Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs, Anil Roberts has thrown out a challenge to Soca Warriors coach, Russell Latapy, which could see the former national player, losing his job.
The out-spoken Roberts called on the former Porto and Hibernian star to lead T&T to a record eighth title in the Digicel Caribbean Cup, or consider quitting as national coach. Roberts was speaking at the launch of this year’s Digicel Caribbean Cup at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, yesterday.
Roberts said this year’s Digicel Caribbean Cup was more important than any other in T&T’s history. “The reason I say this is because the Government of T&T has made qualifying for Brazil 2014 a national priority. This is not just in works but you will see in the next few months the kind of investment into football we will be making.
“However, this government will not sit and have no say. We will have a say because investing money does not ensure success.
You have to put the right people in the right places for things to work. Reflecting on T&T’s recent run of poor form, Roberts said results have not been good. T&T drew with Belize (0-0), lost 3-0 to Panama, beat Antigua & Barbuda 1-0, St Lucia 3-0 and were beaten by Jamaica 3-1.
“That is not acceptable in any form or fashion.” Roberts said he was challenging Latapy and the local players who always complain when foreign professional are brought back into the team. “I love locals, I would say localise it, but if your are given a chance and you cannot perform, then so be it.
“We are in a cut throat world where success is demanded. So we are demanding that T&T beats whichever teams come its way in this Digicel Caribbean Cup.” Roberts said the team will get full support from Government since the Caribbean Cup was a huge tournament.
“We must win the Digicel Cup or be in the final and qualify for the Gold Cup or else the Federation will have some hard decisions to make.” Pressed to clarify his views on Latapy, Roberts said, “I can’t say Latapy should be fired because I’m not in charge.
But if your are saying I should recommend or be of the opinion that he should be removed if the team does not perform well and that his contract should be terminated, yes it should.”
Roberts noted that T&T football was too important to come to the last eight months before the World Cup and be changing coaches. “Government is going to partner with the T&TFF and if the team does not reach the final, I think his job should be in jeopardy.
This is the Caribbean and if we cannot dominate our region, we cannot say that 2014 Brazil is realistic.” Asked if he was being too critical of Latapy who has chosen to expose a number of young players to the national set-up, Roberts replied: “It’s absolutely fair, one cap, two caps, three caps, whatever.
As coaches we make our decisions. If he decided to go with young players it should not mean that he’s buying himself an extended period of time. “This is an elite level competition and if I’m the coach, I don’t choose my players and expect to lose or say because they are young players its okay to lose.”
Minister Roberts warns Latapy about poor results.
By Mark Pouchet (T&T Express).
Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Anil Roberts has issued a warning to senior national football coach Russell Latapy: Make the final in the Digicel Caribbean Cup or hit the road.
Roberts was speaking to the media at yesterday's launch of the 2010 Digicel Caribbean Cup at Hyatt Regency Hotel, Port of Spain.
The national squad have suffered a string of bad results recently which was only broken by 1-0 and 3-0 wins over Antigua and St Lucia, respectively, earlier this week.
Roberts said the Digicel Cup is the most important competition in this country's footballing history as the Government of Trinidad and Tobago has made qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil a national priority.
"And you would see in the next few months the sort of investment we are going to put into it. However, this Government will not invest money and not have a say. I'm very sorry, but we will have a say because investing money does not ensure success...you have to be able to put the right people in the right places," he stated.
Asked if he would recommend sacking Latapy if the national team does not perform well in the Digicel Cup, Roberts replied: "I can't say that because I am not in charge, but if you are asking if I am of the opinion that his (Latapy's) contract should be terminted, I would say yes, it should be."
He continued: "Let's face facts, he (Latapy) is my friend and so on, but that is irrelevant. It (the Brazil 2014 campaign) is too important, we cannot wait till the last eight months and then be changing coaches in and out, so if we do not perform well here, and that means reaching the final, it is my opinion...and I may not be in charge of the TTFF (Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation), but the Government is going to partner with the TTFF...then I think his job should be in jeopardy just like any other elite coach, cause if we cannot dominate here in the Caribeban and win then we cannot say that 2014 is a realistic objective.
"We must not be in 2013 hoping that God loves T&T and that something will happen and some one will beat someone. We have to get out there and compete against USA, Mexico, Costa Rica."
Roberts said that Minister of Works and Transport Jack Warner, in his role as FIFA vice-president, had done well to increase CONCACAF's allotment from one spot to three and a half spots in the World Cup, but Trinidad and Tobago needed to help itself by getting its house in order.
The former talk show host had earlier said that sport tourism is going to be a Government thrust and football is going to lead that thrust, "and the only way to lead that thrust and get people to support is to win, so we will win this Digicel Caribbean Cup and go on to the (CONCACAF) Gold Cup, or else the TTFF will have some hard decisions to make".
Roberts also stated that a Cabinet note would recommend that the Ministry of Sport take over the payment of salaries of the national coach and his staff from Warner and the TTFF. But he warned that there will be conditions to the payment of elite coaches.
"We will sit down with them and thrash out an agreement with performance-based bonuses and so on. We are gonna ensure they (the national team) get higher-level competition, although we are not doing well against lower level, but for next year I would like to see them playing teams like Nigeria, South Korea, Japan and so on.
"We have Minister Warner as a resource, it is going to be costly, but if we are going to qualify for 2014 we have to raise our level, so we have to play a lot of higher-level matches."