Russell Latapy has indicated his desire to continue with his role as coach of the Trinidad and Tobago football team.
The former national captain and midfield ace made this revelation on Wednesday night, after the TT team held Mexico to a 2-2 draw, at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo, in their final game of the 2010 FIFA World Cup CONCACAF Zone Final Round Qualifiers.
“The first thing we (himself and assistant coach Dwight Yorke) need to do is sit down and analyse the campaign, see what (are) the positive points and the negative points,” Latapy said.
“We have to try to correct the negatives and make a report to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF), hopefully sit down with them and see where we go from here. As everybody knows, my contract is up at the end of the month,’ he confessed.
“It will be a situation where I’ll have to sit down with the (TTFF) and see what they say about maintaining me as the coach. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve been honoured and privileged to be the coach of the national team and I would really like to continue.”
Latapy replaced Colombian-born Francisco Maturana in April but could not prevent the aging Trinidad and Tobago team from facing elimination in the 2010 World Cup campaign.
Taking over the helm of the team with only minimal coaching experience – he served as a player/assistant coach at both Falkirk, in the Scottish Premier League, and Trinidad and Tobago – Latapy’s results have been poor, with only one win (El Salvador) and a draw (Mexico) compared to five defeats (Costa Rica twice, Honduras, United States and Mexico) in the last seven qualifying contests.
“I got the team at a very difficult stage,” he noted. “We had a lot of players at a certain age, they were going out of the national team and (this) was their last attempt, at this level really.
We have to try and bring new players in and we have to rebuild,” admitted Latapy, who was dubbed the “Little Magician”.
“I’ve been happy with the way that process has gone and, so far, in the five to six months that I’ve been (in charge), we’ve tried to give a lot of young players the opportunity,” he stated.
“I think a lot of them have performed with distinction and I’m happy with that.” He is hopeful that the youthful policy will continue for the next qualifying campaign – the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
“We have to look forward to the next four years,” said Latapy. “A lot of the senior players who are with the team right now, in four years, they’ll be way above 30 or the middle 30s.
“So what we need to do is build and get some of the younger players on board,” he added. “Players who are this particular time are 20-23 years old will be at the right age for the next campaign.
” When asked about the national Under-20 team, who participated at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Egypt, and their future with the national “senior” squad, the former Porto and Falkirk midfielder replied, “players at that age, they’ve got at least 10 years of professional football ahead of them.
“Hopefully these players can go back to their clubs and gain experience, and learn the tricks of the trade,” added Latapy.
“I don’t particularly like singling out players in public. “My philosophy is that we win as a team and lose as a team. We win as a nation and lose as a nation.” Concerning Wednesday night’s game, Latapy said.
“I thought a lot of our fans missed a good game of football. “Obviously we understand, it was a difficult situation, seeing that we did not qualify and both teams were basically playing (for pride),” he added. “Mexico had already qualified and we didn’t.
“Therefore, that made for a good game of football and I’m really proud of the way that some of the young players took the opportunity to perform (on the) night.”
He was pleased with the response of the team, following their 4-0 hammering by Costa Rica on October 10.
“I think that is a question of every game a player plays, with a national team shirt, they try to do their best,” commented Latapy. “Unfortunately, in football, there is no guarantee.
“The only thing that I’ve always asked the players to do is work as hard as they can,” he continued. “I think they’ve done that in all of their games.”
Referring to the new faces he introduced (national Under-20 defenders Jake Thomson and Robert Primus) as well as the recalled Kerry Baptiste, Devon Jorsling, Marvin Phillip, Kern Cupid and Julius James, he pointed out.
“I think, for example, in the Costa Rica game, there was (noticeably) a lack of experience and exposure at this level, and individual mistakes, which we cannot legislate for.
“In my time with the team, I’m really proud of the players and the effort that they (showed).”
Baptiste, who netted both goals for Trinidad and Tobago against the Mexicans, admitted that he was glad to make full use of his selection on Wednesday.
“I’ve been working hard, both on and off the field, and every time I get the opportunity to play, I just want to show that it has pride in wearing the red, white and black t-shirt,” said the 27-year-old, who took over the role as striker (from his regular midfield role) and captain of his club Joe Public this year.
“Every time I get on the pitch, I always try to work hard because, as a striker, your job is to put the ball in the back of the net,” he continued. “Every time I get the opportunity to play, I’ll make use of it.”
Commenting on his performance, he stated, “goals win matches and, quite frankly, to be honest, I really missed some opportunities (on the) night and you can say I got five chances and I put away two.”