New T&T Soca Warriors coach Dennis Lawrence was left a very pleased man following his all locally-based senior men’s team defeat over world 156th ranked Barbados 2-0 in a friendly international at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on Friday.
Occupying his role as T&T coach for the first time in an international fixture since his appointment in January, Lawrence watched on from the sidelines as Defence Force striker and first-half substitute Jamille Boatswain netted a double inside 11 minutes of his introduction in the first half to secure the win, T&T’s 18th in 29 matches against the Barbadians.
Speaking following the encounter which was watched by a packed covered stands, Lawrence took the time to publicly send condolences to his assistant coach and former FIFA World Cup team-mate Stern John on the passing of his daughter.
With regards to the game, he said he was quite pleased, as well as displeased with some things.
Pointing out the positives, the 42-year-old Lawrence said, “I thought the boys tried to implement some of the things that we have worked on and in particular trying to maintain possession of the ball. However, I think in the second-half probably in the last 25-30 minutes we lost direction with regards to keeping the ball with purpose and we just started to keep the ball for keeping it sake.
“But in saying that it’s a young group and this is the first time they have had the opportunity of playing against a different opposition, and in general I was pleased with the attitude and effort.
“They tried to do the things we asked them to do, and I think it was a good night exercise for the boys and most importantly it was working towards something because we are working towards the Panama match (March 24).”
Asked to explain his reason for giving his three strikers a run out no longer than 45 minutes, Lawrence said he wanted all three of the strikers (Jameel Perry, Jamille Boatswain, Akeem Roach) to play equal minutes.
Lawrence said he thinks the most important thing is understanding that we still have the boys who are going to come from abroad.
“The idea is for them to come in and improve on what we have got at the moment and hopefully with the experience and the ability that these guys are going to bring its going to enhance the group
Admitting that he does not think the locals are up to par as yet, Lawrence added, “If it was just this local group going to play Panama, obviously we still have got a way to go in terms of our technical ability, in terms of our fitness levels, but I think that the boys coming in are going to add to the group and put us on par and be able to compete against Panama.”
On the performance of striker Boatswain, the T&T coach was impressed.
“I was delighted for him because he had 15 minutes in one half and 15 in the other and for him to come on and reacted the way he did and perform the way he did I am very pleased for him.”
Having seen him in action in the Digicel Pro Bowl where he led Defence Force to the title, Lawrence said, “That’s the fourth game I have seen him played in and he has scored six goals, so it's shows that he is doing something positive. He wants to learn and I am delighted for him.”
Lawrence praises Boatswain & co but eyes foreign talent for WCQs, signal to Bostock.
By Amiel Mohammed (Wired868).
Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence cooed about the performance of goalscorer Jamille Boatswain and his teammates yesterday, after the Soca Warriors marked his first outing in charge with a 2-0 win over Barbados at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
But, Lawrence pointed out, his praise should not be interpreted as a suggestion that the core of last night’s team would remain intact when Trinidad and Tobago host Panama and Mexico later this month in crucial Russia 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
And the former Everton FC assistant coach followed the lead of his predecessors, Stephen Hart and Tom Saintfiet, by sending a ‘come and join us’ plea to England-born midfielder John Bostock, who is eligible to represent Trinidad and Tobago but has not yet chosen to do so.
“John, the door is open,” said Lawrence, at last night’s post-game press conference. “You are welcome to come and play for Trinidad and Tobago.”
Of course, there was plenty in Lawrence’s present dressing room to satisfy him after a comfortable win last night. And speedy 23-year-old Defence Force striker Boatswain, who scored twice in his first taste of international football, was prominent among the pluses at Couva.
“I’m delighted for him,” Lawrence told the media, after Boatswain registered a brace of opportunist first-half goals—within minutes of coming on as a substitute—to settle the match. “I decided that I wanted the three strikers to play 30 minutes each and knew that the second 30 minutes was going to be the most difficult.”
Adding that he is “a boy that wants to learn, [who] is willing,” Lawrence declared: “I’m very pleased for him. For him to come on and react the way he did […] shows that he is doing something positive.”
Lawrence explained his instructions to his players and the new philosophy of the national team, which he described as “possession with purpose.”
“I was quite pleased with a lot of the things and also displeased with some of the things,” said the former 2006 World Cup hero. “The boys tried to implement some of the things that we tried to worked on, in particular, trying to maintain possession of the ball.
“[But] In the second half, in the last 25 to 30 minutes, we lost a bit of direction with regards to keeping the ball with purpose and we just started to keep the ball for keeping it sake. But that will come with time.
“We have to have purpose with our possession, because once you start keeping the ball in that [negative] manner, you only invite pressure on yourselves.”
The 156th-ranked Barbados—a late replacement for Suriname after the South Americans pulled out of the friendly encounter scheduled for Paramaribo on the same date—are neither Panama nor Mexico. Mindful of that, Lawrence still sought to keep the focus on the positive and he congratulated his charges on maintaining their solidity at the back.
“I was very, very pleased that we showed good concentration to ensure that we keep a clean sheet because that’s something that we need to have going into the next fixtures.”
Prior to yesterday’s kick-off, the last time that the T&T National Senior Team kept a clean sheet was against the Dominican Republic on 5 October 2016—seven matches ago. It is likely to be a detail that will not escape the attention of assistant coach Sol Campbell, who was finally present and accounted for at Ato Boldon last night.
Five previously uncapped players were also used against Barbados last night as Lawrence gave debuts to Jameel Perry, Jared London, Jesus Perez, Jomoul Francois and Boatswain—although Boatswain’s outing will not count as a cap since he was replaced as a substitute.
But Lawrence admitted that several of the players who faced Barbados last night would give way to foreign-based professionals when the Warriors go on to face Panama and Mexico in the 24 and 28 March qualifiers.
“I think the most important thing is understanding that we still have the boys that are going to come from abroad,” he said. “If we were talking about just this local group going to play Panama, obviously we still got a way to go in terms of our technical ability, our fitness levels. But I think with the boys coming in, it will put us on par.”
Elaborating, he added: “The idea is for them to come in and improve on what we’ve got at the moment. Hopefully with the experience and the ability that these guys are going to bring, it’s going to enhance the group.”
Lawrence said he already has an idea of 99% of the foreign-based contingent that wants to face Panama. And, pending required approvals, he promised one or two surprise additions.
He admitted that Bostock is one foreign-based player who will not be lining up for the “Red, White and Black” at the end of the month, though. According to Lawrence, he has had numerous conversations with Bostock recently but the RC Lens midfielder is not in a position to commit himself internationally.
The former England National Under-17 captain leads Lens in appearances this season with 28 while his employers sit third on the table in France’s second tier at present—only three points off leader Stade de Reims.
Hart first called Bostock up for World Cup qualifiers against St Vincent and Grenadines, 12 months ago, only to discover—on the eve of the outing—that he had not yet received FIFA clearance and could not be involved.
Bostock was then invited to play Guatemala and USA in September but was a no-show while, two months later, he claimed his passport was stolen and did not turn up for World Cup fixtures against Honduras and Costa Rica.
But Lawrence is not prepared to give up on Bostock yet, although the coach will focus on the resources at his disposal.
“At this point in time,” he declared, “we’ve just got to work with the group that we have. […] I have to accept John’s decision and I have to think about the group that I’m going to work with.”
Lawrence wants purpose with the ball
By Joel Bailey (Newsday).
TRINIDAD AND Tobago football team coach Dennis Lawrence was pleased with the performance of the squad in their 2-0 win over Barbados in a friendly international at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on Friday night.
However, he was quick to admit that there are areas that needs to be worked on by the squad, before they engage in a pair of 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers at home to Panama and Mexico, on March 24 and 28 respectively.
“I was quite pleased with a lot of the things and then I was also displeased with a lot of the things,” Lawrence admitted.
“The boys tried to implement some of the things that we’ve worked on, one in particular trying to maintain possession of the ball.” Lawrence, who made his international debut as a coach, continued, “I think in the last 25-30 minutes we lost a bit of direction with regards to keeping the ball with purpose and we started to keep the ball for keeping the ball sake. But that would come with time. It’s a young group.
“In general, I was pleased with the attitude of the boys, I was pleased with the effort that they tried to do the things that we asked them to do and I think it was a good night’s exercise for the boys. Most importantly it was working towards something because we’re working towards the Panama game. That’s the most important thing.”
As far as the Panama fixture is concerned, Lawrence pointed out, “I think a lot of (the players) didn’t do themselves any harm and I’ll be assessing them in the next couple of days before I make any decision.” Lawrence clarified the use of his strikers, with Jameel Perry, Jamille Boatswain (who scored both goals against the Barbadians) and Akeem Roach all used in 30-minute intervals.
“The idea was I wanted all three of the strikers to play equal minutes,” he said. “I spoke to them before the game and I let them know they were all going to play 30 minutes and the only thing I asked of them was to give me 30 minutes of hard work. Don’t think of anything else.”
English-born midfielder John Bostock was highly sought after by previous coach Stephen Hart but Lawrence admitted that he would not be under consideration for the forthcoming qualifiers.
“The John Bostock situation is I had numerous conversations with (him),” Lawrence said.
“John is very enthusiastic about representing Trinidad and Tobago. Unfortunately, at the moment, he’s not in a position to commit himself internationally.
“I have to accept John’s decision and I have to think about the group that I’m going to work with.”