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Lasana Liburd reviews the disaster that was the South Africa 2010 W/Cup campaign

It's a good thing former South African president and global icon Nelson Mandela visited Trinidad and Tobago five years ago on the invitation of FIFA Vice President and Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) Special Adviser, Jack Warner. We are unlikely to get close to Mandela again in this lifetime.

There will be no “red, white and black” in the Rainbow Nation for the South Africa 2010 World Cup and, whatever the public relations folks might say, that is an unmitigated disaster.

The “Soca Warriors” were still in Germany when the more established football nations began referring to the tiny twin island republic—the smallest nation ever to participate in the FIFA showcase tournament—as a “flash in the pan”. Despite our efforts, we proved them right.

Identifying the problem and solving it are two decidedly different tasks. Encouragingly, three years ago, Warner spoke of the TTFF’s intention to build on our progress so as to avoid the hangover that bedevilled our northern Caribbean neighbours, Jamaica, after their appearance at France 1998.

But words were not matched by deeds and the Warriors’ dreams of a South African safari disappeared long before the sun had set on our CONCACAF campaign.

The 4-0 hammering received at the feet of Costa Rica in the penultimate fixture left a sour taste in many mouths and barely 5,000 people turned up for the final group outing, a 2-2 draw against a Mexico team that had already qualified.

Trinidad and Tobago head coach Russell Latapy suggested that fans who stayed away missed “a good game”. Rubbish. The fixture was played at such a pedestrian pace that even the burly United Petrotrin striker Nigel Pierre would have looked as though he was on roller skates had he got a run-out.

Costa Rican referee, Walter Quesada, did not have to reach for his cards even once in the absence of any exploratory tackles—not that Mexican veteran, Cuauhtemoc Blanco, would have minded.

In short, at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on October 14 the only thing missing that would be prerequisite at fete matches were the crates of beer at the sides of the field.

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2010 World Cup campaign in briefs.
Written by Lasana Liburd (www.tnttimes.com).


Lasana Liburd takes the TnT Times through the 2010 World Cup campaign in bulletin form

June 15, 2008
Two days after an embarrassing 3-0 loss to England in friendly centennial fixture, head coach Francisco Maturana lines up squad in 3-5-2 format and is embarrassed 2-1 by Bermuda in opening World Cup qualifier at the Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya. Stern John’s solitary item was sandwiched by a double from John-Barry Nusum.

June 16, 2008
FIFA VP and TTFF special advisor Jack Warner threatens to play World Cup qualifiers on foreign soil due to disagreement with Sport Minister Gary Hunt over rental fees.

June 22, 2008
Maturana makes four changes to his starting team as goalkeeper Clayton Ince, right back Kareem Smith, striker Jason Scotland and John all make way. John comes off bench to grab crucial goal while Darryl Roberts got the opener. Petrotrin playmaker Keon Daniel created both goals as the “Soca Warriors” scrape into the semi-final group stage.

June 24, 2008
Warner chairs meeting with Maturana and Pro League coaches and officials in which Colombian is openly criticised and the floor recommends the return of the bulk of our 2006 World Cup players.

July 2008
Warriors scheduled to play Honduras and El Salvador but end up with friendlies against Guyana and the Netherland Antilles. They win both 2-0.
Dwight Yorke agrees to return to international duty and he is rumoured to have requested a say in team selection. World Cup players Chris Birchall, Silvio Spann, Cyd Gray, Scott Sealy and Avery John all subsequently recalled as well as Densill Theobald who was ignored after passing the captain’s armband to John (S) in Maturana’s first game at the helm.

August 20, 2008
After two wins and a loss in friendlies against Haiti and El Salvador, the Warriors fly to Cuba minus the omitted John (S) and cruise to a 3-1 win despite the ejection of teenaged midfielder Khaleem Hyland. Daniel again stands out with a double.

September 6, 2008
Daniel scores another fine strike although Warriors let lead slip against Guatemala as Phillip is beaten by a speculative injury time free kick from Carlos Gallardo in their first qualifier at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

September 10, 2008
Maturana replaces Dennis Lawrence with Makan Hislop and takes the blame as Warriors routed 3-0 away to the United States. The Warriors were without the suspended pair of Hyland and Avery John while Aurtis Whitley and Jones miss out through injury and Yorke skips game on orders of Sunderland manager Roy Keane.

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