TRINIDAD and Tobago Under-17 coach Rene Simoes has called on locals to boo the Croatian team when they take the field on Thursday for the opening match of the 2001 Fifa U-17 World Championship.
Just three days before kick-off, Simoes is adamant that his squad—dubbed “Team 2001”—must benefit from home advantage and is urging supporters to make things difficult for opponents on the field.
“I want our supporters to clap their hands and play with their team,” said the Brazilian native. “And when Croatia has the ball, boo them. After the game give them the best that you can, but during the game let them feel they are away from home.
“That is how football is played around the world. We need the 12th player (in the stands).”
Simoes also had no sympathy for the Australian and Croatian contingents who have complained about the 1 p.m. kick off times against the host nation.
The Croatian team, who trained at the Queen’s Royal College (QRC) ground yesterday afternoon, complained about dehydration after their session and team doctor Tomislav Vlahovic said that he was concerned.
“We are not used with the kind of conditions here but we will have to cope with it,” said coach Martin Novoselac. “The weather and the climate are a very big problem for our team. We are coming from Europe where the temperature is no way like here. This is unfortunate for our players because we are here only a few days before the first match.”
The Australians went as far as to approach Fifa vice-president and Local Organising Committee (LOC) chairman Jack Warner for a time change.
Les Avory, head of the Australian delegation, pointed to an incident during their Oceania qualifiers when two players suffered from “frightening heat strokes” in Fiji.
He remained dissatisfied after meeting with Warner and remarked that “it seems our time in Trinidad will be made as uncomfortable as possible”.
However, Simoes said if he had his way all matches would start at 1 p.m.
“Only Fifa can decide about the time,” said Simoes. “I have no control over that. If it was (in) my control I would play all games at 1 p.m...When I play in Canada, they put us to play at 7 p.m. When I go to the US they put you to play in Washington.
“Why do you think they do that?”
While Australia and Croatia have struggled to acclimatise, the Oman Under-17 team has also suffered here after losing midfielder Adil Khalfan through injury.
Khalfan will not recover in time for the tournament from a knock on his knee sustained in last Friday’s friendly match against Team 2001.
Stand-by Hafid Abraham should arrive to replace Khalfan today, but Oman coach John Adshead was unhappy with the physical nature of their last practice match which ended in a 2-2 draw.
“After the game against Trinidad, we had five bad injuries,” said Adshead. “None of those players are back training with the squad. Four of them will recover in time for tomorrow but one has been to the hospital and he will not be able to train for another four weeks.
“On the day, I think they (T&T) were a bit excited because they had got beaten by Paraguay. They were just a little over-physical.”
Simoes expressed his regret to the Omani camp over the mishap but denied that Team 2001 was a dirty or “over-physical” team.
Instead, he urged his players to become even more aggressive.
“On the contrary, I think that is the problems we have,” said Simoes. “Sometime we are too complacent, too laid back. I can guarantee you what I miss in the team is aggressiveness.”
Team 2001 continue their preparation today with a practice session at the Hasely Crawford Stadium from 1 p.m.
Australia are scheduled to train at the Larry Gomes Stadium from 9 a.m., while the Croatians should practise from 2 p.m. at Queen’s Royal College.