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Vranes takes over T&T Olympic team; but disappointed with TTFA timeline

Former Central FC head coach Zoran Vranes is set to return to the international arena after agreeing to take charge of the Trinidad and Tobago National Under-23 Team for their Rio 2016 Olympics qualifying campaign.

Photo: Yugoslavia-born coach Zoran Vranes led Central FC to the 2014 First Citizens Cup title but subsequently stepped aside for Terry Fenwick to take over first team duties. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Yugoslavia-born coach Zoran Vranes led Central FC to the 2014 First Citizens Cup title but subsequently stepped aside for Terry Fenwick to take over first team duties.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Vranes expects to be assisted by former Trinidad and Tobago international Reynold Carrington, who recently resigned his post as Point Fortin Civic head coach, ex-St Ann’s Rangers coach Gilbert Bateau and Rangers goalkeeping coach Nigel Neverson.

However, Vranes, who steered Trinidad and Tobago to the Egypt 2009 World Youth Cup, cautioned fans to be realistic about the journey ahead. And the Yugoslavia-born coach admitted he might not have accepted the job if he was aware of the time frame before the squad’s first competitive assignment.

The Under-23 “Soca Warriors” will start their campaign on 22 June 2015 in a Caribbean group in Puerto Rico. But Vranes claimed he was initially told that their Olympic qualifiers would start in August.

“If I knew (earlier) our qualifiers started in June, I would not have accepted,” Vranes told Wired868. “I had information that it was in August. I have a month to prepare the team but I will not say that we have no chance…

“We made plans for August and tomorrow is the first day of training. But I was told today that (the Olympic qualifiers will start in) June. Now, I have to sit down to make new plans.”

Ironically, Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee is a member of CONCACAF’s Associated Championships Committee which is mandated to: “organise the associated competitions and Olympic Football Tournaments in compliance with the provisions of the regulations applicable to these tournaments.”

Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (centre) gestures to an Ecuador player while Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (right) has a word to her grandson before kick off of the FIFA Play Off second leg on 2 December 2014. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (centre) gestures to an Ecuador player while Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (right) has a word to her grandson before kick off of the FIFA Play Off second leg on 2 December 2014.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Tim Kee’s presumed inside knowledge of the 2016 Olympic qualifying series seems to have been of little assistance to the current Under-23 squad.

Vranes conceded that the Olympic race is a devilishly difficult one, even in the best of circumstances for Trinidad and Tobago. It remains the only global competition that a men’s national team has never qualified for.

“To go to the Olympics is more difficult than to go to the World Cup because only two CONCACAF teams will go,” said Vranes. “Also, the Under-23 guys in Mexico, the United States, Costa Rica and so on are all professionals. We are behind them.

“If we prepare very well, we will compete (and) you never know. Football is football. But it is very tough. That is reality. But I have nice footballers and I will work as hard as I can.”

CONCACAF has just two automatic spots for the 2016 Olympic Games while the third placed team will face a Play Off against South American opposition. Trinidad and Tobago finished second in CONCACAF on just three occasions in our history.

In 1973, a T&T team that included greats like Everald “Gally” Cummings, Steve David and Warren Archibald whipped Mexico 4-0 but finished second to Haiti and just missed the solitary 1974 World Cup place at stake. Trinidad and Tobago got the ball in the back of the net on five occasions, in a controversial 2-1 loss to Haiti, but only one goal was permitted against the host team. FIFA subsequently banned the El Salvador referee Jose Henriquez who officiated in that qualifier.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Arnold Dwarika (top) drives home his country's opening goal in the 2000 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarter-final against Costa Rica. (Copyright AFP 2015)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Arnold Dwarika (top) drives home his country’s opening goal in the 2000 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarter-final against Costa Rica.
(Copyright AFP 2015)

Trinidad and Tobago was second in CONCACAF again in 1990 as the two island republic, inspired by the likes of Dwight Yorke, Jerren Nixon, Clayton Ince and coach Bertille St Clair, qualified for the 1991 Under-20 World Youth Cup. And the same quartet, with the additions of Russell Latapy, Arnold Dwarika and David Nakhid, helped the Warriors to the 2000 Gold Cup semifinals in which the Warriors were the second highest CONCACAF team behind Canada.

Trinidad and Tobago would need some legendary performances from its new crop of players if they are to have a chance of making Olympic history.

The Olympic squad will hold its first screening session from 8 am tomorrow at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain. The list of invitees includes: the DIRECTV W Connection quartet of Shannon Gomez, Jomal Williams, Akeem Garcia and Alvin Jones and North East Stars midfielder Neveal Hackshaw, who all have a solitary cap for the senior Warriors.

Netherlands-bound winger Levi Garcia, who will move to Eredivisie outfit, AZ, in the summer, was also summoned along with other recent National Under-20 players like Martieon Watson, Brendon Creed, Josiah Trimmingham, Kadeem Corbin, Kevon Goddard, Jabari Mitchell and Aikim Andrews.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago under-20 striker Kadeem Corbin (right) prepares to fire past Haiti goalkeeper Steve Sanon in the 2014 U-20 Caribbean Cup final. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago under-20 striker Kadeem Corbin (right) prepares to fire past Haiti goalkeeper Steve Sanon in the 2014 U-20 Caribbean Cup final.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Vranes first came to Trinidad as national team head coach in 1995 and coached players like Yorke, Latapy, Dwarika, Angus Eve and, more recently, Kevin Molino, Sheldon Bateau and Daneil Cyrus. He admitted that the local game has fallen away considerably in the last two decades and pointed to the sparse crowds at Pro League matches as well as the poor results of the last National Under-17 Team.

“When Joe Public played Army in ’97, you could not get inside with how many people came to see the game,” he said. “Petrotrin, Jabloteh and so on had big crowds. Fourteen years on and Trinidad is not Caribbean leader.

“Our Under-17 Team was fifth in the Caribbean. That never happened.”

However, Vranes believes hard work and proper planning can reverse the trend and get the Warriors moving in the right direction again.

“I came here in 1995 in the position of technical director,” said Vranes. “We won two consecutive Caribbean Cups easily… (and) I took (the under-20 team) to Egypt (2009 Under-20 World Cup).

“I was very disappointed with what I saw (in Trinidad and Tobago now)… It is not that we have no potential but we have to work differently with players. You have to work harder to develop players and (correct) their weaknesses…

“We need to recognise what we need to do to develop them to play higher level games.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago coach Zoran Vranes (second from left in background) trains with the National Football Team during the 2002 World Cup qualifying campaign. From left are: Russell Latapy, Brent Rahim, Dwight Yorke, Lyndon Andrews, Carlos Edwards and Wayne Lawson. (Copyright AFP2015/Juan Barreto)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago coach Zoran Vranes (second from left in background) trains with the National Football Team during the 2002 World Cup qualifying campaign.
From left are: Russell Latapy, Brent Rahim, Dwight Yorke, Lyndon Andrews, Carlos Edwards and Wayne Lawson.
(Copyright AFP2015/Juan Barreto)

Apart from the Trinidad and Tobago international youth and senior teams, Vranes also coached Antigua and Barbuda and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

He led Antigua to their only ever semifinal finish at the 1998 Caribbean Cup when they were edged on a golden goal to the eventual winners, Jamaica, who had just returned from the France 1998 World Cup.

And, in 2005, Vranes’ St Vincent team nearly stunned the Trinidad and Tobago side that went on to create history by qualifying for the Germany 2006 World Cup. An Errol McFarlane double in the last 13 minutes helped the Warriors to see off St Vincent 2-0 in Arnos Vale.

But, at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, the Vincentians led 1-0 and threatened to eliminate Trinidad and Tobago before two items in the last five minutes from Hector Sam and Eve rescued the journey to Germany.

More recently, Vranes steered Central to the 2014 First Citizens Cup as well as the Rawle Fletcher and Akeem Adams Cups for leading the Pro League after the first and second rounds respectively. Oddly, the “Couva Sharks” were on top of the standings and heading to their first domestic league title when Central’s operations director Kevin Harrison replaced Vranes with English coach Terry Fenwick.

Photo: Central FC celebrates its 2014 First Citizens Cup title after a 1-0 final win over North East Stars in Couva. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC celebrates its 2014 First Citizens Cup title after a 1-0 final win over North East Stars in Couva.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Vranes is now in charge of Central’s youth programme and will also assist with their women’s team.

“Maybe I will speak about that one day but not now,” said Vranes. “Maybe they thought Mr Fenwick would do a better job. Of course I am disappointed. Statistics were on my side…

“We were in front of W Connection with better (head to head) and goals (and) we had already (played) our strongest opponents… I am very proud of what I did.”

The Yugoslavia-born coach insisted that he did not view coaching young players as a less important job, though, and he is looking forward to his new posts at Central and with the Olympic team.

“My focus has always been to develop youth teams and youth players from the beginning of my career,” said Vranes, who represented the Yugosavia Under-23 team as a player. “I don’t just look for my personal success. I have passed that already.

“It is more important for me as a coach to build and help young guys to be better.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 captain and right back Shannon Gomez (right) battles for possession against Cuba during the 2014 Under-20 Caribbean Cup. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 captain and right back Shannon Gomez (right) battles for possession against Cuba during the 2014 Under-20 Caribbean Cup.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Vranes has his job cut out for him with the Under-23 Team as Trinidad and Tobago tries to reverse its recent trend of anonymity at CONCACAF youth tournaments.

AboutLasana 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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72 comments

  1. True. But what would be the motivation for that? I think if they liked Vranes that much they would have just kept him as coach.

  2. The salary can come through the the club unofficially

  3. … And the minister of sport just demoted that coach. Not to mention, as Kendall Tull pointed out, national coaching jobs come with empty promises not salaries.

  4. Yes, but de President of de TTFA is ah PNM man.

  5. Link this …..Vranes… Central Sharks…..Min of Sport….Ministers advisor ???

  6. Arthlon Dcoach this appointment is just another illustration of lack of planning by powers at be. What we will see, once the team does not qualify, there will be no continuity of an Olympic Programme, this appointment and actual participation is simply to satisfy participation. I stress participation, because there is no preparation to compete at a proper level. If the team advances, it will be simply on natural talent. Whilst things change, they stay the same.

  7. I dont agree with this appointment because he had his chance in the past, U23 is Olympic and therefore we need someone with a little more experience, this could or should be your senior National team, players should be moving from here into the senior team. The TTFA needs to put their house in order, this team should be touring Brazil / Argentina playing against their top Club teams as well as their U23 teams

  8. Congrats Coach Zoran and I agree with coach Britto and Clyde Paul. Lets put succession planning in place and have an effective and enterprising understudy to work with Coach Vranes Zoran

  9. Why do you think there has always been some kind of agreement between the protective services and the corrupted TTFA eh, since in the days of the boss of the Army Major Brown and the corrupted ex Minister of National Security/ FIFA Vice President Jackular Warner, with respect to meh soldiers and police coaching for free ent. Them really good yes.

  10. No serious coach would take a job under those circumstances Earl but you are right that there is always some idiot who would.

  11. Kendall Tull there is someone who will always want the job eh, ask the bootleg Coaches and them. Them really good yes.

  12. You think its an error that they gave a later date Lasana, knowing that nobody would want the job otherwise?

  13. Congrats to Vranes….. I wish him all the success.

  14. Let’s face it, and no offence to our local coaches as some are good…BUT, what it comes down to is…continuous international exposure, both for player and coach, updated technical applications, systems and techniques etc, so having a coach with the necessary tools..experience, updated techniques etc is a step in the right direction…just my take.

  15. And that Nigel Myers is quite possibly the same error that Vranes complained of.

  16. So what would we say to all the other countries coaches. They are relics? Age should not be a form of keeping a good coach away. Also look at his team in the pro league it is the best by far look at the point difference. That’s bigotry. So if the best coach was a woman we won’t pick her. Seriously wake and coming into the 21st century

  17. Well wait, ah just see that they mention that qualifying starts from June 22nd in Puerto Rico. So maybe is ah misprint or copy and paste error.

  18. So Lasana Liburd, what is de real deal? You quote Vranes as saying that the qualifiers begin in June, but the TTFA’s release, which was published today, says they begin in August.
    http://www.ttffonline.com/home/component/content/article/992-vranes-takes-charge-of-tat-olympic-team.html

  19. They invite players without the coach Nigel Myers? Doesn’t he have a say? I didn’t read the article.

  20. I wonder how they came up with the list of invitees? I’ve read that six US-based players have also been called up. In addition to Jameel Neptune, it’s strange that Dwight Quintero’s name is not there.

  21. How terry don’t get offered any jobs?

  22. I’ve gained knowledge from many if not all of the names you mentioned throughout my career thus far. Recently apart from the national senior team, where youth teams are concerned, there is a major lapse in our young goalkeepers on the international stage. There are so many coaches worthy of coaching these young goalkeepers including the likes of Brian James, Jefferson George and Trevor Nothingham all of which I worked with including Nigel Neverson and he is, without a doubt, nowhere worthy of coaching young goalkeepers.

  23. Steeeuuppss Them really good yes.

  24. you cant call a coach old when he is doing a good job at what ever team he is coaching but 1 thing i can say is pay them on time leave them let them do they thing an give them a good under study from here thats all

  25. Earl always remember that they want coaches that they can pay when thay want how they want tell them who to pick but W. coach an Central coach they cant put on a string Amen

  26. We need an effective and enterprising coach.

  27. Ancel Sinaswee, we have had some new coaches recently like Derek King, Angus Eve, Hutson Charles and Shawn Cooper. So I don’t think our coaches are generally old timers. And I can’t say Vranes is too old judging from his job at Central FC.

  28. Well, in theory, Richard Quan Chan is in charge of the technical committee that makes recommendations for coaches. But he admitted on at least one occasion that he had no input whatsoever.

  29. Well, I know the Sport Ministry wanted a women’s game recently. All that was needed was for the TTFA to get the Women Warriors ready.
    Clearly, there are some serious structural issues involved. But I am looking at the women’s league and what not Kimika Forbes. I promise to get back on the women’s story again very soon.

  30. Zane Coker yeah on that topic of goalkeeping Coaches in our sweet country , yuh know how many moons now that I am calling for a Goalkeeping Coaching Academy eh, I mean some of our great Coaches have now retired from the game eh and some have already returned to our sweet country and set up camp, but it seems that they are only interested in having youth academies eh, and also they want to Coach teams in our leagues including the professional leagues. Errol Lovell, Clayton Ince, Michael Maurice, and meh boy Earl Carter eh our young goalkeepers are suffering for their experties ent. Them really good yes.

  31. How many things we dont know and to whom do we address questions?

  32. Can we not find a younger coach. No disrespect to Mr Vranes but how many times has been appointed a national coach of some sort only to be replaced afterwards

  33. tell me when you find out lol

  34. All this plans an yet still the female warriors yet to still hav a training date total BS

  35. Earl the local coaches just want to say i am the head coach an cant go to the supermaket with they family then good yes

  36. Actually, CONCACAF has two and a half spots. The third placed team will face Colombia in a playoff series.

  37. I wonder if my foreign base Trini Technical Director really understands that this is the same madness that he will have to deal with when he takes the job?

  38. Even Stephen Hart has had difficulty getting paid Mango. Times have changed. Only the General Secretary and Darren Millien seem to be financially satisfied these days.

  39. Jameel Neptune should easily receive a call up. A great asset to this team. Also, there are much better goalkeeping coaches in Trinidad as well. Nigel Neverson is by far the worst decision made to coach our goalkeepers at this level. Poor decision.

  40. Nah when yuh is ah foreign base Coach eh, your money surety in the bank eh, also along with a house and car it is only our local Coaches like to Coach for free or doesn’t mind whenever they get their monies nah. Them really good yes.

  41. Not enough time… One and a half months or less!

  42. I wonder if he knows he stands little chance of being paid on time, if at all?

  43. Oh Lawd that corrupted TTFA eh tired of recycling the same Coaches to coach our National Youth teams eh, so why they don’t want to give our winning Coaches Stuart Charles Fevrier or Terence William Fenwick a chance eh. Them really good yes.

  44. Mango, to be fair, Vranes led his team ahead of Ferviers Connection for most of the season. Stuart is a good coach, but Vranes must have something to lead the table for so long? Vranes is a great youth coach and I think it’s a great appointment. Lasana, I’m fairly certain that Quintero will be called up, together with Nathaniel Garcia and Jevon Sample.