Mon, Jul

Russell LatapyVeteran Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Russell Latapy is quietly optimistic of this country’s chances in pulling off a desired three points in Wednesday’s crucial World Cup qualifying encounter against United States.
Latapy, appointed as player/coach by the TTFF earlier this month, made a one half appearance in T&T’s 0-0 draw with Guatemala on Saturday but had to be sacrificed  at half time due to Cyd Gray’s sending off. Nonetheless he was delighted to be involved and contribute towards the team’s showing.

“Fantastic point for us. We knew that if we didn’t get at least a  point here  then it would make things really difficult for us so I must say congrats to everyone involved. We showed a lot of character, determination and spirit as well to hold on with the two men.

“It wasn’t the best surface that was conducive to the way that we want to play football and the way we’ve always played football which is to get the ball down and passing it. But again you have to adjust to whatever opponent and surface and we got a point. It puts us in the driving seat now,” Latapy told TTFF Media on Sunday.

The former FC Porto man emphasized on his current role in the team.

“Well there are a couple of reasons why I’m back obviously. I’m never going to turn my back on Trinidad and Tobago… I never have and I never will. I think that I can still make a positive contribution at my age. I’m happy to be playing at this level. I love football and I’ll always play football and be involved. It’s a good opportunity to come back but most importantly is making a contribution to Trinidad and Tobago football and to the team. It’s just good experience and the knowledge of the game… helping the younger players understand what their roles are is important. I think spending more time around the team will allow for a better understanding for the younger players.

“I’ve only been here in reality for five days. First and foremost the aim is to get us to the other round. My input as a coach has been very little so far. It’s been more my input as an experienced player and bouncing things of management as an experienced player. Asking what I think as far as the type of trainings, organising training sessions, getting us to a play at a certain intensity and at a high rhythm. I haven’t been involved a great deal in that way. Bt saying that it’s difficult being back for five days and making one hundred percent changes.

“In my opinion, the ability, talent and experience that we have around... we shouldn’t be in the situation we are. But again we are here and we have to deal with it and once we get into the other round there will be more time to make improvements,” Latapy added.

Following his half time exit. Latapy looked on at the remainder of the game and spurred on from behind the T&T goal which was closed to the players tunnel. And as the team walked off the pitch after the final whistle cheered by the Guatemalan crowd, the “Little Magician” jogged with clenched fists in the air.

He explained his reason for such a reaction.

“I think I’ve always been a winner in everything I did. It happens a lot in football with players speaking to each other and I think Guatemala treated us with a lot of disrespect in terms of some of the things they were saying to us. I’m not really a big fan of speaking about referees but he had a lot of wrong calls. He made a lot of home side decisions, so with us holding out… that was saying to me that okay we’ve beaten the odds here under  a really harsh, difficult and aggressive atmosphere… we have put ourselves in the driver’s seat. We have to depend on nobody but ourselves so that is one of the things I was excited about especially when you say things to young players and they (are) now having the experience of seeing it and experiencing it.”

Three points is the definite aim on Wednesday, he added.

“We don’t want to leave it coming down to the last game. I know on paper everybody is thinking that if it comes down to the last game then we are going to win against Cuba at home. We need to go into every game with the same mentality that we are going to win, especially when we play at home which is why we have home advantage. In playing against the States at home we want to impose the type of football that we play… how Trinidadians play football and show our technical ability and the way we have played ever since. The essence of Trinidad and Tobago football is what we want to show and obviously we want to come out with three points,” Latapy concluded.

View Latapy's Interview