Skill not enough
Out of Anton Corneal's fiery belly probably came some truths—that having skilful footballers does not always make a winning team.
"If you are not prepared to die and live it on the field, then you don't play for a national team," Trinidad and Tobago assistant national football coach Anton Corneal declared following a 2-1 loss away to Guyana on Friday night which knocked the Soca Warriors out of the World Cup.
"This is not club football, this is national football and this is what we expect from certain players. We didn't get that dying fight out of players and at the end of the day this is the result."
T&T are sometimes knocked out of World Cup qualifying by Mexico, the United States and other top CONCACAF teams, but never by Caribbean opposition. Corneal felt that commitment was lacking by his players against Guyana.
"Players said all the right things before this game. Saying it is nothing if they are not prepared to live it. We wanted to win this game just as badly, but you have to show that on the field, Corneal said. "This must never happen again."
"I think coach (Otto Pfister) is very disappointed. I am very disappointed, and the team is very disappointed. I don't think anyone else can come and do an interview at this time, but there are a couple of young players in that dressing room and they must learn the life lessons that came out here. "
Likewise, Guyana's Trinidadian coach Shabazz also felt that greater commitment by the Guyanese players made a difference on Friday night.
"I think it was hard out there. The Trinidad and Tobago players are obviously more talented. But the heart out there (was the difference). The yoeman service from the Cort brothers...Gregory Richardson playing with a damaged ankle. These brothers (Guyana) defied scientific logic with the way they played. Obviously, Trinidad and Tobago are a more quality team, but there are many times you have seen a big army defeated by a small army," Shabazz said.
Having played alongside T&T players both in T&T and Guyana, other members of the Guyanese contingent spoke of the T&T players they knew would not tackle or work hard. These they said put pressure on the entire team. More was also expected of the Warriors' foreign-based players.
Going forward, Corneal said there needs to be a proper planning assessment of what are T&T's immediate and long-term football goals.
"It going to take planning. It's going to take good planning from the Federation. The group that is coming through is a large group of talented players. But that is the same word again 'talented' players. Talent is just not enough. It is not enough if we don't have the proper desire to get on the other side of a result. We had more possession.
So What? We have nothing to show for it. We don't have anything to show for it. We have to get at the end of cross-balls. We have to pick up second balls... we have to get in front of defenders...it was not done. So, we must make no excuses."
Likewise, Shabazz felt that an early World Cup exit did not mean the end of T&T football. He said T&T had a good bunch of footballers, and had to go back to the drawing board and build a new team by combining the current Under-23s with those senior players that can be used in the long run. He said the immediate goal would be building for the Caribbean Cup and CONCACAF Gold Cup.