Wed, Jul


Russell LatapyRUSSELL LATAPY will arrive for Christmas to pick up a permanent position as assistant coach with the Trinidad and Tobago national team and the current technical staff, comprising Colombian head coach Francisco Maturana and his two assistants Cesar Maturana and Anton Corneal, is to be restructured.

The Soca Warriors will also have training camps in Europe and Argentina during the middle of 2009 to make up for T&T's failure to qualify for the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup, after being knocked out at the preliminary stage of the current Digicel Caribbean Championships in Jamaica.

Jack Warner, special adviser to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF), made these announcements yesterday at a press conference at Kapok Hotel, Maraval.

Telecommunications giants TSTT also announced they had renewed and expanded a sponsorship contract with the TTFF. The contract spans two years and covers the 2010 South Africa World Cup qualifying campaign.

Warner declared that TSTT are the Federation's lone sponsors at this time, but refused to disclose the value of the deal, while Anthony Joseph, TSTT's vice-president Mobile Services, said it was important not to just step in when success is achieved, but to do what is necessary to help the Soca Warriors to qualify for the next World Cup.

Without TSTT, Warner said the Soca Warriors' programmes would be stalled.

"Because of this sponsorship, I was able to confirm with Latapy this morning that he can now return on December 23 to take up his full-time coaching appointment and to join the local staff. And not only Latapy will come on the 23rd, but I spoke to Dwight (Yorke) as well. He is very enthusiastic and he said to me that he now has this new role to play in Sunderland, but he wants to come with Latapy at the end of the month and to sit down with the technical staff and discuss what we can do to qualify," said Warner.

"Dwight Yorke will still be the captain of the team and, of course, he plays a role better than a captain because he is not just a captain but a leader as well. And he will be coming with Latapy and to see, of course, how we will have things restructured. And the whole (technical) staff has to be restructured so as to make them more accountable."

Warner also reported that with Trinidad and Tobago out of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, training camps in Europe and Argentina are being planned. All that is possible due to the FIFA international window which allows countries to have access to their foreign professionals during that period.

"I can tell you also that based on the sponsorship, and the fact that the team did not qualify for the Gold Cup, we are able to use the period to prepare. And from June 14-26 the team will have a camp in Europe, where they will play against top clubs in the Premier League and top countries like Poland and Nigeria in England...and now we are in negotiations to finalise those details," said Warner.

"And following that, two weeks later we are going to Argentina from July 3-26 to again play against top clubs and top teams...all in an effort to be ready for the qualifying matches."

Warner defined Latapy's new role as that of assistant coach, but said the "Little Magician" will still have a role as a player with the national team.

Asked if the jobs of head coach Maturana and his assistants are in jeopardy, Warner replied: "All I can tell is that the staff will be restructured. As you see, it's premature for me to talk before I talk to these guys...and I haven't spoken to those guys (Maturana and staff) because they came in last night (Wednesday from Jamaica). And, it is not fair for them to read about anything before we talk.

"From a point of view of just ethics I don't think it's fair. So, all I can tell you is that it will be restructured in a way that will make our qualification not only probable, but assured."

Warner described Trinidad and Tobago's failure to move past the qualifying round of the Caribbean Championships as unprecedented and added that the Soca Warriors had failed to qualify for the CONCACAF Gold Cup for the first time in ten years. But, rather than fret, he said the Federation would use the period to better prepare the team for World Cup qualification.

Warner revealed that many issues have to be discussed, including why Trinidad and Tobago did not have a settled squad at this stage of the World Cup qualifying campaign, and why the technical staff had used up to 34 players, when most other CONCACAF teams had selected between 24 to 26 players.

"In the beginning I thought it was a serious blow, but for me it was a blessing in disguise," said Warner.

"In fact, right now I am trying to get two big matches here. When I go Japan on Sunday, I am talking to two of my colleagues to bring two top, top teams to play here. And if I get them it will blow your minds because those are the kind of games we will want here and they will be on almost the same level as England...almost," he added.