Home / Volley / National Football / Ready to rumble? Technical staff getting job done, says Lawrence

Ready to rumble? Technical staff getting job done, says Lawrence

Sol Campbell, the former Premier League stand-out defender who is now an assistant Trinidad and Tobago national coach, is not yet in the camp. Nor are the foreign-based players whose experience and expertise is expected to make a difference to the team’s talent pool and performance.

But new national team head coach Dennis Lawrence is not unhappy with the way things have gone so far as he prepares his troops for their two crucial home qualifiers in the tricky Concacaf Hexagonal campaign for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence (right) chats with National Under-20 Team coach Brian Williams on Thursday 26 January 2017. (Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence (right) chats with National Under-20 Team coach Brian Williams on Thursday 26 January 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

The Soca Warriors take on Panama and Mexico on March 24 and 28 respectively at the Hasely Crawford Stadium and will need a result in both matches to stay afloat in the “Hex.”

“I think it’s important that we try to fill the game time that we have been missing over the last four weeks,” Lawrence told the media, after a team training session at the Larry Gomes Stadium yesterday. “We tried to get a couple games in to try and work on a couple different things [including fitness], to try and work on the tactical things we did throughout the week and just have an idea how much the boys have picked up over the last few days in the training sessions.”

Appointed in January, Lawrence has brought on board DirecTV W Connection coach Stuart Charles-Février, Stern John and Ross Russell in addition to Campbell. The former Arsenal defender has attained his UEFA Pro License, Charles-Février has won several local titles with the “Savonetta Boys” and John and Russell have both done coaching work in the TT Pro League.

Explaining some of the thinking behind his choices, Lawrence had this to say:

“I thought it was important to make sure that we keep positivity around the team because in Trinidad at the moment there is a lot of negative [issues] and I don’t want to be involved in the negative.”

Photo: Soca Warriors fans enjoy the action during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016. (Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: Soca Warriors fans enjoy the action during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 11 November 2016.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Still, there have been murmurings in some quarters about the support staff’s ability to translate their expertise into results at international level.

Lawrence, however, stands by his choice of support staff and their ability to help guide the team to a second World Cup berth. Making it clear what he thought about the suggestion that his assistants do not have what it takes to get the job done, he reiterated his confidence in their ability.

“The coaches are all experienced,” he assured Wired868. “They all know the game well and they’re doing what’s required at the moment.

“All these people have brought something positive to the team (and) the players have responded very well to them.”

They are, he added, all about the collective, ensuring that all hands are on deck to steer the Soca Warriors in the right direction.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Hashim Arcia (right) tries to sidestep a Surinamese tackle while teammate Akeem Roach (left) tries to make a run during 2017 Gold Cup playoff action at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on 4 January 2017. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Hashim Arcia (right) tries to sidestep a Surinamese tackle while teammate Akeem Roach (left) tries to make a run during 2017 Gold Cup playoff action at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on 4 January 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Lawrence indicated that the overall fitness of the squad is something that he and his staff are keeping in mind, acutely aware that the local off-season hasn’t come at the best time as far as their Hex commitments are concerned.

“That was the major thing we had to take into consideration, that the boys had a season they just came out from,” he assured Wired868.  “So I think it was important that we try and tailor the sessions in a way that we didn’t push (…) especially the Central FC and the W Connection players (who) were back a bit earlier from their season (…) to avoid the risk of any injuries.”

When the camps started, rotated between Malabar and the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, the 29-member squad was in training for a March 10 friendly against Suriname in Paramaribo. But at yesterday’s session, which kicked off at 9.45am at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Lawrence and his staff were fine-tuning the available local players for a friendly against Barbados at home in the Ato Boldon Stadium on the same date.

Lawrence was at the centre of the action throughout, while Russell worked in tandem with him particularly during the training matches and set-piece drills at the approximately hour-long tail-end of the session.

Photo: North East Stars coach Ross Russell (left) and Club Sando coach Anthony Street follow the action from the sidelines during 2015/16 Pro League action in Couva. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: North East Stars coach Ross Russell (left) and Club Sando coach Anthony Street follow the action from the sidelines during 2015/16 Pro League action in Couva.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Both John and Charles-Février issued orders from the touchline, offering liberal advice to nearby players. During the earlier scrimmages, all three assistants were involved in the rotations, each in charge of his own group of players.

Under the keen eyes of the four coaches, the energy levels were high despite the heat and the tackles came thick and fast. Among other household names in the Digicel TT Pro League, Lawrence and company had a good look at Carlos Edwards, Daneil Cyrus, Sean de Silva, Kerron “Ball Pest” Cummings and Glenroy Samuel.

Edwards, who played alongside Lawrence for Trinidad and Tobago at the 2006 World Cup and at Defence Force and Wrexham, is a recent inclusion to the training squad.

“I think for some reason,” Lawrence told Wired868, “people (…) thought that every [football] management staff (…) works (with) a defensive coach (and) a forwards coach; that’s not in general how it is.”

Explaining further, he said that “The football staff is capable of conducting any part of the session; they are all football people, (…) knowledgeable people. The staff works (..) in units.

“We divide the sessions for the needs of the coaching staff on the day and whatever we decide on that the aspect that the coach is going to be focused on, that’s how we work the session.”

Photo: Stern John (second from right) celebrates with goal scorer Dennis Lawrence (centre), Kenwyne Jones (far right), Aurtis Whitley (second from left) and Cyd Gray after going ahead against Bahrain in a famous 2006 World Cup playoff contest on 16 November 2005. (Copyright AFP 2014)
Photo: Stern John (second from right) celebrates with goal scorer Dennis Lawrence (centre), Kenwyne Jones (far right), Aurtis Whitley (second from left) and Cyd Gray after going ahead against Bahrain in a famous 2006 World Cup playoff contest on 16 November 2005.
(Copyright AFP 2014)

But the foreign-based professionals are yet to meet their new coach, well known for his headed goal against Bahrain in Manama which put Trinidad and Tobago into the 2006 FIFA World Cup Finals in Germany. And things are expected to get more serious, the level and intensity higher the closer the squad gets to the upcoming clashes against Mexico and Panama.

Lawrence has his eyes on that development, mindful that there have been no fewer than 24 sessions already.

“The idea is to keep the group together as much as possible,” he ended. “Hopefully the guys that play abroad are going to come in and (…) add to what we’ve been doing. Hopefully they will come in and improve what we have done at the moment.”

The T&T footballing fraternity will expect their first glimpse of change on Friday night.

About Sean Taylor

Sean Taylor is a freelance writer with seven years' experience in the field, who has written for local publications including the Campus Chronicle, UWI Today, USPORTT, Metro and the Trinidad Express. He also studied Communication Studies and Portuguese at the University of the West Indies.

Check Also

From paramedic to pro: Jamille Boatswain signs two-year deal with C/Rica’s Alajuelense

Trinidad and Tobago international striker Jamille “Balo” Boatswain has agreed a two-year deal with Costa …

3 comments

  1. the u 20 failed an it is just sweept under the carpet

  2. Wait and see approach, training is key but strategy is vital and his he deals with stiff competition