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Under the hood: Look Loy reviews T&T’s unsuccessful U-20 campaign

“They lost because of individual errors,” said CONCACAF technical study group member Keith Look Loy. “But, as a general statement, I cannot be satisfied with the statistical performance of the team. Seven goals in five games are not good enough…

“Five against Aruba and none against Panama, none against Guatemala and none against the United States… You’re not going anywhere with that.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 coach Derek King (second from right) has a moment with his squad during the 2014 Caribbean Cup. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 coach Derek King (second from right) has a moment with his squad during the 2014 Caribbean Cup.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Look Loy, a former national player and coach at youth and senior level, covered the 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship in Jamaica alongside Wired868 and was generous enough to give his insight on the tournament in general and Trinidad and Tobago’s performance in particular.

The following is the first in a three-part interview that touches on the performance of the teenaged “Soca Warriors” but also goes on to discuss the merits of the local school and professional game, the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s (TTFA) responsibility to football development, exactly what football fans should expect in the short and long-term future and a CONCACAF model for success:

Wired868: How long have you worked on the CONCACAF technical study group?

Keith Look Loy: That started with myself and Luis Hernandez, who is the president of the Cuba Football Association, and we started this work two years ago with the last (CONCACAF) Under-20 tournament in Puebla, Mexico. Since then we have multiplied the group and have well over a dozen people working as you saw in Jamaica.

We look at all the tournaments, male and female and all age groups, and by that I mean not only CONCACAF but CFU and UNCAF as well. We analyse the games and the technical capacity of the players and the tactical organisation of the teams and their strategy and, most importantly, their weaknesses and we look at the statistics as well. We issue reports based on that and have been doing that since two years ago. All of those reports are ultimately published on the CONCACAF website.

Photo: FC Santa Rosa coach and CONCACAF technical study group member Keith Look Loy. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: FC Santa Rosa coach and CONCACAF technical study group member Keith Look Loy.
(Courtesy Wired868)

We make these analyses available to the national associations because we don’t want this to be an exercise in criticism or an intellectual exercise. We want it to have practical consequences.

 

Wired868: What was your view on the recent CONCACAF Under-20 tournament?

Look Loy: This was an expanded tournament. We normally have eight teams with three group matches (instead there were 12 teams with five group matches each)… The concept here, mainly looking at the Caribbean and some of the Central American teams, (was that) they come to the tournament unprepared with a shortage of international tournaments and experience. So the thinking was to give them more matches. So this was novel…

The four teams that qualified and even some of the others like El Salvador and Trinidad and Tobago, I thought that we saw a good level from them. The level generally was good and I fully expect the four qualifiers will hold their own in New Zealand…

(He was particularly proud of tournament runner-up Panama’s continued improvement at CONCACAF level).

Fifteen years ago, Panama were seen as a baseball and boxing country and they were not taken seriously. But they put in the work and you are seeing the results now.

Over half of their players at this tournament played at the last Under-17 World Cup. And what Panama has been able to do over the last decade or so is build up a reservoir of players who now have junior World Cup experience.

Photo: Panama striker Carlos Small was one of the tournament's top players. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Panama striker Carlos Small was one of the tournament’s top players.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

They have now qualified for their fourth junior World Cup in the last six (tournaments). And they have played in most of the recent Under-17 tournaments. So they now have a pool of players in senior football who have World Cup experience and that is why they have been in the last two Gold Cup finals and conceivably will be fighting for honours in the next one as well.

Consistent investment with thought guiding it pays dividends and they are seeing that…

 

Wired868: Trinidad and Tobago and the United States were both beaten quarterfinalists at CONCACAF Under-17 level two years ago but now the US is heading to the World Cup. What can we take from that?

Look Loy: This is one of the weakest United States teams we have seen in a junior tournament and they had their problems but in the end big fish know how to survive.

As we said in Jamaica, it is not a two year jump to under-20 football it is a three year jump. (Some players, like Duane Muckette and Neveal Hackshaw, who were too old for the under-17s two years ago were able to join them as under-20s now). So you would have the possibility of including players who were not in the last programme.

But, two, whereas our players went on playing school football, their footballers have gone on to the German Bundesliga, the English Premier Division, the Scottish Premier League, etcetera, etcetera. In those two years, they have left high school football behind. So the level and quality of their experience has added to their ability to come now, having failed two years ago, and qualify for a World Youth Cup. There are no secrets here and I know you know that full well.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Kishun Seecharan (right) is kept in grip by United States right back Shaquell Moore. Moore is the child of Trinidad and Tobago immigrants to the United States. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Kishun Seecharan (right) is kept in grip by United States right back Shaquell Moore.
Moore is the child of Trinidad and Tobago immigrants to the United States.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

Wired868: What tactical trends or patterns did you notice at the tournament?

Look Loy: Most teams played with 4-4-2 with different variations… One team played with three defenders which was Jamaica and that didn’t help them at all. (Coach Theodore Whitmore) never fielded the same line-up in any match, he changed the position of his players from match to match and even within the same matches. He was never at ease with his team. Never…

The best teams had a stable line-up. Panama for the duration of the tournament made only three changes to their starting line-up in six matches and those three starting positions were in regular rotation (between the same six players).

Mexico changed once when they rested players after they had already won the group, Honduras was stable and, after the second game, United States also became stable and that speaks to preparation.

(Trinidad and Tobago made 15 changes in four group matches after their opening 2-2 draw with Jamaica. Just four of those changes were due to either suspension or injury).

The coaches of these teams came knowing their best line-ups; they were not guessing… If there is a trend to be pointed out here, it is that the best teams came prepared and the Caribbean teams all came unprepared including Trinidad and Tobago and the host, Jamaica.

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 Team poses before kick off against Panama in the CONCACAF Championship. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 Team poses before kick off against Panama in the CONCACAF Championship.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

Wired868: What would you say Trinidad and Tobago added to the competition?

Look Loy: At an individual level, there was general consensus that Trinidad and Tobago had good players and, from a technical standpoint, it was one of the best teams that Trinidad and Tobago sent to a CONCACAF tournament for a while now.

The players have ability and not just physical ability but technical ability… We liked the tactical ability of Neveal Hackshaw from North East and the skipper (Shannon Gomez) who came to our attention immediately in the first match but then kind of faded during the tournament. But you could see the boy is a capable player.

We liked (Duane) Muckette who is my player. But he is coming off a serious injury and he didn’t really impress himself upon the tournament as I really believe he could… But everybody recognised his importance to the team.

Akeem Garcia is a very tricky, dodgy guy and he has ability. Ricardo John is a useful player. We were very surprised not to see him appear at all against the United States. He played by himself upfront against Panama and did very well. I was personally shocked (not to see him against the US) because I thought as a lone forward he had a very good game upfront against Panama holding the ball and moving off the ball. He was physically strong and quick and so on. But the coaches would have their reasoning.

These were the outstanding players but we could see generally the pool (of Trinidad and Tobago players) was a good one on a technical level.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago under-20 midfielder Neveal Hackshaw (right) holds off Curaçao defender Luivienno Statia during the U-20 Caribbean Cup. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago under-20 midfielder Neveal Hackshaw (right) holds off Curaçao defender Luivienno Statia during the U-20 Caribbean Cup.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Wired868: And what did you think of Trinidad and Tobago’s performances?

Look Loy: On a tactical level, we were impressed with the fact that they could hold their defensive organisation for 60 or 70 minutes. But the problem is the team lacked physical fitness, which has to do with preparation. Even within those minutes and especially after those minutes the team was very, very vulnerable and this is when they lost.

They lost because of individual errors. As a general statement, I cannot be satisfied with the statistical performance of the team. Seven goals in six games are not good enough.

Five (goals) against Aruba and none against Panama, none against Guatemala and none against the United States; that isn’t good enough. You’re not going anywhere with that. Extract Aruba from the equation, you can’t score two goals in four games against your main rivals and go anywhere.

The team had real problems with goal scoring and the missed chances against Jamaica hurt them very, very badly. It was a match they should have won. And, despite good collective organisation in defence, you had a catalogue of defensive individual errors.

Look at the goal conceded by the goalkeeper (Johan Welch) against Guatemala, which was the second goal after an own goal to open the scoring. I don’t want to point fingers at him but look at the goal that Panama scored. There is no collective training to address (errors like) that or to address the goalkeeper coming and looking to dribble a man 35 yards from his goal and giving away a goal. There is no training to deal with that.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 head coach Derek King. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 head coach Derek King.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

Yes, the players have individual ability and yes they were able to maintain some quality level and defensive organisation for most of the match. But then that faded and individual errors and errors of positioning and discipline cost them.

Look at the game against Panama. A match you are fighting for your life and then (Kadeem Corbin) makes a foolish tackle, which is a lack of due concern and care and you find yourself (sent off) and then an elbow to the face (by Akeem Humphrey). And then from being able to fight for a place for the World Cup, you are down to nine men.

These are individual errors of concentration. The coach can’t cater for that… And then it fell apart and another opportunity fades away.

 

Wired868: Can you talk more about the preparation of the team?

Look Loy: The TTFA is consistently failing national teams in that regard and we can go back in time and say the TTFF as well. When the TTFF wanted to find the means to support a team, they did it you know whether it was Jack Warner’s money or whoever else’s.

Let us not forget the last Under-17 women’s team that played in that very Catherine Hall Stadium was the worse team in the tournament. They didn’t score a goal and didn’t get a point and came home disgraced. And yet that was the successor to the National Under-17 team that Even Pellerud had that beat Chile in the World Cup and gave a good account of their selves.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee (right) and general secretary Sheldon Phillips. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee (right) and general secretary Sheldon Phillips.
(Courtesy Wired868)

They found the means to prepare Pellerud’s team but they didn’t find the means to support the team Marlon Charles had and that is the kind of lackadaisical don’t care attitude that transcends into the modern era with the TTFA.

That Under-20 team wasn’t prepared. And if it had been prepared you cannot guarantee success in football but they would have been better able to fight for a World Cup place…

Preparation is not only about lasting 90 minutes. Panama and Mexico played six group matches in two weeks and were asked to play extra time and if you saw those Panamanians run you would think it was their first match. And why? Because they were mentally and physically prepared to play six games in two weeks. Trinidad couldn’t do that…

(He speaks about a CONCACAF pre-tournament model he wrote for coaches on planning, physical preparation, tactical preparation and match analysis).

Part of your preparation is: okay, we are going into a tournament that has six games in two weeks, so let’s do that. Let’s play six games in two weeks. I don’t care if you play against North East, south east, whatever you could get; but six games in two weeks. So (your players) have a mental experience of doing that. When they get to the tournament we have done that before…

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 midfielder Duane Muckette (left) tries to take the ball under pressure from Guatemala midfielder Andy Ruiz. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 midfielder Duane Muckette (left) tries to take the ball under pressure from Guatemala midfielder Andy Ruiz.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

If you have the money to go through Central America and play Panama, Costa Rica and all of them in two weeks, then okay fine. It depends on your resources. But preparation includes dress rehearsal for the event and we don’t do this…

That has nothing to do with money. That is planning, vision and foresight. But nobody in the TTFA is thinking like that.

 

Editor’s Note: Click HERE to read the second of a three-part interview with CONCACAF technical study member Keith Look Loy on Sunday February 1.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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34 comments

  1. Don’t do that u never take me under no wing and what affiliation u have with players stueeppps your a groupie that just like to b in front the camera and make ppl feel tht u care and my only issue is the show u put on…. Me and my family would b just fine more blessing to u to

  2. Calvin whoever you are speaking about that I take pictures with they all know my stance with respect to the madness that is taking place in our sweet country I don’t have any affiliations to anyone in our sweet country other than our players so you need to get your facts right eh and who is bringing down anybody I am just speaking the TRUTH and some of you all cannot handle the TRUTH and for a player who I had taken under my wings when you first came to NY just like many other players and kept you on the right track eh, well now I see who is the hypocrite, you have real issues son take care of yourself and I wish you and the family many more Blessings I am out.

  3. Even if that is true there is no reason to bring it down y not look for a way to make things better that all that we as a ppl bring things down instead off view trying to fix it and wht is funny is the same ppl u speak about is the same ppl u stand and take pictures with and talk and laugh in there face when u c them and this is what I have seen for myself if your against something don’t sit and smile with it that being a hypocrite…… So u could continue putting on a show not for me OK mango

  4. Calvin Palos Garcia you always knocking me and speaking a set of rubbish when in the history of our football any national team was ever kept together you like many others who like mediocrity and will always say that we lost the tournament or games but the fellas played good eh, scoring goals win matches not only playing good there is always a reason why our national teams are not successful in tournaments and that is the lack of the proper preparations and right coaches are not being selected for the job for one reason or the other and I can say alot more with respect to the madness that continues season after season, year after year but I will not stoop to your ignorance and lack of vision man keep on hoping and living in a twilight zone. Our sweet country will not be going back to any World Cup any time soon or maybe never until the corrupted TTFA get their acts together and there is no more uncle Jack Warner in FIFA and in the TTFA to orchestrate the whole thing like what he did in 2006 in order for our sweet country to participate in our first ever World you need to wake up and smell the coffee eh.

  5. Here he go again pointing fingers to make ppl feel he can do better when he knows it’s a show and in that position he doing the same. Them really good yes stop it mango… OK to the point at hand and outside view is always good sometimes a harsh and honest assessment is always good it can only help if taken in the right way I just hope we try and keep this team together and groom them because there is talent there and we have WC 2018&2022 to look forward to…

  6. Steeuuppss the corrupted TTFA needs to forget about entering our teams in the youth and senior World Cup tournaments . Them really good yes.

  7. We’re worried about going into a slump here Mark Snell. There is a feeling that things are getting worse in terms of administration. So we do want to be clear on the problems so as to address them.
    I don’t think this is a blip.

  8. We always look at the glass being half full and it has gotten us nowhere. in the end, results matter and we have been falling short for a long time now. When do you look at yourself critically and say “What are we doing wrong that is preventing us from achieving our goals?” Frankly I am fed-up of hearing we didn’t win but there are positives to be taken.

  9. But having said. The USA qualified! Can’t ignore that. Lol

  10. Why cant Look Loy look at the “glass half full” instead of half empty? There are lots of positives to take from this tournament. BTW the USA was awful….a bunch of naive bullies….300 million people and thats the team we come up with? STEUPPS 😉

  11. Lasana Liburd It was tactical in the sense that (it appeared) T&T was playing with 2 holding mf, and removing 1 (Muckette) was in my opinion why T&T got counterattacked and scored on. Muckette is a real talent!

  12. Mark Snell, I didn’t think Jabari for Muckette was tactical. Muckette didn’t last close to 90 minutes in any of the games. He was exhausted. In fact, I think he only crossed 70 minutes once.
    It is true that we created chances. And that the team was hamstrung because of the preparations. But I think it can be useful to ask what could be improved upon.
    Undoubtedly we need better youth systems. He gave some opinions on that as well in the rest of the interview. I would especially love to hear your comments on the relationship between our schools league and the pro teams here.

  13. And yet eh Carlos Lee… And yet!

  14. Figures lie, and liars figure….easy to look at statistics and make judgments. Blasting T&T for not scoring goals? Just restating the obvious that any fool can tell us. Question is: did they create chances? Did they look dangerous? Was their mindset to attack? My response after watching the match versus USA is: YES! Overall I thought T&T played well. The USA scored on a counterattack right after Muckette (MF) was substituted for Mitchell (FWD). I thought that was a tactical error by coaching staff, but at least they made a positive change and tried to win the game. Based on limited training together (which was well publicized), etc, I would hold your heads up high. Lots of talent on that team. As we all know the problem is the system. All Pro League clubs need to have year round youth academies starting at age 6. But I will end it there as I could go on and on…. 😉 (btw I only saw T&T once vs USA)

  15. Duh – I think he was stating the obvious. We do that for almost every challenge/test we’re about to face (interviews, examinations, presentations, etc.).

  16. Some good practical suggestions I think. And brutal honesty. All straightforward you think Mark Snell?

  17. What about the idea of dress rehearsals for the tournament?

  18. And Tim Kee was a great understudy to Jack as he screwed every team/ tournament to the wall and looked after himself and his side kick Phillips. And now i hear Millien waqnts to return?? They jokey oui!!

  19. Yeah. But I think because of the lack of structure underneath we were never going to just continue to qualify after that. That was our golden generation of players.
    But we had the opportunity to play the best nations continually and have our players progress to the top leagues to learn their trade.
    And Jack killed that with his greed. And people like Tim Kee watched him do it.
    The TTFA executive has a lot of atoning to do.

  20. The 2006 WC was supposed to have been the catalyst to catapult us to the next level, but JW and his “fingers of the same hand” put a STOP to that. Smh

  21. He went in detail as to what Panama did to develop in the other parts of the interview.
    It is just 14 years ago we were whipping teams like Panama 6-0. Their improvement is remarkable. They would probably qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

  22. I agree Laz – the talent was there – and we should have at least made it into the knockout stage. I really think we should study and try to emulate what the Panamanians are doing. They’re going to be a force to reckon with in the very near future.

  23. You might have a point there Jimi Silverstone. But remember players like Cafu, Ryan Giggs and David Silva were all passed over at different times in their formative years. So it does happen eh.
    Carlos Lee that is true. But at different stages in the interview he did say where investment is crucial. So that probably was just a suggestion that they could have done better with little resources.

  24. Great interview Laz. Look Loy’s overall assessment has some validity. My only disagreement is with his very last statement “That has nothing to do with money. That is planning, vision and foresight. But nobody in the TTFA is thinking like that.” Personally, I believe it has a lot to do with money or the lack thereof. You can plan and much as you want, conceptualize the greatest vision possible, and develop the best long term strategy ever, but if you don’t have the dollars to execute your plans, visions, and strategy all you have is pie in the sky. A dream. And while the TTFA is responsible for an overarching plan, vision and long term strategy for football in TNT, at a micro level, every national team coach and his/her supporting staff, preparing to participate in a qualification tournament, must develop their own plan, conceive their own vision and develop and implement their own short term strategy for their team. That’s not the responsibility of the TTFA. The role of the TTFA in the above case is to provide the coach and his/her back room staff with whatever tools and resources they need to ensure the successful implementation if their plans, visions, and strategy.

  25. This is much appreciated! Looking forward to Part 2.

  26. Honest feedback is sorely needed in T&T sports! It’s about time. It needs to come from the media, the fans, the coaches and the sportsmen and women alike. If we do not call a spade a spade and hold our sportsmen and women and their coaches and management staff accountable for performance, then mediocrity will forever be our outcome. Honest and constructive criticism is for everybody’s benefit! Being honest and constructive in feedback is pro-patriotic which is contrary to those who always boast ‘nice try, you did your best, ah proud of you, and better luck next time’. Honest constructive feedback, win or lose, is the only effective critique to turn around our poor performances over the years.

  27. Some valid points there Lasana. Looking forward to part 2.

  28. What I’m saying is I blame the coaches for the lack of vision. I’ve seen it on nearly all levels locally.

  29. I went onto East West Coaching School and started getting cuss normal for doing Messi kinda thing but I learned to play right back, left back, wing, centre mid, learned to shoot with both feet, learned the game very well due to a coach with a vision. Adrian Narine came from up there same time as me but I started getting two knee, hamstring and calve tears, strains, tried Maple, had promise but my knees were recurring and from there I quit.

  30. The vision is on the coaches side. I had a trial with Joe Public and Look Loy was the judge so to speak. True it was early days in football for me and my Messi skills wasn’t quite there yet but, the selection process was flawed, one chance, one group put on a side, my side won but half the players were played out of position but still fought and won and wasn’t selected. That’s why I say coaches.

  31. Excellent article. A very unbiased assessment of the real issues that are stunting the growth of our national teams.

  32. Simply put, this interview a must read for anyone interested in the local game.