A plan for football
By Ashford Jackman (tntreview.com)September 8, 2009
By the time of reading this article, the state of Trinidad and Tobagoís 2010 World Cup bid will have become eminently clearer, following the weekend match away to Honduras. At the risk of putting my foot in my mouth, I will venture that emerging from San Pedro Sula with a draw would take a superlative effort; a win would be nothing short of a miracle. In spite of their so predictable victory over El Salvador last month, every match at this stage remains a do-or-die contest for the Soca Warriors-the cost of two major blunders committed by the authorities who run our football. But I have already exhausted the topic of the unofficial blacklisting of protesting players and the abysmal lack of a player succession policy or developmental plan; ditto leaving the team for too long in the hands of a foreign coach whose failings, from selections to puzzling tactics, have only served to underline my long held conclusion that, by and large, we have been saddled with a succession of foreign duds in the past 17 years.
It is the dream of this writer that one day, all this nonsense will come to an end. For now, dallying with the current scenario serves no useful purpose; nothing in the El Salvador win could alter my previously stated position that the pressure of having to win every match from here on will prove too great an ask for Latas and his evolving side. With that in mind, this article will focus on amplifying my views on preparing for the next campaign, as expressed in last monthís issue.
For this writer, the central issue in planning must be the never-ending saga of the passing parade of foreign national coaches. Surely now, after the Maturana fiasco, someone in the TTFF must have the cojones to stand up and say it must stop. Beenhakker was merely the exception who proved the rule; this practice of arbitrarily hiring foreign coaches of questionable pedigree, who approach the task scornful of our home-grown talent, has brought the country much grief, and at the cost of a considerable fortune in foreign exchange, even if it comes out of the expansive pockets of Jack Warner. Invariably, they bail out when the battle is all but lost, leaving another campaign in shambles; but only to be replaced by a caretaker local coach until the next qualifying series approaches.
It is not enough to hope that another Beenhakker is just around the horizon; even the Dutchman betrayed his true interest when he abandoned the Soca Warriors after the 2006 World Cup Finals in search of brighter lights with Poland. Now appears a young man with no apparent biases, one who seems to command the respect of all the players, both home and foreign-based; and for good measure, a son of the soil at that. His early selections, among them Trent Noel, Hayden Tinto and Radanfah Abu Bakr, indicate a refreshing faith in the ability of the local talent to rise to the occasion; his reversion to the countryís natural approach of speed and skill as its principal mode of attack point to an understanding that a team must play on its strengths, and not on what works in the minor leagues of other countries and cultures. Suddenly, T&T appears to have purpose in its play-dangerous in attack, improving in midfield, learning in defence. Suddenly, our foreign-based pros sense there is no guaranteed pick for them on this team; itís either they perform or be dropped.
Many onlookers have not missed the irony that Latapyís original attachment as assistant to Maturana had been a concession in the hope that he could revive the teamís fortunes in 2008, just as he did three years before. It matters not; the TTFF must cash in on their good fortune by investing in the Little Master, medium to long term.
The smart move would be to extend his tenure long enough for change to take effect; ergo, the contract should run, in the first instance, to the next campaign which begins in 2012 and ends the following year. It would afford Latapy the freedom to concentrate on matters on the field of play, without the distraction of having to defend his post at points along the way-a fate that ultimately spelt doom for other locals who preceded him.
In addition, Russell should be allowed to augment the training he underwent to become an assistant coach at Scotlandís Falkirk. Jack Warner could use his influence to arrange additional training abroad and/or short attachments to European clubs of some note, for Latapy and other selected coaches plying their trade in T&T. The knowledge and experience gained would then be adapted to meet the needs of our home-based players and channelled into the clubs, ultimately having a positive impact on the game at Concacaf club and national team levels.