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Tue, Oct

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Trinidad and Tobago's Scotland-based midfielder Russell Latapy has asked that this country not expect a miracle with his return, but says that T&T are in with a genuine chance of reaching the World Cup finals in Germany next year.


This from the former T&T captain as he and several other UK-based players arrived at the VIP Lounge of the Piarco Airport, four days before this country's crucial clash against Guatemala in the final round of qualifying at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

"From speaking to Dwight and most of the players," Latapy said during the press conference, "obviously I am here because I honestly believe that there is a good opportunity for us to get there. A realistic opportunity. I've spoken with a lot of players and they have said that they think we're good enough to get past the other teams and to qualify.

"I've been playing at a higher level for the past three or four seasons so I don't think it will be really difficult. I think the heat might be a bit of a problem, but with the support of the other players, it's a team game, I think there should be no problem."

Latapy also said that though he has not represented T&T since the disappointing 2001 World Cup campaign, he always had best wishes for this country.

"Trinidad obviously has never been far from my heart. It was for personal reasons, which have been documented. But I've always followed the exploits of the team, and I must say it's good to be back, and I appreciate over the last four years, the association always inviting me to represent my country. It's good to be back home, and hopefully I can contribute in a positive way."

Asked his opinion about the latest head of the T&T bench, coach Leo Beenhakker, this was Latapy's response: "I can sum it up in one phrase: 'If you ever had anything to do with Real Madrid in football you are somebody, and I think his experience says it all'."

And in what Jack Warner termed as both a gesture showing appreciation for Latapy's return, as well as an Independence gift to the entire nation, the match will be televised live, to give all those who cannot attend, a chance to see the team in action. But Warner also issued a call for the public to support the 'Warriors' in a "big way", saying despite the fact that the match is being televised, the team still needs the public support.

After leaving the airport last evening, Latapy, Kelvin Jack, Stern John, Carlos Edwards, Brent Sancho, Chris Birchall and Shaka Hislop were scheduled to head to a 7 p.m. training session at the Stadium.