New Trinidad and Tobago football coach Stephen Hart declared today that he is happy to be home and hopes to seize the opportunity at the helm of the “Soca Warriors.”
However, he warned local football fans that he is not a miracle worker.
“I am not a miracle worker,” said Hart, at today’s press conference at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. “Sometimes people are lucky to get one. But most people just work hard and do the best they can.”
The 53-year-old former Canada coach played for Texaco and San Fernando before migrating to Canada in the early 1980s and also made a few international appearances without particularly distinguishing himself. He hopes to set that right now as national coach.
“I thank the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) for bringing me back home,” said Hart, who agreed a two-year deal with the TTFA. “It is every boy’s dream to have the opportunity to represent his country… I had the opportunity as a player but I did not seize the opportunity.
“Hopefully now I can seize the opportunity (as coach).”
Hart said he rarely misses a Trinidad and Tobago football match and he watched the team play in its 1-0 loss to Estonia. He declined the opportunity to reveal his thoughts on that match. But he said he is already aware of the local players and is looking forward to the challenge, despite the short time frame.
He explained that his immediate goal was to assess the physical readiness of the squad and to build relationships on the field and get the players in the right relaxed state of mind for international competition.
Hart revealed that he has already spoken to former co-head coach and now assistant coach Hutson “Barber” Charles about what he wanted to implement in the squad. He discussed the job with new director of football Leo Beenhakker as well.
“I can draw upon (Beenhakker) or off him anytime,” said Hart.
Charles is still owed over $200,000 for his services as national coach while the remainder of the technical staff, including outgoing co-head coach Jamaal Shabazz, also remain unpaid. Tim Kee said that he expects that the Ministry of Sport would pay off the arrears this week.
Hart took Canada to the Gold Cup knock out stages in two of his three attempts as head coach and was a defeated semi-finalist in 2007. However, he declared that he would be focusing on “process rather than the prize” and “performance rather than result” in next month’s tournament.
TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee revealed that Hart was not given an ultimatum to take the Warriors into the second round and the local football body was interested primarily in seeing improved performances.
Hart is expected to select the final 23-man squad by Thursday June 26 and he held his first session with the Warriors this evening.
He will not have the benefit of seeing Khaleem Hyland, Sheldon Bateau, John Bostock, Robert Primus, Seon Power, Carlyle Mitchell, Hughtun Hector, Shahdon Winchester, Ataullah Guerra, Radanfah Abu Bakr and Willis Plaza train before his choice as they are all abroad on club business.
Stoke City striker Kenwyne Jones, Ipswich Town winger Carlos Edwards and Port Vale midfielder Chris Birchall were among the players in today’s training session along with DIRECTV W Connection midfielder Clyde Leon, Central FC winger Jason Marcano and North East Stars goalkeeper Cleon John.