Mon, Jul

THE move to have Scotland-based midfielder Russell Latapy return from retirement to join the Trinidad and Tobago national football team has been met with approval by several persons in the football fraternity.

Latapy, a player/assistant coach with Scottish premier league team Falkirk, has agreed to join Trinidad and Tobago for important World Cup qualifiers here against Guatemala on September 3, and then away to Costa Rica on September 7.

The common view is that Latapy's imminent return was a plus and that his presence will help the team. Those offering comments were Clayton Morris, Muhammad Isa, Harold Taylor and David John Williams.

CLAYTON MORRIS - Strike Squad skipper

"Having Latapy is a plus to any team," Morris says.

But Morris is concerned about the impact calling back retired players will have on young footballers striving to make the national team. Morris said that while he is taking nothing away from Latapy's ability, he wonders whether the Little Magician's return is a marketing strategy meant to fill the National Stadium.

"Russell Latapy is one of the greatest players I have ever seen. But I wonder what happens after the two matches he plays. It also makes me wonder what happens to our football after October when (Leo) Beenhakker's contract ends."

Morris says he had not expected a good result against the Americans because of the national team's interrupted preparation. He added, though, that T&T can beat Guatemala if the players regain the cohesion they enjoyed against Panama and Mexico.

DAVID JOHN-WILLIAMS - owner of Vibe CT 105 W. Connection

"There is no question Latapy is a quality player. Latapy will make a difference in any team. However, the question is: Will he make a significant enough impact to take us to the World Cup? We are in a big hole. Even if we beat Guatemala, we go to the same points as them, but with an inferior goal-difference."

John-Williams says that would leave Trinidad and Tobago with the difficult assignment of beating a tough Costa Rican team.

MUHAMMAD ISA - former national coach

"Obviously I think Russell will make a difference. He will bring some quality to a team that is lacking in the technical elements. He will also bring confidence to the players around him."

Isa says that conceding the early goal against the United States knocked the confidence out of the team. He is confident, though, that there can be a good result in the upcoming game against Guatemala.

"We always play well at home, so despite losing 5-1 in Guatemala, I think the result is reversible."

HAROLD TAYLOR - former CFU general secretary

"I think it's a good thing for them to bring back Russell Latapy. We need, we need, we need someone in the midfield," Taylor stresses. "I heard he played a full 90 minutes for Falkirk in Scotland, so he might be fitter than some of the players we have now."