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Radanfah Abu Bakr #6 Trinidad & Tobago warms up prior the match of CONCACAF Gold Cup Group A between Mexico and Trinidad & Tobago at AT&T Stadium on July 10, 2021 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images)
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An overall collective effort is being called for, to add to the welcome re-appointment of Angus Eve as the country’s national football coach, by defender Radanfah Abu Bakr.

Eve’s short-term contract ended on August 31 and it opened the door for the appointment of a new coach for the senior national team which Eve took to the group phase of the CONCACAF Gold Cup in the United States in July/August.

Eve’s heroics came after the team was dumped out of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers under coach Terry Fenwick, despite being placed in a group that they were expected to emerge from, considering the other teams being St Kitts and Nevis, Bahamas, Guyana and Puerto Rico.

The FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee of the T&T Football Association (TTFA) took the liberty to return the former national midfielder for a second time, despite the interests of other coaches which were made public.

This time, however, the action of the committee was met with a nod of approval from defenders Abu Bakr and Alvin Jones.

Abu Bakr, who last played for Churchill Brothers in the Indian Premier League said: “Congratulations to him, I think he has done well in the very limited time he has been there, considering the limited preparation, all the challenges surrounding the TTFA’s Normalisation Committee and our football in general, he’s done well in those circumstances and certainly deserves an extension to show what he can bring to T&T football in this new capacity.

“It will be a big test for him. At this level, he is still technically a rookie coach. He hasn’t had a senior-team position before this, so he’s going to have to learn along the way and learn quickly because at this level, a lot of things come at you really quickly and you have to adapt.

“All the challenges, as I said before, surrounding the TTFA Normalisation Committee, our football in general. The pandemic has made it very difficult for everyone including ourselves and our football and everything, so it’s going to be tough, but if he gets the support from the stakeholders around the football, I think, with his ambition, he can do very well.”

Eve took the T&T team a 6-1 triumph over Montserrat as well as an 8-7 penalty shoot-out win over French Guiana following a 1-1 tie, both in the CONCACAF Gold Cup Qualifiers. In the group stage of the Gold Cup, he guided the team to a goalless tie with Mexico; a 1-1 draw with Guatemala and a 2-0 loss to El Salvador.

According to Abu Bakr, the support of corporate T&T will also be crucial to T&T’s progress in football under Eve, saying: “That’s key. When we go to competitions, for example, the Gold Cup, and see the resources that are at the disposal of the other teams, or when you go to competitions and see some of the things that they afford you, generally when we train at home or go to friendlies, we don’t have those kinds of facilities, and it’s really helpful to have those things such as equipment and different types of technology that you can implement in the game that can be really helpful.

“But on top of that, we need the support from our fans and the corporate sponsors and everything to sort of galvanise the efforts that we put out on the pitch. It really has to be a collective effort, Angus Eve is not going to save T&T football, it’s going to have to come from everyone.”

Meanwhile, Jones told Guardian Media Sports that Eve brings much-needed confidence for players, having also played for the country.

“For me, it was no surprise. We saw it at the Gold Cup, he was with us for a short period of time and we saw what he can do. We saw the effect he came with, he and his staff. I have full confidence in Angus that he will take us to the next level,” said Jones.

“Just his presence, you know he believes in each and every one. He made us believe that we can do all things. He has given us that extra drive that we need on the pitch to represent our country.

“It’s a huge task ahead. It’s not just about Angus and his task, but each and every player should look at themselves and know that we want to take T&T football to that next level. Each player, from eldest to youngest, should ensure that they are healthy. It’s not just what the coach does, but the players have to take some credit and some blame to ensure that we’re healthy and we can give Angus some headache.”


SOURCE: T&T Guardian