Home / Volley / Global Football / Lawrence praises Boatswain & co but eyes foreign talent for WCQs, signal to Bostock

Lawrence praises Boatswain & co but eyes foreign talent for WCQs, signal to Bostock

Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence cooed about the performance of goalscorer Jamille Boatswain and his teammates yesterday, after the Soca Warriors marked his first outing in charge with a 2-0 win over Barbados at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.

But, Lawrence pointed out, his praise should not be interpreted as a suggestion that the core of last night’s team would remain intact when Trinidad and Tobago host Panama and Mexico later this month in crucial Russia 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Sean De Silva (right) beats Barbados goalkeeper Dario Weir (centre) and a retreating defender but not the upright during international friendly action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 10 March 2017. Trinidad and Tobago won 2-0. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Sean De Silva (right) beats Barbados goalkeeper Dario Weir (centre) and a retreating defender but not the upright during international friendly action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 10 March 2017.
Trinidad and Tobago won 2-0.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

And the former Everton FC assistant coach followed the lead of his predecessors, Stephen Hart and Tom Saintfiet, by sending a ‘come and join us’ plea to England-born midfielder John Bostock, who is eligible to represent Trinidad and Tobago but has not yet chosen to do so.

“John, the door is open,” said Lawrence, at last night’s post-game press conference. “You are welcome to come and play for Trinidad and Tobago.”

Of course, there was plenty in Lawrence’s present dressing room to satisfy him after a comfortable win last night. And speedy 23-year-old Defence Force striker Boatswain, who scored twice in his first taste of international football, was prominent among the pluses at Couva.

“I’m delighted for him,” Lawrence told the media, after Boatswain registered a brace of opportunist first-half goals—within minutes of coming on as a substitute—to settle the match.  “I decided that I wanted the three strikers to play 30 minutes each and knew that the second 30 minutes was going to be the most difficult.”

Adding that he is “a boy that wants to learn, [who] is willing,” Lawrence declared: “I’m very pleased for him. For him to come on and react the way he did […] shows that he is doing something positive.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago striker Jamille Boatswain (centre) tries to burst past two Barbados opponents during international friendly action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 10 March 2017. Boatswain scored both goals in a 2-0 win for T&T. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago striker Jamille Boatswain (centre) tries to burst past two Barbados opponents during international friendly action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 10 March 2017.
Boatswain scored both goals in a 2-0 win for T&T.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Lawrence explained his instructions to his players and the new philosophy of the national team, which he described as “possession with purpose.”

“I was quite pleased with a lot of the things and also displeased with some of the things,” said the former 2006 World Cup hero. “The boys tried to implement some of the things that we tried to worked on, in particular, trying to maintain possession of the ball.

“[But] In the second half, in the last 25 to 30 minutes, we lost a bit of direction with regards to keeping the ball with purpose and we just started to keep the ball for keeping it sake. But that will come with time.

“We have to have purpose with our possession, because once you start keeping the ball in that [negative] manner, you only invite pressure on yourselves.”

The 156th-ranked Barbados—a late replacement for Suriname after the South Americans pulled out of the friendly encounter scheduled for Paramaribo on the same date—are neither Panama nor Mexico. Mindful of that, Lawrence still sought to keep the focus on the positive and he congratulated his charges on maintaining their solidity at the back.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence (second from left) and half of his technical staff who are (from right) Stephen Bradley, Riedoh Berdien, Ross Russell, Sol Campbell and Stuart Charles-Fevrier take in the action during their friendly international outing against Barbados on 10 March 2017. Lawrence was without assistant coach Stern John, who lost his daughter, Nikela, to a tragic mishap on the eve of the game. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence (second from left) and half of his technical staff who are (from right) Stephen Bradley, Riedoh Berdien, Ross Russell, Sol Campbell and Stuart Charles-Fevrier take in the action during their friendly international outing against Barbados on 10 March 2017.
Lawrence was without assistant coach Stern John, who lost his daughter, Nikela, to a tragic mishap on the eve of the game.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“I was very, very pleased that we showed good concentration to ensure that we keep a clean sheet because that’s something that we need to have going into the next fixtures.”

Prior to yesterday’s kick-off, the last time that the T&T National Senior Team kept a clean sheet was against the Dominican Republic on 5 October 2016—seven matches ago. It is likely to be a detail that will not escape the attention of assistant coach Sol Campbell, who was finally present and accounted for at Ato Boldon last night.

Five previously uncapped players were also used against Barbados last night as Lawrence gave debuts to Jameel Perry, Jared London, Jesus Perez, Jomoul Francois and Boatswain—although Boatswain’s outing will not count as a cap since he was replaced as a substitute.

But Lawrence admitted that several of the players who faced Barbados last night would give way to foreign-based professionals when the Warriors go on to face Panama and Mexico in the 24 and 28 March qualifiers.

“I think the most important thing is understanding that we still have the boys that are going to come from abroad,” he said. “If we were talking about just this local group going to play Panama, obviously we still got a way to go in terms of our technical ability, our fitness levels. But I think with the boys coming in, it will put us on par.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team winger Jomoul Francois (centre) strokes the ball past Barbados goalkeeper Kishmar Primus (right) during international friendly action against Barbados at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 10 March 2017. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team winger Jomoul Francois (centre) strokes the ball past Barbados goalkeeper Kishmar Primus (right) during international friendly action against Barbados at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 10 March 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Elaborating, he added: “The idea is for them to come in and improve on what we’ve got at the moment. Hopefully with the experience and the ability that these guys are going to bring, it’s going to enhance the group.”

Lawrence said he already has an idea of 99% of the foreign-based contingent that wants to face Panama. And, pending required approvals, he promised one or two surprise additions.

He admitted that Bostock is one foreign-based player who will not be lining up for the “Red, White and Black” at the end of the month, though. According to Lawrence, he has had numerous conversations with Bostock recently but the RC Lens midfielder is not in a position to commit himself internationally.

The former England National Under-17 captain leads Lens in appearances this season with 28 while his employers  sit third on the table in France’s second tier at present—only three points off leader Stade de Reims.

Hart first called Bostock up for World Cup qualifiers against St Vincent and Grenadines, 12 months ago, only to discover—on the eve of the outing—that he had not yet received FIFA clearance and could not be involved.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder John Bostock (left) strikes the ball during national practice while team captain Kenwyne Jones look on at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 21 March 2016. (Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder John Bostock (left) strikes the ball during national practice while team captain Kenwyne Jones look on at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 21 March 2016.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

Bostock was then invited to play Guatemala and USA in September but was a no-show while, two months later, he claimed his passport was stolen and did not turn up for World Cup fixtures against Honduras and Costa Rica.

But Lawrence is not prepared to give up on Bostock yet, although the coach will focus on the resources at his disposal.

“At this point in time,” he declared, “we’ve just got to work with the group that we have. […] I have to accept John’s decision and I have to think about the group that I’m going to work with.”

About Amiel Mohammed

Amiel Mohammed
Amiel Mohammed is a sports enthusiast and has worked in communications for Central FC and the Women's Premier League TT. He has also pioneered numerous projects geared towards creating opportunities for the differently abled such as the Differently-Abled Football Camp 2015 and Focus Football Coaching Academy.

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56 comments

  1. I’ve seen Hart’s team make fierce starts like in the last Gold Cup.
    We killed Guatemala in the first 30 minutes and torched Cuba early too.
    But it’s true that isn’t the norm.

  2. Lack of concentration has been killing us for years. Playing a full 90 minutes or however long the game is, is a rarity for us. 9 out of 10 times we start the game really slow. Sometimes, by the time we get going we’ve already lost the game. All of our coaches have struggled to remedy that situation. The thing is, no one coach can do this. It has to be drilled into the player from young.

  3. I think his comments were solid …historically our foreign based players have been better because they’re exposed to a higher level …. everyone here knows that. ..local players have to make themselves a prospect like autis whitley did. Why should you be guaranteed a start over a seasoned pro because you killed it against Barbados? The bar has to be set high …if you’re training to the level where you’re matching or surpassing the pros you’ll play …dennis knows that and so do the local guys. I watched highlights of the Barbados game and was underwhelmed by the finishing and they were falling down all over the place …but the two finishes ….were wicked. Those finishes are the types of things that let’s a coach take note of …plus he didnt do it once …did it twice …levels and benchmarks!

  4. Bostock?..Bostock.?..how.many times will we give ah man who farth in our face an invitation to come to our homw

  5. Bostock cud stay where he is

  6. Well if DL will stay chase Bostock, don’t forget the MLS trio

  7. Woulda like to see bostock in we mid 😒

    • Lasana Liburd , D man want o represent england similiar to shaka , dont bother with him

    • He must be talented or more talented than what we have available to us. Hence the reasons coaches keep wanting him to represent us.

    • Shaka never wanted to represent England. I’ve written about that so many times that I don’t know if I will ever get story across.
      Shaka had an agreement for his senior debut since at Reading and Jack Warner tried to strong arm him to play in a useless money spinning exhibition match and used FIFA to ban him. And Shaka’s British passport saved him. And he said he wouldn’t represent Trinidad again as long as Jack was there.
      Eventually Bertille St Clair resolved it as that has his coach at under-12 level.
      He did join England B team. That was because Kevin Keegan was England coach and he was man who gave him break at Newcastle. But it was Trinidad who put Shaka in a corner and not the other way around. There is no comparison.

  8. Did Keron Cummings play last night?

  9. Bostock seems dedicated to Hart, don’t blame him because I would be the same especially with the dictator still in charge

  10. Earl
    I am not sure that I disagree with what you are saying, maybe you might have misunderstood my point.

    How did the issue of “prejudices” arise? Who am I supposed to be “prejudiced” against? Certainly not Dennis Lawrence! Cause I like him and think he has the potential to do a great job!

    I was simply making the case that the best TnT players are fairly obvious, given our limited pool, regardless of the coach!

    • Earl Best

      Lester,
      Maybe I did misread your comment. I took Amiel’s comment in response to Lasana’s question as confirmation of the coach’s failure to be unduly impressed by what he saw last night. And I read your comment as saying that Lawrence in fact did not think too highly of the locally-based players but he would have to depend, like it or not, on the same people. local and foreign, who had not been able to do it for Hart and had let him down – in more ways than one – in the end. So I thought you were agreeing that he was right to look past the bunch that was on show last night. Apologies.

  11. Bostock obviously does not want to represent Tnt especially when he got a sniff of the political atmosphere in our local football with the Ttfa.

  12. After a competitive game or two, Lawrence will have no choice to resort to the same basic squad of players that Hart used. They are our best players, regardless as to where they play: Hyland, J Jones, Levi Garcia, Sheldon Bateau, Kevin Molino and the much criticized kenwyne Jones!

    Any attempt to go with second string players will result in major embarrassment like what happened with Saint who and the West Indies.

    • Earl Best

      You see your prejudices coming out there, I hope? “…second string,” “major embarrassment,” the comparison with that shithong Saintfiet, etc.

      All Tallest is saying, I think, is that there’s no guarantee that, because you’ve been in the training squad longer than the foreign-based players, you’ll be in the final squad.

      I have no problem with his telling them that there are no free lunches. You think he’ll tell the foreign-based players something different?

  13. He did also say the local based players did themselves no harm last night with their performance

  14. Wish Dennis would be more circumspect with his comments about foreign vs local players. He’s giving the local based players little motivation to improve themselves if he’s already set to have them replaced by the foreign based players in the next few weeks. He should be telling the players – both foreign and local – that he’ll be making selections based on merit, not based on what continent they are playing on. We want the players to fight for their spot. We want them to work their butts off on the field knowing that someone is waiting for the opportunity to take their spot.

    • Amiel, how did he put it across?

    • He came across as generally knowing who hid squad was going to be. He has been with the locals for a few weeks and lamented that he only had 1 competitive game but he sounded like based on everything he has seen, he knows his team. Some locals stepped up last night while others didn’t (especially in terms of doing what he asked them to do) and he looked like he noted that. He also noted that he had a few sessions lined up with the locals still to see what’s what. Dotting I and crossing T

  15. Bostock’s team could gain promotion to Ligue 1 next season. If that happens and his performances are good enough maybe England calls him or he moves back to EPL. Who knows ?
    I wouldn’t want to come here either. We used to the madness inno…it will scare others

  16. I’m excited to hear who the New foreign-based addition(s) will be. since Dennis was the man who established first contact with Chris Birchall if he can bring in another gem like Birchy I’ll be ecstatic!!!

  17. I don’t see how possession with a purpose can be described as the team’s new philosophy. This is exactly what Stephen Hart brought to the national team. Obviously, for one reason or the other, it was not able to be maintained during the last part of his tenure. Maybe Lawrence intends to achieve it in a different manner.

    • Maybe. That’s a fine line though. I suppose counter attacking can also be described as possession with purpose. Lawrence’s team definitely likes to hold on to the ball for longer than Hart’s side.
      Clearly they interpreted his instructions to mean keep the ball for as long as is safe. Lawrence said they kept it in negative way sometimes.
      So we would have to wait another game or two for a better idea of how he wants his team to play.

    • A lot of it has to do with the opposition you’re facing. Under Hart, we were finally playing out from the back and doing some crisp passing. And then the whole thing eventually fell apart. LOL. Requires a lot of concentration, which he have not historically displayed. Lawrence has shown what he wants to implement. it’s whether or not the players can execute it consistently and when it matters.

    • Good point Nigel. Although the shape is definitely different to Hart. And the bit with central midfielders dropping between your two central defenders to receive the ball? That’s fine if you’re talking about Busquets or even Dwight Yorke… But my heart will be in my throat if I see Kevan George or Khaleem Hyland trying that against Mexico. :-/

    • You see that’s the whole thing. What you want to implement may end up being very different from what is shown on the field because of the abilities of the players at your disposal. And since it’s international football, you don’t have the luxury of time to repeatedly work on it. That only changes when you have a programme starting from youth level.

    • Dennis did also mention that he will be looking to tailor his tactics to the opponent

    • As Nigel Myers said to implement an identity depends on the type of players. And it needs to start at youth level. Otherwise its like trying to teach an old dog new tricks.

  18. Lol.. Bostock again! Like my son would say…. look “bun he yes!”. 😕😅