoes much preferred to talk about the burgeoning talent of his 16-year-old playmaker, Devon Leacock, whose pass had set up Blackman.

The FIFA Under-17 World Championship Trinidad & Tobago 2001 presented by JVC is just days away, and the host nation will be flooded with young talent already on the squads of professional clubs all over the world.

Simoes, who already has three world championship adventures under his belt with the Jamaican senior and youth teams and the Brazil Under-20 team, believes that many of these players could learn a thing or two from the St Benedict's College Fourth Form student.

"He has the ability to make the difficult plays look easy," Simoes explained. "And the easy plays look even easier. Sometimes he gets the ball surrounded by opponents and you think 'no way.'

"And then woo, woo, woo," gesturing wildly with his hands as if demonstrating the youngster's dexterity in such tight spots.

High praise indeed from a coach who has schooled the likes of Corinthians' wizard Marcelinho Carioca and Brazilian 1994 FIFA World Cup winner Leonardo at the youth level.

But Simoes is hardly the first coach to be bowled over by the potential of the young Tobagonian.

In his hometown, Leacock's contemporaries talk in glowing terms about the boy from Plymouth who they refer to as the "new Dwight Yorke."

Leacock, it seems, has all the necessary tools to follow in Yorke's footsteps as stated on the FIFA official Web site last week.

Precocious youth that Leacock is, though, he plans to surpass Yorke.

"I know I come from the same island as Dwight, but really my favourite player is Juan Sebastian Veron," said Leacock.

"Since I can remember, everyone's been telling me I could go on to be like Dwight Yorke. But I know to myself, I can't be like him. I want to go on to be even better," Leacock said recently.

Two must fall in heated Group 'B'

Group "B" will be one of the most hotly-contested in the tournament as France, Japan, Nigeria, and the United States compete for two of the quarter-final berths.

France is the only team to not have played any of their opponents before in this competition. In 1993, Nigeria defeated Japan 2-1 in the quarter-finals en route to their second title. The United States and Japan were also paired in the group stage in Ecuador '95 with Japan winning the match 2-1.

In April, France travelled to Japan for a series of friendlies. The Japanese managed a draw in the first game in Tokyo, but the French won 2-1 in Fukushima and 5-1 on a return match in Tokyo.

France, the second-place UEFA qualifiers, look to be the favourites of the group following the success of their national and youth teams in recent years. Even though Les Bleus have not played in this competition since Emmanuel Petit led them to the quarter-finals at Canada '87, their international pedigree is formidable.

Head coach Jean-Francois Jodar brings a group that narrowly lost in the UEFA final to Spain on the only goal they allowed in the entire tournament. France's potent offence is led by Florent Sinama Pongolle, who tied for the UEFA tournament lead with six goals, and Anthony Le Tallec, who tallied five times in six matches.

The US, who are the only team to play in all nine FIFA Under-17 World Championships, bring perhaps their best squad ever to the tournament. For the first time, the team features two professional players in Santino Quaranta and Ed Johnson. Their defence is also strong with Chad Marshall and Gray Griffin patrolling in front of goalkeeper Adam Schuerman.

Japan, meanwhile, has been improving in its third appearance at this tournament. If they are to get out of the group stages for the second time in their history, forwards Yutaro Abe and Sho Kitano, who scored six goals apiece in Asian U-16 qualifying, must supply the offence.

The African champions, Nigeria, are always a dangerous team and will seek their third championship at the Under-17 level. Colins Osunwa and Femi Opabunmi highlight this athletic team. They recently suffered a narrow loss to defending champions Brazil 4-3 in a hotly-contested friendly in Nigeria.

Samba Boys aim for hattrick

Brazil's Under-17 team is expected to spend the next few days in the United States winding down their preparations for the Championship.

Coach Sergio Farias has spent the last couple weeks gathering all the information possible on first round opponents T&T, Australia and Croatia and is confident that his team can advance to the second round and beyond.

"Australia was our opponent in the last World Championship final, which they only lost in the penalty shoot out. Croatia is a both physically and tactically strong team and the home team will have the added advantage of a home crowd, which always helps a team to lift its game," said Farias.

During the 1999 Finals in New Zealand, Brazil got by Australia, Germany and Mali in the opening round.

The stage was Auckland, New Zealand, the host of the 1999 World Under-17 championship, which Brazil won after a hard slog beating Australia in the final. The task will not be any easier this year but hopes are running high that Brazil will bring the title back from Trinidad and Tobago.

The difficulties in 1999 began in the first round with a 2-1 win over Australia and draws to Germany and the Africans from Mali.

A classic South American confrontation followed with Paraguay which Brazil won 4-1 and then a victory on penalty kicks against Ghana in the semi-final led to a final clash with the Australians which they scraped through 8-7 on penalties.

The "Samba Boys" are coming to T&T with an excellent record so far this year having won the South American championship in March in Peru for the sixth time in the history of the competition.

For this reason they are being touted as the favourites for the title which, if they are successful, would be their third consecutive title after winning in 1997 and 1999.

T&T assistant coach Julio Leal was Brazil's coach for the 1991 Championship before they were knocked out by Ghana in the quarter finals.

Midfielder Lendro of club Vitorio, striker Anderson of Vasco da Gama and Caetano of Sao Paulo are among the individuals fans can look out for during the tournament.

Yorke in trouble again


MANCHESTER United striker Dwight Yorke found himself in more hot water with his boss, Sir Alex Ferguson, on Monday morning after arriving 45 minutes late for training.

However, Ferguson, who sold highly-rated Dutch defender Jaap Stam to Lazio last week, dismissed suggestions that Yorke’s place at the English Premier League club was now in doubt.

Paddy Harverson, United’s director of communications, insisted that Ferguson would not punish the 29-year-old Tobagonian, who had been censored for more serious indiscretions in the past. 

\Harverson confirmed Yorke was late, but claimed this was because of a misunderstanding over the starting time for training. 

Yorke thought Monday’s practice was only a light session, which starts later, because virtually all of United’s first-team squad are away on international duty leading up to World Cup qualifying matches around the globe today. 

The former Trinidad and Tobago star, according to Harverson, agreed to be on time in the future. 

“The manager has explained today that Dwight was late for training,” said Harverson. “Because he didn’t realise it was a full training session with so many players away on international duty. Sir Alex pointed out that when Dwight is coming in he should make sure he is always on time. 

“The manager said that Dwight’s position in the squad and his career at the club had not been affected at all by his lateness.”

British newspapers reported yesterday that Yorke, who has yet to start a competitive game for United this season following the arrival of £19 million (US$27.53 million) striker Ruud van Nistelrooy from PSV Eindhoven, had a heated argument with Ferguson after his late arrival. 

An eyewitness told the London Daily Express: “The players were training as usual and Yorke turned up what seemed to be around 45 minutes later than the other guys. 

“He went on the pitch to join in and immediately Ferguson called him over. They started a slanging match in which Yorke was trying to stand his ground and was giving as good as he got. 

“The argument just seemed to go on and on and Ferguson was absolutely furious.”

Yorke, who played an integral part in United’s 1999 treble success after his club record transfer from Aston Villa, appeared to have a strained relationship with Ferguson since returning late from international duty in Trinidad last September.

A couple weeks later, he stormed out of the dressing room after being told that he would not play against Chelsea.

Erratic form and a much-publicised night out on the town with compatriot and current Glasgow Rangers midfielder Russell Latapy—less than 48 hours before a Premier League fixture last season—further marginalised Yorke’s place at Manchester.

However, he helped to erase the friction with Ferguson by retiring from international football last June, while he also showed excellent form in a pre-season tour of Asia with United.

During his eventful three-year spell, Yorke has been ordered to change his lifestyle and advised to get married by Ferguson.

At present, Yorke has been arguably demoted to fourth striker with his club behind Dutchman van Nistelrooy and England internationals Andy Cole and Paul Scholes.

United resume their campaign for a fourth consecutive Premiership title on Saturday when they play Everton at their Old Trafford home ground.

Team 2001 face Paraguay today


THE Trinidad and Tobago national under-17 football squad, dubbed “Team 2001”, will hope for an improved performance from 1 o’clock this afternoon when they face Paraguay at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

It is the second meeting between both teams within a six-week span.
Paraguay, who are grouped with Mali, Iran and Costa Rica in Group D for the Fifa Under-17 World Championship, whipped Team 2001 6-1 at home last July.

T&T head coach Rene Simoes, who is in Mexico on international duty with the senior national team, believes that the game will give his team important experience against the South American style of play.

The national under-17 team won its last warm-up match 3-0 against the Antiguan national under-20 team on Saturday evening at today’s venue.

“The victory against Antigua was a very good one,” said Simoes. “I liked what I saw, but there are still some areas we need to work on. Now we go to play against Paraguay and I expect us to play a tough game. 

“They are playing much better now.”

Assistant coach Julio Cesar Leal, who led the team against Antigua, will again run the bench in the absence of Simoes.

Team 2001 will also play against Oman in another warm-up match on Friday at 1 p.m.

The afternoon kick-off time should help to prepare the squad for T&T’s opening World Cup match against Croatia from 1 p.m. on September 13 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

Four vie to survive
‘Battle of Bacolet’


On the face of it, there is nothing really to link the United States and France, Nigeria and Japan. But when play in Group B of the Fifa Under-17 World Championship kicks off on September 14, these continental and cultural strangers will be united in one football battle. For survival.

It’s now customary for the scribes, upon viewing the groupings at these major tournaments, to brand one of them “The Group of Death”.
And on paper, Group B, whose field of combat will be the spanking new Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet, Tobago, is certainly the tournament’s group of greatest difficulty.

Here, two-time former U-17 champs Nigeria, the United States, the most consistent team in the tournament’s history, resurgent France and ambitious Japan will vie for the two available qualifying spots.
It is unlikely, though, that there will be two teams more hungry for success than the Americans and the Nigerians.

An U-17 powerhouse with their two titles, Nigeria have not played in this tournament for the past six years. And for the side coached by Abdullahi Musa, a token appearance at the finals will not be satisfactory.
Like their better known seniors, the Super Eagles, Musa’s Super Eaglets will play an enterprising, attacking game. 
It is that style that has got them this far.
In the African qualifying competition, Nigeria emerged winners and played unbeaten in Group B, finishing with a 9-3 goal record. 
The African side will certainly come to the Caribbean as one of the series’ best-prepared sides. They would have played in nearly 40 matches prior to coming to Tobago. This excludes their qualifying games and an appearance in the Meridian Cup, a tournament that featured the four strongest African and European teams. Nigeria was the only African side to win a match.

“We have the advantage that virtually all the players belong to non-league (Nigerian) clubs,” says a spokesman for the Nigerian Football Association. 

Tobagonians should see an interesting group of players which will include solid goalkeeper Chigozie Agbim and striker Colins Osunwa, a creative finisher who scored four goals in the African tournament.
It is difficult to say if Nigeria of 2001 will produce another Nwankwo Kanu, Victor Ikpeba or Sunday Oliseh. But their games are sure not to be dull. 

Nigeria will avoid the United States in their first match. This may be a good thing.


The USA is the only team to have played in all eight of these U-17 tournaments. But fourth spot in the 1999 series in New Zealand is their best effort to date.
The Americans come to T&T 2001 boasting their strongest squad yet, though. 

Winger Santino Quaranta and striker Ed Johnson have big reputations. The teenagers are already professionals, a rarity for youngsters in the Football Confederation.

Quantara, of MLS team DC United, is tall, quick, and creative. He is a penetrative dribbler who can also supply his strikers with good service.
Quantara, Dallas Burn forward Johnson and fellow sharpshooter Mike Magee have combined for 25 goals in 20 games this year. Johnson is a forward who can play with his back to goal, while Magee is fast with a punishing shot. 

This trio alone will give the USA’s first opponents, Japan, much to ponder.

But the Americans don’t have a top-heavy squad.
In goal, the USA will have Adam Schuerman, nicknamed the “Rock” for his tenacity and ability to rally the defence. He is compact and athletic, and his teammates have the utmost confidence in his abilities.
In front of Schuerman will be the formidable physical duo of Chad Marshall and captain Gray Griffin. 

In midfield, playmaker Craig Capano, despite being the youngest member of the side at 15, has the ability to move in and out of tight spaces on the pitch and has the vision to spray passes to his colleagues.
The USA sailed through their qualifying group, scoring ten goals in their three games and conceding just three.

“When we are playing well, we are playing very well. We possess the ability to play with any under-17 team in the world,” says US coach John Ellinger.

Unlike Nigeria, though, the Americans, for all their potential, don’t have a history of success at this level. Playing in their home region may help though.
And should they escape ‘death’ in Group B, the Star Spangled Banner could become the theme song of T&T 2001.

Les Bleus, the French, will have different ambitions, though.
The recent success French football has enjoyed at senior level has rubbed off on the junior team.

France’s U-17s are making their first appearance at this level since 1987.
The French have no tournament record to speak of, but their recent deeds mean they must be taken quite seriously.

Competing in the strongest qualifying section, UEFA, the young Frenchmen built up a near-perfect record.
They breezed through their group in the U-16 qualifying series, scoring 11 goals without reply in three games. In the semi-finals, the French then blasted England 4-0. But they stumbled at the final hurdle, losing the final to Spain on a penalty.

That blemish, though, did little to sully the reputations of the young Frenchmen.

Florent Sinama Pongolle and Anthomy Le Tallec combined to score 11 goals in qualifying, and they will be expected to spearhead the attack once again in T&T.
Goalkeeper Florent Chaigneau, meanwhile, leads arguably one of the best defences in the U-17 tournament.

Since their qualifying success, though, the Frenchmen have played very little, many of their squad being attached to professional teams. But such is their confidence that coach Jean-François Jodar is not worried by the recent lack of match practice.

Time will soon tell whether that confidence is misplaced, or whether the French youths will follow the stunning example of their elders.

Japan don’t have any of the credentials of their opponents. But their co-hosting of next year’s senior World Cup makes this outing one in which they can build the profile of Japanese football.
For certain, the Asians will arrive in Tobago well prepared.
Last month they paid a pre-tournament visit to T&T, drawing with the home side 1-1 at the Dwight Yorke Stadium and beating them 3-1 in a second match at the Ato Boldon Stadium. Since their clinching of third place in the AFC qualifying series in Vietnam behind winners Oman and Iran, Japan have also toured Australia in March, when they drew 2-2 and lost 5-2.

The Japanese know how to scrap. After winning their qualifying group with a maximum 14 points and a 12-1 goal difference, they lost a close semi-final 3-2 to Oman but fought off Vietnam 4-2 for third place and a trip to the Caribbean.

It is an adventure they hope to savour, while ensuring that the shadow of death in this group does not crowd out their rising sun.

How they got here

Qualifying records

Nigeria: vs Guinea 2-2, vs Ethiopia 4-1, vs Mozambique 3-0, (Semis) vs Mali 1-1 (won 4-3 on penalties), won final vs Burkina Faso.

France: vs Scotland 3-0, vs Croatia 3-0, vs Finland 5-0, (semis) vs England 4-0, (Final) vs Spain 0-1

USA: vs Jamaica 2-1, vs Canada 4-2, vs El Salvador 4-0

Japan: vs Vietnam 2-0, vs Myanmar 2-0, vs Nepal 3-0, vs China 7-1, vs Oman 2-3, vs Vietnam 1-0, (Third Place) vs Vietnam 4-2


Simoes names final squad

Take solace from Pele, he says

COACH Professor Rene Simoes yesterday announced an 18-man squad to represent hosts Trinidad and Tobago in the FIFA Under-17 World Championship from September 13-30.

At a media conference hosted by Clico at Hilton Trinidad, Simoes named the players from a list of 25 individuals who were in training.

Captain Roderick Anthony will lead the T&T team in their two final preparation matches before the start of the competition.

Team 2001 will face the Paraguay Under-17s, who were expected to arrive here last night, at the Hasely Crawford Stadium from 1 p.m. tomorrow.

And they will take on the Oman Under-17 team, one of the 15 teams which qualified for this month’s Fifa tournament, at the same venue from 1 p.m. on Friday. Admission for both matches is $10 anywhere.

In his address yesterday, Simoes said trimming the squad was a difficult exercise.

“Today when I had to drop seven players is another painful time for the coach because we are human beings and we have feelings,” the Brazilian lamented.

Simoes said he wrote to the seven players, commending them for their efforts and dedication and urging them to continue developing themselves and aim for selection on the national under-20 team. 

Part of the letter drew an analogy with a famous footballer’s rise to success.

“Many years ago, a young player was turned down from one of Brazil’s teams, Vasco da Gama. He persisted and believed in himself enough to keep on trying. He learnt from his experience and strove for his dream. Many years later this player was voted the best athlete of the 20th century. His name is Pele.” 

In his turn at the podium, Fifa vice-president Jack Warner encouraged Clico, which has invested some $700,000 a year in T&T football since 1998, to continue backing the sport.

“If you (Clico) are satisfied with this investment, and there is every reason to be, don’t stop, give us another four years,” Warner declared. “Professor Simoes has a six-year programme which begins today with these young players. As I said before, as it was in the beginning, so it shall be in the end.”

Warner added that pan, the national instrument, which will be used to play the national anthems of the 15 visiting teams, will also benefit from the world tournament because more than 200 million people are expected to view the opening ceremony and the matches to follow.

The Football Confederation president also announced that former national assistant coach Jimmy Blanc has been put in charge of a scouting programme which will begin soon.

Warner added that State-owned Petrotrin has agreed to allow the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) the use of facilities at Forest Reserve as a base for national teams.

“Professor Simoes has asked for Jimmy Blanc to head a scout team and also, too, Eddie Hart. And I say Eddie Hart for spite, so faint...collapse,” said UNC supporter Warner, raising laughter from the audience as he referred to the opposition PNM MP.

The Trinidad and Tobago Under-17 squad, with their respective schools in brackets:

Roderick Anthony (captain) and Jerol Forbes (Naparima College); Ochieng Abosi, Terrance MacAllister (El Dorado Senior Comprehensive); André Alexis, Nkosi Blackman, Devon Bristol, Lee Hayes, Devon Leacock, Kerwin Belgrave (reserve goalkeeper), (St Benedict’s College); Julius James, Kenwyne Jones, Jan-Michael Williams (St Anthony’s College); Jamal Hamid, Kerron Phillip (Arima Senior Comp); Makan Hislop (Signal Hill Senior Comp); Cyrone Edwards (QRC); Khalil Mathura (St Mary’s College); Marvin Phillip (Presentation College). 

Technical Staff:
Rene Simoes (head coach), Julio Cesar Leal, Ken Orie, Glenford Thomas (assistant coaches), Francisco “Chico” Santos (goalkeeper coach), Alfredo Montesso (trainer), Dr Anyl Gopeesingh (doctor), Carlton Samuel (physiotherapist/masseur), Michael Fough (paramedic), Lloyd Andrews (equipment manager), Russell Tesheira (team administrator), Douglas James (assistant team administrator).

Elcock avoids Mexico


MEXICAN star striker Cuauhtemoc Blanco will not get an opportunity to cross swords with Trinidad and Tobago defender Ansil Elcock tomorrow in World Cup qualifying action at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.

Not that he may have wanted to.

Blanco’s last duel with Elcock ended in controversial fashion as he was stretchered off the field after a tackle from the “Soca Warrior”.

Subsequently, Elcock faced a barrage of death threats by telephone at his Trinidad home while the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) begged the world governing body, Fifa, to ban the defender for life.

Elcock, who was handed a three-match ban and a fine of 5,000 Swiss francs from Fifa, is concerned that the fanatical “El Tricolour” fans may not yet be ready to forgive him.

Trinidad and Tobago technical director Rene Simoes agreed with the veteran Columbus Crew defender and his place in the squad will go to Joe Public utility player, Stokely Mason.

“Elcock will not be there,” said Simoes yesterday. “There is a threat to his safety so we decided to leave him out.”

Simoes told the Express that he was warned about Elcock’s reluctance to travel to Mexico before the 2-0 World Cup qualifying loss to Costa Rica last Saturday.

“That is one of the reasons I did not use him in the game,” he said. “Because I would have lost the opportunity to give a new player exposure before (tomorrow’s qualifier). 

“I would then have to give (someone their) debut in Mexico which would have been worse.”

Team captain Marvin “Dog” Andrews will also miss tomorrow’s match after reopening a gash above his right eye in Saturday’s qualifier.

Andrews, who plays for Scottish Premier League club Livingston, suffered a deep cut which required seven stitches during Premiership action against Motherwell on August 25.

The wound was reopened, midway through the second half against Costa Rica, when Andrews went airborne to contest a deep corner kick from teammate Arnold Dwarika. 

It was the first time for the match that Andrews, who has scored four qualifying goals with his head, had gambled on challenging at a set piece.

Caledonia AIA stopper Ronald Primus replaces Andrews in the 18-man squad, while Public defender Keyeno Thomas will take his spot in the starting line-up.

Simoes is still undecided about the offensive composition of his team, though.

The Warriors began with two orthodox centre-forwards against Costa Rica, but may opt for a lone striker at the Azteca ahead of a six-man midfield.

The coach lamented the fact that he was unable to see Mexico’s 2-1 qualifying win over Jamaica on Sunday due to the poor quality of the televised broadcast.

But the Warriors leave for Mexico at 11.15 this morning knowing they are facing a daunting task.

The Azteca Stadium can hardly be described as a happy hunting ground for Caribbean teams—or most foreign opposition for that matter.

Still, West Ham custodian Shaka Hislop is looking forward to the challenge.

“It’s going to be a tough game but certainly it will also be a great experience,” said Hislop. “It’s a game I’m looking forward to because I’ve never played at the Azteca Stadium before.”

Trinidad and Tobago’s last trip to Mexico on October 9, 2000 ended in an emphatic 7-0 defeat, while even the relatively sturdy Jamaican defence was breached four times in their visit to Mexico City last March.

Blanco scored twice before leaving the field in unfortunate circumstances in that 7-0 mauling and showed he can still remember his way to goal with a double on the weekend over the “Reggae Boyz”.

Mexico, now in fourth spot and with a goal differential of plus one, are in desperate need of a big win over the Warriors to keep their hopes of a top three finish and a place in the 2002 World Cup.

Elcock, for whatever it’s worth, will not be there to stop them.

Women linesmen, referee for U-17

THREE of the 27 field officials for the JVC Fifa Under-17 World Championship tournament to be hosted in Trinidad and Tobago from September 13-30 will be women.

The Korea Republic’s Eun Ju Im, though, will be the only female to carry the whistle.

The Asian Football Confederation representative could be assisted by two other women on the sidelines.

Serving as assistant referees will be Panama’s Jackeline Saez from the Concacaf region and Peru’s Ana Perez Asante from Conmebol.

Trinidad and Tobago will be represented by experienced referee Ramesh Ramdhan.

Here is the full list of referees and assistants for the event:

Referees—Eun Ju Im (Korea Republic), Hussein Issa Hazim (Iraq), Chukwudi Chukwujekwu (Nigeria), Divine Evehe (Cameroon), Ramesh Ramdhan (Trinidad and Tobago), Samuel Richard (Dominican Republic), Rodolfo Sibrian (El Salvador), Harry Atisson (Vanuatu), Daniel Gimenez (Argentina), Paolo Cesar Oliveira (Brazil), Michal Benes (Czech Republic), Lucillo Cardosa Cortez (Portugal), Alexandru Tudor (Romania), Kristinn Jakobsson (Iceland).
Assistant referees—Hamdi Al Sheikh Al Kadri (Syria), Yoshikazu Hiroshima (Japan), Salah El Berry (Equitorial Guinea), Lazarus Mathela (Cameroon), Winston Goodridge (Barbados), Ramon Munoz (Mexico), Jackeline Saez (Panama), Nelson Cano Duarte (Paraguay), Ana Perez Asante (Peru), Hillary Ani (Papua New Guinea), Steinar Holvik (Norway), Shabtai Nahmis (Israel), Konrad Sapela (Poland).

T&T Under-17 Squad

TEAM: Roderick Anthony (capt/wing back), Jerol Forbes (striker), Nkosi Blackman (striker), Cyrone Edwards (midfielder), Julius James (wingback), Kahlil Matura (midfielder), Markan Hislop (defender), Jamal Hamid (midfielder), Jan-Michael Williams (goalkeeper), Devon Leacock (midfielder), Terrence McAllister (midfielder), Abosi Ochieng (midfielder), Andre Alexis (striker), Devon Bristol (defender), Lee Haynes (defender), Kenwyne Jones (defender), Marvin Phillip (goalkeeper), Kerron Phillip (wingback) and substitute Kerwin Belgrave (goalkeeper).

Administrative/Technical staff: Professor Rene Simoes (technical director/coach), Julio Cesar Leal (asst coach), Ken Elie (asst coach), Glenford Thomas (asst coach), Francisco "Chico" Santos (goalkeeper coach), Alfredo Montesso (trainer), Dr Anyl Gopeesingh (doctor), Carlton Samuel (physiotherapist/masseur), Michael Fough (paramedic), Lloyd Andrews (equipment manager), Russel Teshiera (team administrator), Douglas James (asst team administrator).

Warner slams local contractors


FIFA vice-president Austin Jack Warner, took a hard line on local contractors (companies) yesterday, saying not one of them gave a nickle to assist with the team's preparations for the September 13-30 FIFA Under-17 World Cup Championships.

Warner was speaking at a press conference after Trinidad and Tobago announced its 18-man squad for the tournament.

There were 19 players in the room, and so, goalkeeper Kerwin Belgrave, who appeared to be dejected, remained seated with his head bowed for quite awhile.

Technical director and coach Rene Simoes later explained Belgrave, whom he spotted last month, will be called upon as substitute in the event Jan Michael Williams' back injury should act up.

"He (Williams) should be OK. It's just a precaution," Simoes said, adding all the players have been insured.

The team, cut from 25, was mentioned in the La Boucan Room Hilton Trinidad and Conference Room. Fifteen other countries also named their 18-man contingent for the competition, Warner said.

Dropped from the training camp were Kevin Crooks, Venosh Maraj, Raphael Jones, Colin Belgrave, Dwight Scott, Seon Powers and Delano Davis.

But Simoes urged those players not to give up or quit the game, instead asking them to use it as a learning experience.
Simoes said, too, he sent a letter to each of the seven players, which in part states many years ago, a young player was turned down from one of Brazil's team, Vasco de Gama.

That player, whom Simoes later identified as Pele, persisted and believed in himself enough to keep trying.

Seemingly surprised at being named captain, Tobagonian Roderick Anthony, one of four from the Sister Isle, said he has never been appointed to lead any team at any time.

Transferred from Elizabeth's College, Anthony, 17, now a student of Naparima College, said he was feeling great about the captaincy, adding it was his blessings from God.

"I am focussed and I hope to keep the players in the right frame of mind," Anthony said, adding, "I am just waiting on the appointed time to go and make my country proud."

T&T is in Group "A" with Croatia, Australia and group favourites Brazil. Their first match, to be kicked off at 4 pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on the opening day, is against Croatia. All of this country's matches will be played at that venue, the fixtures show.

Warner, special advisor to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF), told the team that it was not by accident they were here, but by hope.

He explained that four years ago things seemed hopeless, that is until principal sponsors CL Financial came aboard.
In 1993, Warner said, the Government of the day asked former FIFA president Dr Joao Havelange to host the said World Cup.

That year, he said, in Egypt on the River Nile, this country was able to beat off bets from Japan, Finland and Ecuador, because FIFA felt this country could show the world.

Warner said three years later, the Federation went back to ask the Government if they were serious, to which, he said, they replied in the positive.

With no team and no facilities, but with hope, Warner said Clico began putting things together in 1998.

"Not a single contractor gave a nickle to the cause," Warner said, adding he had to give thanks to Royal Bank for their assistance and thanked CL Financial for what he said was "keeping the faith."

He also took issue with members of the public for what he termed as their negative responses.

"Father forgive those persons," he said, adding, "they don't understand hope."

Warner, admitting the country seems to be on a losing streak "these days", urged the team to go forth and multiply goals.

"If you play well, there would be a feeling of satisfaction from the country," he said.

Warner also said over 200,000,000 viewers from 39,000,000 homes will be able to tune into the games.

Ramdhan among 3 Concacaf referees for FIFA U-17 series

TRINIDAD and Tobago's referee Ramesh Ramdhan is among three officials from CONCACAF Zone appointed to be in charge of matches in the FIFA Under-17 World Championships to be held in Trinidad and Tobago from September 13-30.

Ramdhan, Samuel Richard of the Dominican Republic and Rodolfo Sibrian of El Salvador are among the 14 referees for the tournament.

Winston Goodridge of Barbados, Ramon Munoz of Mexico and Jackeline Saez of Panama are the three assistant referees from the zone.


Monday September 3rd, 2001

Simoes heartened by T&T tenacity

THE young Trinidad and Tobago national senior football team will receive another stern test on Wednesday, when they face Mexico in a World Cup qualifying game at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.

This country’s poor run of form in the Concacaf Zone qualifying series continued on Saturday at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, where the “Soca Warriors” went under 0-2 to Costa Rica.

The defeat was the fourth on the trot for T&T.

Afterwards, Brazilian technical director Rene Simoes said that though the “Soca Warriors” lost, they displayed great tenacity.

“Some players debuted today. It’s a team that has just begun. Yet, they fought hard, especially in the second half. I like when Brent Rahim came on the field. I like the way he moves.

“In general,” Simoes stated, “it was a performance that gave us confidence for the future.”

Mexico pipped Jamaica 2-1 at the National Stadium in Kingston yesterday.

In the rescheduled second match of Saturday's double-header at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Trinidad and Tobago’s under-17 team beat the Antiguan under-20 squad 3-0.

Goalscorers for Team 2001—rounding off preparations for the September 13-30 Fifa Under-17 World Championship here—were Andre Alexis in the second minute, Nkosi Blackman (28th) and Jerol Forbes (85th).


More misery

Costa Rica beat T&T 2-0


SPANISH, it seemed, was the first language at the Hasely Crawford National Stadium yesterday evening as Costa Rica defeated hosts Trinidad and Tobago 2-0 in a 2002 Concacaf World Cup qualifier.

The result made Costa Rica the 11th team to qualify for the 2002 World Cup and the first from the Concacaf region.

And, at the final whistle, a large group of Costa Rican supporters screamed and tossed drinks and hats in the air to mark the occasion.

In contrast, a disoriented Trinidad and Tobago squad slunk towards the dressing room with the weight of four successive defeats on their shoulders.

The match should have heralded the rebirth of the “Soca Warriors” under the guidance of Brazilian technical director Rene Simoes but, instead, was nothing short of a Costa Rican fiesta.

As the teams faced the covered stands for the playing of the anthems, the Warriors would have been bemused to see—in that section—more Central American supporters than locals.

There were anywhere from 500 to 1,500 Costa Ricans from an attendance of approximately 6,500 spectators at the stadium.

It was hard to gauge an exact figure as both sets of supporters wore red. But there was no doubt about which was the noisier group.

The visitors did not have to wait long to start their party.

Just four minutes into the match, Costa Rican striker Ronald Gomez spun on opposing sweeper Anton Pierre—about 25 yards from goal—and charged into the penalty area.

His low left footer nestled in the back of the net, despite a touch from goalkeeper Shaka Hislop, for the opening item and his first goal of the 2002 qualifying series.

The loud roar that went up from the covered stands suggested that they were on their way.

The visiting supporters, as it turned out, had good reason for optimism.

Three minutes later, the “Ticos” almost struck again when captain Reynaldo Parks deflected a Walter Centeno shot towards goal.

Only a good low block from Hislop and a desperate defensive clearance averted the danger on that occasion.

The locals, who made six changes to their starting line-up since their last qualifier, slowly began to settle on the damp pitch and were gaining in confidence when Costa Rica doubled their lead.

Once more, it was Gomez who “did the dirty” and maintained his rich vein of form in Trinidad.

Five years ago to the day, the burly Greek-based centre forward had managed Costa Rica’s lone item in a 1-0 qualifying win at the Queen’s Park Oval for the 1998 World Cup.

Selected in place of suspended striker Paolo Wanchope, Gomez was twice as efficient yesterday as he again beat Hislop in the 34th minute with a firm half volley which took a wicked deflection off the boot of Pierre.

There was precious little goalmouth action thereafter for either team.

To the credit of the hosts, though, they never looked like crumbling as they did in a 4-2 loss to Honduras.

The Warriors, if anything, enjoyed slightly better ball possession and gave as good as they got.

In the midfield, Joe Public star Arnold Dwarika displayed deft dribbling skills although his distribution was well short of its normal precision.

Right wing-back Cyd Gray, Stern John and Pierre also toiled hard with minimal success as did lively United States-based substitute Gary Glasgow.

But none looked capable of changing the eventual result.

The host’s best chance fell to the industrious Brent Rahim, who replaced Aurtis Whitley—otherwise known as Otis Seaton—at the interval.

Fourteen minutes into the second half, John chested down a Dwarika cross for Rahim who pulled his shot wide of the far post from the edge of the penalty area.

Costa Rican substitute, Hernan Medford, also just missed the target with a booming left footer from the edge of the area after a skilful backheel from Steven Bryce in the 63rd minute.

But there was little else to illuminate the crowd.

Unless you were Costa Rican, of course.

At the interval, the Central Americans formed a conga line and danced through the aisles.

And, for most of the 90 minutes, they sang, clapped and shouted “Ole” as their team battled to its second-ever World Cup spot.

Coach Alexandre Guimaraes and Medford were both players when the “Ticos” played in the 1990 tournament in Italy and they would have been especially proud of yesterday’s achievement. If not their performance.

It was a totally forgettable match but, for Costa Ricans, a truly memorable result.

T&T: 1-Shaka Hislop; 4-Marvin Andrews (5-Keyeno Thomas 66), 16-Anton Pierre, 17-Addison Belfon; 3-Dale Saunders, 7-Cyd Gray, 6-Avery John, 19-Aurtis Whitley (11-Brent Rahim 46), 9-Arnold Dwarika; 18-Nigel Pierre (12-Gary Glasgow 61), 14-Stern John.

COSTA RICA: 1-Erick Lonnis; 17-Stephen Bryce, 22-Carlos Castro (6-Wilmer Lopez 66), 10-Walter Centeno, 2-Jorge Drummond (20-William Sunsing 77), 7-Ronaldo Fonseca (17-Hernan Medford 61), 11-Ronaldo Gomez, 3-Luis Marin, 5-Gilberto Martinez, 8-Mauricio Solis, 21-Reynaldo Parkes. 
REFEREE: Mohammed Koussa (Syria).

Fifa U-17 World Championship

Big guns and upstarts


FIFTEEN visiting teams and hosts Trinidad and Tobago will square off in the September 13-30 Fifa Under-17 World Championship, to be played at four new stadiums around the country and the Hasely Crawford National Stadium.

For the most part, the young players are completely unknown to local fans. As is the footballing history of some of the nations at this level.

Continuing today and on Wednesdays and next Sunday until the start of the tournament, the Express presents features on each of the four groups involved in the battle for the prestigious title.

Today, Group C is in the spotlight. The four teams—Oman, Spain, Argentina and Burkina Faso—will play their first-round matches at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella and the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.


Their senior side is considered without equal in some quarters and favourites to claim a third World Cup in South Korea and Japan next year.

And their Under-20s were at the top of the heap when they lifted their age-group world title at home last July.

Now it’s time for Argentine coach Hugo Tocalli’s charges to prove their worth at this year’s Fifa Under-17 World Championship.

Since the competition’s inception in 1991, the Argentines have never worn this crown.

But U-17 supremacy is not Tocalli’s main goal.

“Our first objective is to give the players an experience, to help find players for the future, for the under-20 side and beyond...we must not make the kids feel that winning the world championship is the only thing that matters,” he stressed.

Despite Tocalli’s claims about growth and development, however, his squad is full of talent which could bring further glory to the South American powerhouse.

Energetic and promising strikers Maxi Lopez, who made the starting line-up for River Plate recently, and co-attackers Carlos Tevez and Paulo Rosales are sure to torment the defences of Spain, Oman and Burkina Faso in Group C action.

Lopez, though, is uncertain to make the trip to Trinidad and Tobago because his River Plate club wants to secure a replacement before releasing him for national duty.

Also at Tocalli’s disposal are dynamic midfielders Pablo Zabaleta and Javier Mascherano.

At the back, Walter Garcia is the anchor, making Argentina more solid and confident.

But the 53-year-old coach insists that the U-17 games are more a means rather than an end in itself.

“One has always to remind the players that this is not their last game of football, their last game for the national team, but part of their growth as footballers,” said Tocalli. “It is a fantastic experience for them...and if at the end of it all, we win the trophy, we’ll certainly be happy with that.”


Six-time European Under-16 champions, Spain will be attempting to become the second team from that continent to boast of being the best in the world at the junior level.

Not since the Soviet Union in 1987 (when the Fifa tournament was for players aged 16 or less) has an European team lifted the title. The Spaniards will be hoping to convert European success into world supremacy. 

Spain continued their dominance in Europe on May 6 when they defeated France 1-0 in the final of the UEFA qualifying tournament to earn the first of three spots available to that region.

With experienced coach Juan Santisteban at the helm, Spain will be looking to erase the memory of 1991 when they lost 1-0 to underdogs Ghana in the championship final.

This time around, their challenge will be led by talented forward Fernando Torres.

Torres, who recently earned the right to train with Primera Liga club Atletico Madrid’s first team, is sure to be a thorn in opposition defences throughout the tournament.

Santisteban will be depending on midfielders Juan Alberto Andreu and Jaime Gavilan to provide Torres with good service.

But Santisteban’s side may lack cohesion when the games get underway on September 13.

While all of the Spanish players are honing their skills with club teams, they will only assemble as a unit from tomorrow (September 3). And that fact may well put paid to their chances of securing the trophy.


From relative obscurity, Oman first came to light in the 1995 edition of the tournament when they finished fourth.

A subsequent quarter-final appearance in 1997 proved that the previous achievement was no fluke.

Those results came partly because of determined play. But also because the Omanis were an unknown factor.

However, their New Zealand coach John Adshead expects opponents to be more aware this time around.

“We will definitely be competitive. However, it won’t be easy at all for us. In 1995, and even in 1997, I think many of our opponents took Oman lightly,” he noted. “And that won’t happen this time.”

The Oman squad know that their spot in Group C leaves no room for mistakes.

Specifically, they won’t want to be burdened with the same problem that bugged them in their regional qualifying campaign.

Six Omani players were banned for being over-age, although three had the ruling overturned and were reinstated in the team.

Coach Adshead will hope that midfield twins Khaled and Sulinam Said and the promising Khalifa Ayel can provide the spark to get Oman out of the group and into the second round.


Burkina Faso have made steady improvement since the establishment of their football academy. And they are hoping to continue that trend later this month in Trinidad and Tobago.

They surprised everyone with their appearnce in the African Under-17 championship final, which they eventually lost to Nigeria.

And their manager Leonce Diarra is upbeat about making some more waves—this time at the world level.

“At this level, there are no weak teams. And I am sure that the coaches of our opposition are just as worried about the prospect of meeting us as we are about meeting them,” he said.

In one of the strongest groups in the competition, Diarra’s comments may sound quite hopeful.

But his team has flair and world-class talent in attack in the persons of Saidou Panadetiguiri and Wilfred Sanou. 

And with their final preparations being done in Europe, his side should be adequately ready for the challenges of a group which includes two regional champions (Spain and Oman) and a South American supremo in Argentina.

T&T doesn't stop party

OUT-GUNNED, out-suppported.
That was the sad state of affairs yesterday as Trinidad and Tobago officially said goodbye to all chances of reaching the 2002 World Cup Finals in Korea/Japan with a 2-0 loss to table-toppers Costa Rica at Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo.

Ronald Gomez found himself in the right place at the right time to net both goals for the Costa Ricans in the first half.
Victory left Costa Rica at the head of the standings in the final qualifying round of the CONCACAF Zone with 16 points from seven matches while defeat left the "Soca Warriors" anchored at the bottom of the six-country competition with a lone point from a draw with Mexico at the same venue in April.

T&T still has three matches to complete what has been a miserable final qualifying round experience. It plays Mexico on Wednesday in Mexico, Honduras early next month in Honduras and the United States here in mid-November.
National coach Brazilian Professor Rene Simoes of Brazil will now have to focus all his attention on building a formidable unit for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Although at home yesterday, the "Soca Warriors" found itself playing with little vocal support from its fans except for the sounds of steelband Woodbrook Playboyz, which kept up a steady rhythm throughout the match.
As it turned out, it was Costa Rica instead which enjoyed better crowd support as its 1,500-strong invasion kept up a constant party chant of "Ole-Ole-Ole, Ole-Ole-Ole, Ticos-Ticos-Ticos".
Ironically, almost the entire crowd of about 8,000 was clad in red so it was difficult to distinguish a Trinidadian from a Costa Rican unless you heard someone speak.

In a match in which both goalkeepers, Erick Lonis for Costa Rica and Shaka Hislop for T&T. had little work to do, goalscorer Gomez made his two strikes count.

Four minutes into the game Gomez was fed a pass by over-lapping right back Gervis Drummond just outside the box. He rounded debutant Addison Belfon without much fuss and, from around the penalty spot, left fly a left-footer that was partially saved by Hislop before the ball entered the net.

It was the first serious attack by either team as well as the first shot for the visitors in the first half hour of play.
Up until when Costa Rica scored again in the 33rd minute, Trinidadian Arnold Dwarika was running rings around the opposition in midfield. However, he was not getting the support he needed upfront from Stern John and Nigel Pierre whenever he made a penetrative pass.

Like the first goal, Costa Rica attacked down the "Soca Warriors'" left flank and once again it was a Drummond-Gomez combination that brought success.

Drummond, who found himself near the corner flag, faked a cross and the inexperience of Balfon showed as the defender jumped and turned his back in anticipation of the ball hitting him.
Drummond quick to realise he had caught the T&T defender napping, made room for himself and laid on a pass for Gomez, whose left-foot shot took a deflection before beating a helpless Hislop.
It wasn't until Brent Rahim was brought on for Aurtis Whitney (Otis Seaton) in the 46th minute and Gary Glasgow replaced Pierre in the 61st minute that T&T looked dangerous.


Saturday September 1st, 2001

Warriors aim to deny Costa Ricans

Party poopers in town


There are plans to turn the Hasely Crawford Stadium into a party venue from 4 p.m. this afternoon when Trinidad and Tobago tackle Costa Rica in a 2002 Concacaf World Cup qualifying match.

But it is the visitors—and not the host nation—who are preparing for a massive celebration.

The “Ticos” are only one point away from qualifying for the 2002 World Cup, to be jointly hosted by Korea and Japan, and coach Alexander Guimaraës wants as little suspense as possible.

He left little doubt that they will be going for victory today.

“From the kickoff, we will be aiming for the opponents’ goal as we have done throughout qualifying,” said Guimaraës. “We have clearly put in the system we are going to apply and the players to do it. And from here everything will go well.”

However, the “Soca Warriors”, led by Scottish Premier League defender Marvin “Dog” Andrews, have other plans.

“They might be saying that they have already beaten us,” said Andrews. “We all have in the back of our minds that only a miracle will take us to the World Cup. But in saying that we will still go out there and play hard and hope to get a victory.

“We must just do our best and God will do the rest for us.”

Still, it is a tall order.

The Costa Ricans are arguably enjoying the best run of form in the Concacaf region after registering three successive victories—two of them away to Mexico and Costa Rica.

Trinidad and Tobago coach René Simoes needs only to look at the video tape of their last meeting to fully grasp the difficulty of the task.

Then led by Scottish coach Ian Porterfield, the Warriors were outplayed for long periods in a 3-0 defeat away to Costa Rica in March.

Despite the services of Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke, Glasgow Rangers playmaker Russell Latapy, Burnley stopper Ian Cox and Bristol Rovers hardman Ronnie Maugé—all of whom have since withdrawn their services from the team—T&T were powerless against the fast, slick passing Central Americans.

Images of Ticos’ playmaker Wilmer López ghosting around the pitch, Hernán Medford stretching the right side of the Warriors defence and Manchester City striker Paolo Wanchope scoring twice after coming off the bench will not be easily forgotten by anyone who witnessed the match.

Wanchope misses today’s game through suspension but striker Rolando Fonseca—Concacaf’s second highest goalscorer with eight items—will be there as well as López and Steven Bryce, who opened the scoring in their earlier encounter.

But while the Ticos aim for continuity, Trinidad and Tobago are in the rebuilding stage, the brainchild of the shrewd Simoes.

Only six members of his 18-man squad were used in their first round defeat in Costa Rica while there should be at least five changes in the starting line-up from their 2-1 qualifying defeat to Jamaica in June.

West Ham custodian Shaka Hislop, who performed admirably in their March encounter, replaces Clayton Ince in goal for T&T.

Ince has opted to remain in England in an attempt to break into the line-up of English First Division team, Crewe Alexandra.

Ahead of Hislop, Andrews and Avery John should keep their places alongside Defence Force stopper Anton Pierre and Joe Public wingback Cyd Gray, who made a dismal competitive debut away to Costa Rica.

Addison Belfon and Keyeno Thomas compete for a vacant spot in central defence while veteran defender Ansil Elcock is likely to miss out.
The midfield will be commandeered by Arnold Dwarika with Dale Saunders and either Bulgarian-based midfielder Brent Rahim or CLF Jabloteh playmaker Otis Seaton—whose passport lists him as Aurtis Whitley —for company.

Nottingham Forest striker Stern John and Nigel Pierre should start up front with Pierre also expected to drop back in midfield when Simoes switches to a 3-6-1 system.

Kansas City Wizards striker Gary Glasgow and Jabloteh attacker Angus Eve—the Warriors’ top qualifying marksman with six goals—should see action off the bench.

It is a group that Simoes hopes can delay the Costa Rican team who are expected to be supported by as many as 900 supporters.

“We must let the opponent know that they are playing away from home,” said Simoes. “We must not make it easy for them.”

Costa Rica are on the verge of their first World Cup appearance since their debut in Italia 1990.

Guimaraës was a member of that 1990 team while Medford, then a precocious teenager, also saw action.

Both, no doubt, are anxious to return to such heights.

They will first have to outdo 11-plus Trinidad and Tobago party-poopers.

T&T: Won't be easy for Costa Rica

Trinidad and Tobago's senior footballers will be hoping to salvage some pride in their seventh final round 2002 World Cup Qualifying encounter against Costa Rica today at Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo.

Skipper Marvin Andrews and his "Soca Warriors" will take the field at 4 pm in a clash if the visitors were to win would virtually assure them of a spot in the finals next year and remaining atop the six-nation table.

T&T coach Brazilian Professor Rene Simoes held a final 45-minute session at the Stadium yesterday, stressing to his players the importance of playing as though their lives were at stake, taking into consideration Costa Rica achieved a 3-0 result against T&T earlier this year and now was revenge time.

He told the players they must prevent any celebrations by the Costa Ricans - some 900 of their fans expected to be in the stands.

"We must play with all the fight in the world. Every match is an important one. But what is more important is that you play with strong pride and play with honour for yourcountry. We don't expect it to be an easy match but we must let Costa Rica know they are playing away from home. We must not make it easy for them," said Simoes.

"It will take a big miracle for us to qualify but I have told my players that while they are playing for pride, everytime they play well, somebody is watching them and so it's an opportunity to also market themselves."

Simoes also told the players is that he did not like somebody coming into his house to have a party. "This is my house so I decide when I have a party. We don't want the Costa Ricans to have any party because if they win they will almost have their place in the World Cup Finals," he said.

The Brazil-born Technical Director also announced his final 18-man squad for the match, which includes CL Financial San Juan Jabloteh midfielder Otis Seaton whose name has been listed as Aurtis Whitley according to his passport identification.

The squad: Goalkeepers - Shaka Hislop (West Ham), Michael McComie (Joe Public).

Defenders -Avery John (Bohemians FC), Anton Pierre (Defence Force), Addison Belfon (Vibe CT 105 W Connection), Ansil Elcock (Columbus Crew), Marvin Andrews (Livingston), Keyeno Thomas (Joe Public), Cyd Gray (Joe Public).

Midfielders - Brent Rahim (Levski Sofia), Angus Eve (CL Financial San Juan Jabloteh), Aurtis Whitley (CL Financial San Juan Jabloteh), Dale Saunders (Joe Public), Mickey Trotman (Rochester Rhinos), Arnold Dwarika (Joe Public).

Forwards - Stern John (Nottingham Forest), Nigel Pierre (Joe Public), Gary Glasgow (Kansas City Wizards.
Skipper Andrews was in a confident mood after yesterday's training session.

"There's no pressure on us. All the pressure is on Costa Rica because they want a victory to push them closer to the World Cup. They might be saying that they have already beaten us. We all have on the back of our minds that only a miracle will take us to the World Cup, but in saying that we will still go out there and play hard and hope to get a victory. We must just do our best and God will do the rest for us," Andrews said.

Simoes will also be keeping an eye on T&T's Under-17 team which takes on Antigua's Under-20s in a warm-up match at the Stadium from 1 pm.

"This is another important match for the Under-17 team. The final squad will be announced next week and this game against an international team is very good one for our team," said Simoes.

Costa Rica played against its Under-17s last Tuesday and according to coach Alexandre Guimares, the "Ticos" are ready for battle. "There is no reason to change anything, from the kick-off we will be aiming for opponent's goal as we have done throughout qualifying."

Syria's Mohammed Koussa will carry the whistle in the World Cup qualifier.


Shaka joins T&T camp


Experienced England-based goalkeeper, Shaka Hislop, is scheduled to join his Trinidad and Tobago team-mates this morning for their final day of preparations ahead of tomorrow's 2002 World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica at Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, from 4 pm.

Captain Marvin Andrews' squad trained yesterday at the Stadium with the full quota of overseas-based professionals including Brent Rahim (Levski Sofia), who arrived from Bulgaria yesterday, Ansil Elcock (Columbus Crew), Avery John (Bohemians FC), Stern John

(Nottingham Forest), Gary Glasgow (Kansas City Wizards) and Mickey Trotman (Rochester Rhinos).

A squad of 24 players trained yesterday and coach, Professor Rene Simoes, will name his final 18-man squad today.
While the "Soca Warriors" were gearing towards today's clash, the visiting Costa Ricans were also getting ready at Fatima Ground, Mucurapo, yesterday following their arrival on Wednesday.

Brazilian Simoes said yesterday he has been urging his players to play for the right to be called the team which created the major upsets, even after its failure to qualify, when the current qualifying campaign is remembered in the future.

"I am satisfied with the preparations," Simoes said.

"The guys look very focussed now. We spoke a lot about playing for pride and honour and this is what I expect them to do on Saturday."

He added:"I am looking for a big fight on Saturday. I want this to be the biggest fight this team has been involved in during this tournament. This is what spectators look for. We must fight for all the pride and reputation."

Simoes also could not help but to factor in an outside chance of T&T still making it to Japan and Korea, although it is quite a long shot.

"First we have a chance mathematically," he said.

"Suppose we win all our games then we will have 13 points. If Costa Rica will all their games after Saturday and United States win their games except against us and the other teams lose or draw, then we may still be in it ... but it will be a miracle. We must want a miracle badly."

Nottingham Forest striker John was also in high spirits after some shooting practice on goal with striking partner Nigel Pierre.

"Everyone is in good spirits. We have some young guys who are eager to do well. It's time for us to show what we can do. I'm ready to go and play my heart out," John said.

"I'm looking forward to partnering Nigel because he's a good player and we just have to get it right on the day."
According to TTFF Communications Officer, Shaun Fuentes, some 900 Costa Rican supporters have purchased tickets and will join their nation's President, Dr. Miguel Angel Rodriguez Echeverria, at the match.

As a result, extra security measurements are being put in place to avoid any disruptions in the crowd.

Preceding tomorrow's clash, T&T's National Under-17 team and Antigua's Under-20s will square off in a friendly from 1 pm.

T&T take on high-riding Ticos

Gray set for revenge


Trinidad and Tobago technical director René Simoes has stressed the importance of “positive thinking” in the build-up to tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

It is a message that Joe Public wing-back, Cyd Gray, is happy to hear—and to act on. 

Gray, who is expected to start on the right flank, will be winning his first World Cup qualifying cap since the “Soca Warriors” 3-0 away loss to Costa Rica—dubbed the “Ticos”—in March

The 24-year-old flanker had a torrid time as he was regularly singled out by the Costa Rican attackers and, in particular, veteran Hernán Medford.

Gray explained that the game had a special significance for him and vowed to get revenge.

“Yes, the match has a special significance for me,” said Gray. “Because I have a score to settle. I know I had a very bad game and I want to make up for it.”

The former Roxborough Composite stand-out admitted that he felt hard done by the stream of criticism that he was subjected to after the match by local supporters.

Many of the critics, he opined, went over the top.
“I don’t think that as the rookie in the team,” he said. “I got the kind of support I needed.”

His confidence was dealt a further blow when then coach Ian Porterfield dropped him from the squad for the next two qualifiers against Mexico and the United States.

But he also admits that he has learnt a lot since his baptism of fire.
“I have realised that you need to concentrate a lot better at this level,” said Gray. “The things that you would get away with playing here you won’t get away with at international level.”

Simoes, a born-again Christian, has put his faith in Gray rebounding successfully against his former tormentors.
The Brazilian-born coach declared yesterday that he was leaning towards Gray to fill the right wing-back position ahead of veteran defender Ansil Elcock.

Age was the main criterion, though, as Simoes has signalled his intention to begin the rebuilding process and the 32-year-old Elcock will have to work harder to prove his worth.

Another example of youth winning out over experience was the exclusion of lanky Wrexham sweeper Dennis Lawrence and versatile Reading player Anthony Rougier.

Lawrence had been summoned after 23-year-old Vibe CT 105 W Connection defender Addison Belfon became bothered by a slight injury but Belfon has since been declared fit.

Defence Force stopper Anton Pierre, also 23, will also be used at the heart of the three-man defence at the expense of Rougier, who filled the spot admirably in T&T’s last qualifier against Jamaica.

The T&T squad trained yesterday evening at the Hasely Crawford Stadium with just West Ham custodian Shaka Hislop missing from the 24-man squad.

Hislop stayed in England to attend the funeral service for former West Ham goalkeeping coach, Les Sealey, and should arrive in Trinidad today.

Simoes admitted that he would have preferred to have the custodian in the country earlier but said that he has been impressed with Hislop’s professional attitude and did not foresee a problem.

Seven members of the current training squad have never appeared in a senior World Cup qualifying match.

Pierre heads that list which also includes goalie Daurance Williams, stopper Ronald Primus, Nigel Daniel, Conrad Smith and Belfon.

Shaka Hislop stops Leeds

English Premier League teams, Leeds United, lost their 100 per cent record in the premiership on Saturday as they were held 0-0 by hosts, West Ham United.
Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Shaka Hislop, due to arrive in the country today after being delayed by the funeral of his former goalkeeping coach, had plenty to say about the result.
It took a superb save from Hislop at full stretch to keep out Robbie Keane early in the second half.
Lee Bowyer also failed to beat the flailing arms of Hislop with a goalbound header after being left unmarked in the penalty area.
Glenn Roeder was hammered at the loss of his first string custodian, David James, for the rest of the season.
He may be having second thoughts by now.

Dundee boss: 
I’d take Latapy

Former Trinidad and Tobago captain Russell Latapy was on the receiving end of stinging criticisms on the weekend as Glasgow Rangers stuttered to a 2-0 win over fellow Scottish Premier League team Dundee.
Latapy, who never looked like providing penetration for Rangers, was replaced at the interval by manager Dick Advocaat.
But Dundee boss, Italian Ivan Bonetti, was impressed by Latapy’s responsible handling of the ball when in possession and his accurate passes.
Not much else impressed him on the day, though.
“I have already seen who can win the league this season,” said Bonetti, after the match. “There is no chance for Rangers. Celtic have a very good opportunity to do back-to-back titles this year, for sure... 
“If I take away Claudio Caniggia and Russell Latapy, I don’t want any of their other players for my team. Oh, and Lorenzo Amoruso, he is a good player as well.”
Advocaat apparently did not agree on Sunday.

Glasgow goofs in Wizards defeat

Striker Gary Glasgow missed two glorious opportunities on Saturday evening as Kansas City Wizards lost 3-0 to Dallas Burn in United States Major League Soccer (MLS) action.
Glasgow, one half of a Caribbean strike team with Jamaica’s Onandi Lowe, could have brought Wizards in the game just before the interval. But, with his team trailing 2-0, he delayed a clear shot at goal and was robbed by a retreating defender.
Early in the second half, he had another chance as he cleverly turned on his marker only to hit his uncontested shot wide of the post.
The Wizards, despite the defeat, have a good shot of a 2001 Playoff spot.
They can wrap up a Playoff berth tomorrow when they play away to San Jose Clash.
It will have to be done without Glasgow, though, as the Trinidad and Tobago winger has opted to return home for international duty in tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica.
Glasgow has not scored for his country since July 2, 2000—in a friendly against St Vincent and the Grenadines—and will aim to give a better offensive showing in the red, white and black uniform.

Marching orders for Stern 

Stern John’s efforts at cementing his place in the Nottingham Forest line-up received another blow on Monday when he was ejected during English First Division combat.
John, who had scored three times in his last two outings for Forest, was sent off for his second bookable offence—after unwisely encroaching on a corner kick—in a 0-0 draw against Coventry City.
The former El Dorado Senior striker thought he had headed Forest in front after four minutes only to be ruled offside.
In the end, Forest were grateful for a draw as they ended the match with just nine men.
John rejoins the national team this week for World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica on Saturday.

Warner: Stars and 
bosses not meshing

FIFA vice-president Austin “Jack” Warner is blaming a lack of communication for the breakdown in relationships between many sports stars and administrators. 

Trinidadian Warner believes inappropriate approach from both sides often leads to contentious issues. 

“The problem is both ways. The stars can’t relate to the administration and the administrators can’t relate to the stars,” Warner said on CMC’s Talk Caribbean programme Sunday night. 

Warner, critical of the level of commitment shown by Trinidad and Tobago’s Britain-based star players Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy in the country’s failed 2002 World Cup qualification programme, knocked administrators who do not make an adjustment when handling players who have grown to the professional level. 

“They (administrators) fail to understand that the guy they have now is a superstar, it’s not the same guy they met yesterday, and therefore there is a lack of understanding and empathy on both sides.” 

Warner advised administrators to: “keep abreast of development, you have to understand that you have to know how other countries treat their stars, how their stars relate to them, you have to also make sure that there is some degree of understanding on both sides. 

“And also too, you have to have one-on-one discussions with them, let them know what your objectives are what you expect them, and equally they will tell you they expect of you,” Warner stated. 

But the CONCACAF boss also slammed Yorke and Latapy, who retired from international football in June after new Trinidad and Tobago coach Rene Simoes dropped them for failing to attend training. 

Trinidad and Tobago had already lost four of their five World Cup qualifiers with moderate showings by Yorke and Latapy, by far the country’s most successful professionals. 

Warner believes the players were pampered—given special treatment, separate hotel arrangements— and not enough was done to ensure their 100 per cent commitment, hurting Trinidad and Tobago’s chances. 

“That was the most critical problem because the other players felt alienated and the two superstars were courted and treated as if nobody else mattered. 

“The team was never a team in a real sense, in fact to call the Trinidad and Tobago team a World Cup team is a misnomer, it was never a team. On the field of play you had 11 guys yes, but a team, never,” Warner said. 

Warner also knocked the education levels of some of the regional stars. 

He said it is a “problem that too many of our stars are not educated, they may have good skills, in their feet with their bat and so on”, but not much education. 

—CANA Bridgetown 

Andrews wants to 
make a point

THERE is no pressure on the Trinidad and Tobago team. But they are still aiming for victory in their failed World Cup campaign Saturday.

With just one point from six games, the Soca Warriors have nothing to gain-or lose for that matter when they come up against the Costa Ricans at the Hasely Crawford Stadium from 4p.m.

Speaking on Wednesday, Marvin Andrews, the Livingston defender who has been named by coach Rene Simoes as the captain, said that fans can expect to see a good team display from the local outfit.

“There’s no pressure on us. We all have on the back of our minds that now it is very hard to qualify.” he stated.

“I think the Costa Ricans will have more pressure on them because another victory can push them through to the World Cup Finals. Everybody is thinking that they can come here and win against Trinidad and Tobago because we don’t have the likes of Dwight (Yorke) and Russell()Latapy) anymore but we just have to express and enjoy ourselves when matchday comes.”

Andrews added that the players in the new-look T&T squad have knitted well over the past weeks.

He is hoping that those positive will flow into Saturday’s game. 

“It is just important for us to go and try to get a victory. For years we have just been ending up with this one point. In 1989, we needed one point to qualify for the World Cup and since then it seems that we are just ending up with this one point.” he said.

“In the 1998 World Cup Qualifiers we got just one point in the final round and now we are stuck on the same one point. This game on Saturday is a good opportunity for us to break this.” 

Meanwhile, the Costa Ricans are ensuring that they have ample support. Some 900 of their fans are already scheduled to attend the game.

The Costa Rican team was scheduled to arrive here on a chartered flight yesterday evening and will stay at the Hilton Hotel. They are scheduled to train at Fatima ground on today between 8-12pm and 4-6pm.

Experienced US wary of T&T

Whenever the United States is involved in football, there is always some type of interest by Trinidad and Tobago fans ever since the fateful November 19, 1989 match at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

The Americans will be coming to T&T again in September to participate in the FIFA Under 17 World Championship and will be wary of the experience not only because of the "Red Day" which saw them qualify for the 1990 World Cup, but also due to the injury to Marvin Lee following a clash with US attacker Landon Donovan, one of the valuable members of the American U-17 team at the 1999 U-17 Championship in New Zealand. Donovan was awarded the FIFA Golden Ball award then.

This time around, two more Americans will be vying for that award, bringing a wealth of talent and experience to the tournament.

Santino Quaranta and Ed Johnson are both regular members of MLS teams DC United and Dallas Burn respectively.
Sixteen-year old Quaranta started DC's two matches in the recent CONCACAF Giants Cup against Guatemalan club CSD Comunicaciones and Mexico's Club America.

He also made a 59th minute appearance in a 2-1 loss to New England Revolution last Saturday. Johnson came on in the 81st minute of Dallas' 4-2 loss to Miami Fusion. Both players will join the American team for a training camp ahead of the U-17 Championship.

Coach John Ellinger, who has been in charge of the team since 1998, is optimistic of a good showing from his boys. "The team has progressed through a phase of daily routine training and have grown into young professional soccer players."

Phillip set to take some knocks

Goalkeeper Marvin Phillip is prepared to receive quite a few knocks as he sets out to stop all shots from entering the home team's goal during the Championships.

Phillip, who has been the first choice keeper in coach Rene Simoes' squad, is determined to maintain that position but says that even if he is not in the starting team, it will not affect the camaraderie.

"I am just working hard to ensure that I make the team. All the players are very eager to do well, some are even nervous but we are working hard and hoping to do the best we can."

Phillip points out that before every match, team members have a chant which is used to motivate each and everyone. I just keep telling myself that I have to go out there and do my best, I must do today, they must not score," said Phillip.
"Although I have learnt a lot previously, this goalkeeper coach has really helped with my technique and I am hoping to keep on improving."

A Presentation College, San Fernando student, Phillip says that at the moment school is the last thing on his mind. "Right now I am not thinking about school or anything else. It is all about the upcoming tournament. That is where my focus is," ended Phillip.

Wanchope in Costa Rica team

Costa Rica, will be relying heavily on the promising form of leading striker Randall Azofeita.Compared to Costa Rican star striker Paolo Wanchope, who netted a double to defeat T&T 3-0 in a World Cup qualifier in March, Azofeita will be looking to produce the type of form which has seen him tally a near 50 goals in the past year.

Referred to as the "ghost" forward, Azofeita is attached to Deportivo Saprissa, one of the top rated clubs in Costa Rica.

For the time being, Azofeita is focussing on the World Championship in T&T.

"My thoughts are totally on the World Championship and on the responsibility that I have within the team to co-operate with the collective game plan. We talk a lot with our coach and amongst ourselves, so external factors do not affect us," Azofeita said.

The 17-year-old player also has been high in praise of head coach Juan Quesada.

"We are training very hard. Maybe in a free moment I will come up with something. The emotions are difficult to hide, especially in a World Championship. I hope to celebrate one or more goals for my country," he said.

Costa Rica prelims

Sept 15: v Iran, Larry Gomes, 6:30 pm

Sept 17: v Paraguay, Larry Gomes, 5 pm

Sept 20: v Mali, Larry Gomes, 5 pm