SINCE his appointment as interim national men’s football coach 10 days ago, Angus Eve is impressed with the professionalism and application displayed by his recently selected 26-man squad.
The 49-year-old former national midfielder and captain is gearing up for his first official stint as T&T coach against Montserrat in the Concacaf Gold Cup qualifier on July 2.
The recently-trimmed T&T team charted off to Guyana at 2 am on Thursday, en route to Miami, United States for a residential training camp ahead of their opening qualifier.
This match will be played at the DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, US. If victorious, T&T will face the winners of a French Guiana/Cuba clash in their second Gold Cup qualifier.
Eve and his coaching staff held intense training sessions at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva. He expressed pleasure with the team’s drive on the field and welcomed his forthcoming challenges.
Eve, T&T’s most capped player (117 international appearances), replaced English-born Terry Fenwick as head coach on June 15 after the latter’s failed 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying bid.
“The training so far has been really intensive," said Eve. "The level of professionalism I have seen from the guys and the application...I’m pleasantly surprised with the level of fitness some of them have, seeing that we haven’t been playing football for a while in the country.
“Some of them have been training with the national senior team before but it’s a breath of fresh air to actually work with some of the new guys who have come in the team. I’m only looking forward to good things from them,” he said.
On Friday, in Florida, Eve plans to do two sessions; one focused on how they will approach the game and the other geared towards more tactical and technique work. The team will also play one closed-door match to give some of the guys who have not been playing matches on a regular, some minutes in their legs.
“The only problem with these guys is that they haven’t been in match action on a regular basis. Their match fitness; we are trying to duplicate that by the sessions that we’re doing to raise that level of intensity and to get them a little bit sharp. That’s the reason why we are doing the type of sessions that we are,” he added.
Eve and his coaching staff (assistant coaches Reynold Carrington and Hutson Charles, along with goalkeeper coach Clayton Ince), have been working assiduously to educate themselves and the players on the Montserrat team - its strengths and weaknesses.
Their skipper Lyle Taylor, who plays for Nottingham Forest in the English Football League Championship division, was dubbed as “phenomenal” by Eve.
“We know that most of the players (Montserrat) play in the lower league. They have a bit of quality in midfield, up front, the captain is a phenomenal player. We’ve seen him.
“We have done our homework. We see the way they try to play. They’re organised in what they’re trying to do. We’ve taken on board the information. We had help from people on the outside who would have watched their games,” he said.
Asked about his managerial style, Eve noted that although training has been intense, the players have easily adapted under his stewardship.
At the stadium on Wednesday, the players took part in an interactive but action-packed half-field training session to which Eve altered the rules of the game to mimic different situations on the field of play. The players communicated well while the interim coach served as referee.
On his coaching style, Eve said, “I’m sure you all were hearing the players laughing. You see them enjoying the game, they’re applying themselves. The intensity of the training is very high but they’re also enjoying themselves.
“I’m a player’s coach. You will see sometimes I stop and get into (put emphasis on) certain men at particular times. It’s just to get them right. They have the ability, it’s just to do things consistently,” he said.
Looking ahead, the T&T coach has asked his team to play with the pride, passion and the ability he knows they have. Even though it’s been only a couple weeks he has been coach, Eve believes the teams can churn out a positive result and progress further into the Gold Cup.
“Anybody who knows me knows how I represented my country, the way that I’ve played and I touched every blade of grass when I used to play the game. And I’m asking the same thing from the players.
“It is a short space of time, I’m not complaining about that because I’ve accepted the role (as coach). There would be no excuses from me and I would take all responsibility for whatever the team does in the tournament,” he said.
Watch Press Call with Angus Eve ahead of Team's Departure for Miami