Trinidad and Tobago are not ready for World Cup Brazil 2014.
That is the view of 2006 World Cup goalkeeping hero Shaka Hislop, who now works with ESPN as a football analyst.
"I'm a fan of Trinidad and Tobago football, and I have the blind optimism of a fan, but the realist in me says that I don't think the team is well enough prepared," Hislop told the Express yesterday during an interview at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain.
Hislop explained that since the retirement of midfielders Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy—T&T's last national coach—Trinidad and Tobago do not have the players to adequately replace them.
He also has a problem with T&T's "short-term approach" to qualification.
"It's always the same song and dance every four years," Hislop said. "It's (always) about the next World Cup, and right as the qualifiers are about to start there's a lot of money thrown at it, there's a lot of hype, there's a lot of excitement generated. We've qualified once, but clearly more times than not we've fallen just short, at times fallen way short.
"Then we look for somebody to blame, somebody to point the finger at, and then we do the same thing over again in four years' time."
Hislop, one-time top-class goalkeeper in the English Premier League, has put a big part of the responsibility for the team's performances on the shoulders of the T&T Football Federation, saying that administration has failed the team more times than not.
"Administratively," he related, "I feel we haven't been good enough over a number of years, including 2006, where I think we just had enough talent to get us by. A lot about the game, how it's played, how it's run, how the players are handled, come from the administration and I don't think we do a good enough job of that."
The former West Ham custodian feels that at the administrative level, a "steady rotation of faces" is needed for local football to grow, but lamented the fact that the same faces continue to make the "same decisions and the same mistakes".
"More disappointing, there doesn't seem to be opportunity for more faces and more ideas. As a result, we simply won't move forward," he added.
Symptomatic of these shortcomings, Hislop said, was T&T's Digicel Caribbean Cup loss to Grenada last November, which put them out of the tournament at the group stage and out of contention for the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
"How we lose to Grenada at any level of football is beyond me," an animated Hislop stated. "It should not happen. It is inexcusable.
And as much as I defend (then coach) Russell Latapy, and he's a very dear friend of mine, and I continue to believe he has a long-term future in Trinidad and Tobago football…there is absolutely no reason why we should be losing to Grenada at any level of football. There's absolutely no excuse for it."
Hislop, along with former West Indies captain Sir Vivian Richards, was in Trinidad yesterday and Monday as Johnnie Walker's newest ambassador for their latest campaign, dubbed: "Be a Giant: Don't drink and drive".