Consistency the key to national team success
By Stephen Wright (The Royal Gazette)
Corneal was the guest speaker at last weekend’s Bermuda Football Association Symposium at CedarBridge Academy, where he delivered a presentation on player development.
He was also Trinidad’s assistant coach during last year’s World Cup qualifying campaign, when Bermuda defeated the much-fancied Soca Warriors 2-1 at the National Sports Centre.
Having seen his country struggle against the Gombey Warriors in recent years, and also been beaten 2-1 at home during the 2008 qualifiers, Corneal has no doubt Bermuda can be a force this summer.
But he warned they must reproduce the same level of commitment and concentration they have displayed against the region’s top teams when they face the so-called minnows.
Bermuda’s have been drawn against hosts Cayman Islands, Bahamas and Haiti in the biennial competition, with the top two teams from each group qualifying for the next round. The Caribbean Cup will determine the four teams that advance to the Concacaf Gold Cup.
“What we have seen with the Bermuda national team is amazing. On certain occasions they can be tremendous but what’s missing is the consistency,” he said.
“We have seen them compete at the top level, but then all of a sudden a team that’s considered mediocre or not as good gets a result against them.
“I think consistency is the biggest problem with Bermuda, but we seen the potential they have.”
For Trinidad, the Caribbean Cup represents a chance for them to redeem themselves after a dismal World Cup campaign, failing to qualify from their group after defeats to Bermuda and Guyana.
Corneal has since been appointed Trinidad’s technical director, and expects them to inject a sprinkling of youth into their side under new coach Hudson Charles, who has succeeded Otto Psfister.
“I was asked to get in involved when Otto Psfister came in as Trinidad coach,” said Corneal, the son of Trinidad legend Alvin Corneal.
“He wanted someone with international experience, someone who could help him right away. I had already been lined up to become the technical director, but I spoke to (Psfister) and it was an immediate need. It was a good experience working with him.
“We have a great bunch of young players who we did not use during the World Cup. There have been questions raised about whether (Psfister) should have used those younger players.
“We have a very good Under-23 team who will aim to complement with a few of the older players.”
Trinidad, who qualified for 2006 World Cup, have long been blessed with an array for professional players to call upon for international duty. In recent years they have produced household names such Dwight Yorke, Stern John and Carlos Edwards.
While Corneal believes it’s crucial Caribbean teams have players with pro experience, he stressed the importance of blending them with the correct amount of local-based players.
“It’s very important to have professional players for the international game,” said Corneal, who was assistant coach to Leo Beenhakker when Trinidad played at the ‘06 World Cup in Germany.
“However, they must not affect the personality of the team. You’re bringing in a lot of players who are playing in different leagues so it can be difficult.
“You have to be smart and choose which players will complement your local-based players. This is when you need a coach who is a good man manager who can get best out of his players.”
Corneal spends much of time travelling around the Caribbean advising countries on how the nurture player development. He believes each programme must be tailor-made to fit the football needs of the Island.
Asked about his role as a FIFA advisor, Corneal said: “It’s more of a role of seeing if there’s anyway I can help in a sense of suggesting or showing what happens in comparable countries.
“I have a good idea of what goes on in the Caribbean, in the US and in Central America in terms of their player development. It’s good to be able to relay what happens out there and see what’s best for each Island’s situation.
“It seems like everyone is on the same page when it comes to player development in Bermuda. There must be a clear vision that’s consistent throughout the Island. You can only start to move forward when you know what direction you’re going in.”