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Sat, Oct

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Local coaches are not surprised by the decision of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) to sever ties with senior men’s national coach Stephen Hart. Coaches Ron La Forest and Angus Eve explained that all coaches operate in a results-oriented world, but they have also expressed concerns on who the next coach will be.

Hart’s dismissal, among other things, has left concerns over who the T&T Football Association will employ as his replacement and whether they are financially stable to do so. It is expected that his successor could also come from abroad as the Trinidad Guardian has learnt that the TTFA office has been bombarded by calls from coaches from Mexico, England and Germany among other countries enquiring about the top position.

Hart commanded a salary of US$20,000 monthly and is due to collect a handsome departing package of close to TT$3 million, but TTFA is likely to fork out much more if it decides to recruit an international coach, said coaches Ron La Forrest and Angus Eve yesterday.

According to La Forest, he believes the TTFA has the financial capability to hire an international coach as they receive subventions from the FIFA. “But if the TTFA appoints a local coach, I hope they will surround him with a team of technically strong local coaches such as Everald ‘Gally’ Cummings, Angus Eve, Anton Corneal and me, to provide much needed assistance” La Forest said.

Hart was fired for a poor start to the Final Round of the World Cup Qualifiers in which the team was beaten in its opening two matches by Costa Rica 2-0 and Honduras 3-1 which has left them second from bottom on the standings.

La Forrest said while he feels sad for Hart, he believes the TTFA decision was influenced by the USA’s move to sack its coach German Jurgen Klinsman for poor results in their first two matches also and while his overall record is very good, the World Cup qualifiers are most important.

“It is sad, yes, but the job is result-oriented, meaning if you do not get the results necessary, then you will lose your job. That is just how it is,” La Forrest said.

He noted the team’s losing results was a consequence of Hart’s defensive style which prevented the Soca Warriors from capitalising on their home games. Hart’s persistent use of lanky striker Kenwyne Jones was particularly singled out as a major blunder. He pointed out that Hart failed to utilise a more attacking approach and implement a plan ‘B’, adding that while the team was not outclassed by its opponents, it lacked the firepower up front to get goals.

La Forest, considered one of the country’s most effective strikers, also believes Hart gave his job away by not maintaining the discipline and respect which he commanded when he took over the team.

Meanwhile, Eve, a former national captain, said Hart was a victim of a predictable style of football that became easy for opposing teams to get results from. He pointed out that while the coach did an excellent job in stabilising our game over the years, his career path is one that demands results.

He said, “Hart was not the TTFA’s guy from the start, which has been added to the fact that he has not won a Caribbean Cup in a while, not reached the quarter-final round of the CONCACAF Gold Cup and beyond, he has lost two matches in the final round of the World Cup Qualifiers and the USA’s coach was just fired” Eve said.

Since his inception as T&T coach, Hart has led the country to positive results in 28 out of 43 matches, which comprise a second place finish at the Caribbean Cup and the quarter final rounds of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. He also did well to take the Soca Warriors to the current Final Round of the qualifiers.