NATIONAL coach Leo Beenhakker has strongly hinted that Scotland-based midfielder Russell Latapy could well be a starter for Saturday's World Cup qualifier against Guatemala at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. Speaking yesterday after the second of two training sessions, the Dutchman said he was impressed by what he had seen of Latapy, branding the 'Little Magician' as a true professional on and off the field. He also confirmed that Latapy was match fit.
"He is fit to start the game. But of course you have to understand that the way international football is playing now, especially the way Guatemala is playing.......... they are playing very fast and so on. On the other side, he has in his luggage, and I say that with all my respects, only the last four years in matches at club level, first and second division in Scotland. So there will be a difference on Saturday, but at least he is fit to start. He made a very good impression on me. It's the first time I have worked with him, so let's see if he has the strength and the physical preparation to play 90 minutes. I don't know. But at least he can start."
Beenhakker held two training sessions yesterday, both of which were played behind locked gates at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. Beenhakker said that while he had nothing to hide, at the same time he did not want to show all his cards before Saturday. He hinted that he may make changes in his team.
"One of the things is that with Russell in the team, we have to re-organise our schedule a little bit. Why should I play my cards open before Saturday? It's not that you have any secrets, but sometimes it's good to work within the team without any interference from outside. Especially, when you make some changes within the team."
Meanwhile, former national captain David Nakhid has endorsed the return Latapy.
"I think Latapy's inclusion should be an excellent boost for us at this time," Nakhid said. "It's always good when someone comes in and can add something to the campaign, and I think he should be able to help. He is also a crowd pleaser, and that in itself will add some momentum to the qualifying campaign. "
Nakhid also urged Trinidad and Tobago to come out and give whole-hearted support to the Warriors.
"We need a result. It's not a case of if we win," Nakhid says, " We must win. I am hoping for total support and that the people of Trinidad and Tobago will come out in large numbers to support the team."
Nakhid believes that Trinidad and Tobago can improve on their performance last month against the United States.
With better preparation this time around, Nakhid anticipates that Trinidad and Tobago can reverse the result against Guatemala. His statement was supported by Beenhakker who also felt that T&T beat themselves in Guatemala in March.
"We have seen the game (5-1 loss) on DVD and I feel, with all my respect, that in the first place Guatemala did not win. Trinidad lost that game because they made many errors that Guatemala took advantage of very well," Beenhakker said.
Captain Dwight Yorke also feels that T&T will do well and said his team will be going all out to try and beat Guatemala.
"One thing we cannot predict is the result but I can assure you that the team will go out there and give its all to bring home a result. The vibe overall for this week has been a special one and everyone is understanding his role and how important it is to carry that on to the pitch on Saturday, " Yorke said.