Oliver Camps, president of the T&T Football Federation says it is too premature for his federation to sack Soca Warriors coach Russell Latapy following the team’s shock first round exit from the Digicel Caribbean Cup Finals in Martinique.
Prior to T&T’s participation in the tournament, Camps’ along with Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Anil Roberts had stated that failure to reach the Digicel Cup Finals and qualify for the Concacaf Gold Cup to be played in the USA next year should bring about some changes in the coaching staff led by Latapy.
The Soca Warriors then silenced their detractors by whipping St Vincent and The Grenadines (6-2), Guyana (2-1) and former tournament winner, Haiti 4-0 to top their second round group qualifiers at home, securing them a spot in the eight-team finals in Martinique.
However, the youthful Soca Warriors squad skippered by W Connection’s Clyde Leon and which entered the tournament as seven-time winners (1989, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999) and ten-time qualifiers for the Finals, bowed out the competition at the group stages, after failing to qualify in 2008, also.
T&T, the highest ranked team in the Caribbean Football Union at 78th suffered losses in its first two matches in Group H to Cuba (2-0) and Grenada (1-0) before ending with a 1-0 win over Martinique on Tuesday night to end second from bottom in the four-team group with three points. Cuba won the group with seven points followed by Grenada with five points while host Martinique was pointless.
By finishing third in the group, T&T failed to reach the semifinals which would have secured a spot at next year’s Concacaf Gold Cup in the USA, for a second tournament running. T&T also failed to qualify for the Gold Cup under previous coach, Colombian Francisco Maturana, who Latapy replaced during the 2010 South Africa World Cup Concacaf Final Round qualifiers.
But responding to questions regarding the future of Latapy, a former national team standout and local sporting icon, the soft spoken Camps, who was reelected as the federation’s boss last week after being first elected in 1992, said the future of the coach and the staff will be discussed at a meeting to be held soon.
He added, “It’s is customary that after every tournament we have a meeting among the members of the technical committee and emanating from that meeting, we then hold other meetings to discuss the way forward and if changes would be made to our coaching set up.
Reflecting on the failure of the Soca Warriors to at least reach the semifinals of the tournament for a second straight occasion, Camps said, “Obviously we are disappointed, but there is a process how things are done and after we have discussions with the technical staff of the team then we will have a better idea of what went wrong. Asked if Latapy’s tenure as national coach is all but over as many believe, Camps said it was too premature for him to say what is going to happen.
“We are all concerned about what happened in Martinique and we will have discussions. “Let’s be frank. You just cant fire a coach because he did not do well in one tournament.
We have to get the input of all involved, we have to discuss what went wrong with the technical staff and the way forward,” added Camps. Since picking up the position as national coach in April 2009, Latapy has been in charge of the Soca Warriors squad for 22 matches, winning nine, with ten defeats and three drawn results.
Russell Latapy wants to stay on.
By: Kern De Freitas (Express).
Russell Latapy is not ready to step down as national senior team coach despite the Soca Warriors' early exit from the Digicel Caribbean Cup.
A sober Latapy, on return to Piarco International Airport yesterday from Martinique with the national senior football squad, told the media he has served national football in various capacities over three decades, and would like to continue to do so.
T&T went under 2-0 to a superior Cuba outfit on Friday, before Grenada shocked Trinida and Tobago 1-0 on Sunday. T&T ended their tournament with a 1-0 consolation win over hosts Martinique in their final Group H encounter Monday.
The former Falkirk FC player, though, would not speculate on whether he has a future with the national team.
"I understand (my coaching status) is an obvious question, but it is an obvious question that I cannot answer for obvious reasons. I have to sit down with the (T&T Football) Federation and those responsible, and then I would be in a position to answer that question."
Latapy said the team's poor finishing cost them a place in the semi-finals, and a berth in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
"…We have ourselves to blame always," the former T&T midfielder reflected, "because if we score our chances we will win games and then again we saw (missed chances) against Martinique as well. We wasted a lot of goal-scoring opportunities. I mean I will be worried if we weren't creating the opportunities."
Latapy conceded that Cuba were the better team in their opening encounter, but suggested that despite T&T's poor marksmanship, Grenada were fortunate to grab the winner against his team.
"Again we had the youngest team in the tournament though, so maybe a bit of inexperience showed," he added.
Latapy also appealed to the T&T fans to continue supporting the Soca Warriors in what he described as a learning period.
"We understand (the fans) disappointment, we as players share that disappointment and maybe more so than the fans. But again it's a process of learning and going forward, and I think we're going in the right direction," he reasoned.
In hindsight, Latapy would have liked to have had the entire team together for longer before they travelled to Martinique.
" There was progression during the tournament from the first game to the third game. The team played better with each game… I would (also) have done more work on finishing because I suppose that was our downfall, not taking our chances."
Video: - Latapy speaks on Team's performance.