MEMBERS of the national football team have put in their two cents in the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s (TTFA) search for a new national coach. The players have penned a letter to the TTFA requesting that four coaches including Stephen Hart be considered for the vacancy.
Hart, who comfortably led this country to the hexagonal stage of World Cup qualifiers, tops the players’ short-list which also includes W Connection’s Stuart Charles-Fevrier, former England defender Terry Fenwick and Club Sando’s Angus Eve (assistant coach).
The 56-year-old Hart was fired on November 24 last year and was replaced on December 7 by Belgian Tom Saintfeit who shockingly resigned last Wednesday after only one month on the job. Saintfiet stated that a lack of support from the TTFA led him to step down a mere two months before World Cup qualifiers resume in March.
Yesterday, 23 current national players, led by spokesperson and goalie Jan-Michael Williams gave their opinion on the coaching situation, imploring the TTFA to give Hart, who was relieved of his duties after three and a half years on the job, another chance.
The letter by the national players to the TTFA stated, “We (the players) KNOW it is not our decision to make, neither is it our place to make such demands, but we - 23 current players - have pooled our knowledge, resources and ideas together to come up with a few names for your immediate consideration.”
The letter added, “We can all agree that we the players have interacted with these names at some level, so we can safely say our knowledge can be used in this regard. We pledge our full support regardless of who is selected to the position, even if it is a person or persons outside of this list, as we know that we the players play an integral part in helping the team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.” Up to 6pm yesterday, the players received no acknowledgement or response from the TTFA.
Speaking to the Newsday yesterday, Williams explained why Hart is the players’ number one candidate for the job.
“In the players opinion, I think we obviously let him down, I think we should have operated in a more professional manner.
We think obviously he is the best man for the job or one of the best candidates for the job and we will like to get him back on board,” Williams said matter-of-factly.
During the latter portion of Hart’s tenure as coach, there were reports of indiscipline cropping up within the squad with the TTFA having to fine players as well as ban midfielder Kevin Molino for a couple matches. The team also had a poor 2016 with several defeats including a 1-0 loss to Haiti in a Copa America Centenario and two World Cup qualifying defeats vs Costa Rica (2-0) and Honduras (3-1).
Williams said the team is still optimistic they can qualify for the World Cup. “The dream is still alive obviously and I think we know as players that we have a lot of work to do.” St Lucian-born Charles-Fevrier has been coaching W Connection in the TT Pro League since 1999 winning numerous titles including five Pro League titles and five Caribbean Club championships.
English-born Fenwick has similar experience to Fevrier in the Pro League as a coach, having successful stints with both San Juan Jabloteh and Central FC including three Pro League titles with squads comprising mostly local players.
Former national player Eve worked as an assistant coach with Fenwick at San Juan Jabloteh. He is currently the head coach of Club Sando in the Pro League and also coaches Naparima College.