Sun, Jul

In life, it is your decisions that ultimately affect whether you will be termed a failure or a success. In Sports it is no different, the lasting impression will be the decisions that totally worked perfectly or just failed abysmally.
This we all witnessed on Saturday when young Arsenal goalkeeper Lukasz Fabinaski, cavalierly came out of his goal area to intercept a through pass he was always playing second best to and allowed Chelsea to score the winner through Didier Drogba. Interim Trinidad and Tobago Football coach Russell Latapy does not have much time before our next World Cup Qualifier against Costa Rica on June 6th at the Dwight Yorke Stadium, Tobago.

Therefore, he will not have enough time to experiment with players, but instead will have to base his assessment on his own knowledge and perhaps that of some of the Pro League coaches. Latapy is a free thinker and a free spirit, his type of football should be exciting and enterprising, but to succeed, he needs to have the players that can adapt and identify with that sort of exciting, visionary football that he has in mind. Do we have such players in this country, whether locally or foreign based? And is it possible to change the mindset of some of the current players that have become defensive since the Leo Beenhakker days?

Let us all be honest, we need to gain three points (win) against Costa Rica, as the following game is away to Mexico on June 10th, and any points achieved in Mexico will require a Herculean performance. However we cannot expect to progress if after five matches, we only have 2 or 3 points in this group. Zoran Vranes, a man who has made a habit of coaching in nearly every Caribbean island, has engineered a fast paced, aggressive, fighting spirit among the Under 20 team that will travel to Egypt for their World Cup in September. Will he be able to persuade some older, less fit senior players to chase and run down opponents with a never say die attitude?

Two young central defenders in Robert Primus and Sheldon Bateau are names on the lips of many, but is it too risky to throw them in at the deep end for this Costa Rica match? What of Julius James? Why has he suddenly disappeared off the football radar for Trinidad and Tobago? Perhaps, the new “interim” coach should follow the example of his close friend Brian Charles Lara who when given this burden by the West Indies Selectors, proceeded to lead from the front with two centuries and one double century to inspire the West Indies team to two victories against Australia.

In the goalkeeping position, unless and until Kelvin Jack returns to full fitness and better competitive football, big , strong Clayton Ince is by far the best choice as our number one Goalkeeper, his commanding presence and confidence is greatly needed at this time, perhaps if he can improve on his reflexes more, that will be a further asset. Meanwhile we need to groom at least one other person as an understudy, and it is a tough call in my view, but Daurance Williams can be given a chance.

In defence, we have a major problem—we are simply poor in quality and slow in movement. When your defence is as ponderous as ours and now it appears also porous, desperate measures need to be taken. Friendships must be forgotten and country must come first and even if there was acrimony between players because of the trials and tribulations involving black listed players, all of us (officials, players and supporters) need to put that behind us—not to be forgotten though, because there are critical lessons here.

If 35 year old Cyd Gray is fit, he must return and despite the doubts over 33 year old Avery John, he is still better than Aklie Edwards. The centre of defence is much more tricky, 32 year old Brent Sancho and 34 year old Dennis Lawrence would be favourable, but there is room to consider the flat footed 23 year old Makan Hislop. In recent matches, 31 year old Keyono Thomas has appeared out of sorts and a rest could be rewarding for his long term future. In the midfield, Dwight Yorke, Carlos Edwards and Chris Birchall are crucial. But Keon Daniel is not himself and needs to recapture his confidence before being afforded a starting position.

Densill Theobald is a classier player than the hardworking Clyde Leon. While Colin Samuel’s speed on the wing, will always give us options. Khaleem Hyland has the confidence and if given a starting role can mature quickly. There are two Under 20 players, both from St Mary’s College, Leston Paul Jr. and Sean De Silva who should be offered an opportunity to parade their infectious appetite for flair and success on this team. Contrary to popular belief, I think Latapy must also play a role on the field of play, no matter how short or limited it is.