Russell Latapy will get a second chance to prove himself as head coach of the Trinidad and Tobago national team after being re-signed to a two-year contract by the T&T Football Federation (TTFF).
The announcement was made by TTFF special adviser Jack Warner yesterday during a press conference at the President’s Box, Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain.
Russell Latapy replaced Colombian Francisco Maturana during the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the South Africa 2010 World Cup in April last year and his tenure ended with T&T’s failure to qualify in September.
Now, Latapy is being given more decision-making leeway, including the freedom to choose his assistant coaches ’within the constraints of our budget’, according to Warner.
The national team will retain their entire technical staff, including manager David Mohammed.
TTFF technical director Lincoln ’Tiger’ Phillips, himself a former national goalkeeper, will work with the T&T keepers to get them ’up to standard’, Warner revealed.
Latapy said he has yet to discuss the assistant coach position with longtime friend and T&T teammate Dwight Yorke, but hinted that he would like to have Yorke as part of the technical team.
Warner was on the TTFF panel that selected the T&T management team, that panel including technical adviser Keith Look Loy and general secretary Richard Groden and chaired by TTFF president Oliver Camps.
In addition, Warner said, the TTFF have accepted an invitation by the English Football Association to have Latapy serve an ’apprenticeship’ with Arsenal Football Club of the English Premier League, ’so he can work with (Arsenal manager) Arsene Wenger’.
Latapy, in his statement, said he accepted the offer to return as coach with ’pride and honour’.
He immediately stated his desire to work with a core of ’about 32 players’ between the ages of 20-26. Any other players, he said, would be accepted on his team if they impress him.
’...I’ve always said,’ Latapy related, ’if you’re good enough, you’re old enough to play for the national team.’
Latapy will give priority to the ’best XI’ at his disposal, he said, and is hoping to get his team to gel enough, before exposing them to international fixtures.
’We want to play the best opponents we can play. That’s the only way we’re going to improve,’ the former T&T midfielder said.
Latapy is targeting the 24-team 2010 Digicel Cup and qualification for the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup to assess where his team is before qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Former national coach Zoran Vranes, Warner also announced yesterday, will add the Olympic (Under-23) team to his duties as national Under-20 coach.
Vranes can have his pick of local assistants, while he has Michelle Abrams as Under-20 manager.
Before Warner made the big announcement, though, Phillips gave a brief synopsis of the technical issues the national team faces and their intended solutions.
Phillips highlighted the speed of T&T’s game, ’predictability’, and the ability to think on their feet among their problems, along with ’passing, dribbling, ball control, possession, penetration, crossing...’.
’We play a very static game,’ he said, adding: ’...the game is not fluid anymore.’
Phillips put that responsibility squarely on the shoulders of coaches and pointed to the licensing of coaching as one solution on which the TTFF are currently working, in conjunction with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Sport.
The TTFF have been offering coaching courses, varying from Levels A-F, and are hoping to have all football coaches licensed to a mininum Level D, a ’prepartory level’ and eventually to Level C.
The use of technology is also crucial to the development of the modern footballer, Phillips said, and added that the TTFF have also introduced international exchange programmes to further help prepare coaches to work with players.