Trinidad and Tobago head coach Russell Latapy will lead the National Senior Team into San Jose on Wednesday night for what has all the ingredients to be an eventful 2010 World Cup Qualifying match against Costa Rica on Saturday.
After all, T&T’s chance of qualifying for South Africa 2010 are no longer alive but the “Ticos” are in a desperate must win situation and guess who’s in charge of them for this crucial encounter – none other than Brazilian-born Rene Simoes, a man who will be all too familiar with a situation like this present one.
It was Simoes who led T&T to a shock 1-0 win over Honduras on October 7, 2001 which crushed the Central American’s hopes of advancing to the 2002 World Cup.
And now Simoes comes up with Russell Latapy as his opposite number. Dwight Yorke will also be in San Jose as an assistant to the former FC Porto star. The dynamic T&T duo retired from international football shortly after Simoes took charge of the T&T team in 2001, prior to a World Cup qualifier against Jamaica at the Queen’s Park Oval.
When asked by local reporters whether he had any of the events of that period in 2001, Latapy simply, nodded, saying it was history and he was focused on the match at hand.
“That is the way football is and that is the way life is. Sometimes in a particular situation you don’t always see eye to eye and you voice your opinion and the other party also has the right to voice their opinion. That was in 2001 and we’re now in 2009. He has a job to do for his employers and I also have a job to do for my nation so that’s all I’m going to be concentrating on,” Latapy said.
Another memory that will be around, both with those in the current squad and the ones not here at present, is the passing of former striker Mickey Trotman. Last Thursday marked eight years to the day the former Miami Fusion forward lost his life in a vehicular accident leading up to T&T’s away victory over the Hondurans.
Latapy was also asked on Monday as to what extent he was now looking towards the shaping of the national team for 2014 Brazil.
“It is the future and we always look forward towards the future. It would be a situation that at the end of this game I would have to sit down with the powers that be and try to figure out exactly where we go from here.
It’s a situation where if I’m as to continue I’d be delighted to. But first things first is for us to get these two games out of the way and then we can deal with all the other issues,” Latapy added.
A 22-man squad will travel to San Jose minus Bolton Wanderers defender Jlloyd Samuel who pulled up with a groin strain in practice. It means that National Under 17 player Shahdon Winchester will get his first experience of traveling and training overseas with a Senior national team after being invited by Latapy to train in the sessions at home this week.
“We want to give some of the younger players the experience of playing at this level. It is very possible (that they can play on Saturday). They are here and they are training. My job is to put the best possible eleven on the pitch and to have the best squad available.
Based on how the players perform in training, I will pick the best team possible for the pitch. I’m happy to say that the players are showing that they understand that it’s an honour at all times to represent the country y and to play with passion and pride.”
T&T Under 20 captain Leston Paul is among the younger ones getting the opportunity to rub shoulders with the likes of Kenwyne Jones, Carlos Edwards and Dennis Lawrence in an official World Cup qualifying scenario.
“It’s a pleasure always to be called up to a senior team. I was invited in the past but now being here with the rest of the players going into a World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica is definitely something more intense and of a higher experience.
I’m looking forward to it especially having come back home from the Under 20 World Cup. I don’t think there is anything else myself and the other under 20 players could have asked for as a follow up to the World Cup in Egypt,” Paul told TTFF Media on Tuesday.