Sacked Trinidad and Tobago national under-17 coach Dion La Foucade yesterday slammed Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) technical advisor Alvin Corneal’s assertion that he was not ready for the job.
Corneal, a FIFA technical study member and former standout national player and coach, told the Daily Express on Friday that La Foucade was too inexperienced to handle the position previously held by Nigerian Adegboye Onigbinde and Brazilian Rene Simoes.
However, La Foucade insisted that Corneal's comments were totally unfounded as he attempted to prove his capabilities with documentary evidence.
“I have no problem with (new U-17 coach) Ron La Forest,” said La Foucade. “I wish him the best in his post but I feel I have the same if not more experience than Ron.”
"I can coach adults too. To make it seem that all Dion La Foucade does is sit down in Goodwood Park and work with four-year-olds is ridiculous."
La Foucade listed his qualifications which included an English FA full badge, a FIFA badge, a United States Soccer Federation (USSF) B’ license, a Caribbean Football Union (CFU) level one certificate and an advanced diploma from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
He is also recognised by the Brazilian Football Academy and was named Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs 1998 Coach of the Year.
La Foucade pointed to a pile of recommendations as well from the likes of FIFA goalkeeping coach Lincoln “Tiger” Phillips, CONCACAF technical director Marcos Falopa, ex-TTFA president Peter O' Connor, Portsmouth goalkeeper Shaka Hislop and FIFA vice-president Jack Warner.
The paper trail—which begun in 1988—spoke in glowing terms of La Foucade as a “progressive young coach”, “keen student of the game” and “a natural born leader”.
For all the theoretical accolades, though, there was an undeniable lack of practical experience barring a short stint as assistant national under-17 coach to Michael Grayson and the deceased Arthur "Jap" Brown.
But La Foucade retorted that the recommendations of such learned football officials and players must count for something and argued, once he was hired in the first place, he deserved a chance.
The former St Anthony’s College player was fired on Thursday in his first training session after whittling his squad from 40 to 25 players and two days before his official practise match against Brazil.
One player who did not meet La Foucade’s standards was 16-year-old St George’s College defender Jamal Warner, son of the former T&TFF special advisor, and La Foucade again hinted that his exclusion may have played a part in his sacking.
“Everybody has to read between the lines,” he said. “I won’t spell out what happened."
Warner, who hired La Foucade in the first place, was present at the T&TFF meeting in which he was removed on Thursday and his son, Jamal, was re-instated into the team the following day.
Warner was a second half substitute on Saturday as the national under-17 team beat Barbados 3-1 at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar.
La Foucade, who claimed to have been hurt by the dismissal, said that local coaches must become more unified and supportive of each other to be taken seriously by the T&TFF.
Still, La Foucade said that he would consider the position of national under-15 coach if it is offered to him.
“I will only accept the (U-15) post if things are done properly and I am shown the highest level of respect,” he said. “If I am given a proper contract and the chance to develop players and not just used as a short term measure.”