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Fri, Oct

Typography

Russell LatapyNational football coach Russell Latapy has upped the ante for today's crucial World Cup qualifying game against El Salvador. Not only is he seeking to secure a vital victory but he wants "that attacking flair'' which he sees as our traditional style.

His declaration signals what could turn out to be a decisive departure from the style of Leo Beenhakker, who made history with Trinidad and Tobago when the team made it to the World Cup Finals in the 2006 tournament in Germany.

Euphoric as that achievement was there were those who chafed at the defensive approach of the Dutchman even though it served to get Trinidad and Tobago through the qualifiers when all seemed lost, with Mr Beenhakker's international football stocks rising after he pulled off the seemingly improbable.

Once in Germany, Trinidad and Tobago could not be accused of having disgraced the region since the team managed to draw goal-less with Sweden and held England scoreless until well into the second half before going down to Paraguay in their final first-round fixture.

For most of the fans here that would have been enough but, again, there were those who contended that the "real''-by which we suppose was meant the "traditional''-Trinidad and Tobago was never seen in the competition except, perhaps, for the final 20 minutes of the last game when, with Paraguay in control and all having been lost, Mr Beenhakker decided to bring on the most attacking of his midfielders for the first time.

That player, of course, was Mr Latapy, the current coach and the man whom his compatriots had come to call the "Little Magician'', who weaved enough of a spell to cause not only local but foreign commentators to wonder aloud at his absence although Mr Beenhakker might have answered that magic is all very well but it was his pragmatism that paid off over the long run.

All that, however, is in the past and it is, perhaps, to be expected that Mr Latapy would be attempting to mould a Trinidad and Tobago team that mirrors his own "going forward'' instincts. Trinbagonians, enamoured as they have always been of the Brazilian football style, are on his side in this, which means that even if, coming in late as he has, Mr Latapy is unable to carry this team to the World Cup, much will be forgiven if he forges a team for the future in, as it were, his own image and likeness.

Of course, if he does the former as well as the latter, T&T will remain completely spell-bound.