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Offline gawd on pitch

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Sun shining on T&T once more
« on: November 13, 2014, 06:30:04 PM »
Sun shining on T&T once more.
FIFA.COM.


It was a day over nine years ago, on 12 November 2005, when Trinidad and Tobago’s iconic captain Dwight Yorke readied himself before sending a corner arcing into the Bahrain penalty area. And though there were seven opposing players in and around the six-yard box, T&T’s rangy defender Dennis Lawrence rose highest to meet Yorke’s delivery and nod home the only goal of the second leg of the Intercontinental play-off for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™.

Over 11,000 kilometres away, the goal was met by an eruption of euphoria by Soca Warriors’ supporters – Lawrence’s downward header handing his nation a 2-1 aggregate success and a ticket to German soil. Trinidad and Tobago, at the time down in 50th place in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, were all set to play in their first ever senior World Cup.

What is more, Yorke and Co. had only just sneaked into that all-important AFC/CONCACAF play-off encounter, having kicked off the final six-team Hexagonal round of North, Central America and Caribbean Zone qualifying with two defeats and a draw. In came Leo Beenhakker, in time for T&T’s fourth Hexagonal clash, and the Dutch supremo immediately guided his new charges to a win over Panama – on the way to securing the 13-point tally that earned their play-off berth. Though Trinidad and Tobago were 62nd in the Ranking when Don Leo took over, by the start of Germany 2006 they had risen to 47th.

Momentum lost

Two further editions of the World Cup have gone by since the ex-Real Madrid and Ajax supremo oversaw a draw with Sweden and defeats against England and Paraguay at the group stage of Germany 2006. In qualifying for South Africa 2010, the Soca Warriors finished dead last in the CONCACAF Hexagonal, while they failed to even get that far on the road to Brazil 2014.

Adding to this painful list is T&T’s failure to reach the knockout stages of the 2008 and 2010 Caribbean Cups, as well as missing out on the 2009 and 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cups. The progress being made in the run-up to Germany 2006 looked to have dissipated, with 2012’s average of 80th place in the Ranking rubbing salt in the collective wound.

It was not until 2013 that the reawakening came, and the man involved was a familiar face. Runners-up in the 2012 Caribbean Cup, came the following year’s Gold Cup Canadian coach Stephen Hart who had stepped into the hotseat, with Beenhakker back in Trinidad and Tobago in a Sporting Director role – charged with an overhaul of the game in the Caribbean nation.

Bringing smiles back to T&T

The experienced Dutchman stepped back into a country where, for a period at least, he helped give football’s popularity a huge leg-up in a region where cricket has always held sway.

Beenhakker and Hart wasted little time in showing their worth: Trinidad and Tobago clinching second place in Group B in the Gold Cup to move into the last eight. Once there they were denied a semi-final berth by a solitary goal from Mexico starlet Raul Jimenez, the Soca Warriors pushing El Tri all the way and exited the competition with their heads held high.

Next on the agenda was 2014 Caribbean Cup qualifying and, with more time to prepare, confidence levels were high. Featuring an exciting attacking pair of youngster Kevin Molino and the experienced Kenwyne Jones, T&T began the qualifying phase with an emphatic 6-1 win over Dominican Republic. They then sealed qualification by sinking St. Lucia and followed that up with a narrow success versus Antigua and Barbuda.

All of which has brought significant rewards, not only in terms of group morale, but also in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking. In fact, in October 2014 Trinidad and Tobago leapt up to 49th position in the global standings, an impressive jump from the previous month’s 86th place.

A positive performance at the Caribbean Cup, held this month, is now on the agenda, a competition which also serves as a qualifying tournament for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. And should that go well, who knows, the Soca Warriors may well repeat history and charge back onto the world stage at Russia 2018? Fortunately for them, in Beenhakker, they have someone who knows exactly what it takes.

« Last Edit: November 13, 2014, 06:51:04 PM by Flex »

Offline dreamer

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Re: Sun shining on T&T once more
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2014, 07:42:20 PM »
Well not so sure if Beenhakker can be said to be involved of late. I wait to hear Sheldon Phillips's interview with Flex, coming up soon.
Supportin' de Warriors right tru.