“There is more inside the mortar besides the pestle.” This is the view of a number of local coaches regarding the decision by national coach Stephen Hart to axe influential midfielder Kevin Molino from his 23-man squad for the opening two matches of the Concacaf Final Round of the Fifa 2018 World Cup Qualifiers.
Molino, a past student of East Mucurapo Secondary School, who twice broke a team camp against Guatemala in a qualifier at the Hasely Crawford Stadium back on August 31 and in October before the Caribbean Cup clash against Martinique in Fort-de-France, will miss crucial matches against Costa Rica on Friday and Honduras on November 16, a decision that has sparked ongoing debate among the football fraternity.
Yesterday, coaches Angus Eve, Everald “Gally” Cummings and Michael Grayson were very cautious with their comments on the Molino sacking, saying there seems to be more happening behind the scene, while an outspoken Leroy De Leon called for stiffer penalty for the embattled player.
Cummings, who guided the famous “Strike Squad” to within a point of qualifying for the 1990 World Cup in Italy, said he could not comment much on the matter since he was unaware of everything taking place within the team and its management.
“I think the coach has made his decision and we have to go with it. We have to support him and hope that the team delivers good results” Cummings said.
Eve, a former national youth coach said, “I am only aware of what I read in the media regarding Molino’s actions and now his suspension for the upcoming two matches against Costa Rica and Honduras. However no player is bigger than the game.”
Eve, a former senior national standout player for the Soca Warriors, in a bold show of support for Hart, pointed out he has known Hart for a very long while, during which he has shown that he is a very fair person.
He added: “I don’t think Hart would have come to that decision based on emotions, but rather after careful consideration of all the factors before him. He has not shown himself to be an irrational person and therefore he would know, more than all of us, exactly what action the situation required and would have done so appropriately.”
At a press briefing on Friday, Hart said the Orlando City midfielder is free to make himself available for selection after the two-match suspension.
Eve called on the public to rally around the coach, who has been doing an excellent job so far, as well as the team for the qualifiers, as they need to finish among the top three to be assured of a place in the World Cup finals. Should they finish fourth, they will head into an inter continental play-off for a chance to qualify.
Eve also called on the public to not judge the player, saying he made a couple mistakes that should not lead to his total exit from the team. He described Molino as a piece of the puzzle that Hart needs at this point in time.
Eve, the two-time winning SSFL coach with Naparima College pointed out that while Hart has been doing a great job, he would like to see the Soca Warriors playing with a lot more intensity while possessing the ball in the opponents’ half more.
De Leon, on the other hand, called for stiffer penalties for Molino, saying the country does not need players like him. De Leon, considered the best player ever to grace the red, white and black of T&T said: “The moment we allow a marquee player to behave in that manner then the other players would soon want to follow. Molino must know and understand that wearing the national team colours is an honour and by breaking camps, not once, but twice, he has shown disrespect to his country, his team-mates and the people of the country.”
Meanwhile, Grayson, who has made a name for himself as player and coach for T&T also, said “Somehow, I feel we have not gotten the real story behind the Molino issue. However, the coach has made a decision and we will have to go with it.”