Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) Raymond Tim Kee yesterday said he was “disappointed” that T&T’s Under-17 footballers were unable to qualify for the 2013 FIFA Under-17 World Cup.
T&T crashed out of the qualifiers at the quarter-final stage after losing 4-2 to hosts Panama on Saturday night, and coach Shawn Cooper said Panama “wanted it more”. A win and semi-final spot would have give them one of four World Cup berths.
Tim Kee said he thought the players were “a little tired”.
“I’m disappointed in the result,” the TTFF head told the Express. “I thought we did what we we’re supposed to have done in terms of exposing them to the practice games.
“Based on what I have seen coming up before Saturday, I thought that we were really prepared, but I suspect our players were a little tired.”
Tim Kee also stated that the hosts were at an advantage due to the home crowd support, as well as playing on an artificial surface to which they were more accustomed.
He also told the Express that TTFF officials will assess the campaign and make recommendations for improvement.
“[Panama] were stronger. They were a little more robust,” he stated. “Of course we will do a post mortem and highlight things (that need fixing). (We must) take it in stride.”
The long-standing football administrator also said T&T did have a good showing with a 2-2 draw against a US team that was “not watered down”, and a 2-0 group stage win over Costa Rica.
As for future planning, Tim Kee wants to keep the Under-17 squad together to serve as part of T&T’s thrust for World Cup 2018 in Russia, as well as get more international matches for T&T’s senior team ahead of the July CONCACAF Gold Cup in the US, for which T&T have already qualified.
“What I’ve requested is that we keep (the Under-17s) together, and we will try to see how many games we can help them play. (We have to) keep them within ‘eye range’; know what they’re doing and put them on programmes to make sure they maintain what they have, (and) strengthen what they have.”
Senior national team co-coach Hutson Charles, though, felt the other teams in the competition were better prepared than T&T, and that experience made the difference in T&T’s failed attempt to finish among CONCACAF’s top four.
Asked what he felt went wrong, Charles said T&T needed “a little more concentration”.
“(T&T) gave away the ball a lot, and their finishing could have been a lot better,” he pointed out. “They got the opportunities…When the other teams got their opportunities they made better use of it. It shows us the gap between us and the other countries is not that far away.”
Charles highlighted preparation as one of the areas where T&T need to improve, saying they play far less matches than other countries.
“A lot depends on our preparation,” Charles explained. “When you talk to the other coaches and managers of the teams, they go all out and prepare their teams for these tournaments. At this level, to go to the CONCACAF level, our teams are underprepared in terms of getting matches. A lot has to do with preparation. We are reaching the brink and not able to cross.”
He was impressed, however, by T&T’s competitive spirit, and in particular with goalkeeper Johan Welch, who kept T&T in the match with a number of crucial saves.
“At the senior level, I could always say preparation too (is a problem) and things going how it goes because of the lack of funding. But we could probably get away with it at the senior level because of the experience of the guys. It wouldn’t look too bad.
“It’s different with the youths, because besides the ‘keeper, most of them don’t have that experience playing at a professional level. Most of them are schoolboys. You need to give them as much exposure as they could because most of them are not attached to senior clubs.”