The “Soca Warriors” are back.
The Trinidad and Tobago national senior team shot up 37 places to 49th in the latest FIFA rankings, which is the country’s highest rank in eight years.
At present, the Warriors are the highest ranked Caribbean team and fourth in CONCACAF behind leaders Costa Rica, Mexico and the United States respectively. It is the first time that Trinidad and Tobago has been listed among the top 50 nations in the world since April 2006.
Still, there is need for context.
In July 2006, after the Warriors rubbed shoulders with Sweden, England and Paraguay at the Germany World Cup, Trinidad and Tobago actually fell 17 places to 64th position and was eighth in CONCACAF behind nations like Canada and Panama. This is because FIFA places inordinate weight on victories, even against less heralded nations like St Lucia.
So, in terms of FIFA’s ranking system, Trinidad and Tobago is better off skipping major tournaments and tough friendlies; and feasting on beatable nations instead. And no one would suggest that the Warriors’ results last month against the Dominican Republic, St Lucia and Antigua and Barbuda were more awe inspiring than a draw with Sweden and narrow defeats to England and Paraguay at the 2006 World Cup.
On the plus side, if Trinidad and Tobago stays within the top 70 FIFA nations for the foreseeable future; it means that Warriors will be eligible for work permits in Britain by July 2016.
Footballers only qualify for British work permits if they are from nations ranked within FIFA’s top 70 countries over an average of two years from the date of their application. The applying player must have featured in 75 percent of his country’s competitive international games, once healthy, within that same time frame.
Trinidad and Tobago has a history of remarkable success in British football for such a tiny nation.
Dwight Yorke won two England Premier League (EPL) titles with Manchester United and a host of Cup competitions while Marvin Andrews and Russell Latapy won the Scotland Premier League (SPL) with Glasgow Rangers.
Yorke, Shaka Hislop, Clint Marcelle, Stern John, Jason Scotland, Carlos Edwards and current Warriors captain Kenwyne Jones have played in the EPL while Latapy, Andrews, Scotland, Jerren Nixon, Brent Sancho, Collin Samuel, Kelvin Jack and Anthony Rougier starred in the SPL.
At present, Scotland, who represents Hamilton Academical, is Trinidad and Tobago’s only top flight player in Britain.