'TTFF need better youth coaches'Former England World Cup player and CLICO San Juan Jabloteh technical director, Terry Fenwick, has slammed Trinidad and Tobago national under-17 coach Anton Corneal for his team's performance at the recently-concluded CONCACAF tournament in Mexico and urged the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) to overhaul their youth coaching programme.
Corneal, in a recent television interview, blamed the poor results on the attitude of his players and the fact that he had two years, rather than four, to prepare the squad.
Fenwick, who is a strong candidate for the 2008 Pro League "Coach of the Year" after Jabloteh defended their League crown and picked up the Toyota Classic and Lucozade Big Six titles, suggested that Corneal should accept responsibility and be made to account for his team's embarrassing returns.
"It is quite clear that the head coach and his assistant (Ma Pau coach Michael McComie) were out of their depth," said Fenwick. "He was very public with his confidence in the team before the tournament but he has done a complete U-turn and it is not his fault but the players' since then...
"It is the coach's job to create a structure that enables the players to use their talents effectively to ensure the team is successful Sometimes you are playing teams who are better than you and you have to pull yourself together and make your team hard to beat.
"How often do you see a 7-0 result in international football? That tells me his team wasn't very well-organised and I think that comes down to competence."
Corneal took Trinidad and Tobago to the FIFA Under-17 World Cup two years ago, while Zoran Vranes successfully steered his teenaged squad to the Egypt 2009 Under-20 World Cup. But Fenwick is unconvinced that successive World Cup berths reflected the quality of either coach.
The former Tottenham captain pointed out that the Under-20 and Under-17 squads both lost more qualifying matches than they won.
The successful 2007 Under-17 crop won two matches, lost two and qualified with a minus-three goal differential, while Vranes' under-20 team won one match, drew one and lost two.
Fenwick suggested the influence of FIFA vice-president Jack Warner was more instrumental than the direction of the respective youth coaches.
"At present, we are qualifying for tournaments by coming fourth or fifth from eight teams," said Fenwick. "But when we get there, we are not competitive. We have the players to be much better than that but we won't be once our coaching remains as poor as it is.
"In Trinidad, it is unprecedented the amount of time (national) coaches get with their teams but clearly they are not using it properly. Corneal has not coached at any recognisable level other than the national team. How has he got that job and how is he able to keep it with such shocking results?"
Fenwick might be skeptical of the present national youth team coaches but he insisted that there are promising coaches within the local fraternity who deserve a chance.
He declared that Angus Eve, Anthony Streete, Ross Russell, Clint Marcelle, Reynold Carrington, Clayton Morris, Bertille St Clair and Gally Cummings were all better than the TTFF's present youth coaches.
"Grassroots coaches must be doing something right when you look at some of the young talent," said Fenwick. "It's the national coaches who are continually laying blame on others when they fall short.
"They had two years with that team and the bottom line is they were found wanting."