New Trinidad and Tobago national football team co-head coach Jamaal Shabazz will never be accused of a shortage of ideas.
Less than two weeks into his post, Shabazz has already raised concerns about the perceived lack of transparency in the selection of national players. Now, the former Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA and Guyana coach wants smaller training squads on the eve of match days.
Twenty-seven players were summoned to try out for the “Soca Warriors” on Saturday before a final 20-man team was selected, four days later, for the 2012 Caribbean Cup finals, which starts on Friday in Antigua.
“If we have five days to prepare a team, I thing we should have already decided on our 20 players before we start training,” Shabazz told Wired868. “Then, you don’t take a player away from his club unnecessarily and won’t have to hear the club complaining that you took their player away for three days and didn’t pick him.
“Also, you don’t want guys battling for a pick with the game right there… In cases when you need enough players for 11 v 11 sessions, you can always invite some national under-20 or under-17 players.”
Previous Trinidad and Tobago coaches have routinely called large training squads and former coach Russell Latapy kept a national team in training throughout the year. Ten years ago, Hannibal Najjar created history for himself when he selected 91 players for a national session.
Shabazz suggested that the technical staff can avoid such inflated squads by doing more legwork such as observing prospective players more regularly at Pro League games and even at their club sessions. He also recommended better interaction with foreign clubs so that the national coaches know the condition of their overseas-based players before sending out invitations.
“I think selecting smaller squads challenges us as coaches to be more clinical in our observation of the players with their training squads and on match days,” said Shabazz. “We will also have to develop a relationship with the overseas clubs and their physios and managers so that we have a better guarantee of what we are going to get from those players.”
Shabazz is excited to get going as joint national coach with Trinidad and Tobago seeking to qualify for its first 2013 CONCACAF Gold in six years.
He said the relationship with fellow head coach Hutson “Barber” Charles and assistant Derek King has been excellent so far and he has enjoyed the sessions. He was particularly enthused about Orlando City midfielder Kevin Molino who has spent much of the last two months on trial with various clubs in Europe.
“I like his openness to allow you to use him how you want tactically,” said Shabazz. “He is a good student of the game with a remarkable touch. I am really excited about working with him.”
Shabazz also praised the influence of the team’s experienced players like 28-year-old captain Williams, 30-year-old World Cup 2006 midfielder Densill Theobald and 28-year-old Defence Force striker Devorn Jorsling.
“Jan-Michael, Densill and Devorn bring a lot of stability to the team,” he said. “They will talk to the players and reinforce coaching points. Devorn isn’t in the starting team in training but he is still very, very helpful.
“You can’t coach experience, so you need players with experience to do what the three of them are doing and be a voice of reinstatement and caution.”
The final squad for the 2012 Caribbean Cup finals is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Jan-Michael Williams (W Connection), Marvin Phillip (Central FC)
Defenders: Kareem Moses, Seon Power (both North East Stars), Carlyle Mitchell (Vancouver Whitecaps—Canada), Daneil Cyrus (Song Lam Nghe—Vietnam), Curtis Gonzales (Defence Force), Aubrey David (Caledonia AIA),
Midfielders: Joevin Jones (both W Connection), Densill Theobald, Keyon Edwards, Ataullah Guerra (all Caledonia AIA), Kevin Molino (Orlando—US), Hughtun Hector (Song Lam Nghe—Vietnam), Lester Peltier (Slovan Bratislava—Slovakia), Kevon Carter (Defence Force),
Forwards: Devorn Jorsling, Richard Roy (both Defence Force), Jamal Gay (Caledonia AIA), Willis Plaza (Song Lam Nghe—Vietnam).
Technical Staff: Hutson Charles (co-head coach), Jamaal Shabazz (co-head coach), Derek King (assistant coach), Jefferson George (goalkeeper coach), William Wallace (manager), Dave Isaac (physiotherapist), Terence Babwah (doctor), Michael Williams (equipment manager), Shaun Fuentes (press officer).
Editor’s Note: Do you think the Trinidad and Tobago national football team will benefit from smaller training squads?