NEW national football coach Leo Beenhakker is due to return to Trinidad on Friday, from London, bringing with him two Dutch coaches as his assistants.
Beenhakker was on an assessment assignment last week, in Britain, where he looked at Trinidad and Tobago footballers playing in England, Wales and Scotland.
The 62-year-old Dutchman hoped to use the exercise to assess the quality of T&T's overseas professionals. He met with them and their club managers to decide on their suitability for the 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign.
Beenhakker begins his Trinidad and Tobago assignment with a 9 a.m. training session at the Larry Gomes Stadium, in Malabar, on Monday, with the senior national team, preparing for CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers against Panama on June 4 in Port-of-Spain and then against the powerful Mexicans in Monterrey on June 8.
Due to fly into Piarco on Friday with Beenhakker are Dutchmen Theo De Jonk and Whim Rhizerburg. That was confirmed yesterday by Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) technical director Lincoln "Tiger" Phillips, who was instrumental in securing Beenhakker's services after the sacking of Bertille St Clair on March 26.
Phillips said Beenhakker was adamant that because of the amount of work he had to do, the Dutchman wanted his own people involved.
No one in the T&T Football Federation could shed any light on the involvement of former national midfielder Russell Latapy, who the TTFF named last month as one of Beenhakker's assistants, along with Lebanon-based ex-national captain David Nakhid.
Latapy, an outstanding midfielder in his prime, has very little coaching experience. He is currently attached to the Falkirk Reserve Team in the Scottish First Division, where he and John O'Neill share coaching duties. Latapy is a member of Falkirk's first team, which recently won the First Division title under the guidance of John Hughes and his assistant Brian Rice, but only as a player.
Yesterday, new Trinidad and Tobago team manager Bruce Aanensen told the Express as far as he knew Beenhakker would be working with his own hand-picked staff of experienced coaches. He could not say whether Latapy had a role in the team except as a player.
"He (Beenhakker) felt he needed additional help and made it quite clear at a press conference that his aim was to use Nakhid (David) as a player. Beenhakker knew he had a lot of work to do, and not withstanding whether Latapy comes along or not, he still wanted to have two Dutch guys with him," Aanensen said.
Phillips, too, hinted that Latapy's role in Beenhakker's plans may be to join the team strictly as a player and not a coach.
"I am hearing so many things concerning Latapy," Phillips said, "and I hope it does not upset the team. I know for sure that Beenhakker wants to hit the ground running when he lands here. I suspect that he is going to split up the team among him and the Dutch guys, with one taking hold of the defence. He (Beenhakker) recognises that we do not have much organisation in defence."
Phillips added that he was familiar with one of Beenhakker's assistants, Whim Rhizerburg, having coached against his team in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He said Rhizerburg was a very good defensive coach.
Phillips, a renowned former national goalkeeper, said his job was to ensure that he gathered Trinidad and Tobago's best players, including Latapy and Nakhid, and so, give this country the best chance to qualify for the World Cup.
"My intention is to bring back all our stars. If England and other countries do it, why can't we?" he asked.