Most times the true story comes from within. With that said, there must be something right about the commendation being extended to Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart and captain Kenwyne Jones from members of the national senior team.
T&T copped third spot in the just concluded OSN Cup with a well deserved 3-1 victory over host nation Saudi Arabia in Riyadh on Monday. And looking back, prior to that, the display by the team at the Concacaf Gold Cup is cause for optimism. Goals are being scored, and the desire to improve and achieve has been evident from the 2006 World Cup finalists.
Jones in particular has led like a leader. At least, his teammates are seeing it that way.
“He’s been fantastic. He’s been a good leader especially for the younger players in the squad right now, and he’s really helped the team,” Kazakhstan-based defender Radanfah Abu Bakr told TTFA Media on Monday, following the team’s appearance at the OSN Cup.
“The coach as well has come in and done a fantastic job with the boys. He’s instilled belief in the players and he has the team doing good things which is what we wanted.”
Middlesbrough defender Justin Hoyte, a former Arsenal player, said that Jones was doing an excellent job as captain of the team.
“Kenwyne leads from the front and a great example for the younger players. He wants the team to do well and he’s getting us to feel the same way. His performances have been good also, and I think we can definitely expect to see the team heading in the right direction if he continues this way,” Hoyte said on Wednesday.
The former England Under 21 defender made his debut for T&T prior to the Gold Cup but said he is now settled in the setup.
“He (Hart) came in with a good reputation. He’s a very good manager and I like the way he’s getting the team to play. He’s learning more about us as well and I like his philosophy. I think we are benefitting from that. As you can see we’ve been scoring goals again and the team is playing with purpose and fight that has seen us get some important results,” Hoyte added.
Former T&T Under 20 and Under 23 captain Sheldon Bateau made his first start for T&T under Hart in the win over Saudi Arabia. Now based with KC Mechelen in Belgium, Bateau was thrilled to start against the Saudis.
“Coach Hart for one is an amazing person. You can also see that as a coach he knows what he is doing. The players and myself respect this. When you compare it with before when things were difficult, it’s far better for us now. He knows his players and when he called for me to start on Monday I was ready for it. This was another stepping stone for me,” Bateau stated.
T&T and Central FC goalkeeper Jan Michael Williams, now with 54 appearances for T&T, also expressed his feelings on playing under Hart and Jones.
“I’ve known Kenwyne for a long time now. We played together at the Under 17 level in 2001 at the World Cup and we’ve come through the ranks. I have a lot of respect for him, but I think not just myself, but the other guys are pleased with the way he’s led the team, and that augurs well for us going forward. Not everytime the performances will be on par or our results may not be the right one in every game, but I think this direction we’re heading in seems to be a good one.
“And as for coach Hart,” Williams continued, “I don’t think enough has been said. He knows what he’s doing and he’s getting players to understand their roles and the real purpose as to what we are about as a team.”