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20
Sat, Jul

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In all my years of be­ing part of our foot­ball de­vel­op­ment, I have found it very dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand how or which route we took to bring our foot­ball to its present dis­ar­ray.

I would have dis­card­ed the de­tails of the past and looked for­ward to an im­proved state in the near fu­ture, es­pe­cial­ly as we are now geared with some tru­ly tal­ent­ed play­ers and a coach who seems to be very fo­cused on tak­ing our foot­ball to the next lev­el and get­ting all our play­ers, lo­cal and over­seas-based, in readi­ness for the next week's CON­CA­CAF Gold Cup kick-off.

The news which came out of the cor­ri­dors of the TTFA re­gard­ing the de­ci­sion to by­pass the Olympic qual­i­fy­ing tour­na­ment, de­spite near qual­i­fi­ca­tion when we just missed en­try to the fi­nal in Eng­land 2012, is dis­turb­ing.

This de­ci­sion means that hun­dreds of teenage foot­ballers and young men will have lost the op­por­tu­ni­ty to de­vel­op their game at the Olympic lev­el. We must now re­place that short­com­ing with one of the or­gan­ised com­pe­ti­tions which are held in the USA, Brazil, France and Eng­land.

How­ev­er, the Con­ca­caf tour­na­ment which starts next Tues­day for our team against Pana­ma in Min­neapo­lis, USA, may well be a glo­ri­ous step to bring­ing some re­spect for the coun­tries in the re­gion.

Af­ter the dif­fi­cul­ties which the team faced with visa prob­lems, the team can get still some en­cour­age­ment af­ter the goal­less match against Japan and the 2-0 loss against Cana­da on Mon­day.

I have al­ways felt that when play­ing away against teams with sim­i­lar stan­dards of play, the host coun­try would be two goals bet­ter be­fore the whis­tle blows, main­ly through the at­mos­phere of huge crowd sup­port, the in­con­ve­nience of fly­ing across time zones, vary­ing meal pat­terns and most of all long trav­el­ling, as was ex­pe­ri­enced en route to Japan last week and then back to North Amer­i­ca.

As to the ac­tu­al Gold Cup open­ing match, I ex­pect that Pana­ma is def­i­nite­ly with­in our vic­to­ry radar. They have not demon­strat­ed the strength of or­gan­i­sa­tion­al play which could re­tain a clean sheet. The team has two cen­tral de­fend­ers who have been los­ing their com­pe­tence over the past two years. Their re­cent friend­lies have not said much, es­pe­cial­ly against Ja­maica, whose phys­i­cal and tac­ti­cal game had brought some dis­com­fort to Pana­ma's “age­ing” de­fence. I reck­on that the speed and clin­i­cal ac­cu­ra­cy of pass­ing by the Japan­ese, plus the rigours of Cana­di­an-type play, may have been the ide­al prepa­ra­tion les­son for T&T. From what I saw of Cana­da, they are ex­cel­lent sup­port­ers of ball win­ning. This means their op­po­nents (T&T in this case) must utilise quick ro­ta­tions among the mid­field­ers and make use of the pen­e­tra­tive pass­es to our quick-foot­ed for­wards. A vic­to­ry against Pana­ma is vi­tal be­cause the USA, our next op­po­nent, will prob­a­bly de­feat Guyana by a heavy mar­gin. Readi­ness for any op­po­nent is a pri­or­i­ty for Den­nis and his team. To my mind, there is a chance for our na­tion­al team to step in­to the next round.


SOURCE: T&T Guardian