Sun, Jul

Former Soca Warriors midfielder Russell Latapy, right, and Soca Warriors head coach Stephen Hart. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ

Former National head coach and captain Russell Latapy has expressed a level of optimism for the progress of local football and the local governing body, the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA).

Speaking a day before departing for Europe after holding meetings with officials of the Ministry of Sport and the TTFA, the former FC Porto midfielder added that there was still a lot of work to be done to attain the levels of some of other top nations in CONCACAF and outside of the region, but he was confident that positive change is ongoing. 

Latapy is set to receive half of his 2009-2011 salary that was owed to him and thanked Minister of Sport Darryl Smith and TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee. 

And as to whether he believes the TTFA can continue the course towards improved operations and governance, Latapy stated: “Absolutely ! After qualifying for 2006, we should have never gotten to a place this dark in our football history. 

We are a small nation but the reality is we did. Again, with the president (Tim Kee and the Minister (Darryl Smith) and the way they are operating, I’ve had conversations with them and I must say that they’ve been very true to their word and that is a very positive sign. It is also a sign that everyone is pushing in the same direction which is forward.

There are some other steps the Association has taken which hopefully will raise the levels in various aspects.” Latapy also expects to see the settling of other outstanding matters and ongoing efforts to fix different aspects of the game, adding that he believes the current men’s team has similar capabilities to the one that qualified for Germany 2006. 

“It has been difficult for football to move on with so many things hanging over its head. With the Ministry getting involved is really good, because with the group of players we have now and with the performance everyone saw on Tuesday night against the US we need to give the coach a good platform to work with and with all these things hanging over, it makes it complicated. But now we’re seeing positive steps being made which is good for the local game. 

And other areas will begin to feel the positive effects of this. 

“We qualified in 2006 and we had a fantastic bunch of players and we had a fantastic coach, I can see the same thing happening here. There is a fantastic coach and a fantastic bunch of players. We need to pull together as one to give them the platform to achieve everything that they can and this is one of the ways that we can do that,” Latapy added. 

The former ace midfielder said he did not want to speak too highly of the players as there are no easy games in World Cup qualification and warned them that it will only get tougher. He added that the team must not think about the final hexagonal stage yet despite a good start to their group which sees them joint top on points with the USA.


Latapy quietly confident about Warriors World Cup chances.
By Jelani Beckles (Guardian).

Former Soca Warriors footballer and head coach Russell Latapy is optimistic about this country’s chances of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but does not want the team to get complacent and overconfident.

The Soca Warriors have made a positive start to its World Cup qualifying campaign, defeating Guatemala 2-1 on November 13 and holding USA to a 0-0 draw at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port-of-Spain on Tuesday. 

Latapy, who was part of the T&T squad who qualified for the 2006 World Cup in Germany said: “From what I have seen on Tuesday night I am quietly confident that we will do really well. I do not want to speak to highly of the team and we get overconfident and complacent.”

Latapy said he was impressed with the standard of the Soca Warriors against USA. 

“I want to say congrats to coach (Stephen) Hart. I thought the team did the country proud. It was a very organised and disciplined performance. We kept the ball extremely well and we made life extremely difficult for the States. As a fan I am just disappointed that we did not come away with the three points.”

Latapy, who was called the “Little Magician” in his playing days, wants the team to stay focused. 

“Firstly, I would like to say there is no easy games in football its 11 versus 11. If we start thinking that way we will get complacent. 

“But I do believe in this group of players and I do believe in coach Hart. I think they have had fantastic results in the last two games. I am sure they will continue to play well and do well,” he said.

Latapy added that Hart is low key and that is a good strategy which would allow the team to sneak up on people. The former talented midfielder urged the T&T public to support the team and asked corporate T&T to lend its support as well.