I respect the readers, contributors, commentators and bloggers on Wired868, so I am throwing out a topic for discussion which can provoke a lot of thought among the national senior team’s coaching staff.
I have not approached the job of joint national team coach with any fear of being fired although I have learnt, from the top coaches in the world, that the one sure thing about coaching is that one day you will be fired. My life has always had a portion of danger, adventure and living on the edge.
Trinidad and Tobago’s football is at a most interesting juncture.
We are out of the 2014 World Cup, the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation is struggling financially and heavily dependent on Government funding and we have certainly dropped from where we were and promised to be going since 2006.
In a quietly and unassuming manner, Hutson Charles, as interim coach, started the rebuilding process and qualified for the CFU Finals through two preliminary rounds despite the sneers and steups from the skeptics, financial woes in St Kitts and a scary draw with St Vincent in Tobago.
Enter Jamaal Shabazz: the proverbial prodigal returned not as head coach, not as an adviser but as joint coach; an innovative solution for an immediate problem.
Hutson Charles had done well but needed a bit more experience. Shabazz had one more month left on his loan contract to Guyana. So why not bring him back and see if it could work?
Hutson and I knew each other and have had a great relationship since 1981, which is before most of the players on the current national were born.
So now, amidst steups and hysterics from my haters, we have achieved our objective to qualify for the CONCACAF Gold Cup for the first time since 2007. We have a totally local staff too, so I feel that my trip to Guyana to prove that Caribbean coaches are ready to lead their national teams was not an exercise in futility.
Our qualification to the Gold Cup gives us a good short term opportunity to continue to have our players exposed to the highest level of football in our region as does playing in the CONCACAF Champions League, which is vital for our clubs.
So this what I am asking the readers: In your view should we go to the Gold Cup with our most experienced squad as Leo Beenhakker did when he took Trindad and Tobago to the Germany 2006 World Cup?
Or should we take youngsters with a view of molding a team for the 2018 World Cup? Or should we go with a mixture of both?
Each position has its pros and cons since results at this stage may be just as important to us as development. Good results at the Gold Cup will elevate our country in the FIFA rankings and enable our players to get work permits for the better leagues in Europe (like England) and not Finland as some bloggers whipped me about.
I have my own views and most definitely so will co-head coach Hutson Charles. But I have learnt from the late great Lloyd Best that we can learn so much from a difference of opinion coming out of intelligent discussion.
So what are your views?
Editor’s Note: Readers can interact directly with Trinidad and Tobago co-head coach Jamaal Shabazz by leaving messages in the Comments section. Tell us why you prefer youth or experience at the 2013 Gold Cup.