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Tue, Sep

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POSITIVE STEP

Trinidad and Tobago senior football co-head coach Hutson Charles is hopeful that the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation’s (TTFF) impending settlement with the 2006 “Soca Warriors” will lift a “burden” off of national football.

Charles believes that the Federation’s moves to settle their current debt to the 13 players—who have been locked in legal battles with the TTFF for over six years—will pave the way for the team to “move forward”.

The former national midfielder said the current “Soca Warriors’” technical team had met with TTFF president Raymond Tim Kee, and were assured of the Federation’s plan to settle the matter, which left the Federation previously levied upon by the players, and tied up in court.

Previous president Oliver Camps also escaped contempt of court proceedings over a failure to produce adequate accounts during their legal wrangling with the 2006 players, before he quit in 2011.

Charles described the development as a “good path” for them.

“It would mean that burden will be dealt with and we can move forward from that,” Charles told the Express yesterday. “It was a big issue going forward in terms of getting sponsors on board. Corporate Trinidad wouldn’t want to put their money in the accounts of the Federation if they can be levied upon…

“I am pleased that progress is going forward in getting that burden off. As long as it comes off the shoulders of the Federation, then (we will get more progress).”

As far as the senior T&T team, Charles said he and co-coach Jamaal Shabazz have settled on a core squad for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which kicks off in the US on July 7. T&T will start their campaign against El Salvador, before meeting Haiti and Honduras in that order for a place in the quarter-finals.

Charles and company are hoping most of the local and foreign-based players will be available for training camp once their various leagues end by mid-May. The core squad will train before the final team is selected for away friendlies against Romania on July 4 and Estonia on July 7, both FIFA international dates.

“We probably will gather the players around May 18-19, and see who going to be available, and then we’re going to probably have a little meeting with them, and then start to train with the local and foreign-based professionals.

“I expect most of them to be back home. (Hopefully) we can get them together around (May) 18-20, and start preparing for the (friendlies).”

Asked about the recent form of his team, who lost 2-0 at home and 3-0 away to Peru in February and March respectively, and also drew 0-0 away to Belize, Charles backed his players for their efforts and attitude.

“From since the beginning the team has been going through (difficulties) financial wise. But I think the guys have been performing,” he explained. “They understand the situation. It’s a difficult thing, because the public judge the team on performance and results, but the staff, we know where we want to go, we know what we’re looking for.

“These warm ups was just to see our strengths, our weaknesses. We want to give everybody a chance, but that part of it is finished with the games we played.”

Coach Charles added that the Peru matches were used to look at players in different positions and come up with the “nucleus” of the squad that will travel to the Gold Cup. Team chemistry is the other key ingredient, the T&T coach explained.

Their most recent outings also showed Charles just how much he and Shabazz still have to work on before the Gold Cup.

“…From what I’ve seen over the last couple of games, I know a lot of emphasis has to (be paid) on defence. (In) the last couple games we gave up some easy goals. Our whole mental game needs to improve, and the ball possession, it could improve [as well],” Charles stressed.

“And of course goal-scoring. The opportunities have come, but we haven’t been able to put the ball in the net.”