TRINIDAD and Tobago football head coach Tom Saintfeit has stated that he never specifically told the media that national footballer Daneil Cyrus was smelling of alcohol.
Saintfeit sent home Cyrus and Jomal Williams from training camp at the Cara Suites Hotel in Claxton Bay on Sunday, after the pair arrived 90 minutes late on New Year’s Day.
In an interview with the media at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in which he revealed his squad for the Gold Cup qualifiers later that day.
Saintfeit stated, “We selected 20 players, I have to say that three of the 20 players didn’t show up. Two players (Williams and Cyrus) came one and a half hours too late in camp and had still a decent smell of alcohol around them. That was Daneil Cyrus and Jomal Williams. Both were immediately sent home, back to party.” In an attempt to clear up the situation after Cyrus vehemently denied drinking alcohol, Saintfeit said he did not say Cyrus smelt of alcohol.
In an interview with online sports website Wired868.com Saintfeit explained, “I never said Daneil smelt of alcohol. I said I smelt alcohol. I stood next to them and said I smelt alcohol. For me, the real issue was the late coming.” The players allegedly reached late because of a flat tyre but Saintfeit said if Cyrus had called before their noon check-in, he may have allowed him to enter camp.
Cyrus said he could not remember exactly when he called his teammate to tell him he had a flat tyre and was running late but he believed it was before noon.
Saintfeit told Wired868, Cyrus called around 12.30 pm and did not use the proper protocol as Cyrus called one of his teammates who passed the phone to the team manager. “Daneil called at 12.31 (pm),” said Saintfiet, “and, even then, he did not call one of us.
He called a player who came to the manager and said I have Cyrus on the phone. And he said he would be 15 minutes (late) and he came an hour later.”
Saintfeit cited striker Cornell Glen’s situation to explain his stance. “(Glen) calls at 11 (am) and said he had no babysitter. (Team manager) Azaad (Khan) called me and said: ‘What do we do?’ And I said let him come, bring the baby girl with (him) and let them come and pick (her) up afterwards. I am there to solve problems and Cornell Glen was the first one in camp (on New Year’s Day). The baby girl was there for a few hours, (then) they picked her up. No problem.
Because we trained only in the evening.
“If you have a problem, call. But you have to call before 12 o’clock. Otherwise who proves you did not leave home before 12 o’clock?”
Saintfiet: I never said Daneil smelt of alcohol; T&T coach adds Cato to list of noncommittal players.
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868).
Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Tom Saintfiet suggested he is not to blame for insinuations that defender Daneil Cyrus turned up smelling of alcohol at the team’s camp on New Year’s Day, despite his public comments on the matter.
On Sunday evening, Saintfiet told reporters that: “Two of the players came one and a half hours too late in camp and had still decent smell of alcohol around him (sic). That was Daneil Cyrus and Jomal Williams.
“Both were immediately sent home, back to party—but are replaced in the squad.”
Cyrus denied that he turned up at the team hotel smelling of alcohol and said he was offended by the suggestion while his aunt, Phyllis Andrews, said the W Connection defender had just one glass of Bailey’s that morning.
Saintfiet’s response was that he never specifically said Cyrus smelt of alcohol.
“I never said Daneil smelt of alcohol,” the Belgian coach told Wired868. “I said I smelt alcohol. I stood next to them and said I smelt alcohol…
“For me, the real issue was the late coming.”
Saintfiet explained that, if Cyrus had called before their noon check-in, he might have allowed him to enter camp. Tardiness, he said, was the main reason why he axed Cyrus and midfielder Jomal Williams from this week’s 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup playoffs.
The W Connection defender said he could not remember exactly when he told his teammate, Alvin Jones, that he had a flat tyre and was running late. But he believed it was before noon.
Saintfiet rubbished that claim.
“Daneil called at 12.31[pm],” said Saintfiet, “and, even then, he did not call one of us. He called a player who came to the manager and said I have Cyrus on the phone.
“And he said he would be 15 minutes [late] and he came an hour later.”
The Soca Warriors coach used striker Cornell Glen as an example of his flexibility as boss.
“[Glen] calls at 11[am] and said he had no babysitter… [Team manager] Azaad [Khan] called me and said: ‘What do we do?’ And I said let him come, bring the baby girl with [him] and let them come and pick [her] up afterwards…
“I am there to solve problems and Cornell Glen was the first one in camp [on New Year’s Day]. The baby girl was there for a few hours, [then] they picked her up. No problem. Because we trained only in the evening.
“If you have a problem, call. But you have to call before 12 o’ clock. Otherwise who proves you did not leave home before 12 o’ clock?”
Saintfiet spoke in detail about Orlando City midfielder Kevin Molino’s absence from the team too. He explained that the midfield ace did ask to be included in the squad to face Suriname and Haiti this week. But that was after he had already turned down the chance to join the team in camp last month and play in Nicaragua.
“Kevin told me face to face: ‘Coach I have to go back to Orlando [on 22 December] to arrange some stuff. I am not available [to train]’. I said okay then you can come to Nicaragua. He said no.
“I asked him about the games against Suriname and Haiti and he told me very straight: ‘I am not motivated, I am not in shape, I do not want to play at the moment’.
“Later, he changed his vision and he said: ‘Yeah, okay I will play’. But when he told us the first moment ‘I am not motivated to play for the national team, I am not ready’ then…”
For the first time, Saintfiet revealed that San Jose Earthquakes winger Cordell Cato also made himself unavailable to represent his country.
Saintfiet stood by his decision to omit Molino—although he eventually made himself available—on the grounds that the gifted midfielder did not have a valid reason for skipping the team’s preparations in December and he needed to be consistent with his players.
“[Molino] was not interested to play Nicaragua. He wanted first to have the holiday off. And then because the president [David John-Williams] spoke with him then he said: ‘Yeah okay, I will be playing’… Why [would he be allowed to join] the current team to play without going to training when Jan-Michael [Williams] and Sean De Silva and Nathaniel [Garcia] have to be in camp?
“He is holidaying. He is not occupied with [his] club somewhere or anything else. By the way, [Cordell] Cato is exactly the same. He was also selected but he also said I prefer a holiday instead of training.”
Was Saintfiet concerned about burning bridges with key players, after his public criticisms?
The coach said he was only being honest. And he reiterated that he would never close the door on a player because of a previous disagreement.
“No, I cannot judge about [their reaction to my criticisms],” said Saintfiet. “I only see at the moment that these players are not committed to the national team. And it is sad because we play two important qualifiers for our country.
“But I cannot think in their position. I don’t know what the reasons are behind that. I don’t know the history and I even don’t want to think about that. I am occupied with what I have and I am very satisfied with the boys who I have. That’s my task—working with the guys who are there.”
Saintfiet also called on Wired868 to give him his due.
The Warriors coach pointed out that the website said Trinidad and Tobago’s 2-1 loss to Nicaragua was the country’s first ever defeat to the Central American nation. However, he suggested enough was not made of the fact that Trinidad and Tobago had never played in Nicaragua before. And enough credit was not given for the Warriors’ subsequent 3-1 win in Managua.
“Never in history [has] Trinidad and Tobago played in Nicaragua,” said Saintfiet. “[…] There are five meetings [for Trinidad and Tobago] against Nicaragua and I wrote history. I am the first one to win in Nicaragua… So [that is also] historic.”
Saintfiet has the opportunity to enhance his reputation this week when he leads a weakened team into competitive battle against Suriname and Haiti. Only one team will advance to the final Gold Cup play off round.
Trinidad and Tobago won their last five internationals against Suriname—between 1992 and 2012—and their last defeat to the Dutch-speaking nation came in a friendly on 5 May 1985.
Haiti are another prospect altogether.
Trinidad and Tobago won eight of 16 meetings with Haiti in this millennium with two draws and six losses. However, the two island republic’s last win against the Haitians was six years ago.
And, crucially, the last meeting between the two nations ended in a 1-0 win for the French-speaking islanders on 8 January 2016, which denied the Warriors a chance to compete at the Copa America Centenario competition.
Saintfiet might not have the country’s most decorated players with him, as he tries to avoid a repeat against Haiti. But, he insists, he has the most committed.
Trinidad and Tobago face Suriname from 7pm on 4 January before tackling Haiti from 5pm on 8 January. Both games will be held at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
Aunt Phyllis: Saintfiet is defaming Cyrus; T&T defender had just one glass of Bailey’s!
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868)
Does one glass of Bailey’s on New Year’s Day constitute excessive drinking for a professional athlete?
Phyllis Andrews, the “aunt” of 26-year-old Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team defender Daneil Cyrus, insisted that national head coach Tom Saintfiet has defamed the Soca Warriors player. And she is urging Saintfiet or the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) to clear Cyrus’ name.
Saintfiet dropped Cyrus and 22-year-old national midfielder Jomal Williams and told the media that the players missed their noon check-in at the Cara Suites hotel on New Year’s Day and smelt of alcohol.
“Two of the players came one and a half hours too late in camp and had still decent smell of alcohol around him (sic),” said Saintfiet. “That was Daneil Cyrus and Jomal Williams. Both were immediately sent home, back to party—but are replaced in the squad.”
Aunt Phyllis admitted Cyrus was late for their residential camp in Claxton Bay. However, she is offended by the insinuation that the versatile W Connection player turned up for national duty reeking of alcohol.
“If [Saintfiet] says the other fella was drinking, he has to prove that too but that is their business,” said aunt Phyllis. “You can drop [Cyrus] for any other reason but don’t say he was stink of alcohol. That boy never came in my house stink of alcohol. And I open the door most of the time for him because he always loses his keys…
“So I want them to clear that up.”
Cyrus did, she admitted, have a glass of Bailey’s. The national defender told Wired868 yesterday he did not touch alcohol that morning. However, he confirmed that he had one drink.
She insisted there was a social context that should not be overlooked, though. It was New Year’s Day and just one glass of “weak” alcohol. Don’t players in England, Belgium and other European countries, she asked, have a drink to celebrate too—once they do not end up drunk?
“He slept by me that night and he left from my house to go to camp,” she told Wired868. “We had a family lime and my children don’t get to have much time with him anymore, so they are always happy when he is around.
“He had just one drink and they were laughing at him and saying ‘Bailey’s boy?!’ I have all the alcohol in the world in house and he would hardly drink. All he would say is ‘Ms Andrews, I am taking a shandy’.
“So I really, really take offence to this. This is tarnishing the boy’s name.”
Aunt Phyllis first opened her Santa Rosa Heights home to Cyrus a decade ago when the Plymouth-based teenager needed a place to stay in Trinidad to train with the National Under-17 Team.
She was friends with the mother of National Under-17 forward Stephen Knox. One day, Knox’s mother introduced her to then National Team manager Chris De Silva who asked whether she would give a place to stay to a teenaged boy she had never met.
“[Knox’s mother] asked me if I could take him and then Mr De Silva and Daneil’s mother came and met me,” said aunt Phyllis. “Daneil was 15 and he has been with me ever since. I have two younger children and everyone welcomed him with open arms, so we are all like family.
“If anything, my children felt I spoiled him. But they are like brothers and sisters.”
Cyrus went on to play in two World Youth Cups for Trinidad and Tobago—the Korea Republic 2007 Under-17 and Egypt 2009 Under-20 World Cups—and cement his place in the National Senior Team.
Aunt Phyllis gave her account of what happened on New Year’s Day, as Cyrus set off for his noon check-in time with his national teammates in Claxton Bay.
“He left [Santa Rosa Heights] about 11am and, when he was in the back of St Helena, he got a flat,” she said. “So he had to call another partner [to come and help him since he did not have a jack]. He called and spoke to the manager [Azaad Khan] and the manager said: ‘Okay come… The coach is really upset but still come’.
“[Cyrus] wasn’t sure of the time [he spoke to Khan] but he thinks it was before 12… I know he left by me a little late and he could have been earlier. But he would have been on time, if not for the flat he had.”
Aunt Phyllis said she called W Connection co-founder and TTFA president David John-Williams to complain today.
“I called John-Williams and he said he is not charge of the team and that is the [coach’s responsibility],” she told Wired868. “But he said that could be fixed. He said: ‘you know he has a reputation of being late for Connection practice’. But what does that have to do with this? I am dealing with the defamation of character with the [coach claiming the] boy was smelling of alcohol.
“I don’t have a problem with him being dropped for being late. But not for alcohol.”’
Wired868 asked John-Williams to confirm if he said said Cyrus’ issue could “be fixed” and what he would have meant by that. But, although he read the message, he did not respond up to the time of publication.
The website was unable to get further comment from Saintfiet, Jomal Williams or national team manager Azaad Khan.
The Soca Warriors face Suriname from 7pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium on Wednesday in the first game of a round-robin series, which also includes Haiti. One of the three nations will advance to the next Gold Cup playoff round against Central American opposition.