Tue, Jun

Recently appointed National Senior Team assistant coach Anton Corneal is already planning to soak up every drop of experience he’s set to gain from working as an understudy to head coach Leo Beenhakker over the next few months leading into the 2006 World Cup.

Corneal, a former National player and Youth Team coach, was picked by Beenhakker to join the current Senior Team staff and he will get down to work alongside assistant Wim Rijsbergen from early January when training sessions with T&T’s home-based pros commence.

Corneal, back home after completing the German A License Coaching Course in Leipzig in October, is quietly counting his blessings as he anticipates taking up his latest appointment to work with Beenhakker who observed him as head coach of the T&T Under 15 team during the 2005 Caribbean Football Union 1-15 Youth Cup.

“It’s a great opportunity for any Trinidad and Tobago coach to have this sort of experience which is two fold really,” Corneal told TTFF Media.

“From one side it’s fantastic to be able to work with someone like Leo Beenhakker as an understudy and secondly the experience of coaching at a World Cup is obviously something that you  must be excited about. I hope that I will be able to use this experience of coaching at the World Cup to further help the country in the years to follow,” said Corneal who also worked alongside former national coaches Zoran Vranes and German Jochen Figge.

He added that on first hearing of his appointment earlier this month, instantly he felt like pulling his shirt off, but it didn’t take long for him to plant his feet on the surface again.

“I was excited but I then thought it was just a great opportunity for me to gain the experience. I have done lots of coaching courses but this is practical experience that you cannot get through courses and I said ‘Hey what a wonderful opportunity this is for me to gain the knowledge out of such an experience.’ No one has actually had this sort of opportunity before,” he added.

The former US-based coach continued: “Aside from no local person having this chance before, a bonus in itself is the fact that the man in charge is someone who has been there before on the world stage and this will in some way make it easier for me and will allow me in certain ways to gain more and also have an input into the entire exercise.”

In April 2005, Corneal also completed the Olympic Solidarity Course in Paraguay which incidentally was specifically geared towards training coaches to handle preparations of a team for build up to World tournaments such as the Olympics and World Cup. “And to think that this is exactly the kind of situation I will be involved in under coach Beenhakker over the next few months,” Corneal said.

Meantime, he is continuing his role as youth development officer for the T&T Football Federation and is overseeing ongoing preparations of the National Under 15 pools comprising of 40 players eligible of representing T&T at the 2007 World Under 17 Championship qualifiers. Starting in January will also be a similar program for Under 15 players eligible for the 2009 Championship.