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91
TTFA vows to pay Hart and Walkes but not remaining coaches; Tim Kee blames politics for funding issues
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)


Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee said the local football body has decided to pay the salaries of head coach Stephen Hart and technical director Kendall Walkes while the TTFA’s impasse continues with the Ministry of Sport.

The TTFA accepted a March deadline to present audited accounts to the Ministry of Sport but is yet to fulfil its end of the bargain. Sport Minister Brent Sancho responded by halting all funding to the football body, which included the payment of coaches’ salaries.

Although Tim Kee claimed that the TTFA was “about two weeks” away from satisfying the Sport Ministry, he said the football body will pay Hart and Walkes in the interim.

“Mr Hart has been attended to,” Tim Kee told Wired868, on Friday evening. “He is owed for April and May and an arrangement was made where he will get one month’s salary and a small portion. He was satisfied with the arrangement; he made no hassle about it…

“He may have been paid (on Friday) as that decision was made (on Wednesday evening). Our plan is to pay Hart’s salary directly for up until September.”

Hart’s contract with the “Soca Warriors” expires in July 2015, although he has been credited with doing a fine job at the helm and it seems likely that the TTFA will try to keep him onboard.

Tim Kee, who is also the Port of Spain Mayor and PNM Treasurer, admitted the football body contracted Walkes’ services with the expectation that half his salary would be paid by the Sport Ministry—as was the case with former technical director Anton Corneal.

However, the TTFA never actually broached the topic with the new Sport Minister and the result was Walkes was unpaid after his first month’s work.

Tim Kee said the football body will also pay Walkes although he advised that the new TTFA technical director should be no more than “cautiously optimistic” about being paid every month’s end.

“We will have to give him his full salary,” said Tim Kee. “I have also told the General Secretary (Sheldon Phillips) and the Chairman of the Technical Department (Richard Quan Chan) to let him know that we do not have an open cheque book and to tell him what the true situation is. I don’t want any surprises for people.

“Let him be cautiously optimistic. From all indications, we will be able to afford him as we move forward (as) we have applied for some (FIFA) developmental funding.”

And what about the remainder of the Senior National Team coaching staff as well as the national youth team and women’s coaches?

“I don’t want to convey that impression (that we do not care about the other coaches),” said Tim Kee. “(But) they were always the government’s responsibility… Most people involved in football are poor people who cannot enjoy the luxury of not getting paid. So that plays on my conscience.”

Wired868 asked, if all coaches are TTFA employees: Why has the association decided to pay some and not others?

“We don’t owe (assistant coach Derek) King and the others any money,” said Tim Kee. “The money owed to them is from the Ministry of Sport… Remember those guys don’t have contracts (with the TTFA).”

Wired868’s checks suggested that the only coaches with TTFA job contracts are Hart and Walkes. The others are working on the verbal assurance from the football body that they will be paid if funds are sourced.

Tim Kee said the TTFA is in the process of drawing up contracts for its other coaches but did not offer a date when those are likely to be ready.

National Under-23 Team manager David Muhammad claimed last week that assistant coach Reynold Carrington did not attend any training sessions and was allegedly awaiting his job contract. Wired868 was unable to reach Carrington for an explanation for his absence.

Tim Kee suggested that, if Muhammad’s assertion was true, then the fault lay either with Quan Chan—who liaised with the youth team coaches on behalf of the TTFA—or Carrington himself.

“I did mention to Mr Quan Chan to explain to these people what the situation is,” said Tim Kee. “I said this is the situation, this is what we can do and, if you can provide under these conditions, then we are telling you upfront. So there is no reason to stay away because they were told (or should have been told) this is the conditions under which they will be operating.

“There will be consequences to that.”

Tim Kee insisted he and his general secretary Sheldon Phillips have done all they could to raise money for football and approached 28 private and public sector corporations with little success. He blamed politics for the TTFA’s financial crisis.

“If you were rating our job without explanation, it would be not a pass mark (for us),” said Tim Kee. “But if you look at the notes you will understand. There are circumstances over which you have control. When we went to National Gas, (a board member) told one of our executives that the people who play football do not wear yellow.

“So it is a political and a racial situation. I brought it to (then Sport Minister Anil) Roberts’ attention. And the imbalance is cricket was getting what it wanted.”

Tim Kee alleged that the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB) also promised US$1 million to the TTFA but reneged on the deal when he was appointed Mayor.

“He said ‘Tim Kee is a PNM mayor’ and he is not doing anything for the PNM to look good,” the TTFA president said of an unnamed NLCB member.

Wired868 was unable to verify Tim Kee’s claims from members of either State board.

Race and politics were not the only things that Tim Kee blamed for their fund raising issues. He claimed that the TTFA was on the verge of a multi-million deal with TSTT, only for it to be scuppered after Wired868’s exclusive regarding possible corrupt or unethical practices by the football body in the build up to an international friendly against Argentina on 4 June 2014.

Wired868 revealed that TT$400,000 was pocketed from taxpayers’ money for a supposed TTFA licensing fee, which remains missing. Travel agency, Nissi Tours, alleged that the money was pocketed by TTFA marketing officer, Darren Millien, although Millien denied this.

There were also emails from Phillips’ match agency company, Element Agency + Events, which suggested that the TTFA general secretary might have a personal stake in a match put on by State money.

Phillips claimed there was a “glitch” in his email account and denied that his company was benefitting from Warrior matches.

TSTT’s interest in sponsoring the TTFA, according to Tim Kee, cooled immediately.

“(TSTT) agreed to sponsor us to the tune of TT$4.5 million,” said Tim Kee. “then (Wired868) wrote that article on the Argentina business and, when I went to consummate the agreement, I was told that the board had read the article and decided to put a stop on it.

“So we were back to square one.”

Still, Tim Kee responded to his critics by pointing to the relative successes of their football teams despite the issues. He said the TTFA has begun implementing FIFA’s income generation plan and should soon be able to raise funds from merchandising via its new website.

“When you hear what we have been able to achieve with scarce resources,” he said, “it brings goose pimples.”

He hopes to also mend bridges soon with the Sport Ministry, despite his annoyance that Sancho attached stipulations to last November’s TT$9.9 million Cabinet note.

“The Cabinet note seems not to be as highly favoured by the Sport Minister as it was intended by the Prime Minister,” said Tim Kee. “That is unfortunate because all the plans we made for this year was predicated on that type of assistance from the Ministry.

“So I am hoping that, as time goes on and we adhere to the best policies, I would expect understanding and support from the Ministry. I would hope that there is a change in direction.”

Tim Kee said the TTFA will try to juggle its resources so as to ensure practice games for the National Under-23 Team, which begins its 2016 Olympic Games campaign in Puerto Rico next month.

The senior Warriors are also rumoured to be on the brink of sealing international friendlies against Jordan and 2014 World Cup team Croatia.

Hart and Walkes might be “cautiously optimistic” about being paid too, regardless of the Sport Ministry’s relationship with the football body, while Tim Kee claimed that a financial offer was also made to Corneal, who is still owed from his spell as technical director.

The TTFA’s other two dozen or so national coaches have no such guarantees, limited or otherwise.


92
Waldrum discovered TTFA rejection through press; W/Warriors hunt new coach
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)


Former Trinidad and Tobago National Women’s Senior Team head coach Randy Waldrum, who took the “Women Soca Warriors” to within one goal of a FIFA 2015 Women’s World Cup place, allegedly found out about his rejection for the post through the media.

Last week, Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee told the Trinidad Express that the football body decided against re-appointing the Texan, due to his inability to commit fully to the job of national head coach.

Waldrum is also the head coach for US National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) team Houston Dash.

“I would not like to excommunicate Randy from the coaching staff,” Tim Kee told Wired868, “but we have two tournaments around the corner and we don’t have the luxury of time… In my mind, he is not entirely out of it. But for this Olympic and Pan Am (tournaments), we have to make a serious decision going forward.”

Tim Kee suggested that he would consider re-hiring Waldrum in the future. But the coach was not thrilled at finding out about his rejection through the media.

“I have not been told anything other (than) being sent the (Express) article,” Waldrum told Wired868.

Tim Kee admitted that he only asked general secretary Sheldon Phillips to contact Waldrum on Saturday, after TTFA’s decision not to re-appoint him was already public.

And Phillips, according to Waldrum, sent him the URL for the Express article.

The football president suggested that Waldrum was partly responsible for the TTFA’s poor communication for supposedly failing to inform the football body of the extent of his club commitments.

“I have not (called Waldrum) but I asked the general secretary to give him a call… after the article was published,” said Tim Kee. “Randy and I had a long conversation (last year) about going forward but this thing with (Houston Dash) was never part of the conversation.

“I didn’t think I (should have) to call him and ask what is going on. He could have called me. I’m not making any excuse…”

However, the football president conceded that “it creates a problem for me too” when he learns about decisions through the media and insisted he did not mean to disrespect the Texan coach.

“I have huge respect for the relationship he was able to build with his players,” said Tim Kee. “There is no animosity or disrespect (towards him), (the decision) was just about having someone fill in for these two tournaments. I would probably call him tonight.”

For his part, Phillips said his interaction with Waldrum on Saturday was informal and not meant to be official confirmation of the TTFA’s decision.

“I only sent the article to Randy to ask whether he had seen it,” said Phillips. “Up until that point, as far as I knew, there had not been a final decision. I spoke to Randy again on Sunday about the decision although it was more of a chat.

“To be honest, the article had a tone of finality which wasn’t the case… It is just the schedule means he is unavailable for that period of time.”

Tim Kee said he will meet technical committee chairman Richard Quan Chan on Thursday to discuss potential head coaches for the National Under-20 and Senior Women’s Teams for the immediate future.

At present, St Ann’s Rangers women’s coach Jason Spence, who is the assistant coach for the under-20 and senior teams, has run combined sessions for the two squads with assistance from St Augustine Secondary coach Desiree Sargaent.

Tim Kee claimed that Waldrum declared himself unavailable for the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games and requested that assistant coach Jason Spence handle the team in his absence. He also supposedly requested that his son, Benjamin Waldrum, and an unnamed US-born physio be contracted by the TTFA.

Tim Kee said he balked at both suggestions although he revealed that Spence is now being considered for the post of National Under-20 Team head coach.

“My opinion is we have people here who I believe should be given an opportunity to be exposed at that level under a coach they can learn from,” said Tim Kee. “I don’t want to bring three or four coaches from abroad.

“I always believe in training people and having them as understudies… So I was thinking about the transference of knowledge.”


93
TTOC set to blank U-23 squad additions; missing TTFA contracts affect staff
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)


The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) and the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) could be on a collision course over squad lists for the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games.

The TTOC mandates that all member associations submit a preliminary list by March 27 while final 18-man squad lists are required from the men’s and women’s teams by the first week in June.

However, the TTFA has made woefully late starts in the creation of both Pan American squads and the implications of this seem likely to be felt soon.

The National Under-23 Men’s Team only began training on April 22 and were allowed a special exemption to submit a 39-man squad—rather than a list of 30 players—almost a month late. However, the “Soca Warriors” squad grew rather than shrunk since then as coach Zoran Vranes requested that Point Fortin Civic striker Jamille Boatswain, Portland Timbers reserve attacker Rundell Winchester and the North America-based duo of midfielder Christian Ferreira and Xavier Rajpaul be added to the preliminary list.

Ferreira flew in from Canada to join the squad in training on Wednesday while Rajpaul, a former National Under-20 midfielder, is due to link up with the Warriors next week.

But Pan American Games chef de mission Dianne Henderson, who is also the TTOC assistant general secretary, said the TTFA was given all the relevant deadlines since last year and suggested that pleas for special treatment are likely to be resisted.

“The long list has gone already and they cannot send any new names to Toronto,” Henderson told Wired868. “The sport entry time is the first week in June and that is when they have to choose the final names of their squads for the men’s and women’s teams…

“We gave them that information since last year and Canada is very strict about such things.”

If Henderson is right, Ferreira and Rajpaul would have wasted their trips home while Boatswain will also be ineligible. More tellingly, Vranes will lose the option of using Winchester, who has four National Senior Team caps.

Club Sando midfielder Akeem Humphrey and Dallas FC youth team goalkeeper Johan Welch were also left off the preliminary list although both were said to be deliberate exclusions.

The TTOC verdict, if it stands, will be a further administrative blow for Vranes, who is already uncertain as to how many overseas-based players—particularly those attending university abroad—will be available for the preliminary Olympic qualifying round next month in Puerto Rico.

In a previous interview, Vranes told Wired868 he selected a squad to begin competitive action in the mid-July Pan American Games only to be told, on April 22, that his first qualifier will be on June 24 against Suriname. He said he would have declined the job if he knew about the short timeframe in advance.

“The team was training for the Pan Am Games but now we must give full priority to (the) June qualifiers,” Muhammad told Wired868. “Hopefully we will have our best squad for June. But, if we cannot get our US-based players to come in, we will have to work with what we have.”

Another pressing matter for the Under-23 Men’s Team is an absence of job contracts from their employing body.

The TTFA appointed Vranes (head coach), Muhammad (manager), Reynold Carrington (assistant coach), Nigel Neverson (goalkeeping coach), Esmond O’Brien (equipment manager), Gilbert Bateau (trainer) and Michael Taylor (physiotherapist) to its Olympic Team, almost a month ago. However, none of the aforementioned support staff have received their contracts.

Muhammad confirmed that Carrington, an ex-international stand-out midfielder and Point Fortin Civic coach, is yet to join the squad as a result although the rest of the staff began training on April 22.

“Contracts haven’t been prepared as yet,” said Muhammad, “but we are focusing on the job.”

Muhammad is also part of the Senior Team staff who were promised salaries from the November 2014 Caribbean Cup up until the July 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. However, the senior Warriors staff members, who include coaches Stephen Hart, Hutson Charles and Derek King, were only paid for the months of December, January and February thus far.

The uncertainty surrounding the coaching staff of the men’s Senior and Olympic Teams was mirrored in the women’s programme where the National Senior and Under-20 Teams started training without an appointed head coach for either side.

Farcically, Jason Spence, who is the assistant coach for the Senior and Under-20 Women’s Teams and heads the sessions for both, admitted that he had no idea which players in his training squad were chosen to play at the Pan American Games.

“I am not privy to that (information about the Pan Am squad),” Spence told Wired868. “I am only dealing with the players on the field. I’m not aware about that side of it.”

TTFA technical committee chairman Richard Quan Chan revealed that the local football body is still in discussion with former women’s head coach Randy Waldrum about the top Women’s Soca Warriors post. However, Quan Chan said talks have been complicated and suggested it might be another two weeks before an appointment is made.

It is uncertain whether Waldrum selected the Pan American team shortlist despite the fact that he is not a current employee. If the TTFA does select a new women’s head coach, he will be forced to choose from a pre-selected squad.

Wired868 contacted TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips for comment but his cell phone was switched off while office staff explained that he is abroad.

Ironically, while the TTFA has had problems living up to the TTOC’s requests, the local football president Raymond Tim Kee is a member of CONCACAF’s Associated Championships Committee which is mandated to: “organise the associated competitions and Olympic Football Tournaments in compliance with the provisions of the regulations applicable to these tournaments.”

Despite the concerns about their Pan American and Olympic Games preparations, Muhammad commended the quality of the Under-23 team’s training sessions so far and singled out players like Kadeem Corbin, Jomal Williams, Nathaniel Garcia, Dario Holmes, Alvin Jones and Shannon Gomez for their early showings.

Netherlands-bound winger Levi Garcia—who is Nathaniel’s elder brother—would not be available for competitive action due to obligations with his new Eredivisie employer, AZ. However, Muhammad said Garcia (L) has been allowed to train with the youth squad.

At present, the Under-23 squad is trying to finalise two practice games with the Grenada National Senior Team in late May or early June while there is the possibility of an exhibition game against Panama as well.

The Panama football body requested a friendly for its Under-23 team against the senior Soca Warriors. But head coach Stephen Hart declined the invitation.

“I don’t think that using a FIFA date to play the Panama Under-23 Team is good preparation for us,” said Hart.

Muhammad hopes to have the local Olympic Team fill the gap.

Earlier this week, Sport Minister Brent Sancho told Wired868 that the local football had missed a March deadline to deliver audited accounts to the Government and had not submitted a proper budget for the year.

“We didn’t get anything with full costings from them,” said Sancho. “From what I remember, they just sent a gauge of what they have in mind, like two matches in June or early July, but nothing detailed.

“There is no information as to when, where and how much so it is not a budget from a Government standpoint.”


94
TTFA audit still outstanding; Pro League switch worries Warriors
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)


More than a year since becoming the first club to win the Pro League’s first million dollar bounty, DIRECTV W Connection is still awaiting a giant cheque from the competition’s governing football body.

The Pro League’s prize money is funded by the Ministry of Sport. However, the football clubs were unable to access it due to their governing body’s delay in providing the Ministry with audited accounting books.

Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene said the Government’s financial year runs from August to August and claimed that the football body met the necessary requirements.

“The Ministry’s accounting period runs August to August (whereas) our financial period runs for the calendar year,” Skeene told Wired868. “It is normal for companies to submit audits by April for prior year, so we are in line… You know their requirements before you can get money. So we have completed the audit and are just awaiting the funding.”

The Ministry of Sport has promised $3.25 million to the Pro League and $2 million from that cash will be paid to clubs for prize money.

New Sport Minister Brent Sancho, who is a co-founder of current Pro League champions Central FC, said the Pro League has submitted its financial details to the Permanent Secretary Richard Oliver.

“I would say it is very near to being dealt with,” said Sancho, who claimed to have cut ties with the ‘Couva Sharks’. “As we have said, the associations that don’t bring in their accounts will not be funded by this Ministry.”

If prize money is on the way for the nine Pro League clubs, there is other urgent business on the table as teams contemplate a radical change to the kick off date.

At present, the Pro League runs from September to May, which allows clubs to send players en masse for trials during the pre-season for most European clubs. However, local teams are required to begin their CONCACAF Champions League campaigns before the start of the domestic league and against clubs from Mexico, Panama and United States that are already in mid-season.

A switch to the old timetable, which ran from late March to early December, would also mean that the Pro League season would not clash with Carnival or Christmas.

One downside, though, is that Pro League clubs would have barely started their respective seasons when they are called into Caribbean Club Championship action.

“It is a Catch 22 position,” said Skeene. “If it switches the other way like in the past, we had us being not match ready in the Caribbean Cup. So it can be an advantage or disadvantage.

“If you are sure you can beat the CFU teams without match practice, then great. Otherwise, you can be going out of the competition even earlier… The Board (which comprises the Pro League clubs) are the owners and they will make the ultimate decision.”

Should the clubs agree to the switch, the 2015/16 Pro League’s opening date, according to Skeene, could be pushed back to November as a first step towards an eventual March start.

The pros might outweigh the cons in the long run but it might be potentially disastrous to Connection and Central who, if they advance from the Caribbean stage, would again be forced to face the Confederation’s top clubs with only a handful of exhibition games under their belt.

“It is a risky thing for the teams in the CONCACAF club championship,” said Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Stephen Hart. “They will have to try and prepare through exhibition games, which the teams have been doing for the last few years and it hasn’t really worked in our favour.”

Connection chairman David John-Williams suggested that the clubs are not close to agreeing a new timetable yet although he insisted something must be done.

“I was the one who raised the issue at the (Pro League) Board meeting and no one has come up with the final plan yet,” said Williams. “I haven’t done a draft fixture in my mind. That is pure conjecture now. But everyone is in favour of going back to the previous schedule.

“The question in just how we do it.”

Hart has good reason to keep a close eye on the Pro League calendar. A late start is sure to affect Trinidad and Tobago’s Russia 2018 World Cup campaign too although Hart is uncertain as to if it would be a good or bad thing.

The “Soca Warriors” start their “Road to Russia” in November at the CONCACAF semi-final group phase against possible opposition from North and Central America as well as the Caribbean.

“It is a double-edged sword,” Hart told Wired868. “You will have players not playing any football for a very long time (and you want to have) players in good form going into a competition.

“But this also means I can have a team in training and, with the right financial assistance, I can have team playing within FIFA windows and training consistently…

“Every coach wants players who are playing (competitively) on a regular basis so they are match prepared, which means competing to win games and not just playing exhibitions.”

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), which recently hired Kendall Walkes as technical director, is believed to have collected in excess of US$750,000 (TT$4.7 million) from FIFA for its share of 2014 World Cup television rights as well as its annual subvention.

However, the TTFA remains heavily indebted to former employees and service providers including ex-technical director Anton Corneal and former head coach Russell Latapy.

Sancho, who is one of 13 World Cup 2006 players who still have a legal matter pending against the TTFA, said the football body is yet to submit the relevant accounting statements to be considered for State funding.

The Sport Minister and TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips agreed a March deadline for audited accounts which passed without any submission from the football body. TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee subsequently promised the relevant documents in early April that also went unfulfilled.

“They have not brought in their accounts,” Sancho told Wired868. “We had a very cordial meeting with Tim Kee and he agreed that if they didn’t bring in their accounts they should not be funded. He said about three weeks ago that we would have it in a week.

“We have not gotten it yet but I know he has been busy. We hope that we get it this Friday.”

Sancho claimed that the TTFA is yet to submit any request for funding for 2015.

“They have not submitted anything,” said the Sport Minister. “I am aware that we are on the brink of the Gold Cup, even if the Pan Am Games falls under the Olympic Committee, but they have not brought in anything to me.

“Like I said, they need to submit their accounts before we even have that discussion (about future funding).”

Last November, the Ministry of Sport, under previous office holder Rupert Griffith, agreed a $9.9 million cash injection for the TTFA, which was meant to handle: arrears of match fees, bonuses, stipends and salaries for the Senior Men’s National Team players and technical staff as well as remuneration and training camps for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

The TTFA has already used some of that money. They will not, according to Sancho, get a cent more until they show properly audited books.


95
Sharks tale: Central FC scale Stars maiden Pro League title
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868)


Central FC’s coronation as Trinidad and Tobago Pro League champions was, in retrospect, written in the Stars.

Last night, at approximately 9.52 pm, the noisy upstarts had wrestled power of the local top flight after a 2-1 win over North East Stars at the Ato Boldon Stadium ensured that the “Couva Sharks” could not be caught by bitter cross-town rivals, DIRECTV W Connection.

“… Q-R-S-T-U-V,” sang the ‘Central choir’, “W Connection can’t beat we!”

Earlier yesterday evening, Connection laboured to a 2-1 win over Police FC, courtesy a Hashim Arcia double, that was never going to be enough to pressure the leaders. There is one round of Pro League matches remaining and Central, who will be on a bye, were three points clear with a 15-goal better differential before kick off last night.

Connection might not remember when they too were the ambitious outsiders who were treated with suspicion and disdain by the establishment. The “Savonetta Boys” joined the then PFL in 1999 with their business-like air that included shirt, tie and slacks for players on match day.

Opponents muttered that at least they would win the prize for best dressed. By Connection’s second season, they were champions.

Central took three years but, as they pressed W Connection to the finish line in the 2013/14 season, it always seemed a matter of when not if the “Sharks”—the brainchild of current Sport Minister Brent Sancho and his advisor Kevin Harrison—would eventually have their day in the sun.

Last season, Central fell from the skies at the business end of the season after a Trevin Caesar double led Stars to a 2-1 triumph over the Sharks. And the Sangre Grande-based team threatened to be spoilers again this term.

Central coach Terry Fenwick once employed Stars coach Angus Eve as a player and then assistant coach at San Juan Jabloteh and, although there is no love lost between the pair, their contests are always intriguing, passive-aggressive tactical contests played out at pace.

Central used seven players from their Jabloteh team last night. Stars played five.

Eve’s troops, lined up in his traditional 4-5-1 shape, would try to dictate the flow of the match without the ball by shutting down space for opponents and picking their pockets as they tried to squeeze through narrow alleys.

Fenwick tried to counter his former student’s plans from kick off by using an unusual 3-6-1 formation which overloaded the midfield with four central players and two wingbacks while three defenders stood guard over lone Stars defender-cum-striker Kennedy Hinkson.

Within four minutes, Eve was chuckling as Stars went ahead in trademark fashion.

The “Boys from Ojoe Road” won possession midway in their own half of the field and immediately counted as 19-year-old midfielder Neveal Hackshaw hared up the right flank to collect behind Central defender Keion Goodridge.

Goodridge, who is rarely shy to apply brute force, lowered his shoulder into the teenaged “Soca Warrior” and bounced off. And Central and Trinidad and Tobago international goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams was just as powerless and red-faced as Hackshaw produced a precise finish at his near post.

It was only Hackshaw’s second league goal of the season.

Stars goalkeeper Cleon John made two fine saves from Jamal Jack and Central captain Leston Paul to preserve the advantage at half time. But, by the hour mark, the difference in approach by the coaches was unmistakable.

Fenwick, an ex-England World Cup defender, is at his best when his team is driving at an opponent. Eve, Trinidad and Tobago’s most capped outfield player and a fine attacker in his hey-day, is more reactionary.

But, without former quality strikers like Cornell Glen and Caesar, Eve simply did not have the arsenal to play to his preferred mode. And, unlike Fenwick, he could not find a Plan B.

It is true that Stars do not have the budget and depth of Central. But their tally of 24 goals this season is testimony to Eve’s problems this season. Only St Ann’s Rangers have scored less times this term.

By the 63rd minute, Fenwick was on his second reshuffle with a back four and a diamond-shaped midfield with Willis Plaza introduced upfront and Ataulla Guerra given the freedom of the park. Eve replaced his lone front-man, Hinkson, with defender Dwane James who was used in the ‘number 10’ role to press evergreen Central substitute and central midfielder Marvin Oliver.

But there was no stopping the tide.

In the 68th minute, Central drew level as Plaza teed up Guerra who casually waited for the opening before stroking his shot past defender Keryn Navarro and beyond opposing custodian, John.

Eve responded, two minutes later, by replacing Hackshaw with another midfield hardman, Jeromie “Butters” Williams in an attempt to stem the flow rather than seek out Central’s vulnerabilities.

And, in the 87th minute, the Sharks completed the turnaround in fine style as Plaza spun away from Navarro and glided inside the penalty area before beating John with a thumping left footed finish into the corner.

It was a fitting exclamation mark for Central whose 63 goals were 12 more than Connection managed last season and the most by a Pro League winner since Connection scored 69 times in 23 league games back in 2005. The Pro League record, incidentally, remains 113 goals from 36 games by Ricky Hill’s Jabloteh in 2003/04.

The Central Choir was in full flight by then and Fenwick spent the closing minutes trying to stage-manage a tribute to his predecessor Zoran Vranes, who led the Sharks for much of the season before being bizarrely replaced by the Englishman.

Ever the gentleman, Vranes, a former Yugoslavia National Under-23 Team player, joined Fenwick at the touchline and the two linked arms and strode to the edge of the technical area as Central stroked the ball around.

Fourth official Cecile Hinds was in no mood for their love connection and spoiled the party by pointedly reminding Fenwick that only one person was allowed to stand in the technical area at any given time.

The noble but clumsy gesture arguably fit a team that irked opponents with its aggressive marketing and self-promotion in the way Connection once grated rivals with ties and cut-price Brazilians.

The Savonetta Boys proved there was much more to them than that and, no doubt, Central hope to do the same.

Paul, who joined Central from Super League outfit Guaya United in January 2014, was beaming after the final whistle.

“First, I must thank God (because) without God nothing is possible,” said Paul, who was appointed team captain by Vranes. “I am overwhelmed… We dug deep. It was a tough, long season but we stuck together and got the results we wanted and won the trophy.”

The 39-year-old Oliver is a former Pro League champion with Jabloteh but was on Central’s first team list, three years ago. When the Sharks trailed Stars, Fenwick presumably accepted that the lanky playmaker should have been on the field and promptly inserted him.

“I think this is the most complete team I’ve been on and the feeling is just so sweet,” Oliver told Wired868. “With all the dramas and everything that happened, it just feels good to be here now… I’ve seen the guys like Ataulla and (Plaza and the rest) when they were teenagers and they are grown men now.

“I saw the steps they took towards maturity and you saw that tonight with their finish and ball movement and so on. I am really proud of them.”

Central’s first place prize is $1 million although Connection are still waiting on their cheque from last season. These two teams would probably fight to the death over a dinner mint though.

With the Pro League title wrapped up, Central are now turning attention to the 2014 Caribbean Club Championship. On May 22, the Sharks will face Connection in the Caribbean semifinals at the same Couva venue.

“It will be an honour to be champions of the Caribbean,” said Oliver. “Just the other day, I saw we were ranked 182 in CONCACAF and Connection (were) 160. Before I finish playing, I would like to see us reach the top 100 in CONCACAF.”

The ‘Couva Clasico’ is about to go regional.

(Teams)

Central FC (3-4-2-1): 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK); 12.Jamal Jack, 5.Akeem Benjamin, 3.Keion Goodridge; 15.Kaydion Gabriel (7.Jason Marcano 72), 2.Elton John, 6.Leston Paul (captain), 11.Darren Mitchell (10.Marvin Oliver 46); 45.Ataulla Guerra, 8.Sean De Silva; 99.Dwight Quintero (33.Willis Plaza 46).

Unused substitutes: 1.Javon Sample (GK), 4.Uriah Bentick, 17.Marcelle Francois, 19.Nathaniel Garcia.

Coach: Terry Fenwick

North East Stars (4-2-3-1): 22.Cleon John (GK); 25.Keryn Navarro (captain), 5.Aquil Selby, 15.Glenton Wolfe, 38.Jesus Perez; 44.Keon Joseph, 12.Jayson Joseph; 18.Kaashif Thomas (9.Xae Pierre De Four 89), 41.Neveal Hackshaw (6.Jeromie Williams 70), 10.Keron Cummings; 23.Kennedy Hinkson (14.Dwane James 63).

Unused substitutes: 1.Stefan Berkeley (GK), 26.Zavion Navarro, 35.Jordan Devonish, 50.Shaquille Thomas,

Coach: Angus Eve

Referee: Dave Daniel

Pro League results

(Apr 28)

W Connection 2 (Hashim Arcia 44, 88), Police FC 1 (Makesi Lewis 7) at Couva;

Central FC 2 (Ataulla Guerra 68, Willis Plaza 87), North East Stars 1 (Neveal Hackshaw 4) at Couva.


96
Football / Re: Jorsling rewrites T&T Pro League record books
« on: April 30, 2015, 09:12:29 AM »
Pro League goal rush: Jorsling and Baptiste continue historic battle
By Roneil Walcott (Wired868.com)

Born in the same month, veteran Pro League strikers Kerry Baptiste, 33, and Devorn Jorsling, 31, have much more in common than a birth month and being in the twilights of their careers.
Both men still have a knack for finding the back of the net, a talent that has seems to have gone awol in Trinidad and Tobago football of late.  The pair are currently locked in a tight battle at the top of the Pro League’s all-time goal-scoring chart and, barring a protest by their aging bodies, it is a battle that might last for some time yet.
The two rivals go head-to-head from 4 pm on Sunday April 26 when their teams square off in the penultimate round of the 2014/2015 TT Pro League at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar.

At Play Whe San Juan Jabloteh’s early morning training session in Barataria on Monday, it was business as usual for Baptiste.  The diminutive striker, now often utilized as a withdrawn playmaker, has a consistent position on the part training plays in his footballing success.
“It’s a quote I always try to live by,” he told Wired868 philosophically. “The more you sweat in peacetime, the less you bleed during war.’  The young guys nowadays don’t want to put in those extra hours in the pre-season or in practice. I always try to take my training as seriously as possible.”
Practice, the persistent assistance of his teammates and God – not necessarily in that order – are the three elements which, according to Baptiste, are responsible for his prolific goal-scoring.
“With God all things are possible. I thank him for that, the talent.”
Baptiste did not begin his career as an all-action striker for whom striking comes so effortlessly. When he first burst onto the scene in his earlier Pro League years, he was playing mainly as a winger for Jabloteh and Joe Public. At Joe Public, he found his true calling and rewrote the Pro League’s record books.
He recalls the first time coach Derek King utilized him as a striker; it was in a pre-season fixture against Ma Pau. The result?  Four second-half goals. After that, he became the main striker in coach King’s 4-3-3 line-up, a system King likens to the one Barcelona currently uses.
By the end of that season in 2009, the wily attacker had 48 goals to his name, 34 of them in the Pro League, thus earning himself  and his club many accolades that year.
“I always give respect to Derek King because coaches are the ones who give players the opportunity to showcase themselves and King saw something in me and gave me the opportunity (to play as a striker).”
It is true that King’s hand had almost forced into playing the diminutive Baptiste up top, given the departure of some key players, including Guyanese striker Gregory “Jackie Chan” Richardson.  It turned out, however, to be a masterstroke.
“We didn’t really have an out-and-out striker,” said coach King, “so we used him up there in our pre-season matches and he scored a lot of goals. We also had some quality midfielders in Hayden Tinto, Yu Hoshide and Gorean Highley so that was our main reason for using Kerry there. He (Kerry) has a good footballing brain and he puts himself in positions to score goals.”
Read more: http://wired868.com/2015/04/23/pro-league-goal-rush-jorsling-and-baptiste-continue-historic-battle/

97
Football / Re: 2015 Olympic Team Thread.
« on: April 22, 2015, 08:19:48 AM »
Vranes takes over T&T Olympic team; but disappointed with TTFA timeline
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)
 
Former Central FC head coach Zoran Vranes is set to return to the international arena after agreeing to take charge of the Trinidad and Tobago National Under-23 Team for their Rio 2016 Olympics qualifying campaign.
Vranes expects to be assisted by former Trinidad and Tobago international Reynold Carrington, who recently resigned his post as Point Fortin Civic head coach, ex-St Ann’s Rangers coach Gilbert Bateau and Rangers goalkeeping coach Nigel Neverson.
However, Vranes, who steered Trinidad and Tobago to the Egypt 2009 World Youth Cup, cautioned fans to be realistic about the journey ahead. And the Yugoslavia-born coach admitted he might not have accepted the job if he was aware of the time frame before the squad’s first competitive assignment.
The Under-23 “Soca Warriors” will start their campaign on 22 June 2015 in a Caribbean group in Puerto Rico. But Vranes claimed he was initially told that their Olympic qualifiers would start in August.
“If I knew (earlier) our qualifiers started in June, I would not have accepted,” Vranes told Wired868. “I had information that it was in August. I have a month to prepare the team but I will not say that we have no chance...
“We made plans for August and tomorrow is the first day of training. But I was told today that (the Olympic qualifiers will start in) June. Now, I have to sit down to make new plans.”
Ironically, Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee is a member of CONCACAF’s Associated Championships Committee which is mandated to: “organise the associated competitions and Olympic Football Tournaments in compliance with the provisions of the regulations applicable to these tournaments.”
Tim Kee’s presumed inside knowledge of the 2016 Olympic qualifying series seems to have been of little assistance to the current Under-23 squad.
Vranes conceded that the Olympic race is a devilishly difficult one, even in the best of circumstances for Trinidad and Tobago. It remains the only global competition that a men’s national team has never qualified for.
“To go to the Olympics is more difficult than to go to the World Cup because only two CONCACAF teams will go,” said Vranes. “Also, the Under-23 guys in Mexico, the United States, Costa Rica and so on are all professionals. We are behind them.
“If we prepare very well, we will compete (and) you never know. Football is football. But it is very tough. That is reality. But I have nice footballers and I will work as hard as I can.”
CONCACAF has just two automatic spots for the 2016 Olympic Games while the third placed team will face a Play Off against South American opposition. Trinidad and Tobago finished second in CONCACAF on just three occasions in our history.
In 1973, a T&T team that included greats like Everald “Gally” Cummings, Steve David and Warren Archibald whipped Mexico 4-0 but finished second to Haiti and just missed the solitary 1974 World Cup place at stake. Trinidad and Tobago got the ball in the back of the net on five occasions, in a controversial 2-1 loss to Haiti, but only one goal was permitted against the host team. FIFA subsequently banned the El Salvador referee Jose Henriquez who officiated in that qualifier.
Read more: http://wired868.com/2015/04/21/vranes-takes-over-t-but-disappointed-with-ttfa-timeline/

98
Football / Stars penalise Connection in FA final; WCFC promise protest
« on: March 30, 2015, 11:45:45 AM »
Stars penalise Connection in FA final; WCFC promise protest
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868)

After a two and a half year drought, North East Stars returned to winners’ row last night with a 5-4 penalty shootout triumph over defending champions, DIRECTV W Connection, in the 2015 TTFA FA Trophy final at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
There were roughly 1,000 fans at the Ato Boldon Stadium for the cup final and, for the most part, their noisy exuberance put to shame the much larger audience that turned out to watch Trinidad and Tobago’s 1-0 friendly defeat to Panama, two days earlier.
At the death, the Sangre Grande contingent was in ecstasy as the shorthanded Stars overcame a man deficit to defy Connection.
Connection chairman David John Williams vowed to take the fight beyond the final whistle, though. In the post-game press conference, Williams reiterated his view—which he expressed before the match—that Stars forward Gorean Highley should have been ineligible since he joined the club after the January transfer window and received special dispensation to play only in the Reserve League.
“The rule clearly says that Gorean Highley was registered outside of the transfer window as a senior player only to play reserve team football,” said Williams. “When I saw the name on the team list, I went to the Director of Competitions who is Neville Ferguson. I spoke to Sharon (O’Brien) about it and the Match Commissioner and they still allowed the game to play.
“I think that is bringing the game into disrepute. I will take it all the way…”
It costs just $500 to lodge a protest to the TTFA. Yet, that is $500 more than the combined cash prize for the competition.
The FA Trophy was once Trinidad and Tobago’s most prestigious cup competition. But those days are long gone. Now, the competition is testament to the hapless and ineffective leadership style of president Raymond Tim Kee and general secretary Sheldon Phillips.
In Tim Kee’s first year in charge, he handed out trophies, medals and promises after the FA final. In his second year, he promised prize money and then never paid.
Last night, neither he nor Phillips even bothered to show up.
Yet, with only pride at stake, Connection and Stars fought as though they were in the middle of the desert and contesting the last bottle of water.
Stars coach Angus Eve came into the converted conference room for his media address while journalists were speaking to the Connection chairman. He listened attentively as Williams explained why he felt Stars did not deserve the trophy before storming out on the grounds that the media disrespected him by ignoring his presence.
In fact, Williams had spoken for all of one minute and 40 seconds and the Stars coach did not have a long wait. But then Eve is big on latching on to perceived slights and nurturing them.
Despite being Trinidad and Tobago’s most capped outfield international player, Eve has always carried the air of an outsider; and, with Stars, he has found a club that mirrors his feelings. Both Stars and Eve, arguably, see themselves as great figures that are denied the limelight by the system’s inherent snobbery.
If anything, Williams’ post-game fury probably fit their perceived script perfectly.
“We played well and we enjoyed enough territorial advantage to win the game,” said Connection coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier. “We just needed one goal.”
Fevrier was partially correct. But Stars, despite playing with ten men for 88 of the 130 minutes, had at least as much claim to the trophy as they did.
It was not a great technical affair. Connection was generally one-paced while Stars struggled to force their opponents back once they lost numerical parity. But the game was not short of drama.
(Read more: http://wired868.com/2015/03/30/stars-penalise-connection-in-fa-final-wcfc-promise-protest/)

99
Fenwick’s back! Feisty Englishman makes shock return to Central FC
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868)


Call him the unsinkable Terry Fenwick.

The former England World Cup defender left Trinidad and Tobago Pro League club, Central FC, last year for greener pastures with Belgium lower division club, CS Visé, and took three of Couva-based team’s best players with him.

The Visé dream turned into a nightmare and the Trinidad and Tobago exports to the obscure club, Willis Plaza, Rundell Winchester, Elton John and Kevon Villaroel, returned with sad tales of broken promises and unpaid wages. At present, Visé, which imploded financially soon after Fenwick joined them, is in 16th place in the Belgium third division and in danger of relegation.

It is uncertain when the Englishman abandoned the Belgium club.

However, tomorrow morning, Fenwick will officially rejoin them at the “Couva Sharks” as their new head coach. Zoran Vranes, a native of the former Yugoslav republic, will step aside and take over the position of Central technical director with responsibility over the youth and women’s teams.

Vranes will essentially act in place of Central director of women’s and youth football, George Romano, who is recovering from a stroke he suffered last month.

Central operations director Kevin Harrison, who is also advisor to Sport Minister Brent Sancho, confirmed that the feisty Englishman was back in the driver’s seat.

“We are in the last furlong now and the results haven’t been spectacular,” Harrison told Wired868. “Maybe they were getting jaded and needed a little freshener. The players will have to try a bit harder now and refocus to get in the team under a new coach.”

The decision is arguably harsh on Vranes who, at present, has the Sharks at the top of the table and in line for their first domestic league title. Central also retained the 2014 First Citizens Cup under the former Trinidad and Tobago World Youth Cup coach.

However, the Sharks were experiencing a mini-blip after a 1-1 draw to Defence Force on Saturday and a TTFA FA Trophy semi-final defeat to bitter rivals, DIRECTV W Connection, last week.

Harrison admitted that it was not a unanimous decision.

“At the end of the day, the (Central) board did say the team was top of the league and doing quite well but it was more about getting the pieces in the right places,” said Harrison, who is also British. “With George not being there and our Easter camps and so on coming up, we needed more experienced hands to take care of our academy.

“Vranes’ developmental role has been pretty good and then you had Terry’s record last season of 17 games unbeaten. It seemed a better fit.”

Harrison said Central was not put off by Fenwick’s disastrous spell at Visé, which led to the Pro League team paying to bring its players back and then offering them stipends while they waited for the January transfer window to open.

“Terry was just an employee of the club, he wasn’t making decisions there,” said Harrison. “In fact, Terry was trying to intercede on behalf of the players… If I say ‘we will pay you this much money’ and the board runs out of money, it isn’t my fault. That would be blaming the messenger…

“I think the team is excited because a lot of them had a good relationship with Terry. If Vranes was fired that might be different because a lot of players like Vranes and enjoy working with him. They actually have an extra coach now rather than losing one.”

Harrison rebuffed rumours that Sancho personally signed off on Fenwick’s return, despite the Sport Minister’s claim he was no longer involved with Central so as to avoid a potential conflict of interest.

“Brent’s heart will always be with Central but we have a board in place and there is a degree of separation,” said Harrison. “I can’t say we will never ask for his advice or opinion… Central FC will always be his baby and it is hard to totally detach yourself.

“But there must be a degree of separation and, in this case, it was my decision.”

Harrison declined to name the members of the Central FC board.

“I’d rather not,” he said. “I think they’d rather sit in the background.”

Fenwick confirmed his return to Central FC but did not comment further up until the time of publication.

The Englishman, who captained Tottenham Spurs and Crystal Palace in the English top flight and is a former Portsmouth manager, first came to Trinidad in 2001. He led CL Financial San Juan Jabloteh to back to back league titles in 2002 and 2003 before returning to England for a short and unmemorable stint with lower league team, Northampton.

He returned to Jabloteh in 2005 and—despite walking off the job twice due to work disputes—helped the club to two more league titles in 2007 and 2008 and, even after the Clico turmoil, still helped the “San Juan Kings” to a FA Trophy before he left for good in 2011.

Two years later, he took over from compatriot and ex-Chelsea coach, Graham Rix, at fledgling club, Central, and led them to them to the First Citizen Cup and Lucozade Goal Shield crowns.

Now, he has rejoined the Sharks again with the team trying to stave off defending champions and bitter rivals, W Connection. Cue fireworks.


100
Central, Connection pull away from Pro League pack
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868)


Seven points separate second place DIRECTV W Connection from third place North East Stars in the Pro League at present and bear in mind that Connection also has a game in hand.
Yesterday evening that potential 10-point gap seemed to flatter Stars.
San Juan Jabloteh and Point Fortin Civic have had their own reasons to be relatively pleased with their performances this season but the reality is the local top flight has now become a duopoly between Couva rivals, Central FC and W Connection.
At the Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya, Central eased past Caledonia AIA 2-0 to move five points clear at the top of the table while the Connection team, which has played a game less, defeated Stars by a similar score line.
The fact that the final score summaries seem civil arguably represents the weakness in the strength of the Pro League leaders. They are walking through this competition and they know it.
Central and Trinidad and Tobago international attacking midfielder Ataulla Guerra perhaps is the best personification of this conundrum. The tall, athletic, regal playmaker is the best player in the country. Yet, he has barely started half of his team’s outings this season.
Guerra has twice been suspended and had the odd injury. Otherwise, Central coach Zoran Vranes has opted to leave him on the sidelines in an apparent effort to provoke a reaction from the player and partly because the team can afford to start without him.
Not for the first time, Guerra came off the bench to inspire Central to victory over his former employer, Caledonia. But this was not because the “Couva Sharks” lacked the tools while he sat on the bench. Rather, there is a hint that Guerra’s nonchalance is spreading and Vranes did not have his Chief Whip, veteran Marvin Oliver, on the field yesterday to keep the squad in check.
When a solid, bustling midfielder like Leston Paul is repeatedly putting his foot on the ball, slowing down the play and making backward passes, there is the hint of a team lacking in ruthlessness. It might not harm their title chances much or affect their upcoming Caribbean qualifiers. But, without a fierce appetite to push themselves to the limit, their time in the CONCACAF competition will be brief.
Connection’s problem is slightly different. The “Savonetta Boys” are in transition and doubt remains as to whether the club has found the quality to replace recent exports. At times, Connection lacks guile upfront while the deep-lying midfield role, which is so vital to their tempo, has not been adequately filled since former “Soca Warrior” Clyde Leon’s health problems forced him to take a sabbatical from the game.
Yet, neither Caledonia nor Stars seriously tested either team yesterday.

Read more

101
Dreamer, I am trying to get more information on Guyana and hope to do so. It is still left to be seen if Richard Groden actually wants to work in the environment that exists there.
Video clips are a good shout although they are rarely practical cause we are writing on the match at the time. I do want to add more audio into the pieces though. I've done it a few times but maybe more consistently.
Feel free to give me suggestions anytime. You can email at lasana@wired868.com. There is a lot on my plate but I will take note and try my best.

102
Football / Sancho vs Tim Kee the Thread.
« on: March 02, 2015, 04:51:17 PM »
Sancho tackles TTFA: Tim Kee must use gate receipts to pay players
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868)


Sport Minister Brent Sancho has made his opening gambit in the Government’s new relationship with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) by setting the football body an ultimatum in presenting its accounts for inspection as well as taking a more hands-on approach in State-funded international matches.

The most immediate test of the fledgling relationship will come on Friday March 27 when the Senior National Men’s team host Panama at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.

The Sport Ministry has agreed to fund the international warm-up game, which is part of the team’s 2015 Gold Cup preparations. But there is a catch.

Sancho wants the TTFA to agree to a double-header that gives the Senior National Women’s Team an opportunity to be involved as well. And the Sport Ministry wants the football body to agree to give 50 percent of gate receipts to players and staff for match fees and stipends.

Sancho, who started all three games for Trinidad and Tobago at the Germany 2006 World Cup, told Wired868 that he was concerned about the stagnation of the “Women Warriors” who were just minutes away from a historic Canada 2015 World Cup place before a 1-0 FIFA Play Off defeat to Ecuador last December.

“I think it is a travesty to know that these girls have not kicked a ball since the Ecuador game,” said Sancho. “Some of these girls can play in the next World Cup (campaign) because of their age; and it will be a travesty if we wait until another Ecuador game to start funding this team.

“They are not training and there is no program is existence. We want to assist.”

The fledgling Sport Minister said his body will look through the list of nations that have sporting memorandum of understandings with Trinidad and Tobago and then attempt to negotiate through the relevant State bodies to get the W/Warriors a sparring partner.

Sancho said the TTFA, once it agrees, will be party to the talks. At present, the women’s friendly is described as “tentative” due to the logistics of the affair.

More eye opening is Sancho’s plan to launch a three-month long women’s professional league, which will be run by the Ministry of Sport and should kick off in May 2015.

The Sport Minister did not reveal the proposed cost for the project, which would merge with the current Women’s League Football (WOLF), or a minimum wage for players. But he estimated that it would cost between TT$500,000 to TT$700,000 a year to run a “franchise”, which is inclusive of salaries, running costs and promotions.

Unsurprisingly, there are doubts within the women’s football fraternity about the feasibility of starting a professional league in less than four months.

And the TTFA may be even less enthused with the Sport Ministry’s new insistence that it be shown match contracts for games that it subsidises. Sancho also wants the Ministry to be part of a joint operation at the gates for matches and retain half of the football body’s revenue to pay the “Soca Warriors” players and coaches.

In June 2014, the Government spent $2.1 million for an international friendly between the “Soca Warriors” and Argentina in Buenos Aires. However, at least $400,000 of taxpayers’ dollars vanished under a still unexplained line item called a “TTFA licensing fee.”

TTFA marketing officer Darren Millien was accused of improperly diverting the money although the matter is now supposedly under investigation.

And, in December 2014, the Government dipped into the Treasury again to pay the national footballers for owed match fees, which included payments for their South American tour.

Sancho believes his new proposal would help to avoid a repeat of such scandals and situations where taxpayers fund international games and pay players while the football body keeps all the profit.

“Match contracts will have to be part and parcel of our agreements,” Sancho told Wired868. “We are mindful of the fact that we are spending lots of taxpayers dollars and we have to account for it…

“We are looking into the possibility of gate sharing where half of the gates will go back to players’ stipends and coaches’ stipends and players’ match fees and coaches’ match fees.

“They haven’t said they accept it yet but it is a sponsorship agreement and this is what we want.”

The Sport Ministry and TTFA should meet again on Friday March 6 to discuss this and other relevant matters.

Notably, the gate receipts eyed by the Sport Ministry will be used to pay current players and coaches but not past ones. Sancho, who wants a joint operations between the two bodies at the gates for matches subsidised by the Government, said the TTFA must pay its own debts.

“We have heard from (TTFA general secretary Sheldon) Phillips that they have plans to come out from their debt and move things forward,” said Sancho. “We would like to see those plans (but) it is something that lies with the TTFA and they will have to figure out how to pay their debts.

“And it is not just them, there are other sporting organisations that seem to rack up debts. As the old folks say, they seem to have champagne taste with beer money and they have to stop these high living lifestyles and come to reality.

“That is the response I am looking for from organisations. They have to now live in reality and not try to live way beyond their means.”

The irony is that Sancho is one of 13 World Cup 2006 players who benefited from Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s decision to underwrite a TTFA debt to them in June 2014. The Government payment was made without prejudice to the 2006 Warriors’ case against the TTFA, which, arguably, allows the players to go on with their lawsuit against the football body.

“I have taken up a post to represent the people of Trinidad and Tobago,” said Sancho, “so I have to respect that post and recuse myself from being part and parcel of anything to do with the (2006 World Cup bonus) case.”

TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee, who is also the Port of Spain Mayor and PNM Treasurer, was a senior vice-president before, during and after the 2006 World Cup and openly derided Sancho’s stance on the dispute in the past.

Sancho admitted that the two have not met since he became Sport Minister but insisted it has not affected his relationship with the football body.

“I have met (TTFA officials) Sheldon Phillips and William Wallace but not Tim Kee,” said the Sport Minister. “He must be a busy man… I have met all the (sporting) presidents except Raymond Tim Kee but I’ve been most generous with football.

“We are working feverishly to get them that parcel of land so they can get their Goal project and we are also assisting them with both their World Cup and Cup (preparations).”

Sancho told Wired868 that he gave the TTFA a March deadline to present its accounts to the Ministry of Sport so the Government can understand the financial health of a body that essentially survives on State funds.

“We want to see their full detailed accounts,” said Sancho, “and we are aware of the funding given to them by FIFA and maybe Concacaf as well. So we expect to see that as a line item in their accounts and we want to know what they have planned for it.

“We are not going to tell them how to spend their money. That’s for sure. That is not my business. But as long as they show a certain amount of transparency and accountability, like every other sporting organisation, they will have no problem with me.”

But, due to his role in a legal financial matter against the TTFA, did Sancho feel—despite his vow to recuse himself—there was a potential conflict of interest in his access to the football body’s accounting books?

“I won’t say it is a conflict of interest,” said Sancho. “I think it just gives me a better understanding, than any other Sport Minister who sat in this chair, of accounts and financing as it relates to football because obviously that is the sport that I have come from.

“The reason we are asking for the accounts is because it is part of of our policy for all sporting bodies. So I have an obligation to the Ministry and the general public to do my job. I won’t be passing information on to anybody but I am not going to hand out funds without disclosure.”


103
Thanks very much for the encouragement Dreamer. And it is good to know that people are willing to have a peek into the going ons of local football, part of which is Pro League coverage.  :beermug:

104
Football / Re: Minister Sancho scores with SWO.
« on: February 25, 2015, 09:15:17 AM »
Despite the central location of the Ato Boldon Stadium, it is probably the worst one for football fans. That's because it is the most difficult one to get to by public transport.
Attendances there always suffer as a result. Always.

105
Disquiet in Point Fortin as Central wins again
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)


Another Willis Plaza goal and another three-point haul for Central FC yesterday afternoon as the Pro League leaders edged Point Fortin Civic 1-0 at the Mahaica Oval, Point Fortin.

The “Central Choir” were not present to belt out their non-ending stream of English-flavoured club hymns but we all know the tune by now:

“Plaza scores when he likes…”

The triumph put Central five points clear of defending champions DIRECTV W Connection who were held to a surprise 1-1 draw by Caledonia AIA at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva yesterday.

It means that Central is guaranteed the prize for topping the second round of competition having already earned the honour for the first round.

There were actually two shocks at the Ato Boldon Stadium as a Newton Sterling double helped San Juan Jabloteh to a 2-1 win over Defence Force. Jabloteh climbed to fourth place on the back of that result while the Army/Coast Guard combination slipped two spots to fifth.

In yesterday afternoon’s other encounter, North East Stars returned to winning ways with a 2-1 triumph over St Ann’s Rangers at the Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya.

It was Rangers’ tenth straight defeat and their 14th League loss of the season from 15 games—they managed one draw against Caledonia last October. There is no way to sugar-coat such dismal statistics.

At one point this season, Civic kept Rangers’ company near the foot of the table. Point Fortin’s fightback began earlier this year under departed coach Reynold Carrington but, after three League games on a trot before Central’s visit, it is safe to say that their impetus has accelerated under current boss and former Trinidad and Tobago football icon Leroy De Leon.

Once a silky, thrilling attacking midfielder, De Leon credited an increased focus on his players’ mental toughness for their positive results.

“I’ve tried to change their attitude and their way of thinking about football,” De Leon told Wired868. “I’m trying to break bad habits. Every session, I try to break at least one bad habit.

“It is a long process (because) their mental state of mind is not (what it should be).”

In Civic’s first game under De Leon, talented Trinidad and Tobago international goalkeeper Marvin Phillip spent the 90 minutes on the substitutes’ bench. Today, it was Civic’s leading scorer, Marcus Joseph, who got a taste of tough love as he stomped towards the changing room after being withdrawn in the 58th minute.

De Leon said he was dissatisfied with Joseph’s contribution—both in imposing himself on Central and helping his own teammates.

“For any marquee player, when a team comes to play they must be wary of you,” said De Leon. “I don’t care if he thinks he is bigger than this game. He is not.

“I don’t care who you are. You have to earn it on the field not talk about it.”

Civic were more unified at kick off and should have opened the scoring within the first 15 minutes.

The game was barely two minutes old when Joseph shot overbar from inside the opposing penalty area while Central goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams and veteran sweeper Marvin Oliver were alert to thwart a swivelled shot from Civic defender Weslie John and a clever dummy from Joseph in the 13th and 14th minutes respectively.

The home team had a good shout for a penalty too in the 15th minute as Joseph flicked a Shackiel Henry pass into the path of Civic playmaker Andre Toussaint who was clumsily bundled over by Central defender Jamal Jack.

Referee Callum Marshall, a La Brea resident, looked the other way and his disinclination to punish foul play would be a recurring theme in a generally fast and competitive fixture.

Civic were marginally better for much of the first half hour. Upfront, Toussaint and Joseph kept Central guessing with their “good cop/bad cop” routine—Toussaint drew players close with his magnetic technique on an awkward, bumpy surface while Joseph made them scatter with booming left foot strikes and quick changes of direction.

But, as the game crossed the half hour mark, the host team lost their compactness in central midfield and Central took advantage.

Vranes’ decision to replace Dwight Quintero with “Soca Warrior” Ataulla Guerra, inside the first 40 minutes, seemed borne out of frustration at the young attacker’s workrate. But it proved to be a tactical masterstroke.

Civic’s midfield enforcers, Nickcolson Thomas and Trent Lougheed, were holding their own against Central’s attacking pair of Jason Marcano and Darren Mitchell. Suddenly, there was Guerra dropping off the front man to create an additional passing option at a time when Civic’s front four—with the exception of 21-year-old Akeem Redhead—had grown lethargic in their defensive transition.

Seconds before the halftime whistle, the “Couva Sharks” benefited from the shift in the tide with a fine team goal. Plaza worked a wall pass with Guerra then backheeled to Marcano who returned the ball into space for the striker to run on to before driving home at the near post.

It was a cruel time to concede and, at the resumption of the second half, Joseph found himself repositioned on the left flank as Henry took up Civic’s striking duties.

Joseph’s chin seemed to have dropped so low that it was a wonder he did not trip over it.

The gifted attacker’s day got considerably worse when, in the 58th minute, he became the first Civic player to be substituted.

“Allyuh not serious!” shouted Joseph.

“I don’t care; play big!” De Leon yelled back. “You’re playing on the national team (so) show people (why) you’re playing on the national team!”

It was not the most extraordinary disagreement at the Mahaica Oval today. That came from Toussaint and Guerra in the 66th minute.

Guerra was ghosting around Civic players like cones at the time when Toussaint obstructed his path. The former player reached over and picked Toussaint up like a parent disdainfully moving a toy from his path.

“He is a lightweight,” Guerra explained afterwards. “I wanted to show him that.”

It was an extraordinary sight and that might have been the saving grace of the talented attacker who had only just returned from a two-match suspension for reckless conduct.

Marshall whistled and summoned Guerra.

“What?!” retorted Guerra. “You can’t book me for that!”

Marshall, who almost certainly had never seen anything like that in his refereeing manual, couldn’t think of a counter-argument and gave a free kick to Central instead.

Civic did manage to push Central back on their heels for the final eight minutes but never really looked like overpowering them.

“(Central) is a well organised team,” said De Leon. “They have people upfront with confidence on the ball and we don’t have that. I am trying to get there but it takes time…

“But we will be okay.”

Between the gutsy performances of Lougheed, Redhead, full backs Ronell Paul and Andrei Pacheco and the trickery of Toussaint, Civic gave enough reason for confidence yesterday.

But Central, an athletic, hungry outfit steered by the perceptive duo of Oliver and holding midfielder Elton John, were worth their win.

The Sharks, who are in their third Pro League season, have never won the League competition before and they would do well to be wary of Connection’s powers of recovery. If yesterday was any guide, they will not give up their lead without a fight though.

(Teams)

Central FC (5-3-2): 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK) (captain); 15.Kaydion Gabriel, 17.Marcelle Francois, 10.Marvin Oliver, 12.Jamal Jack, 4.Uriah Bentick; 7.Jason Marcano (6.Leston Paul 65), 2.Elton John, 11.Darren Mitchell (3.Keon Goodridge 85); 99.Dwight Quintero (45.Ataulla Guerra 40), 33.Willis Plaza.

Unused substitutes: 30.Akel Clarke (GK), 14.Jean-Luc Rochford, 19.Nathaniel Garcia, 29.Upston Edwards.

Coach: Zoran Vranes

Point Fortin Civic (4-2-3-1): 1.Marvin Phillip (GK); 15.Ronell Paul, 5.Andre Ettienne (captain), 4.Weslie John, 19.Andrei Pacheco; 8.Nickcolson Thomas, 18.Trent Lougheed; 99.Shackiel Henry (9.Matthew Bartholomew 71), 11.Andre Toussaint, 6.Akeem Redhead; 10.Marcus Joseph (20.Jamille Boatswain 58).

Unused substitutes: 52.Akini Adams (GK), 7.Kelvin Modeste, 23.Kelvin Rouse, 25.Andre Matthew, 27.Bevon Bass.

Coach: Leroy De Leon

Referee: Callum Marshall


106
Football / Look Loy: Schools football is hurting the Soca Warriors
« on: February 03, 2015, 11:09:50 PM »
Look Loy: Schools football is hurting the Soca Warriors
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868)


Part two of a three-part interview:

“When we have boys who should be fighting for a place in W Connection or Central’s first team at 17, 18 and 19 choosing to play schools football,” said CONCACAF technical study group member and FC Santa Rosa coach Keith Look Loy, “where they can do what they want and where they keep all their bad habits and still be stars. It is a joke.”

Look Loy, a former national player and coach at youth and senior level, covered the 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship in Jamaica alongside Wired868 and offered his insight on the tournament in general and Trinidad and Tobago’s showing in particular.

The following is the second in a three-part interview that touches on the performance of the teenaged “Soca Warriors” but also discusses the merits of the local school and professional game, the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s (TTFA) responsibility to football development, exactly what fans should expect in the short and long-term future and a CONCACAF model for success:

Wired868: The Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 team leaves for CONCACAF battle next week. What should fans brace themselves for after their disappointment with the under-prepared Under-20 Team?

Keith Look Loy: This Under-17 team is also unprepared and I won’t say I don’t expect much from them but I am saying if they come home after the group stage it won’t surprise me. No doubt they have talent and I have a player too in that team (FC Santa Rosa midfielder John-Paul Rochford) who is 14 years old. But when we look at the best players in these tournaments, we are sending schoolboys to play and they are sending professional players.

Yes, they may not be all be professional players who are starting in first division teams although some of them are. (The Mexico Under-20 team had two first team players in Liga MX and the United States had a starter who got extensive playing time in the England Championship).

But we are doing the reverse. (Our Pro League is) already at a lower level than the clubs I am talking about and they are electing to leave that and go and play schools football. This is a joke.

Wired868: What role do you see the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) playing in the local game?
(Look Loy is a former national title winning coach with Malick Senior Comprehensive).

Look Loy: There was a time when the colleges’ league, which transformed to become the secondary schools league, played a very important role. I played for St Mary’s College in the 1960s and early 70s. It played a role because there was no organised youth football in Trinidad and Tobago at the time. You couldn’t find the youth football that exists today. A lot of the youth football today remains disorganised but at least it exists. There was nothing then. The only organised youth football was the colleges’ league…

Today, the secondary schools league is an obstacle to the best youth talent in Trinidad and Tobago. The standard is low regardless of what the media might write. You know it and I know it and anyone who goes to the game knows it.

When we have boys who should be fighting for a place in W Connection or Central’s first team at 17, 18 and 19 choosing to play schools football where they can do what they want and where they keep all their bad habits and still be stars. It is a joke. We saw how Levi Garcia looked (in the CONCACAF Under-20 tournament). He was terrible. He had no impact on the tournament at all. He couldn’t even hold a first place team.

He was lucky to have been seen here (in the Caribbean cup) and get a contract because if he had been judged on the CONCACAF tournament in Jamaica he wasn’t getting a contract. Tell me I’m wrong. For a player like that what does it do for your football development to play against schoolboys…

And I know the political pressure (student footballers) are put under by school principals and what not. But a boy doesn’t pass his exam and enter school at form one to play football, he enters as a student. I think it is absolutely incorrect for some principals and coaches to tell students we wouldn’t let you repeat or we wouldn’t give you a form six place unless you represent the school. They don’t have the boy’s best interest at heart. Because that boy should be allowed to come to school and do his school work but play in the environment that does the most for his future prospects as a player.

Wired868: So you think the schoolboys’ league has outlived its benefits?

Look Loy: I will tell you a story. In 1992, I went to Brazil for two months to do a course at the Brazilian football academy and (Sebastião) Lazaroni was one of the instructors in that programme. And one day we were talking outside the formal context of class and I asked him tell me about school football in Brazil and he said what do you mean. And I said football among schools. And he said ‘I don’t understand.’

I said when the schools have a representative team and they play a league against other each other. And he said: ‘Oh, okay. But that is for the boys who don’t have talent. Any boy in school who has talent is in a club.’

If we are serious, we have to get past the emotional attachment we have with school football for developing boys. Let the boys who cannot get in a team play for their schools… For the best talent, playing school football is a waste of time.

Wired868: The stated mission of the SSFL’s Premier Division is to create a more concentrated pool of talent. Do you think that would lift the standard of the schoolboys’ game?

Look Loy: I don’t buy that. It will ensure that there will be promotion and relegation and teams will fight for that. So it will have the best teams in the top division, which is quite apart from the best talent.

There is no guarantee that the good players from Chaguanas when they are demoted will all transfer to St Benedict’s College. (Those players) will be forced to play second division football. But that hypothetical boy doesn’t need to be playing in a second division league with Pleasantville. He should be fighting for a place with Connection or Club Sando or whatever and be in a tougher environment for his football development. That is when Trinidad and Tobago football will go to a top level.

‘Gally’ Cummings and them were not playing for Fatima College beyond 14 or 15 years old. Ask them. They were not playing school football. In the football world, that is for boys who cannot make a good club team.

But we have to ensure that the clubs are structured and provide a proper environment and the TTFA has to introduce requirements for clubs depending on its level to ensure that if a boy says he is not playing for St Mary’s College (and) he is going to play for Maple, there is an environment there that is proper to ensure his football development.


Feb-01st.


107
Football / Reynold Carrington Thread
« on: January 31, 2015, 04:03:50 PM »
Carrington quits Civic; Point coach cites demotivated players for shock exit
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868)


The Point Fortin Civic football club look likely to take to the field without Reynold Carrington for the first time in three years after the coach announced his shock resignation from the club this morning.

Carrington told Wired868 that he informed the players of his decision after training this morning. He has not discussed his departure with club officials yet but he doubts anything would change his mind.

“I just believe that it is time (to go),” said Carrington. “I think the players have lost motivation to play and I don’t feel the players are giving everything. I don’t think the players really understand the effort and support we have from the community and I’m not really seeing the improvement I want from them…

“So I want to allow someone fresh to come in with new ideas to take them forward.”

Club manager Ken McCree had not heard the news up until he was contacted by Wired868. He hopes that Carrington reconsiders.

“I called but I haven’t gotten on to (Carrington),” McCree told Wired868. “I called the chairman and he said that he heard that also… I hope it is just a rumour or a frustrated moment and we can talk about it soon.”

Should Carrington hold firm, his exit is likely to send shockwaves through the Point Fortin community and the top flight league.

A Point Fortin native himself, Carrington had brief professional stints in Indonesia and the United States. He won 36 international caps for Trinidad and Tobago and, as a deep-lying midfield playmaker or sweeper, set a platform for more illustrious teammates like Dwight Yorke, Russell Latapy and Stern John to deliver the goods.

When W Connection joined the inaugural Professional Football League in 1999, club chairman David John Williams paid TT$75,000 to sign Carrington, Wesley Webb and David Atiba Charles from Point Fortin. And Carrington went on to captain Connection while he was the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation’s (TTFF) Player of the Year in 2000.

Carrington worked primarily as an assistant coach at Connection after he retired although he did lead the club for one season while Stuart Charles-Fevrier was in charge of the “Soca Warriors.” He also had a spell as a National Under-17 Team coach before he took over at Point Fortin in 2012.

Point Fortin were in the Southern Football Association (SFA) but, after an exciting season in which they advanced to the FA Cup quarterfinals, the club decided to skip a level and head straight for the Pro League.

Civic’s hurried rise did create some problems. The club added Trinidad and Tobago national goalkeeper Marvin Phillip and former international players Andre Toussaint and Andrei Pacheco to its roster and stormed to the top of the Pro League for much of the first three months. They ended the season fourth and just three points shy of a qualifying spot for the 2015 Caribbean Club Championships.

But financial issues always loomed beneath the surface and Civic struggled to meet its financial obligations for much of 2014, which wreaked havoc on its pre-season preparation for the ongoing season.

“We were unable to even hold a screening session before we joined the Pro League (in 2013),” said Carrington. “We got word that we were in the Pro League late and we made the transition in such a short space of time that we could not hold trials.

“Then because of sponsorship problems we were unsure if we would be back in Pro League in (2014) and we could not invite players to try out in those circumstances… It was unavoidable.”

It meant that, according to Carrington, there was never the competition for places and creative tension he would have liked at the club.

“There must be competition for places,” said Carrington. “If a player doesn’t have to compete for his spot, he will feel it is almost promised to him.”

The club’s precarious financial situation meant several players also had to seek employment outside to complement modest salaries, which affected training sessions and focus. And Carrington felt they were never really recaptured the enthusiasm that players showed as amateurs in the lower league.

“At the lower level, the players were all hungrier and their attitude to training and focus was much better even though they were not getting paid,” he said. “So I thought that wouldn’t be a problem at the top level. Now it seems they care more about what they can get out of it and not what their contribution can be…

“Almost all the players were there from in the (southern football league) and they knew what the club was trying to achieve. But that focus went away. Players started focusing on who plays or who in the 18 (man squad) but not what they need to do to get out there.”

Carrington stressed that he was not accusing all the players of having poor attitudes. But, collectively, their intensity was not good enough.

Civic’s only win from its first seven League games this season came against perennial stragglers, St Ann’s Rangers, while they were eliminated in the first round of the First Citizens Cup. However, they put a run together in the Toyota Classic Cup and eliminated Central FC en route to the final where they lost on penalties to San Juan Jabloteh.

“When we qualified for the Toyota final, I thought that would be enough for them to realise that we can accomplish something and their work won’t be in vain,” said Carrington. “We only had ourselves to blame for not winning the final. But I was hoping to see better effort in training and game preparation individually after that.

“Coaches have their roles but we are not magicians. Some supporters and even some players might think we just pick a team and, once we get the system and tactics in place, everything will be right. But players have to take responsibility too.

“Some of the players have been around and know what it takes to succeed at the top level. But as a group we are not getting that collective effort… And we need to be all for one or one for all.”

Civic spluttered to life briefly with successive Pro League wins over Police FC and a 6-2 annihilation of Caledonia AIA. But that was followed by narrow defeats to North East Stars and Jabloteh.

Incidentally, their 2-1 loss to Jabloteh came on Carrington’s 45th birthday on January 27. It might be his last game in charge of the club.

Carrington spoke candidly about the challenges he faced at Civic.

“With the financial constraints (at Civic), the coach is more of a caretaker and motivator whereas the top clubs have a structure in place so the coaches can focus on his job more,” he said. “He has an equipment manager and grounds in place for training and all the little things. But, in our set up, sometimes players cannot reach to training in time after work and so on.

“So it was challenging but I was grateful for the opportunity and I gave my best.”

The Civic club still hopes to get their coach to reconsider. But, for now, Carrington thinks they will be better off getting someone with fresh enthusiasm and ideas for the post.

“The most important thing is the club stays alive not me remaining coach,” said Carrington. “The high point for me was in the first year when we had a run and got to the FA Cup quarterfinal. The way the Point Fortin supporters responded to the team gave me a glimpse of the potential of the club and I hope it still materialises.

“Point is a football community but, going forward, we need things like a proper facility for our supporters. It is tough for people to pay their money and stand in the sun with nowhere to sit or no toilet facilities and so on.”

Carrington insisted that he will stay in the game although he is not sure what his next job will be.

“There is a saying that coaches don’t buy houses, they rent,” he said. “So they leave themselves open for opportunities wherever they come. It is not the end of the world for me.

“I am giving someone else the opportunity to try and get (Civic) back on track. And I will see what happens next and then dust myself off and go again.”

Wired868 failed to reach Civic captain Andre Ettienne or goalkeeper Marvin Phillip for comment on Carrington’s impending exit.

On Tuesday afternoon, Civic play defending champions DIRECTV W Connection from 3.30 pm at the Mahaica Oval in Point Fortin. More likely than not, Carrington will not be leading their charge against his former employers.


108
Under the hood: Look Loy reviews T&T’s unsuccessful U-20 campaign
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868)


(Part One)

“They lost because of individual errors,” said CONCACAF technical study group member Keith Look Loy. “But, as a general statement, I cannot be satisfied with the statistical performance of the team. Seven goals in five games are not good enough…

“Five against Aruba and none against Panama, none against Guatemala and none against the United States… You’re not going anywhere with that.”

Look Loy, a former national player and coach at youth and senior level, covered the 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship in Jamaica alongside Wired868 and was generous enough to give his insight on the tournament in general and Trinidad and Tobago’s performance in particular.

The following is the first in a three-part interview that touches on the performance of the teenaged “Soca Warriors” but also goes on to discuss the merits of the local school and professional game, the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s (TTFA) responsibility to football development, exactly what football fans should expect in the short and long-term future and a CONCACAF model for success:

Wired868: How long have you worked on the CONCACAF technical study group?

Keith Look Loy: That started with myself and Luis Hernandez, who is the president of the Cuba Football Association, and we started this work two years ago with the last (CONCACAF) Under-20 tournament in Puebla, Mexico. Since then we have multiplied the group and have well over a dozen people working as you saw in Jamaica.

We look at all the tournaments, male and female and all age groups, and by that I mean not only CONCACAF but CFU and UNCAF as well. We analyse the games and the technical capacity of the players and the tactical organisation of the teams and their strategy and, most importantly, their weaknesses and we look at the statistics as well. We issue reports based on that and have been doing that since two years ago. All of those reports are ultimately published on the CONCACAF website.

Wired868: What was your view on the recent CONCACAF Under-20 tournament?

Look Loy: This was an expanded tournament. We normally have eight teams with three group matches (instead there were 12 teams with five group matches each)… The concept here, mainly looking at the Caribbean and some of the Central American teams, (was that) they come to the tournament unprepared with a shortage of international tournaments and experience. So the thinking was to give them more matches. So this was novel…

The four teams that qualified and even some of the others like El Salvador and Trinidad and Tobago, I thought that we saw a good level from them. The level generally was good and I fully expect the four qualifiers will hold their own in New Zealand…

(He was particularly proud of tournament runner-up Panama’s continued improvement at CONCACAF level).

Fifteen years ago, Panama were seen as a baseball and boxing country and they were not taken seriously. But they put in the work and you are seeing the results now.

Over half of their players at this tournament played at the last Under-17 World Cup. And what Panama has been able to do over the last decade or so is build up a reservoir of players who now have junior World Cup experience.

They have now qualified for their fourth junior World Cup in the last six (tournaments). And they have played in most of the recent Under-17 tournaments. So they now have a pool of players in senior football who have World Cup experience and that is why they have been in the last two Gold Cup finals and conceivably will be fighting for honours in the next one as well.

Consistent investment with thought guiding it pays dividends and they are seeing that…

Wired868: Trinidad and Tobago and the United States were both beaten quarterfinalists at CONCACAF Under-17 level two years ago but now the US is heading to the World Cup. What can we take from that?

Look Loy: This is one of the weakest United States teams we have seen in a junior tournament and they had their problems but in the end big fish know how to survive.

As we said in Jamaica, it is not a two year jump to under-20 football it is a three year jump. (Some players, like Duane Muckette and Neveal Hackshaw, who were too old for the under-17s two years ago were able to join them as under-20s now). So you would have the possibility of including players who were not in the last programme.

But, two, whereas our players went on playing school football, their footballers have gone on to the German Bundesliga, the English Premier Division, the Scottish Premier League, etcetera, etcetera. In those two years, they have left high school football behind. So the level and quality of their experience has added to their ability to come now, having failed two years ago, and qualify for a World Youth Cup. There are no secrets here and I know you know that full well.

Wired868: What tactical trends or patterns did you notice at the tournament?

Look Loy: Most teams played with 4-4-2 with different variations… One team played with three defenders which was Jamaica and that didn’t help them at all. (Coach Theodore Whitmore) never fielded the same line-up in any match, he changed the position of his players from match to match and even within the same matches. He was never at ease with his team. Never…

The best teams had a stable line-up. Panama for the duration of the tournament made only three changes to their starting line-up in six matches and those three starting positions were in regular rotation (between the same six players).

Mexico changed once when they rested players after they had already won the group, Honduras was stable and, after the second game, United States also became stable and that speaks to preparation.

(Trinidad and Tobago made 15 changes in four group matches after their opening 2-2 draw with Jamaica. Just four of those changes were due to either suspension or injury).

The coaches of these teams came knowing their best line-ups; they were not guessing… If there is a trend to be pointed out here, it is that the best teams came prepared and the Caribbean teams all came unprepared including Trinidad and Tobago and the host, Jamaica.

Wired868: What would you say Trinidad and Tobago added to the competition?

Look Loy: At an individual level, there was general consensus that Trinidad and Tobago had good players and, from a technical standpoint, it was one of the best teams that Trinidad and Tobago sent to a CONCACAF tournament for a while now.

The players have ability and not just physical ability but technical ability… We liked the tactical ability of Neveal Hackshaw from North East and the skipper (Shannon Gomez) who came to our attention immediately in the first match but then kind of faded during the tournament. But you could see the boy is a capable player.

We liked (Duane) Muckette who is my player. But he is coming off a serious injury and he didn’t really impress himself upon the tournament as I really believe he could… But everybody recognised his importance to the team.

Akeem Garcia is a very tricky, dodgy guy and he has ability. Ricardo John is a useful player. We were very surprised not to see him appear at all against the United States. He played by himself upfront against Panama and did very well. I was personally shocked (not to see him against the US) because I thought as a lone forward he had a very good game upfront against Panama holding the ball and moving off the ball. He was physically strong and quick and so on. But the coaches would have their reasoning.

These were the outstanding players but we could see generally the pool (of Trinidad and Tobago players) was a good one on a technical level.

Wired868: And what did you think of Trinidad and Tobago’s performances?

Look Loy: On a tactical level, we were impressed with the fact that they could hold their defensive organisation for 60 or 70 minutes. But the problem is the team lacked physical fitness, which has to do with preparation. Even within those minutes and especially after those minutes the team was very, very vulnerable and this is when they lost.

They lost because of individual errors. As a general statement, I cannot be satisfied with the statistical performance of the team. Seven goals in six games are not good enough.

Five (goals) against Aruba and none against Panama, none against Guatemala and none against the United States; that isn’t good enough. You’re not going anywhere with that. Extract Aruba from the equation, you can’t score two goals in four games against your main rivals and go anywhere.

The team had real problems with goal scoring and the missed chances against Jamaica hurt them very, very badly. It was a match they should have won. And, despite good collective organisation in defence, you had a catalogue of defensive individual errors.

Look at the goal conceded by the goalkeeper (Johan Welch) against Guatemala, which was the second goal after an own goal to open the scoring. I don’t want to point fingers at him but look at the goal that Panama scored. There is no collective training to address (errors like) that or to address the goalkeeper coming and looking to dribble a man 35 yards from his goal and giving away a goal. There is no training to deal with that.

Yes, the players have individual ability and yes they were able to maintain some quality level and defensive organisation for most of the match. But then that faded and individual errors and errors of positioning and discipline cost them.

Look at the game against Panama. A match you are fighting for your life and then (Kadeem Corbin) makes a foolish tackle, which is a lack of due concern and care and you find yourself (sent off) and then an elbow to the face (by Akeem Humphrey). And then from being able to fight for a place for the World Cup, you are down to nine men.

These are individual errors of concentration. The coach can’t cater for that… And then it fell apart and another opportunity fades away.

Wired868: Can you talk more about the preparation of the team?

Look Loy: The TTFA is consistently failing national teams in that regard and we can go back in time and say the TTFF as well. When the TTFF wanted to find the means to support a team, they did it you know whether it was Jack Warner’s money or whoever else’s.

Let us not forget the last Under-17 women’s team that played in that very Catherine Hall Stadium was the worse team in the tournament. They didn’t score a goal and didn’t get a point and came home disgraced. And yet that was the successor to the National Under-17 team that Even Pellerud had that beat Chile in the World Cup and gave a good account of their selves.

They found the means to prepare Pellerud’s team but they didn’t find the means to support the team Marlon Charles had and that is the kind of lackadaisical don’t care attitude that transcends into the modern era with the TTFA.

That Under-20 team wasn’t prepared. And if it had been prepared you cannot guarantee success in football but they would have been better able to fight for a World Cup place…

Preparation is not only about lasting 90 minutes. Panama and Mexico played six group matches in two weeks and were asked to play extra time and if you saw those Panamanians run you would think it was their first match. And why? Because they were mentally and physically prepared to play six games in two weeks. Trinidad couldn’t do that…

(He speaks about a CONCACAF pre-tournament model he wrote for coaches on planning, physical preparation, tactical preparation and match analysis).

Part of your preparation is: okay, we are going into a tournament that has six games in two weeks, so let’s do that. Let’s play six games in two weeks. I don’t care if you play against North East, south east, whatever you could get; but six games in two weeks. So (your players) have a mental experience of doing that. When they get to the tournament we have done that before…

If you have the money to go through Central America and play Panama, Costa Rica and all of them in two weeks, then okay fine. It depends on your resources. But preparation includes dress rehearsal for the event and we don’t do this…

That has nothing to do with money. That is planning, vision and foresight. But nobody in the TTFA is thinking like that.


109
Prepare to fail; Wired868 reviews the U-20 Warriors’ W/Cup effort
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)


It took 77 minutes, a two-man numerical advantage and a goalkeeping blunder to separate Trinidad and Tobago and Panama on Sunday in their CONCACAF Under-20 Championship clash in Montego Bay.

Guess what the Panama team’s travel plans are now? And where the young “Soca Warriors” are heading?

Last month, the Ecuador and Trinidad and Tobago national senior women teams were within seconds of extra time after a 180 minute two-legged contest in Quito and Port of Spain before disaster again struck.

Ecuador is now preparing for the Canada 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The lady Warriors do not even have a technical staff in place nor do they know the date of their next international match.

The difference in reward for success and a near miss are astronomical. And, on the field, the tiniest detail determines which team is cheered at the final whistle and which leaves in tears.

It is a myth that every team which takes part in a competition is trying to win.

A quarter of the participants are there because of a sense of obligation. Their line is they are: “there to gain experience.” They will be trying to gain experience at the next tournament too. And the one after that.

Half of the teams that show up just want to put their best foot forward and compete. They explain that it is “eleven against eleven” and “the ball is round” so who knows what might happen?

What happens is they lose.

Only about a quarter of the participants are there to win, which would be roughly three teams in a 12 nation tournament. They contemplated the challenge well in advance and tried to assemble the best players, get them in the best physical condition, source the best technical guidance and place them within an atmosphere that provides the best chance for success.

Now ask yourself—whether you are a football player, coach or fan—what category Trinidad and Tobago falls into. Were we really trying to qualify for the World Cup? Do we really crave success in CONCACAF?

Trinidad and Tobago qualified for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup twice before in 1991 and 2009.

In the eight months leading up to the 1990 CONCACAF competition that served as the World Cup qualifiers, coach Bertille St Clair trained his team roughly twice a week for six of those months. There were two live-in camps before the qualifiers and a Venezuelan tour that included three matches against professional teams.

St Clair’s side, which was also blessed with talent like Dwight Yorke, Jerren Nixon, Anthony Sherwood and Clayton Ince, went on to finish second in CONCACAF behind Mexico while they defeated United States, Guatemala and El Salvador on the way to making history.

In 2009, head coach Zoran Vranes had the benefit of two international warm-up matches against El Salvador and a 10-day camp in Sao Paulo where they played against two Sao Paolo State first division clubs and one second division outfit.

“These three games will give us a very good chance to work on our match fitness,” said Vranes, at the time.

His then national youth captain Leston Paul, who led Trinidad and Tobago to the Under-17 World Cup two years earlier, spoke on behalf of the players as they prepared for Brazil.

“I think the trip to Brazil will bring us closer as a team,” said Paul, “because it is important that we have that bond like we had at the Under-17 level.”

Compare Paul’s enthusiasm to what the current National Under-20 players must have felt as they realised that their pre-tournament Mexico tour would not happen—some players paid their own way home from the United States with that trip in mind. And, just weeks before the 2015 CONCACAF tournament, even their participation in the Jamaica competition was in doubt.

Head coach Derek King had sent for US-based striker Ricardo John before the Mexico tour and would have had the chance to observe him at international level in December. Instead, John made his international debut in the Warriors’ opening qualifying match when they were trying to hang on to a two-goal lead against hosts, Jamaica.

Proper preparation does not guarantee success. But it sure makes it easier to get there. That extra match fitness, experience in managing a match or understanding the tempo at that level could potentially be the difference between a narrow loss and a draw or even a victory, particularly with a squad stuffed with schoolboys.

The 2015 edition was captain Shannon Gomez’s third overseas competition as a national youth player and he offered some insight to Wired868.

“When a team is properly groomed and you get that experience and exposure together,” said Gomez, “it increases chemistry and your chances of knowing what to do on the field rather than guessing what (your teammate) might do.”

As is now customary, there was a hint of friction between the squad and the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) as the players returned home without getting a cent of their promised US$50 per day stipend. The coaching staff was also unpaid.

“We were told that one of our managers was in Trinidad trying to get funds for us (during the tournament),” said Gomez. “But in the end, we just got ‘thanks very much for your time and effort’ and that was it.

“Some of us are professionals and getting paid to play by our clubs. But it just goes to show you what you get for representing Trinidad and Tobago.”

How long before players grow disillusioned about national service under such conditions?

And what about the technical staff members who leave wives, girlfriends and children with only a promise of pay for work but the certainty of abuse when things go wrong? What can international duty mean but, in theory, a chance to raise their status and then leverage it as quickly as possible for a job with a more stable and serious employer?

The most basic requirement any employee ought to have from a job is that it offers a salary which meets their self-worth or, at least, compensates for time that might have been spent elsewhere.

Surely, Senior Team head coach Stephen Hart, Under-20 Team coach Derek King and the other talented technical staff members within the national programmes cannot be expected to have limitless patience under the current circumstances.

The fate of former technical director Anton Corneal is a reminder of the TTFA’s callous treatment of its key employees. To date, the local football body has not replaced Corneal and, instead, has used Hart as a “technical advisor” of sorts.

But we are focusing on the CONCACAF Under-20 competition at the moment.

CONCACAF technical committee member Keith Look Loy, who followed the competition in Jamaica, will soon provide Wired868 readers with a more nuanced assessment of the technical attributes and flaws of the young Warriors and the quality of the tournament.

But it probably is not going out on a limb to suggest that the team’s fate was not decided solely by what happened on the field. And that means the players, notwithstanding their own errors in Jamaica, were also let down by the people whose duty was to provide them with the necessary tools for success.

Coaches, fans and observers cooed about the talent of the young Warriors in Kingston and Montego Bay. Yet the players left Jamaica embarrassed at their inability to take points off organised but often ordinary opponents.

“It was a disappointing experience,” said Gomez. “As one wise man told us during the tournament, if this Trinidad and Tobago team had preparation and support we would have been unbeatable.

“It is good to hear it. But hearing it and living it are two different things.”

Trinidad and Tobago football fans will not be living that dream anytime soon. Not if these administrative issues continue.


110
Guatemala punishes T&T blunders; Warriors must defeat US.
By Lasana Liburd (wired868).


Trinidad and Tobago started the day unbeaten and near the top of Group A in the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship. But by 6 pm (Jamaican time), the young “Soca Warriors” were staring elimination in the face.

A 2-0 loss to Guatemala today means that Trinidad and Tobago must defeat the United States in its final group match on Wednesday January 21 at Montego Bay to have any chance of advancing to the play off round of the CONCACAF competition.

And, even so, the Warriors must win by a hefty goal margin too after the United States trounced Aruba 8-0 today, which is four goals better than Trinidad and Tobago’s 5-1 result against Aruba on Sunday.

Suddenly, the road to the New Zealand 2015 FIFA Under-20 World Cup looks fraught with uncertainty.

“I am very disappointed with the result,” said Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 coach Derek King. “In the first 20 minutes we played all the football (and) we saw some good ball movement. We held our shape and Guatemala sat back and allowed us to play.

“We allowed a soft goal. (In the) second half, the same thing happened and a blunder from our keeper (led to the second goal). We played all the football but goals win matches not possession.”

The final statistics, according to CONCACAF, showed 10 shots from the Trinidad and Tobago team and just two from Guatemala. Even then, the Central American team needed more than a little help from the Warriors.

Mauro Portillo’s header was heading straight to Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Johan Welch when it went in off the thigh of defender Martieon Watson in the 24th minute. CONCACAF chalked it down as an own goal from the Naparima College student.

And Guatemala’s second? Welch would seem a very unlikely candidate to execute a “Rene Higuita-type” move outside of his own penalty area. And, again, Portillo was there to take advantage.

Guatemala coach Carlos Ruiz, an Argentine import, said his team was “very lucky” to come away with three points.

“Trinidad and Tobago played very well and had most of the ball,” said Ruiz, via a translator. “We were very lucky today to come out victorious because our chances came from two mistakes.

“Guatemala made use of mistakes given to them by the Trinidad and Tobago team.”

Ruiz was, arguably, a touch generous. True, Guatemala capitalised on errors rather than made much of the game themselves. But it was alarming, although not altogether surprising, to see the Warriors growing increasingly lacklustre with every passing minute.

Sure, the likes of Aikim Andrews and Kadeem Corbin were still willing runners to the death. But the movement off the ball that died after 70 minutes against Jamaica was gone much sooner this afternoon.

University of South Florida playmaker Duane Muckette is arguably Trinidad and Tobago’s best player but, for the third successive game, he did not get close to 90 minutes and was at walking pace long before his substitution.

Muckette lasted 78 minutes against Jamaica, 66 minutes against Aruba and, in Trinidad and Tobago’s biggest game so far, he managed just 57 minutes against Guatemala.

Do the Warriors, whose poor pre-tournament preparation was well documented, have any energy left to knock off Panama and the United States?

King suggested concern over the team’s fitness levels was overblown though. He claimed that their livelier showings against Jamaica might be down to an 8 pm kick off as opposed to 3 pm starts against Aruba and Guatemala.

“At the end of the day, we had ball possession and once you have ball possession you have a chance to score goals,” said King. Plenty of our players were below par today… We created goal scoring chances but we just didn’t take them.”

In truth, Guatemala goalkeeper Nicholas Hagen looked flustered just twice today. In the seventh minute, Hagen threw himself low to his right to keep out a Muckette effort. And, in the 80th minute, he again had to use every inch of his wingspan to keep out a low Corbin effort in a crowded penalty box.

Otherwise, the Warriors were straight at the Guatemala custodian or overbar while there were far too few good scoring chances created considering the havoc that Andrews and Akeem Garcia caused on either flank.

“The final pass wasn’t there today,” said King. “Sometimes when we could take an extra touch we were forcing (the play) and the crosses were not good today. The service in the final third was poor today.”

After a lopsided opening 25 minutes, Guatemala went ahead with only its second real attack and its first shot on target. Only it was not really on target.

Guatemala right wing back Steven Robles got down the right flank and delivered a looping cross to the far post. Portillo climbed well to head down to goal and, probably, straight at Welch. But Watson could not get out of the way in time and the ball struck the Trinidad and Tobago defender and rolled in at the near post.

Muckette had a chance to equalise in the 29th minute only for Guatemala defender Carlos Estrada to fling his body in the way to make the block.

Eight minutes into the second half, Muckette released Corbin with a clever flick but the latter attacker dragged his angled left footed shot harmlessly across the face of the goal.

Trinidad and Tobago’s three-man central midfield combination had gone flat by then and King sent in Akeem Humphrey and Jabari Mitchell for Muckette and Kevon Goddard.

Humphrey immediately helped to lift the tempo but Mitchell’s contribution was mixed. Mitchell did create another shooting opportunity for Corbin in the 80th minute but the playmaker failed to make much headway in the crowd of players on top the Guatemala penalty area.

Levi Garcia, who is bound for Europe in 2015, was the third change in the 69th minute and, apart from one incisive cross to Andrews, he did not resemble the younger winger who set the Caribbean Cup tournament alight last September.

“Leading up to the competition, he was not well and he is now getting back (his) confidence,” said King, who revealed the player had a stomach bug. “He is the youngest member of the team and we are trying with him and talking to him and trying to guide him.”

In the 87th minute, it was lights out as Welch collected a throw from captain Shannon Gomez and, inexplicably, tried to dribble Portillo rather than hammer the ball forward or simply return the ball to his right back. Portillo won the ball and applied the insurance goal.

The less said about that decision from the United States-based goalkeeper, the better.

Gomez called it a blooper while King went with blunder.

“We just have to give him confidence to come back and do his best in the next game,” said Gomez.

But can the tiring Trinidad and Tobago team rebound to take a draw from Panama and win against the United States?

“Football plays on the day so it is not beyond us,” said Gomez. “Every game we go with the mindset to win. It is (about) them taking their chances or us taking our chances…

“We are confident.”

The Warriors need a big result from their final group match now. But, going into the tournament, they might have expected that it would come to this. Whether they can pull it off is another matter entirely.

King’s team has been praised for being one of the country’s best youth teams. But now they must prove it.

The Dwight Yorke-led Under-20 team beat the United States 1-0 on the way to the Portugal 1991 World Youth Championships while, in 2009, Kevin Molino scored the winner to take the young Warriors past Jamaica.

Gomez, Corbin, Muckette and company must take a big scalp to join such lofty company.

(Teams)

Trinidad and Tobago (4-2-3-1): 1.Johan Welch (GK); 2.Shannon Gomez (captain), 3.Martieon Watson, 13.Brendon Creed, 4.Jesus Perez; 18.Kevon Goddard (17.Akeem Humphrey 57), 8.Neveal Hackshaw; 15.Aikim Andrews, 6.Duane Muckette (10.Jabari Mitchell 57), 7.Akeem Garcia (11.Levi Garcia 69); 9.Kadeem Corbin.

Unused substitutes: 21.Javon Sample (GK), 5.Leland Archer, 12.Kishun Seecharan, 14.Matthew Woo Ling, 16.Ricardo John, 19.Maurice Ford.

Coach: Derek King

Guatemala (3-4-3): 1.Nicholas Hagen (GK); 16.Julio Ortiz, 15.Carlos Estrada, 2.Kevin Grijalva, 13.Steven Robles, 14.Andy Ruiz, 6.Cristian Jiminez, 20.Mauricio Maltes (17.Pablo Aguilar 59), 8.Kevin Bordon (10.Diego Alvarez 46), 9.Mauro Portillo, 11.Mario Hernandez (18.Benedicto Aldana 71).

Unused substitutes: 12.Julio Ochoa (GK), 3.Allen Yanes, 4.Nicholas Samayoa, 5.Luis De Leon, 7.Christopher Ortiz, 19.Jose Morales.

Coach: Carlos Ruiz

Referee: David Gantar (Canada).


111
Football / King targets CONCACAF crown: One on one with T&T U20 coach
« on: January 14, 2015, 11:34:06 AM »
King targets CONCACAF crown; T&T U-20s eye history.
By Lasana Liburd (wired868).


“Once we defend well against Guatemala, we will win,” said Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 team head coach Derek King. “The most important thing is to limit the mistakes and defend well for 90-plus minutes.

“Going forward, we will not have a problem. Opportunities (to score) will not be a problem.”

There is a quiet confidence about the Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 squad that belies their shambolic pre-tournament preparations.

While teams like Canada and the United States toured Europe and CONCACAF for months, King did not get his Caribbean Cup winning team together until roughly three weeks before its opening World Cup qualifying match. Even then, he was without his first choice goalkeeper, Johan Welch, until January 3.

But if the “Soca Warriors” defeat Guatemala from 4 pm today at Jamaica’s National Stadium in Kingston, Trinidad and Tobago will move six points clear of the United States—albeit with a game in hand—and will be favoured to at least get a play-off spot against, probably, either of Canada, Honduras, Haiti or El Salvador from Group B.

The two group winners qualify automatically to the New Zealand 2015 FIFA Under-20 World Cup while the second and third place teams from each six team group will battle for the two remaining spots.

At present, Panama, Guatemala and Trinidad and Tobago are the only unbeaten teams in Group A. But the United States outfit is expected to start its revival today against table propers, Aruba, and there remains the feeling that Guatemala and Trinidad and Tobago might be fighting for third.

It is not a feeling that King shares.

“I am watching this as four teams competing for three spots,” King told Wired868. “We are not aiming for third. The most important thing is a win against Guatemala and then we are going for Panama and the US. We are going for them.”

There is more to this bunch of talented teenagers that meets the eye. But then the same can be said of its coach.

At 34, King is the youngest member of his technical staff and the baby of the head coaches at this tournament. He rarely wears a suit and is not the sort for witty soundbytes or provocative analogies.

It might be easy to miss the fact that he is a former Pro League Coach of the Year and the only coach to take a clean sweep of titles in Trinidad and Tobago’s domestic professional era while at Joe Public.

King might also be the only Trinidad and Tobago coach to win a competitive fixture against a Mexican team in hostile territory. In 2009, he led Public to a 1-0 CONCACAF Champions’ League group stage victory over Atlante at the Estadio Andres Quintana Roo in Cancun. Incidentally, Atlante went on to win the entire competition.

King also holds the UEFA B coaching licence and did the first part of his UEFA A licence to go along with his local C and D certifications. He hopes to complete his UEFA A licence later this year although there is the matter of roughly TT$60,000 in fees along with, presumably, airfare and expenses.

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) promises its youth coaches a stipend of between TT$3,000 to TT$4,000 per month but no one has been paid in about two years.

King would probably be accustomed to doing things the hard way by now. At 24, the promising central defender—King was slow but a perceptive reader of the game with a decent passing range—saw his world come crashing down in a league match for Public against Stokely Vale in the Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya.

“I was in possession and (the Stokely Vale captain) came in with a two footed tackle,” he said. “All I knew after that is I was heading to Medical Associates with a twisted knee cap.”

It was February 2005 and King, who had 33 international caps and captained Trinidad and Tobago in a friendly against Azerbaijan that January, had big hopes for the country’s 2006 World Cup campaign.

But he never played competitive football again and he was still in crutches, a year and a half later, when his teammates lined up in Dortmund to make history as the youngest nation to play in a FIFA senior World Cup finals.

Soon after, controversial ex-FIFA vice president and Public owner, Jack Warner, gave King the news he dreaded.

“Jack called me into a 5 am meeting and told me to forget playing football,” said King. “He said I would work with (Public technical director) Keith Look Loy as assistant technical director and I started working with the Under-16 team after that.”

King, who did an ACL reconstructive surgery and has two screws in his knee, did his first coaching course in 2008 and the once thoughtful player became an equally studious coach. He did half his coaching badges under Dutch coaches and the rest with British tutors—his classmates for his UEFA A licence included current Manchester United assistant manager Ryan Giggs and ex-FA head of elite development Gareth Southgate—and he claimed to have adopted ideas from both while he is a big fan of Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola.

“I like my players to be fit and I like good ball movement and winning the ball higher up (the field),” said King. “Everything (the Dutch coaches) do is with the ball and when you analyse their patterns of play they are always using triangles and so on (while) their style of play utilises the width of the field too…

“The English are more disciplined and rigid in the way the play and more direct. They don’t alter their shape no matter what and I like my back four to be like that.”

King’s Warriors play with a solid back four that gives licence to captain and right back Shannon Gomez to bomb forward. He usually uses two midfield shields with wingers and split attackers.

His wingers are fast and skilful, his central players are inventive and always interested looking for the ball and his team is equally adept at attacking down either flank or through the centre.

On Friday night, they treated Jamaica to an almost perfect hour of football as striker Kadeem Corbin had the “Reggae Boyz” chasing shadows, playmaker Duane Muckette controlled central midfield, left winger Akeem Garcia mesmerised with his stuttering dribble moves and ability to go inside or outside his marker while Gomez and Aikim Andrews were so dominant down the right flank that opposing coach Theodore Whitmore used four different combinations to try to stop them.

By halftime, dozens of Jamaicans had left “The Office” for fear of witnessing a thumping. Somehow, the Warriors let a two-goal lead slip and ended 2-2 after Jamaica’s Junior Flemmings scored a stoppage time free kick.

“I haven’t seen a Trinidad and Tobago team play total football like in that first half against Jamaica,” said King. “After the game, you could throw a pin in the room (and hear it). The players knew they threw away the game.

“We are still disappointed with the (result in the) first game but we can’t cry in the face of the Lord. It done happen already so we have to move on.”

King did not offer excuses for their late lapse. In truth, the Warriors did not have a single international game since last September’s Caribbean Cup. And, in their pre-tournament camp in Fort Lauderdale, he rotated his squad to give everyone some minutes against two assembled teams rather than offer extended run-outs to his likely starters.

It meant that the Warriors are still learning as they go along and substitute Ricardo John, for instance, had never played an international fixture before the Jamaican match.

“In international football, you cannot make certain mistakes that you would get away with in your local league or school football,” said King.

Fortunately, Aruba was next and the inexperienced Dutch outfit was no match for the Warriors. But King was not satisfied with their 5-1 win either as Trinidad and Tobago again conceded a late goal and sometimes played without menacing intent.

“Aruba was playing the ball in the back and keeping it there,” said King. “And when I analysed our mentality it was like we met a side that was not at our level so we dropped the intensity. It is something that I am trying to get out of their heads.

“When I spoke to a few of the guys after, they said ‘coach man but they were not really coming at us’. But that is not the point. If Mexico holds on to a side like that they will kill them off. That is the mentality I want.”

It is not just the natural ability and strength in depth that makes the current Under-20 team such a joy to watch. It is also the tactical flexibility. And King deserves much credit for that.

As the Warriors’ began to coast through the match at 3-0, King altered his team’s set-up by sacrificing a holding midfielder in an effort to press higher up the field. The move reaped two goals within 20 minutes.

King spoke at length about the subtle variations in his midfield shape in response to if an opponent is attempting to build through the back or play on the break and whether they use orthodox wingers or the inverted type who cut inside for shooting opportunities.

Tactically, Guatemala, who has already defeated Jamaica and tied the United States, is an awkward opponent. The Central American team plays a back three with a flat midfield four and three strikers who play at arm’s length from each other when in possession but always seek out pockets of space in anticipation of counter attacks while their teammates defend.

King said he is ready for the challenge.

“Guatemala would probably start like Aruba who held a (defensive) block on their halfline to stop us playing the ball into our midfielders,” said King. “We have stoppers who can play and bring the ball. If they do that we will go direct for 10 or 15 minutes and force them to change and then we can get on the ball again.

“It is not every time you can play the ball from the back and I tell the guys that. Sometimes they might be a little over confident and feel that they can do it but sometimes we have to play direct too.

“We do plenty video sessions and analyse certain situations so that we are ready for them. And, as a coach, I don’t sit down. I’m always giving instructions.”

Andrews, who has two goals, an assist and won a penalty against Aruba, is a doubt for this afternoon after he was substituted with a swollen ankle on Sunday. But King hopes that physiotherapist Saron Joseph and trainer Michael Taylor get the versatile winger ready in time. He described Joseph and Taylor as two of his most important staff member as they try to endure a gruelling competition.

“The length of the tournament with the amount of games for players (who are) under-20 is ridiculous,” said King, whose team plays three of its five group games under overhead sun as opposed to Jamaica, Haiti, Honduras and the United States who play all their matches under lights. “The guys are a little fatigued but we are doing some ice baths and pool sessions and recovery drinks. The physio and trainer are working around the clock.”

King gave credit to the know-how of his technical staff and particularly senior team head coach Stephen Hart, who is in Jamaica as an advisor and does not sit on the bench. King is Hart’s assistant on the senior team and has learned from him as well.

“Hart always gives you a chance to express yourself as a coach,” said King. “He is a boss who listens and makes his entire staff feel important… His coaching method is he breaks down everything and is always happy to explain why he makes his decisions.

“We have a really good understanding and it is the same with Hutson Charles and everyone else.”

A united, meticulous technical staff has been the perfect support for a talented, disciplined group of players who are seeking to become the third Trinidad and Tobago team to qualify for a FIFA Under-20 World Cup.

“It is a tough tournament and the guys are responding well and they know the task at hand,” said King. “They are trying their utmost best to make the country proud.”

A win today would really get the pulses racing as the Warriors aim to make light of scarce resources and inadequate preparation to qualify for the country’s first World Cup tournament in six years.

King urged fans and corporate Trinidad and Tobago to pay closer attention to his squad.

“There is something special about this team,” said King. “With the talent and the ability and the discipline these guys have, this has got to be the future of Trinidad and Tobago’s football. I have seen all the teams play so far and I don’t think anyone is more talented than us.

“Once we can get these guys to believe in themselves, it is eleven against eleven out there and I think we can match any of these teams.”

Guatemala will be the next test of the rising confidence within the Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 team’s ranks.


112
King selects US-based quintet in T&T U-20 squad; Warriors await visa appointments
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868)


There were four new inclusions but no major surprises today when Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 head coach Derek King named his 20-man to contest next month’s CONCACAF Championship in Jamaica.

The top four teams at CONCACAF level will advance to the New Zealand 2015 FIFA Under-20 World Cup.

The young “Soca Warriors” lifted the Caribbean crown in September—albeit in a competition that did not include regional rival, Jamaica—and King believes his team is even stronger now.

Caribbean Cup MVP and gifted frontman Kadeem Corbin, attacking midfielders Levi Garcia and Kishun Seecharan, holding midfielder Neveal Hackshaw and versatile defender Jesus Perez all had trials in Europe since while defender Maurice Ford and winger Akeem Garcia played regularly in the local Pro League for defending champion DIRECTV W Connection. The 17-year-old Garcia (L), who is a Form Five student at Shiva Boys Hindu College, is believed to be close to a European move.

These players will be joined in Jamaica by a United States-based quartet of university students in: Brendon Creed (Temple University), Leland Archer (College of Charleston), Duane Muckette (University of South Florida) and Ricardo John (Virginia Tech).

Houston Dynamo Juniors custodian Johan Welch, who was first choice for the young Warriors during the Caribbean qualifying stage, completes King’s tally of five US-based players.

“These player such as Muckette, Creed and John will definitely add some quality to what we already have,” said King, “with the likes of Corbin, Levi Garcia and the other boys who did exceptionally well for us in the Caribbean Championship.”

Creed, Archer and Welch have all graduated from the national under-17 team while Muckette, who was installed as vice-captain of the current squad, was a starter on the national under-20 squad in 2012, which crashed out in the first qualifying phase.

The rest of King’s under-20 squad includes: captain Shannon Gomez, Martieon Watson, Jabari Mitchell, Aikim Andrews (all W Connection), Javon Sample, Kevon Goddard (both Central FC),  Akeem Humphrey (Club Sando) and Matthew Woo Ling (St Anthony’s College).

North East Stars’ holding midfielder Keon Joseph and Naparima College striker Nicholas Dillon failed to keep their spots from the Caribbean qualifiers while others like Defence Force winger Akeem Roach, who missed several sessions due to illness, did not do enough to force their way in.

Roach was among the scorers on Saturday when the young Warriors whipped Caledonia AIA 5-1 in a practice match. Corbin, who is a Pro League player with St Ann’s Rangers, scored twice against Caledonia while Woo Ling got one goal from the penalty spot.

Last week, King told Wired868 he would try to stuff his team with utility players for the gruelling tournament that comprises of five group matches in 12 days, which is contrary to the FIFA bylaw for the welfare of players.

“We need players who can play in more than one position,” said King. “The 20 we select will more or less be players who can play in more than one position so it gives us an opportunity to rotate.”

The national under-20 team has not played a single international practice game since they got together as they made do with match-ups against local Pro League and Super League clubs. In contrast, the United States and Canada both had European tours with games against the likes of England and Russia while teams like Jamaica and Panama recently finished invitational international tournaments.

The young Warriors were forced to cancel a trip to Mexico due to financial issues while they also delayed their proposed Fort Lauderdale tour, which was initially supposed to begin on Saturday.

At present, the national under-20 team does not have US visas.

“We are waiting for an Embassy appointment for either Monday evening or Tuesday morning,” said King.

It would have cost an estimated TT$17,000 for visas for the squad and the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), by its own record, banked TT$1.6 million from the senior women team’s FIFA Play Off contest against Ecuador on December 2.

However, TTFA official William Wallace said he delayed the acquisition of visas due to uncertainty over the funding of the trip to Fort Lauderdale.

“I put a hold on the visa (applications) when I heard the funding was a trouble because that is about $17,000,” said Wallace. “There was a definite ‘no’ from the PS on Monday who said that there were no funds. So we were then hoping to train here and travel to Jamaica directly and we wouldn’t need visas for that.

“So I put a hold on it until I was sure about the funding. Not knowing put a spoke in our planning.”

Unfortunately it meant that, when the SPORTT Company did agree to fund the young Warriors last Tuesday evening, the players did not have the necessary travel documents to immediately proceed to their pre-CONCACAF camp.

At present, the under-20 squad is due to depart for Florida on Thursday January 1. The Warriors will then play matches against undisclosed teams on January 3 and 5 before heading for Jamaica on January 7. King hopes that at least one of those matches will be against the Canada under-20 team.

The team’s camp in Fort Lauderdale is fully funded by TSTT.

Trinidad and Tobago is grouped with hosts Jamaica, Aruba, Panama, Guatemala and the United States at CONCACAF level. The group winner will qualify automatically for the Under-20 World Cup while the second and third placed teams will enter a play off.

(Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 team)

Goalkeepers: Johan Welch (Houston Dynamo Juniors), Javon Sample (Central FC);

Defenders: Shannon Gomez, Martieon Watson, Maurice Ford (all W Connection), Brendon Creed (Temple University), Leland Archer (College of Charleston), Jesus Perez (North East Stars);

Holding midfielders: Neveal Hackshaw (North East Stars), Kevon Goddard (Central FC),  Akeem Humphrey (Club Sando), Matthew Woo Ling (St Anthony’s College);

Attacking Midfielders: Aikim Andrews, Akeem Garcia, Jabari Mitchell (all W Connection), Duane Muckette (University of South Florida), Levi Garcia (Shiva Boys HC), Kishun Seecharan (Club Sando);

Forwards: Kadeem Corbin (St Ann’s Rangers), Ricardo John (Virginia Tech).

(Technical Staff)

Derek King (head coach), Hutson Charles (assistant coach), Michael Maurice (goalkeeper coach), Stephen Hart (technical advisor), Douglas Archer (manager), Wayne Cunningham (assistant manager), Terrence Babwah (doctor), Michael Taylor (physio), Sharon Joseph (trainer), Michael Williams (equipment manager), Shaun Fuentes (media officer).


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Thanks everyone. I will do my best and as much as I can.  :beermug:

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So the solution is that Wired868 sticks to press releases and match reports like the daily newspapers? Really?
I do the match reports and so on as well. There was a Wired868 story when Kevin Molino scored his first international hattrick and when the women's team won the Caribbean Cup.
The difference here is that I understand what happens off the field affects performances on the field. So I don't turn a blind eye to that.
I can't dumb down Wired868 to benefit people who are embarrassed by my stories. I see my job as to provide relevant information for the football community.

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Football / T&T U-20 campaign back on; Sportt Company funds young Warriors
« on: December 24, 2014, 02:53:25 PM »
U-20 campaign back on; Sportt Company funds young Warriors
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868.com)


The Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 football team will be financed to compete at next month’s CONCACAF Championship in Jamaica after all.

Sportt Company acting CEO Adrian Raymond and Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) official William Wallace confirmed today that the government will fund the youth’s team travel and accommodation to Jamaica as well as its trip to Fort Lauderdale for a pre-tournament camp.

Wallace said that, in a Monday meeting, the Ministry of Sport’s Permanent Secretary Richard Oliver informed the local football body that there was no funding available to send the young “Soca Warriors” into action.

By Tuesday afternoon, the government had amended its position though as the two parties agreed to dip into the subvention allocated for the national senior team, which is managed by the Sportt Company.

“I spoke to the PS who said they have no money,” Wallace told Wired868, “and I asked him, since we have a subvention for the senior team, can we use money from that?

“Yesterday I got a call from the Ministry of Sport saying that the PS had approved our airfare and accommodation in Jamaica.”

Raymond confirmed that Oliver had approved the payment via the Sportt Company.

“The PS sent a note to us yesterday asking us to make a draw down, so we are doing that right now,” said Raymond. “We are trying to organize for the flights and right now we are just waiting on an invoice from Caribbean Airlines. So it will happen today or first thing on Monday.”

Raymond assured the sporting community that, although the country is bracing for a tough economic period, the government will do its best to protect sport’s National Governing Bodies (NGB).

“We are looking to cut costs wherever we can cut costs,” said Raymond. “(But) the last area we would look at cutting is the NGBs, specifically when it comes to teams representing the red, white and black in tournaments. We are just asking the NGBs to very judicious in terms of (travelling) contingents.

“There are people who go (on overseas tours and tournaments) because they are nice to have and there are people who are absolutely necessary…

“This (under-20 football) team has to participate and they will go. I don’t know if they will make the Saturday fly out but they will certainly go.”

The young Warriors were due to head for the United States on Saturday but, even if the Sportt Company makes the necessary arrangement on Christmas Eve, they still won’t keep their initial schedule. The players do not have visa appointments until next Monday.

“I put a hold on the visa (applications) when I heard the funding was a trouble because that is about $17,000,” said Wallace. “There was a definite ‘no’ from the PS on Monday that there were no funds. So we were then hoping to train here and travel to Jamaica directly and we wouldn’t need visas for that.

“So I put a hold on it until I was sure about the funding. Not knowing put a spoke in our planning.”

Meanwhile, the national under-20 players and staff are trying to stay focused despite missing out on a camp in Mexico and suddenly being informed that their entire camp was in jeopardy.

Head coach Derek King said the team trained this morning at the Hasely Crawford Stadium and will now have two days off for the Christmas period before returning to the training ground at 8 am on Saturday.

“The sessions have been good and you are seeing the intensity because all our players are here except (goalkeeper Johan) Welch who will join the team in Miami,” King told Wired868. “This is the future of Trinidad and Tobago’s football. Regardless of the situation, we are going there to do well.”

At present, King has 27 players in training and the squad is so competitive that there was no room for San Juan North Secondary stand-out striker Brent Sam or his school teammate and defender Josiah Trimmingham. United States-based midfielder Andre Fortune and prolific St Anthony’s College striker Kwesi Allen failed to make the cut as well.

“Sam has ability but his problem is he doesn’t like to train,” said King. “His attitude towards football is not there (yet) And Trimmingham’s level has dropped since the Caribbean Cup.”

The new additions to the Caribbean Cup champions are: versatile WASA FC defender Justin Garcia and the United States-based contingent of Leland Archer (College of Charleston), Duane Muckette (University of South Florida), Ricardo John (Virginia Tech), Brendon Creed (Temple University), Rashad Hyacinth (Belmont University) and Adrian Welsh (St John’s University).

The final 20-man team will be announced on Saturday but King hinted that Creed, who has trained in central defence but can also play in central midfielder, and Muckette, a robust and clever midfielder, might have already forced their way into the CONCACAF team.

“Creed is very solid and is a leader,” said King. “Muckette, (Levi) Garcia and (Kadeem) Corbin have been playing very well too.”

Corbin was the MVP of the Caribbean tournament while the then 16-year-old Garcia (L) was the competition’s hottest property. Wired868 understands that Garcia, who is now 17, is on the verge of a move to Europe but agent Dion Sosa is remaining tight-lipped as his prospective employer tries to facilitate his move as a minor.

There are six players who competed in the 2014 Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) competition in the current training squad.

Goalkeeper Aaron Enil lifted the National and North Zone Intercol trophies this year with Mucurapo East Secondary while defender Martieon Watson, playmaker Jabari Mitchell and striker Nicholas Dillon won the Premier Division and Big Four titles with Naparima College. St Anthony’s College playmaker Matthew Woo Ling and Garcia (Shiva Boys Hindu College) also played school football this season.

The CONCACAF under-20 tournament consists of five group matches in 12 days, which runs counter to the FIFA bylaw for the welfare of players. Faced with a similar situation in the senior Caribbean Cup last month, the CFU allowed teams to travel with 23 players which allowed more liberal rotation.

King said CONCACAF refused a similar request for the upcoming youth tournament. It means the fittest squads with the most strength in reserve will have a significant advantage in the gruelling competition. The top four nations will advance to the New Zealand 2015 Under-20 World Cup in May.

“We need players who can play in more than one position,” said King. “The 20 we select will more or less be players who can play in more than one position so it gives us an opportunity to rotate.”

Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 shortlist:

Goalkeepers: Johan Welch (Houston Dynamo Juniors), Javon Sample (Central FC), Christopher Biggette (St Ann’s Rangers), Aaron Enil (Mucurapo East);

Defenders: Shannon Gomez, Martieon Watson, Maurice Ford (all W Connection), Justin Garcia (WASA FC), Brendon Creed (Temple University), Leland Archer (College of Charleston), Jesus Perez (North East Stars);

Midfielders: Aikim Andrews, Akeem Garcia, Jabari Mitchell (all W Connection), Neveal Hackshaw, Keon Joseph (both North East Stars), Kevon Goddard (Central FC), Akeem Humphrey (Club Sando), Matthew Woo Ling (St Anthony’s College), Duane Muckette (University of South Florida), Levi Garcia (Shiva Boys HC), Kishun Seecharan (unattached);

Forwards: Kadeem Corbin (St Ann’s Rangers), Nicholas Dillon (Central FC), Ricardo John (Virginia Tech), Rashad Hyacinth (Belmont University), Adrian Welch (St John’s University).

Technical Staff:

Derek King (head coach), Hutson Charles (assistant coach), Michael Maurice (goalkeeper coach), Stephen Hart (technical advisor), Douglas Archer (manager), Wayne Cunningham (assistant manager), Terrence Babwah (doctor), Michael Taylor (physio), Sharon Joseph (trainer), Michael Williams (equipment manager), Shaun Fuentes (media officer).

 

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That shows the level of his intellect and maturity TNTFAN. I'm not surprised a bit.

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Do you mean that readers could get the impression the TTFA is in the oil drilling and selling business Bakes? Readers like you perhaps?
So far we know who is to blame when the TTFA is criticised. It is either Wired868 or Native Spirit or the 2006 World Cup players or the Pro League clubs or Brent Sancho or W Connection or Central FC or Jamaal Shabazz or the executive committee or Nissi Tours or David Atiba Charles or the Sport Ministry or the Sportt Company or the Ministry of Tourism or the old Permanent Secretary or the new Permanent Secretary or the private sector or the public sector...
It sure ent president Raymond Tim Kee or general secretary Sheldon Phillips. Right Bakes?
Carry on...

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TTFA representative says they cannot get funds because the Gov't is slashing funds due to falling oil prices. And I am the one guilty of misrepresentation?
Keep up the spin Bakes. By the way, why not have Sheldon come out himself and say whether Tasha St Louis or Vernetta Flanders gave those quotes? Prefer to operate in the shadows and create mischief through a half bake?

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By the way, thanks very much Dreamer. The naysayers don't bother me. If I am inaccurate, they can sue. If they don't like me pointing out their flaws, they can stop repeating them.
Too many people think we just have to accept things the way they are. I don't. It is a waste of time for anyone to try bribing or bullying me to play ball. I have faced both before.

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And speaking of making things up...

Fraud! TTFA accused of fabricating quotes from national women’s player Tasha St Louis that congratulated the football body over treatment of “Women Soca Warriors”
http://wired868.com/2014/12/20/sham-ttfa-allegedly-faked-congratulations-from-women-warriors/

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