Trinidad and Tobago 2006 World Cup coaches Leo Beenhakker and Wim Rijsbergen have endorsed Dennis Lawrence, as the 42-year-old former international defender prepares to lead the Soca Warriors into the Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.
The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) announced Lawrence as the new head coach for the Men’s National Senior Team on Saturday morning. And Beenhakker and Rijsbergen, who were Lawrence’s former coaches a decade ago, believe the local football body made the right choice.
“Dennis [Lawrence] and I had a conversation by phone about two weeks ago and I am very happy that he accepted the job,” Beenhakker told the TTFA Media. “He has the authority, the personality and even more than that, the knowledge of the game to do a successful job and he deserves the support of the board, the media and the fans…
“I am totally convinced that, with the support and confidence of everybody, he is the right man on the right place to realise a new successful chapter in history as national coach of T&T.”
Rijsbergen was also full of praise for “Tallest”, whose headed goal in Manama led the Warriors to a 1-0 win over Bahrain in a 2006 FIFA playoff contest that sealed Trinidad and Tobago’s historic place at the Germany World Cup.
“I thought that Dennis would be the best man for the job,” said Rijsbergen, who represented Holland at the 1974 and 1978 World Cups. “I have been following him the last couple of years working with Roberto Martinez. [And] I have been following Trinidad and Tobago since I left and I still feel positive about the time we had with a great bunch of players and staff to reach the World Cup 2006.
“I hope that Dennis and everybody involved will work together to turn around the results.”
Trinidad and Tobago face Panama and Mexico next in 2018 World Cup qualifying contests on 24 and 28 March respectively at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
Lawrence is expected in Trinidad on Wednesday, after which he will be unveiled to the media and go about finalising his backroom staff.
He has a UEFA Pro License coach badge and was a member of Robert Martinez’s coaching staff at Wigan Athletic and Everton FC before his last job as a scout for the Belgium National Senior Team. And he was Martinez’s assistant when Wigan beat Manchester City to the FA Cup in 2013.
As a player, Lawrence made 87 full international caps for Trinidad and Tobago with four goals and one red card. He represented Caledonia AIA, Defence Force and San Juan Jabloteh in the local Pro League and Wrexham, Swansea City and Crewe Alexandra in the English lower leagues.