San Fernando-born Jlloyd Samuel and English born Bobby Zamora have been the new names given to bring some degree of restoration to our football quality when the national team faces El Salvador on Wednesday at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
WOW! One can easily recognise the renewed passion of the fans, the opening of a door of salvation for the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation, and a master stroke by the little magician, Russell Latapy. I am not always one for looking back at incidents of the past, but I do recall these two players refusing previous offers to represent the country, probably with their expectation of catching the eyes of the England selectors. And to be frank, there seems nothing wrong in this modern day of the value of naturalised citizenship, where there is legitimacy in the process of winning back the services of a long distance native son.
Those who were actually following the preparations of the national team over the past two months, may have been led to believe that the local players may now find their way into the national starting team, especially when some of the foreign based players had failed to make the impact promised by their presence in previous matches. The remarks by the coach to the media have always been positive and tended to reflect some type of satisfaction over the performances of many of the locals during the training period and the odd matches played. The fact that the names of the squad, which should have been given to the authorities ten days in advance of matchday, have not yet been made public, can lead some to believe that coach Russell is not yet quite certain as to which players will he rely on for this occasion. At the point of preparing this script (Friday), my thoughts are working overtime to follow a trend for the selection process.
Will Clayton Ince be asked to show up as was done in the past two matches or will Marvin Phillip and Jan Michael Williams be brought to the fore? What of the foreign based stalwarts Marvin Andrews, Dennis Lawrence? Both of whom were utilized against Costa Rica with moderate effectiveness. Will this bring any type of chance to Makan Hislop, Keyeno Thomas, Robert Primus, Radanfah Abu Bakr or even one Julius James (bet no one remembered him)? Clearly, Carlos Edwards is now our marquee player and will have newboy Samuel to tighten the defenceline, which could lead us to believe that the defensive problem could be solved. It will be very interesting to see the names of midfielders placed on the starting list. The high profile image of Chris Birchall in recent days on the same playing field with the likes of David Beckham, and Landon Donovan, makes his selection automatic.
Collin Samuel and Hayden Tinto, the scorers against Costa Rica and Mexico, will be tossed into the fray with Clyde Leon, Dwight Yorke, the nation’s superstar, Keon Daniel, Silvio Spann, Trent Noel, Ataullah Guerra and toss in Russell’s name as the surprise package. Bobby Zamora, Jason Scotland, Kenwyne Jones, all EPL players, Stern John, may be too many numbers to allow the likes of prolific scorers on the local scene, Andre Toussaint, Kerry Baptiste and Cornell Glen a seat on the bench. Now, what does the delay in choosing the starting list at this late hour, reflect? It could well be that the coach is uncertain as to who are the best choices and/or where would these players perform best.
Indecisiveness can be defined to satisfy any need. Maybe it’s a pleasant task to have so many superstars from which to choose, of maybe the ideal quality team seems difficult to recognize just yet. We shall all have to await the final choice of players before trying to anticipate any expectation. I hope that its not too long in coming. My mind keeps coming back to one Ian Cox, who was enthusiastically brought from England to wear this country’s national team shirt. After a match or two, he decided that he is no longer interested. When our team made it to Germany, he regained his enthusiasm and was actually brought back to the squad by Leo Beenhaker.
My recollection is that one English/Trini may have played portion of a friendly in the lead up to the tournament, nothing else. At the end of it, the giant English resident may have enjoyed the Government’s monetary gift of one million dollars and probably a national award for spending his valuable time in this country. He has never been heard of again, and who knows, he may be starring in the English over forty indoor tournament played in the midlands. Let us hope that Bobby Zamora and Lloyd Samuels will at least demonstrate their passion and talent when they put on T&T’s national shirt.