Sidebar

21
Sat, Oct

Typography
Trinidad and Tobago's football captain Dwight Yorke last night talked frankly about the country's World Cup hopes and confidently declared: "It's a tall order-but it's not impossible."


Yorke said he felt the players "owed the country" a good showing after their below-par performances in their earlier qualifiers, which saw them earn just one point from three matches.

"We have got to start believing in ourselves again. We have a different management structure, different technical staff and some new players and we have got to start performing. This is a win-win situation."

The ex-Manchester United hero, who is now bound for Sydney, Australia, was also "sad and disappointed" to lose T&T's former coach Bertille St Clair, who he regarded as a "personal mentor".

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation replaced St Clair with Dutchman Leo Beenhakker following T&T's 0-0 draw with Costa Rica on March 30, the national team having lost their first two 2006 World Cup qualifiers to the United States (2-1) and Guatemala (5-0).

"We are all disappointed but I was especially because he had been personally very supportive to me and encouraged me to come out of retirement. But when you are the manager you cannot hide and it's the results that decide whether you stay in a job or not. No-one is happy to see a manager go."

The 33-year-old player was speaking candidly about Trinidad and Tobago's World Cup hopes and his own ambitions just before the national team play top Peruvian club Alianza Lima this evening at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in the build-up to their next World Cup qualifier at home to Panama on June 4.

Yorke acknowledged that the players also had to raise their game.

"We, as players, have got to stand up and be counted. We were simply not good enough in those previous matches and did not perform and we owe the fans a lot more.

"We have to go in there and be confident and positive. There are ways of losing football matches which sometimes mean you have played well and lost or been unlucky to lose but we cannot make those kind of excuses. We have gone out there and lost matches. We just didn't perform or compete, and we know that. We threw away those games.

"You have to demonstrate your work ethic and the will to win. I am very critical of myself and I always believe I can do better. I am one of the more experienced and senior professionals and I have learned a lot and I should be able to bring that to the team to help them and give them confidence," said Yorke.

"We all have bad days but if you work hard and show the right level of aggression and of work- rate, then you can come off the field with your head held high even if the game has gone against you."

Yorke, who starts his two-year spell in Australia with Sydney FC in August, recognises that the next few World Cup qualifiers will also shape his own international career.

He added: "These next two games against Panama and Mexico (June 8) are crucial for my international future. I obviously hope I can play in both those game, but at some stage I will have to make way for the youngsters coming through. There are plenty of them and they are knocking on the door, which is really encouraging.

"If you qualify for this ultimate level of competition it is a unique feeling. You know you are playing against the greatest teams and players in the world and testing yourself against them. That's a great feeling, especially if you are tasting it for the first time as a youngster."

Looking at another discipline, Yorke also admitted it was a "low point" in the region's sporting history with South Africa's triumph over the West Indies, a team which includes his close friend, Brian Lara.

"It's true we are suffering as a sporting nation and we are not used to being in this position. We have a collective responsibility to try to lift everyone's hopes and spirits in this part of the world."