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Sat, Oct

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FORMER vice-president of FIFA, Jack Warner, yesterday described the appointment of 43-year-old Belgian Tom Saintfiet as the biggest injustice in the history of Trinidad and Tobago football and believes we have no chance to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Warner declared: “The biggest injustice that has been done to football in the history of this country was done by David John-Williams with the appointment of that coach. Before you fire the one you have (Stephen Hart) you must be able to know the one that you will get.” Hart was fired two weeks ago as head coach of the national senior football team after defeats to Costa Rica and Honduras in the opening matches of the final hexagonal stage of qualification. 

Warner added, “Stephen Hart was not only wrongly dismissed but the fact is Stephen Hart was dismissed before they even looked for a replacement. If they could not afford a coach why they didn’t take (hire) Dwight Yorke.” Warner, who was instrumental in bringing in Dutchman Leo Beenhakker to replace Bertille St Clair to revive T&T ’s 2006 World Cup campaign after just one point from three matches, commented on what it takes in recruiting a quality coach. “You look at the coaches, you look at their background, you look at their successes, you look and see who they have coached and you will be able to talk to them. You have to use coaches that have a good track record. This is serious business, this is serious business. 

This is a nation’s flag at stake. I am so angry it is not funny.” Football administrator Keith Look Loy was also shocked by the TTFA decision. 

“This is quite a surprise. 

Nobody expected the TTFA to go that afar afield and to appoint a totally obscure coach that nobody knows about. 

When Leo Beenhakker came to T&T he was not known by the public but people who follow football, and who know about football, knew that he was a coach with a tremendous record of achievement in the football of three continents. This man when we look at his resume, it is a resume of failure. He has not achieved anything,” he stated frankly. 

He added, “I am astonished, the public as a whole is astonished, but he has the job now. 

The team does not belong to him or to David John-Williams and the TTFA so I have to hope that he will do a good job and surprise all of us and that the team will find some form.” Former national footballer Clayton Morris also does not have much hope in Saintfiet and questions David John-Williams’ decision to admit Saintfiet was their second choice. Morris said, “I don’t know how he (John-Williams) could make a statement like that saying this is the second choice coach. 

Given the situation, we need somebody to take us to the World Cup, and if you come out upfront and telling us this is the second choice then I think you putting doubt in our minds as concerned citizens.” Morris added, “Any coach taking this job now is really (in) an uphill battle, it is really a challenge.” Former national footballer Angus Eve is however refusing to look at the situation negatively, stating the T&T public can’t judge the new coach yet. 

Eve declared, “He has coached a number of places so clearly he has experience.” “I think the important thing here is to understand that we are all in football and if I was to get a job in India the people in India would want to know who I am.” Eve added, “The first time he (Arsene Wenger) went to Arsenal everybody ask where he came from and look what he did. 

We have to stop this negativity in our society. 

They have appointed a coach and let’s support the coach because he is coaching our team and that is the bottom line. When he does his job then we could know how good a job he can or cannot do.”