Warriors lose 1-0 to Estonia; await Beenhakker decision

The Trinidad and Tobago national football team closed its mini-European tour today with a 1-0 friendly loss away to Estonia.

Twenty two year old striker Henri Anier grabbed Estonia’s winner in the 13th minute for his fourth goal from eight internationals while neither striker Jamal Gay nor substitutes Shahdon Winchester and Cornell Glen could break Trinidad and Tobago’s scoring drought.

Unlike Tuesday’s 4-0 loss to Romania, there was no readily available live feed of today’s contest and no judgment can be made on the performance of the “Soca Warriors.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Radanfah Abu Bakr executes a clearance while goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams (background) and midfielder Densill Theobald (number 18) look on. (Courtesy Shaun Fuentes/TTFF Media)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Radanfah Abu Bakr executes a clearance while goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams (background) and midfielder Densill Theobald (number 18) look on.
(Courtesy Shaun Fuentes/TTFF Media)

Estonia coach Tarmo Ruttlin was complimentary about his guests.

“It was a good result which is very important but it was a very difficult game for us,” Ruttlin told TTFF Media. “… Trinidad and Tobago have unbelievably strong guys. It’s not every time in Europe you can play against guys like this. They are tall, strong, technically sound and fast as well.

“It was a very different type of opposition for us and it was a very beneficial. I think there was some luck for us in the game also and we had to work very hard to end up with the victory.”

Trinidad and Tobago joint head coach Jamaal Shabazz urged supporters to view the team’s recent outings as preparation for the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup and not focus solely on the results.

“I thought they team did very well today,” said Shabazz. “They worked hard and they played like Warriors. It has started to smell a little bit of what we want…

“We’ve also got to be patient with results. We must recognize that is just the preparation phase. These are matches to show us what we’ve got to work on.

“What is to come is near and we will see in the end what the outcome of this team will be.”

Photo: Middlesbrough defender Justin Hoyte (centre) made his international debut against Romania. (Courtesy Shaun Fuentes/TTFF Media)
Photo: Middlesbrough defender Justin Hoyte (centre) made his international debut against Romania and has been one bright note from the tour.
(Courtesy Shaun Fuentes/TTFF Media)

The results, admittedly, paint a less than flattering picture. The Warriors have now gone six games without scoring and five of those games were losses. Along the way, the Trinidad and Tobago team has conceded 11 goals.

Joint head coaches Hutson “Barber” Charles and Shabazz might feel a tad more insecure too by news that Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) President Raymond Tim Kee has begun talks with ex-World Cup 2006 coach Leo Beenhakker towards reintegrating him into the local game.

Beenhakker was supposedly approached to assist on a technical developmental level but neither party has ruled out the possibility of the former Real Madrid and Netherlands international coach appearing on the bench for next month’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.

So is this the time for panic or patience?

Last year, Charles and Shabazz overcame near financial paralysis and a rift between the TTFF and the Ministry of Sport to steer Trinidad and Tobago to its first Gold Cup competition in six years. They want to chance to finish the job at the confederation’s showpiece tournament.

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago national football team celebrates booking its place at the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago national football team celebrates booking its place at the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The new TTFF executive, understandably, is wary about the possibility of undoing its recent good work in settling the 2006 World Cup bonus dispute and returning the football body back to its former moorings as the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA). The name change should be finalised next week while a new kit sponsorship and constitution are expected shortly.

So are Charles and Shabazz heading for boom or bust?

Recent statistics might not be conclusive as one might think.

Trinidad and Tobago has played in seven Gold Cups with six different coaches: Edgar Vidale, Zoran Vranes (Montenegro), Bertille St Clair (twice), Rene Simoes (Brazil), Beenhakker (Netherlands) and Wim Rijsbergen (Netherlands). Remarkably, the only coaches to ever win a match in the CONCACAF showpiece tournament were the two locals.

Vidale pulled off a victory over Costa Rica in 1991—after a Leonson Lewis equaliser and a stunning Alvin Thomas winner—while St Clair managed wins on both trips as his team whipped Honduras 3-1 in 1998 and then beat Guatemala (4-2) and Costa Rica (2-1) en route to a semi-final finish in 2000. Incidentally, St Clair was sacked immediately after taking Trinidad and Tobago to its best ever Gold Cup finish.

So, foreign expertise was traditionally of little value to the two-island republic in this competition. Beenhakker oversaw draws to Honduras and Panama and a loss to Colombia in 2005 while Simoes’ team was eliminated after a  draw with Costa Rica and a 1-0 loss to Martinique in 2002.

In both of St Clair’s trips to the Gold Cup finals, his outfit looked to be in horrendous pre-tournament form only to click at the right time.

Before the 1998 Gold Cup, St Clair’s men won one from five games with four goals scored and 11 conceded against opposition that was much less intimidating than Romania.

Photo: Bertille St Clair remains the only coach to ever steer Trinidad and Tobago into the knock out stage of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. (Courtesy TTFFonline)
Photo: Bertille St Clair remains the only coach to ever steer Trinidad and Tobago into the knock out stage of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
(Courtesy TTFFonline)

The results were: Martinique (0-3 and 2-3), Barbados (1-0), El Salvador (0-2), Guatemala (1-3) and Costa Rica (0-4). After conceding seven goals within a fortnight of its Gold Cup opener, Trinidad and Tobago promptly thumped a talented Honduran team 3-1 thanks to a Jerren Nixon opener and a Stern John double.

Two years later, St Clair savoured a 4-3 friendly international win over Colombia but failed to win any of five subsequent friendlies with returns of: Panama (2-2), Honduras (2-3), Canada (0-0), Morocco (0-1) and Costa Rica (1-2). Trinidad and Tobago was then hammered 4-0 in its Gold Cup group opener against Mexico before rebounding to finish as the second-best team in CONCACAF since the other semi-final featured guest teams Peru and Colombia.

Even in 2006, the Warriors followed up a friendly 2-0 win over Iceland with a 1-1 home draw against Peru and international defeats against Wales (1-2), Slovenia (1-3) and the Czech Republic (0-3) before a creditable showing in Germany.

Photo: Coach Leo Beenhakker (centre), Trinidad and Tobago World Cup captain Dwight Yorke (left) and the country's record goal scorer Stern John at the 2006 World Cup.
Photo: Coach Leo Beenhakker (centre), Trinidad and Tobago World Cup captain Dwight Yorke (left) and the country’s record goal scorer Stern John (far right) at the 2006 World Cup.

The real question for Charles and Shabazz then is whether the Warriors are learning from the present humbling results.

Arguably, the biggest problems have been off the field. The trickle of withdrawals for March’s trip to Belize became a stream in June and it gives the impression that the staff has not yet come to grips with the country’s overseas talent.

The repeated pull-outs by the Belgium-based duo of Khaleem Hyland and Sheldon Bateau and Kazakhastan-based defender Robert Primus are particularly worrying. The 22-year-old Bateau, for instance, seems to want an awful lot of rest for a young man while Argentina and Barcelona sensation Lionel Messi will ignore a niggling injury to represent his country tonight, despite playing in twice as many games as the Trinidadian defender this year.

The Warriors recent penchant for travelling to international assignments with less than 18 players is embarrassing too. However, it is worth noting that team manager William Wallace has the unenviable role of having to negotiate directly with the Ministry of Sport over the team’s travel budget, which was a result of Anil Roberts’ feud with former TTFF General Secretary Richard Groden last year.

Tim Kee promised to solve the impasse when he became president last November but the awkward situation has persisted.

Shabazz’s own problems with the United States’ immigration, due to his Jamaat-al-Muslimeen ties and role with the 1990 attempted coup, might be relevant too. The Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA coach communicated with his club team via Skype for a CONCACAF Champions League fixture in Seattle last year. However, he insisted that he can still travel to the US, albeit through a special arrangement with that nation’s lawmen.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago joint head coach and Caledonia AIA co-founder Jamaal Shabazz (right) helps out at a SPORTT Company Easter Camp. (Courtesy SPORTT Company)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago joint head coach and Caledonia AIA co-founder Jamaal Shabazz (right) helps out at a SPORTT Company Easter Camp.
(Courtesy SPORTT Company)

The case for Tim Kee to support his present staff or return to Trinidad and Tobago’s most successful previous coach is not clear cut and technical director Anton Corneal’s evaluation could be crucial. Corneal worked as an assistant to Beenhakker in Germany and, once his own job is not at risk, is in a good position to offer advice for Tim Kee’s next step.

Perhaps, as with the injection of Shabazz into the previous technical group of Charles and assistant coach Derek King, the TTFF President might again look for a middle ground.

In eight friendlies under the present technical staff, Trinidad and Tobago managed just one win over Antigua and Barbuda, one draw with Belize and six losses to Finland, Canada, Peru (twice), Romania and Estonia.

In competitive action, though, the Warriors have seven wins (Martinique, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Suriname, Anguilla, St Kitts and Nevis and French Guiana), two draws (Haiti and St Vincent and the Grenadines) and two losses (Cuba and Antigua and Barbuda). So, Charles, Shabazz and King are certainly not hopeless when it comes to slugging it out at wartime.

One way or the other, next week’s decision will say a lot about the new man at the helm of the local game.

(Team against Estonia)

Trinidad and Tobago (4-1-4-1): Jan-Michael Williams; Justin Hoyte (Kareem Moses 72), Radanfah Abu Bakr, Daneil Cyrus, Aubrey David; Densill Theobald; Darryl Roberts (Shahdon Winchester 60), Andre Boucaud, Ataullah Guerra (Kevin Molino 60), Joevin Jones (Kevon Carter 70); Jamal Gay (Cornell Glen 70).

Unused substitutes: Marvin Phillip, Devorn Jorsling.

Co-head coaches: Hutson Charles and Jamaal Shabazz

Europe tour

7 June 2013

Estonia 1 ( Henri Anier 13), Trinidad and Tobago o in Tallin

4 June 2013

Romania 4 (Ciprian Marica 31, 33, 81, Daneil Cyrus 50 OG), Trinidad and Tobago 0 in Bucharest


Editor’s Note: Should we give Hutson Charles, Jamaal Shabazz and Derek King a chance to finish the job? Or is the chance to reunite with Leo Beenhakker too good to pass up?

Answer the simple “Captcha” question and share your thoughts with us.

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About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd is the managing director and chief editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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  1. It does not matter if Mr. Tim Kee brings back the Don, unless the right players are selected and are available to play it will be the same results, goal less games and finishing at the bottom of the table in the Gold Cup. And I am really tired of our local coaches saying that they are happy with how the team is performing and we are not winning eh, not even scoring a goal eh. Like they have forgotten that goals wins games or what? But I do not blame them. They have to say something to defend their position. And as I have been continuously saying we will continue to get this until we have a REAL professional league, REAL professional local coaches and my players are getting REAL professional monies and the football returns to the communities where it belongs in order to get the crowd support that it badly needs for both the standard of play and the coaching standard to be more desirable. It is what it is at the moment until Mr Tim Kee and Dexter Skeene really come to their senses and do the right thing for us to once more rise again. Them really good yes.

  2. I love the idea of the “DON” so if we are considering past elements why not Mr. St Clair? Look, he did for us at a time when no one thought it possible, we have mended fences all around, time to let the past be the past and bring back our local “Don”. There is no need for any other comments in terms of our last performances the other comments are enough.

  3. To tell the truth I’m actually impressed with the last 5 or 6 games because with the team selection an tactics used the results could have been worse. Impressive that they still wont give Lester Peltier a call up due to supposed attitude problems. Don’t mind Balotelli still plays for Italy,Rooney for England,Ronaldo for Portugal,Tevez for Argentina and these guys are said to have attitude problems.If Leo is back i really hope I don’t have to see Yorke,Stern John and Lawrence on the team again. Well maybe some of these young international players prefer to protect their international careers instead of playing with a team that is not the best and would not perform as such. Besides I won’t blame them sometimes they travel with the team and stay warming the bench. We need to be more proactive and less reactive in giving players a chance. That is the difference in German football and now they have a golden generation of young talented footballers playing at the highest level. If we have a prodigy at the age of 17 or 18 they wont get the call up then or even when scouts come to look at them or when they go out on trials in foreign countries. They are more likely to get the call about 4 – 5 yrs later when they play club football for a bit. For example just saying if Cordell Cato could be the fastest winger we ever had and he’s at age 19 or 20 now how far down we gotta wait to see him play on the national team . A few national games at that age could give him the added experience and ability to take his game to a new level and move from the MLS to a much bigger stage. Many of our players have gotten stuck for this same reason I can’t see why foreigners must see our talent before we see it. Theobald is one of them who could have been playing at a really high level if he was given more support at the international level. I’m talking about at age 21 and 22 he was showing some real Xavi-like qualities with his passing but we let the guy bench until there is a space in the midfield which is a few years later. When Peltier went on trial at age 16 at arsenal there was no national support to acknowledge his talent. However I’m positive if he was signed by Arsenal then he would have been named in the next T&T team. Same goes for Hyland, Hector and Guerra and its time that we stop trying to play like other teams with this lone striker and find something that suits us. Most of all if money must be spent it should be on a coach specialized in the finishing department , We need the whole team to have instincts to finish half a chance since most times we don’t create clear cut chances.

  4. personally….I think the TTFF should go for a foreign professional coach and let Hutson Charles work alongside him….I mean they tried with Latapy and it didn’t work out…..as it is I don’t think the current squad is ready for teams like Romania or Estonia

  5. I have heard the excitement and nostalgia with which ‘some’ call the name Leo Beenhakker and suggest that he should return to T&T. It’s my opinion that Mr Beenhakker was here and didn’t want to stay…He has had the reputation in the later part of his career as a ‘fix it’ in emergency type coach…We are very unlikely to have any chance to win a Gold Cup just yet but we have two years and some to prepare for WC 2018 qualifiers and at least two or three world junior tournaments. We have empty TTFF accounts and three years to complete ex-Soca Warriors payments. We need to have a developmental plan, develop and communicate one clear system and management/coaching team/staff that will guide all of our football and build from where we are at ‘ground zero’. Maybe its time to get Fenwick (yes i said it after all these years he is local and knows our culture) or some other local to lead the rest of the locals including Hutson and Jamaal, Angus, Sean Cooper and Corneal in a single direction. Oh and maybe the ‘Spalk Man’ and Government can give the Federation a budget and allow them to manage their affairs. Just saying…

  6. Hmmmmmm
    Where to start with this one?
    First thing: MASSSIVE props to Lasana Liburd for once again putting the right elements into the picture frame. That ability is without peer in this local industry.
    But praise aside, I have to question why allll of this is under ONE headline bro?
    There are AT LEAST FOUR stories here:

    #1: why did T&T go to Europe with only a wifebeater and one extra piar of jockeyshorts in their luggage? To call this a “Soca Warriors” team is berating what that name once meant.
    No offense to the men who suited up, but this was a B squad. Yes, there are names who would run even if the full team was present, but let’s ask a truthful question: How many times would this combination have even trained together as a unit? This is a patchy quilt to expect warmth from on a European tour…

    #2: When last these men get a proper paycheque? Are the coaching staff still under the gun from the MoS where their money is concerned? I ask this question because I cannot understand how grown men can face their wives and families when they cannot fill a fridge with groceries when the month-end comes. I know that would certainly disturb my equilibrium with devastating effects on my ability to devise longterm planS.

    #3: The team that ran out in the CFU Caribbean Cup was a bomb squad. The coaches built on that and the team started to take shape. Now we’re seeing widespread personnel changes and for no legitimate reasons! Men need a rest? Padnah…take a long rest yes—like for the rest of your career. Is T&T make you, and now yuh wanna coass? Them fellas who made themselves unavailable should really have to account for themselves in the full glare of the national press.
    But, as we know, THIS is the only forum where the haard questions will be asked. So, unless they owing somebody some money or they run afoul of Mr Liburd…we ain’t gonna hear the REAL TRUTH of that nonsense the’re being allowed to get away with!

    #4: The question of Don Leo…
    This is touchy. Don Leo is one of the best—that’s a FACT—Tactics, personnel management, foresight and planning are all strong suits.
    But let’s be frank here: Beenhakker’s pay packet could fund a lot of the issues that can correct this current situation—not just on the national teams, but fundamental developmental issues from the ground up in T&T football.
    There is no compelling argument that the current coaching staff are such abject failures that they need to hire Beenhakker. NONE.
    FIX WE FIRST and then study the Don Leos of the world.
    So what if we bring in Beenhakker? What would that be for? A 2018 WC bid?
    Come nah man! If we could afford four years of Beenhakker, would we have these problems we’re seeing today?

  7. I think Shabazz and Charles should at least be allowed to take the team to the Gold Cup, and then let any decision be made after that.

    • Feel free to give us your reason as well, Christian. Why do you think they should keep their job until then?

    • why?……I would agree with holding on to Charles….but there has been marked regression since Shabazz came in and it says alot since Charles was doing what can be described as a fairly Ok-ish job by himself.

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