TRINIDAD and Tobago football team coach Russell Latapy has affirmed that the squad is ready to face Costa Rica in today’s 2010 FIFA World Cup CONCACAF Zone Final Round qualifier at the Dwight Yorke Stadium, Bacolet.
“We’re prepared as best as we can for the game,” said the 40-year-old, during a media briefing yesterday.

“We’re ready to go. It’s a home game,” he said. “We need to win. We have to still in contention so we’re looking forward to it.”

Today’s fixture will be Latapy’s first since he replaced the Colombia-born Francisco Maturana at the helm of the Trinidad and Tobago team in April.

“I’ve been involved in football all my life so it’s a big occasion,” he said. “We’re going to take it seriously, as we should.”

It was no surprise that the soft-spoken Latapy, dubbed the “Little Magician” refused to divulge his tactics for the match. “I have a decent idea, based on the players that I have available,” he said.

The players – local and foreign-based, have been involved in month- long training sessions, both at the Bacolet venue and the Larry Gomes Stadium in Malabar.

“I’m happy as I can be,” Latapy noted. “But I’d like to have more time to work with the team. I understand that we’re allowed a certain amount of time. We’ve worked hard and the players have made my decision very hard to make.”

Latapy continued to stress that he will not be playing in today’s qualifier.

“I’m not going to be available for this game,” he pointed out. “It’s difficult to coach and play at this level.

“With now getting the team and having to play in the team, I’m concentrating now on coaching than playing. I’m not physically ready to play.

He stated the team, while in Tobago, was able to focus on the task at hand, and avoid any distractions from the fans, and the atmosphere in Trinidad. But he issued a challenge to the strikers that he selected – Kenwyne Jones, Jason Scotland and Cornell Glen, that they have to start to convert their chances into goals.

“We need to score goals to win games,” Latapy said. “None of our strikers have scored so far in the competition. “We have an opportunity to rectify that at home and that’s the challenge for the strikers,” he added. “They need to go out there and score.”

While he admitted that he did not see Costa Rica’s 3-1 win, at home, against the United States on Wednesday, he noted that both the Costa Ricans and Trinidad and Tobago are equally favoured for a win.