Fri, May
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Beenhakker plans for World Cup 2018.Dutchman Leo Beenhakker is already planning Trinidad and Tobago’s campaign for the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, and the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) has had several invitations to play international matches following the Soca Warriors’ credible performance at the Concacaf Gold Cup where they reached the quarter-final stage. So said TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee yesterday.

“Since our performances at the Gold Cup we have been having countries wanting to play against us, which was a previously elusive goal,” Tim Kee said.

Tim Kee was the featured speaker yesterday at the guest speaker series held by the Trinidad Union Club at its Nicholas Towers headquarters. He said that having accepted an invitation to play against New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates and hosts Saudi Arabia in the four-team OSN Cup from September 5, the TTFA has been forced to turn down other offers of international matches in both September and October. However, in November, Soca Warriors fans will see their side play at home.

Football is also going back to the community. This plan has been included in a newly-completed TTFA constitution, and Association has also sourced 15,000 indestructible balls to distribute to local clubs.

The TTFA will next month also launch a state-of-the-art website to market its replica jersey, and an online fan club as well. Wherever the national football teams plays, there will also be kiosks selling TTFA merchandise.

Yesterday, Tim Kee disclosed that Mexico was seeking to hire Beenhakker prior to the veteran Holland and Real Madrid coach taking up the post as Trinidad and Tobago Director of Football last month.

Tim Kee said Beenhakker was not pleased with the manner in which he left Trinidad and Tobago after leading the country to its first World Cup in 2006. Beenhakker made enquiries about the state of T&T football since then, thus sparking the pursuit of his services this year.

“He took us to the World Cup after 98 years and still there are those who say he was not good enough,” Tim Kee said of Beenhakker.

“Right now, Beenhakker as we speak is putting together our plans for 2018.”

On taking office last year, Tim Kee said that he found an organisation that was solely built around its maximum leader, special adviser and former Government Minister Jack Warner. He said there was no accounting unit, although millions had passed through the Association’s coffers. Tim Kee also said he found the TTFA owing some 125 organisations and even small sums to “poor people”.

“One of the things I promised on taking office was accountability and transparency,” stated insurance executive and businessman Tim Kee, who added that his goal is to run the TTFA like a business with the necessary checks and balances.”

He said an immediate goal was developing Trinidad and Tobago’s football product, which has resulted in the re-hiring of Beenhakker and the appointment of both former Canada head coach Stephen Hart and aspiring lawyer Sheldon Phillips--who has worked with several international football bodies--as its general secretary.

Tim Kee said that TTFA now aims to develop all of its teams—youth, women’s, beach soccer and the national senior men’s squad.

“Because of the enormous sums of money involved, Government, corporate Trinidad and Tobago and football must get together in building the country,” the Football Association president declared.