Russell Latapy is in a qualification melee now and his task is a monumental one—do not even question this! It is unlike any before; it is doubly, triply, and even, “quadruply” difficult! The teams in Concacaf are overall, stronger this turn and we are not, even if we have thus far been witnessing a wobbling Mexico. There will be no favours this time from one country to another– every point will be mega for the teams to avoid finishing fourth. No one wants to be fourth and to face the South Americans from that position.
Whichever South American country, our fourth-placed team won’t be squaring off against a cellar-placed team in a cellar-placed Confederation, like Bahrain was in 2006. I mean, who wants to play teams that are trouncing global powerhouse Argentina, 6-1 In 2006, Fifa’s two weakest Confederations saw their teams squaring off.
I, however, like the choice of his Barnabas-like aide, Zoran Vranes. Vranes is a very fine, loyal, and unselfish individual who will support and serve him truthfully.
Shortsightedness or conservatism
Just as the water of the river passes only once, so, too, did our golden chance pass by. We failed to seize the opportunity to add Latapy to the coaching staff immediately after the Germany World Cup. The momentum was ignited, and the new beginning engaged after Germany, and nothing was done. Now, that opportunity was allowed to ripple by. My take on the reasons for this poor decision not to include Latapy to the post-Germany coaching staff, is to follow in a soon-to-be submitted article to the media.
Again, my articulations at the time of the Germany World Cup were that Latapy be given a full protégé’s role on the T&TFF’s coaching staff. There, he would have been nurtured in his virgin flight with the “geese.” He would have been following closely behind and beneath the wings of Wilhelmus “Wim” Rijsbergen for the next two years (until about June 2008). Thereafter, Wim could have been encouraged to play a supporting and advisory role to the new “gaffa” right up through qualifications and to South Africa 2010. ß
During that evolutionary, as well as revolutionary period, Latapy would have been protected and taught to deal with the “gales,” “currents” and “burdens” of leading a national team by men who have the grey and proven mettle. In that experience and journey, Latapy would have been feathered, groomed and made “osmotically” ready for what have now been slam-jammed in his face.
Such an experience would have given him ample opportunities to learn, compound his learning with his other very valuable set of experiences, and then allow him to blossom into what would have been “perfect” for us and sensible for his leadership to take foot today.
My personal belief is that Latapy, with all of his learning ie, those that lifted him high due to his “magic” on the ball and in the dressing rooms and training fields (whether for T&T, or in Jamaica, Portugal, and Scotland), and those other experiences and experiments that tumbled and humbled him over the years, would surely have been made a most worthy warrior, and befitting for the travails of this job as is now before him. All those experiences would have been honed in a timely manner for this occasion.
Total and unequivocal support
However difficult the road ahead is, Trinidad & Tobago will no doubt be behind Latapy, and will support and protect him, win, lose, or draw. Certainly he has my unreserved support, well-wishes, and prayers.
My agony, however, continues to be our lack of planning and unwillingness and inability to sacrifice self for the greater good. Indeed, we are perennial short crop growers—we love fast-bearing trees. And now, Latapy’s task is taunting and qualification for South Africa, daunting. I shared my thoughts and hope for Latapy with his manager, Wayne Mandeville, several years ago in the Dundonald Street environs. I expressed regret that insight and foresight were not forthcoming at the time of our Germany experience. Why wasn’t the moment seized and money set aside for our home-grown and ready-to-serve, “Little Magician”?
More magic needed
For this task ahead, I personally believe that we need more magic, since we have too little of the Magician to pull this one off. We have dealt Latapy a difficult hand and with much of the deck already served. Poor, poor planning and leadership indeed!
Some say we have 1.3 million people in the country, and that we have 1.3 million coaches with it - everybody is a coach. My take, as one of those 1.3 million coaches is that we have played one more card from a depleting deck, into the hands of the opposition - 7,500 voices in Bacolet are a lot; a lot for a pan-around-the-neck competition. But, three times dat 7,500 tend to suggest triple times de noise; big-band competition, I would say! Additionally, we playing dey for Dwight, or in a location for Russell and de country? We doe put “rivals” like Costa Rica in places wey dey disadvantage betta dan we advantage! Wa de ass we tinkin!
Less than a win would be devastating i.e. 2 or 1 point from six at home - wha we saying? And we, next game in Aztec-land wid some reengineered "Nahautl, Maya, Zapotec Indians"? Remember Sven Erickson calmed dem down too much and dey go be going back to dey ways in true, true Aztec style; and we eh no Spain coming to bring someting - we coming to take!
Mine dat Tobago ting turn into a lime - a real lime, a sour occasion!