Several former national players and coaches have expressed a high regard for experienced Dutch coach Leo Beenhakker, but also have mixed feelings about his imminent return to the helm of Trinidad & Tobago football.
Beenhakker, who helped T&T qualify for the FIFA World Cup in 2006, is to take charge of the senior national football team for a short two-month stint, in time for their 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup campaign. The tournament is set for July 8-28 in the United States.
“I took this as a business decision,” TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee said when announcing the Dutchman’s return. Tim Kee explained that at present T&T football simply was not marketable enough to raise revenue. Tim Kee felt a proper good showing at the Gold Cup was one of the first steps in increasing the marketability of T&T football.
But several former national players, including Alvin Corneal, Brian Williams, Clayton Morris and Angus Eve are not sold on Beenhakker’s return. They think that in the long run, the solution is to develop local coaches to begin the 2018 World Cup process.
“I have a real problem with how the local administration handled this one,” Corneal said. “It is an utter lack of respect because these two local coaches have worked their butt(s) off with this team.”
“It’s disrespectful,” North East Stars head-coach Angus Eve bluntly declared. “Disrespectful to local coaches. Mr Beenhakker will probably be coming here for upward of US$50,000 or over per month. Their record might not have been quite what it should be, but these two local coaches (Shabazz and Charles) have been working for months without getting paid, and also not getting the preparation matches they wanted. Disrespectful.”
“What happens after the Gold Cup?” Williams asked. “Beenhakker is a son of the soil because of what he has done for Trinidad and Tobago, and will always be welcomed in T&T football. My concern is continuity.”
Former captain Clayton Morris was less impressed.
“It’s a desperate move. I think is just to save some face for the Gold Cup. I don’t see Mr Beenhakker being able to do much more that the local coach would be able to do with the same type of players.”
The experts have sided with local national coaches Hutson Charles and Jamaal Shabazz, who qualified T&T for the Gold Cup. Both have worked unpaid for months. Charles began the preparation process even when there was no funding for the team, and when even the Ministry of Sport had initially blanked the team.
The more experienced Shabazz was later brought on board to assist Charles at the Caribbean Cup final, where Trinidad and Tobago finished runners-up to Cuba and qualified for the Gold Cup for the first time in six years.
“I have no problem with Baba (Hutson Charles) and (Jamaal) Shabazz continuing at the helm of the team all the way to the Gold Cup,” Williams added. “They did well to qualify us to the Gold Cup. I think they should be given the necessary support, and the players, the necessary exposure. That is why I was happy that we got the recent matches in Europe”.
Corneal added that defeat to a high-profile European team such as Romania was not good reason to demote the local coaches, given the problems facing the team.
“The lack of preparation of this team is because of lack of funds. You have a situation where you want local coaches to become experienced, but as soon as they lose you fire them,” Corneal said. “ I am not optimistic of us winning the Gold Cup, but with rigid training in the next three weeks we can give a good showing. It does not take a magician.”
What Express readers think
TANDTAT50 - The only man to get us to the [World] stage to date so, welcome back Leo! ... I’m all for the local guys getting International experience, they do very well when given opportunities. Let’s get results, gain respect again and then the opportunities will present themselves. I’d rather ‘win ugly’ than loose beautifully ... tired of losing!
BIGOTED - Why must we always run to hire a foreign Coach when we have so many talented and trained local Coaches here. We need to change our mentality in this regard and I honestly don’t believe “Been”hakker is the man for the job this time around.
IISDEBABYFADDA - I think in the long term we need local expertise at an international standard. Getting Beenhakker isn’t bad in the short ru, however, what I’d like to see from the federation is a longer term plan to develop our structure.standards/certifications).
GODHELPUSTRINI - In reality this is a great move I mean lets face it our coaches no nothing about international football , if we leave them in charge we will be light years behind the top teams of the world.
BOOD - There we go again Quick fix. Why was Gally not tried at all. The Special advisor still in charge. Jamal and Hutson are assistant coaches at best. Something had to be done we did not do well under Leo in his stint at the gold cup. Best of luck.