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Cautiously optimistic: Hart on work stress, Jorsling and squad selection

In the final instalment of a two part series, Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart discusses Devorn Jorsling’s international retirement, why T&T football is stuck in the dark ages and what he expects from his Warriors at the Gold Cup:

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart. (Courtesy CONCACAF) (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

Trinidad and Tobago’s biggest on-field concern heading into the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup is scoring goals. The “Soca Warriors” have now gone five games and 480 minutes—which includes extra time in the 2014 Caribbean Cup final against Jamaica—without registering items.

It feels passing strange to some then that head coach Stephen Hart opted to travel to the United States without the Pro League’s top marksman and the country’s tenth highest goal scorer, Devorn Jorsling.

On the weekend, Jorsling told Wired868 that he has decided to retire from international duty since he thinks he will never get a better chance to represent the Warriors under the current technical staff.

Hart thinks the Defence Force striker will be making a mistake if he sticks to his guns.

“I think he is making a mistake,” Hart told Wired868. “If he continues to train in the way he has done in the last few weeks, I think he has as good an opportunity as anybody.

“I am sorry he thinks the way he does. I had to pick a 23 (member squad) and I had a decision to make, which I did.”

Photo: Defence Force striker Devorn Jorsling (right) holds off St Ann's Rangers defender Seon Thomas during 2014/15 Pro League action. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Defence Force striker Devorn Jorsling (right) holds off St Ann’s Rangers defender Seon Thomas during 2014/15 Pro League action.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

It would be hard to win a case for bias against the Pro League when Central FC’s Willis Plaza was selected. And, although Jorsling topped all domestic scorers with 21 league goals in a 24-game season, Hart pointed out that Plaza got 10 items despite playing his first match in January.

The sticking point, according to Hart, was the physical readiness of his other attackers, which he felt better suited the Warriors’ style at this stage.

But was he shooting in the dark with the selection of Iceland-based attacker Jonathan Glenn who has not represented his country this year?

Hart explained that he kept an eye on Glenn and overseas-based players like El Salvador-based central defender Yohance Marshall through a programme called “In Stat Scout.”

“It has a rating on everything they do such as one on one defending, challenges in the air, everything,” he said. “I can itemise any technical and tactical part of the game… I had (limited) access to the program for a while and I am trying to get the Football Association to buy it.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national defenders Radanfah Abu Bakr (centre) tries to clear the danger against Iran during a 2014 friendly in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Coach Stephen Hart says he has kept track of Abu Bakr through In Stat Scout. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national defenders Radanfah Abu Bakr (centre) tries to clear the danger against Iran during a 2014 friendly in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Coach Stephen Hart says he has kept track of Abu Bakr through In Stat Scout.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“Right now, I do all the analysing of my team and my opposition for myself and I don’t have that kind of time. I have to watch the opposition and break down how their team plays and put it on video as a head coach.

“I can bet you a million dollars that there is no one else doing that kind of work as a head coach.”

Hart gave an example of the product’s usefulness in assessing the Warriors’ drab 2014 Caribbean Cup goalless draw against the Cuba team, which is one of their Gold Cup opponents this month.

During the match, Hart was disappointed with his team’s failure to take the initiative to change the course of the game. However, after reviewing In Stat Scout, he noticed that the Warriors made more entries into the final third of the field than he thought but were not decisive there and lacked the speed of thought necessary to get off good shots.

So the problem was slightly different than he remembered during the emotion of the match.

Most of Trinidad and Tobago’s opponents at international level, he said, would have such technological aids.

Photo: Panama captain and goal scorer Roman Torres (centre) is hugged by teammate Rolando Blackburn during international friendly action on 27 March 2015 at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Panama captain and goal scorer Roman Torres (centre) is hugged by teammate Rolando Blackburn during international friendly action on 27 March 2015 at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“I think it is something that is essential in this day and age,” said Hart. “Right now, we are training players by guess. We don’t have heart monitors or GPS systems. If we had it, we would know exactly what level of fitness each player has and what we are able to do with them as a result.

“In the (2015) CONCACAF Under-20 tournament in Jamaica, we saw even youth teams like Panama and Guatemala were training with them. And here you have a senior team working in the dark ages…”

It is only one of several disadvantages that the Warriors face. Lack of match preparation has been crippling to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s (TTFA) teams this year.

Already in 2015, the National Under-20 and Under-17 Men’s Teams both failed to assert themselves at CONCACAF level while the Under-23 Team was eliminated at the Caribbean preliminary stage.

The senior team will also face better prepared opposition in next month’s Gold Cup. And Hart could not hide his frustration at a situation that appears to have gotten worse during his spell as head coach.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams muses over Mexico's decisive goal in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal. (Copyright Getty Images/AFP/ Mike Zarrilli)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams muses over Mexico’s decisive goal in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal.
(Copyright Getty Images/AFP/ Mike Zarrilli)

“Our opponents have played five more games than us this year,” he said. “We have to sit down and evaluate what we are doing with the national team program. We have a public that demands results but everyone else prepares (while we are) finding out the night before that you are travelling to Jordan or Curaçao.

“And big men with families have to find someone to pick up their children and so on… Who operates like this?

“There is no (other) team in the Gold Cup that plans that way.”

Hart’s contract as national team coach ends after the Gold Cup, although the Warriors are due to start their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign in October.

So far, there is no hint that the head coach will walk away or that the TTFA is dissatisfied with his work. But the football body’s failure to fund its national programme is hurting its squads and surely unsettling its coaches.

“For me, in a very serious football country everything should have been in place already and it is just a matter of us buckling down and performing,” said Hart. “It seems that none of Trinidad and Tobago’s teams go in to games without some sort of stress on the players and staff.

“We have been giving assurances that things will be made available to us. So we will see if everything is taken care of.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Justin Hoyte trains with the "Soca Warriors" in 2013. (Courtesy Shaun Fuentes/TTFF Media)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Justin Hoyte trains with the “Soca Warriors” in 2013.
(Courtesy Shaun Fuentes/TTFF Media)

Hart is a fan of versatile England-born defenders and brothers Justin and Gavin Hoyte, both former Arsenal youth players, who can both play anywhere across the back line.

But the 25-year-old Gavin, who played just twice in two years under Hart, pulled out of the Jordan match because his new club, Barnet FC, was “giving him static.” While 30-year-old Justin, who is a free agent, opted to skip the pre-tournament training camp to embark on trials in England.

In contrast, Pro League players like Ataulla Guerra and Kadeem Corbin choose to blank opportunities for trials abroad to represent their country instead.

“I would have liked to have Justin in the camp and training on a full time basis,” said Hart, “but he is still on trial trying to get a contract and I couldn’t make concessions for him that I wouldn’t make for other players.”

There are other UK or US-based players who are open to the idea of playing international football but are hesitant of committing to the Warriors.

The reality, Hart thinks, is that players talk and they read the internet. They see the issues affecting Trinidad and Tobago’s football and it gives them cold feet.

Photo: Chris Birchall (left) goes for goal against Sweden at the 2006 World Cup.
Photo: Chris Birchall (left) goes for goal against Sweden at the 2006 World Cup.

Perhaps ex-World Cup 2006 midfielder Chris Birchall would have hesitated if Dennis Lawrence asked him to wear “red, white and black” in this era.

The absence of the Hoyte brothers, as well as injuries to Carlyle Mitchell, Seon Power and Robert Primus, partially explains the return of overseas-based defenders Radanfah Abu Bakr and Marshall, who got the nod over younger players like Kaydion Gabriel, Shannon Gomez, Elijah Belgrave and Alvin Jones.

“We lost significant players (in defence) who were creating competition,” said Hart. “So we needed experience. If all of them were competing for places then maybe the selection would have been different.”

Although Jorsling has ruled himself out of international duty at the moment, 24-year-old Point Fortin Civic attacker Marcus Joseph, the joint second highest Pro League scorer, has apparently made peace with Hart, after being cut for indiscipline.

“Marcus and I have spoken briefly,” said Hart. “Unfortunately, it was not to be in terms of the Gold Cup. He wanted to be back into the team but it was already too later for that.

“Now, I have to worry only about the players who are in the team. But it is a blank sheet again for the World Cup qualification (campaign).”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago scorer Kevin Molino (far left) leads teammates Hughtun Hector (second from left) and captain Kenwyne Jones (second from right) in a goal dance during 2014 Caribbean Cup qualifying action against Antigua and Barbuda. Molino and Hector will both miss the Gold Cup through injury. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago scorer Kevin Molino (far left) leads teammates Hughtun Hector (second from left) and captain Kenwyne Jones (second from right) in a goal dance during 2014 Caribbean Cup qualifying action against Antigua and Barbuda.
Molino and Hector will both miss the Gold Cup through injury.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Poor preparation, late salaries and missing their most effective player, Kevin Molino, Hart and assistants Hutson Charles and Derek King must still find a way to wring results from their squad.

Supporters typically extend sympathy only up until the first embarrassing defeat.

Has Hart selected a team capable of restoring the pride of Trinidad and Tobago football fans at the Gold Cup?

The wily coach is certain he got it right.

“I have confidence in these players that they want to play for the country and they want to play for each other,” said Hart, “and they will demonstrate the necessary fight and the desire to play good football.”

Kenwyne Jones, Khaleem Hyland, Jan-Michael Williams, Guerra and the rest of the Gold Cup-bound squad must prove their coach right.

He is cautiously optimistic that the Warriors will advance from their group for the second successive Gold Cup tournament.

Two years ago, Hart came into the team with roughly a month to go before their opening game. And, assisted by former World Cup coach Leo Beenhakker, he successful steered his troops into the quarterfinal round.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart gives instructions during a 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup fixture against El Salvador. (Copyright AFP 2014/Rich Schultz)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart gives instructions during a 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup fixture against El Salvador.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Rich Schultz)

“I think the situation is very similar,” said Hart. “The only difference is this time we have an international (warm-up match against Haiti).

“It is a better situation in that sense. We have a game that we can use to assess our progress and continue to do some work.”

The Warriors’ July 9 Gold Cup opener against Guatemala will provide the ultimate test of Trinidad and Tobago’s elite men’s football team.

(Trinidad and Tobago 2015 Gold Cup squad)

Goalkeepers: 21.Jan-Michael Williams (Central FC), 1.Marvin Phillip (Point Fortin Civic), 22.Adrian Foncette (Police FC);

Defenders: 6.Radanfah Abu Bakr (HB Koge—Denmark), 18.Yohance Marshall (Juventud Independiente—El Salvador), 4.Sheldon Bateau (KV Mechelen, Belgium), 17.Mekeil Williams (W Connection), 5.Daneil Cyrus (W Connection), 2.Aubrey David (Shakhter Karagandy—Kazakhstan), 3.Joevin Jones (Chicago Fire—USA);

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago playmaker Ataulla Guerra (left) drives his shot past St Lucia player Perral Williams during 2014 Caribbean Cup qualifying action at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago playmaker Ataulla Guerra (left) drives his shot past St Lucia player Perral Williams during 2014 Caribbean Cup qualifying action at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Midfielders: 14.Andre Boucaud (Dagenham & Redbridge—UK), 8.Khaleem Hyland (KVC Westerlo—Belgium), 15.Dwane James (North East Stars), 19.Kevan George (Columbus Crew—USA), 11.Ataulla Guerra (Central FC), 20.Keron Cummings (North East Stars);

Forwards: 9.Kenwyne Jones (Cardiff City—UK), 13.Cordell Cato (San Jose Earthquakes—USA), 23.Lester Peltier (Slovan Bratislava—Slovakia), 10.Willis Plaza (Central FC), 16.Rundell Winchester (Portland Timbers 2—USA), 7.Jonathan Glenn (IBV—Iceland), 12.Kadeem Corbin (St Ann’s Rangers).

 

Editor’s note: Click HERE for part one as Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart discusses his team’s Gold Cup chances, the Khaleem Hyland gamble, Kenwyne Jones’ tactical adjustments and the cost of Kevin Molino’s absence to the Warriors.

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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31 comments

  1. Hannibal Najjar

    My only issue is that the team has been failing, under Coach Hart, to score goals. Yet in our reports we continue to describe the players as not being disciplined defensively. Real work has to be carried in particular within the minds and practices and drills that bring out and highlight specificity of technique. Just my small input.

  2. Which means that the Soca Worries will be getting bad licks in the upcoming Gold Cup eh, with one midfield player in the middle eh, well I hope that he will be a real play maker and prolific goal scorer to eh, else I wudda still return to the bound to score formation 4 4 2 once it is executed the right way by all the players, Coach Hart and his coaching staff really good yes.

  3. They have changed the system. Rather than try to find someone to fill Molino’s role, the coach has decided there isn’t anyone like that available.
    So they have moved to a 4-3-3, which is why there are that many attackers.

  4. Kendall Tull you are point on with regards to fitness of Latas and Beenhakker’s decision…. With regards to Molino being unavailable, I would have thought DeSilva or Paul or Arcia would have been included, 7 strikers and no goals….. Hmmm

  5. Yes. Cordell Samuel’s name came up recently. He is in El Salvador I think.

  6. There is another winger Cordell Samuel that was also on our national youth teams and then went to Viet Nam I think but I was told that he is some where in South America at present eh, does Coach Hart knows about him eh, a real prolific goal scorer, and what about Akeil Pompeii another great defender plying his trade somewhere out there in one of the Asian countries eh, like my foreign base Coach needs me to return to our sweet country and recruit some great players for him to represent our sweet country or wha. Them really good yes.

  7. Colin Benjamin, he is in camp training. This isn’t football training. Essentially he will totally off the radar while he does he recruit training. You won’t even be able to reach him by phone.
    Jason Marcano is an awkward player to look at but pretty effective. Pity. But Corbin is a good prospect all the same.

  8. Colin Benjamin because when it comes to my Army and Police training we don’t care about no national team duties eh, cause if it is done for one player it will have to be done for other players participating in the same sport or other sports.

  9. ok cool Big L Lasana Liburd well still i’d wonder what Corbin did as a winger to be picked. Someone like Jason Marcano might feel a bit aggrieved.

    And excuse any potential ignorance here but how is Army training preventing Arcia from being picked/considered for a Gold Cup place?

  10. I think Coach Hart should resign. He’s too good a Coach to be suffering due to poor administration. Football now is a science and not a fly by night venture. I still believe Jorsling has no case with his non-selection. If he chooses to retire, best wishes to him. It’s a hard luck scenario where the coach needs to make a professional decision.

  11. I know that Lasana and there is no doubting his return sparked our qualifying campaign out of the doldrums as we were going nowhere fast beforehand. I just am bemused at the expectations and the glossing over the issues. Read any article about his time in Scotland and the partying, drinking and smoking will feature just as prominently as the skill on the field. I guess the arrest for drunk driving was just a myth as well.

  12. Bahrain was what crucial match eh, the team that the Soca Worries was suppose to play wasn’t that bootleg team Bahrain eh, uncle corrupted Jack Warner make certain that the real team that we was supposed to play didn’t happened because from day 1 he orchestrated the whole 2006 World Cup campaign to make certain that we went to the World Cup in Germany , you really think that Stern John cudda have scored against the real Mexico team eh, and a hat trick to booth steeuuppss the Mexicans also owed the corrupted Jack Warner that favor by sending their third string team eh, because they was going and be banned by FIFA for some madness that they did. Them really good yes.

  13. WHAT!!!! Hashim Arcia decided to become a soldier eh, nice, nice, very nice but I wudda really rather him get a real professional football contract abroad yes but I guess he is using his wisdom and joining the Army for the better job security.

  14. Kendall Tull, Latapy was on the bench long before the World Cup. People conveniently forget that Aurtis Whitley was our playmaker in Bahrain for that crucial match. And Latapy was on the bench.
    And Aurtis was man of the match too!
    There was no mystery to Latapy not playing in the first two World Cup games. I spoke to more than a half dozen players in the camp.
    But rumors don’t die easy.

  15. Colin Benjamin, people keep referring to Corbin as a sign that Jorsling should be in the squad. But Corbin was selected as a winger and not as centre forward. So they don’t compare.
    Hashim Arcia was unavailable as he is in Army training.

  16. Doh hut up your head nah the book is in writing so thr whole TRUTH about 1989 and 2006 World Cups will be explained amongst the other corrupted things that uncle Jack and the TTFA did and destroyed our football. Them really good yes.

  17. Which games are you referring to Earl?

  18. Someone I trust implicitly spoke to Beehakker and that was the response he got. It’s no secret that he drank hard and smoked so how he could possibly be in top shape is beyond me. Perhaps you can explain that?

  19. Big respect to coach Hart, but i find it hard to understand not picking Jorsling but pick Cordin based on what occured in Pro League this season.

    No W Connection bias, but with the team looking to find options to play without Molino, i think Hashim Arcia should have been picked over James or Cummings. Not sure what use those two could have.

    Finally since he mentioned how he has been tracking Marshall & J Glenn – i wonder if he was tracking Cornell Glenn as well

  20. I think I’ll write an open letter to the Sports ministry and the ” Guvmunt” . According to the late great David ” Splav” Waddell, “The bullshit seems to have left the lobby and is now heading to the penthouse.”

  21. Kendall Tull that is the biggest lie eh how come he wasn’t brought on in the games leading up to the World Cup the reason the Coach didn’t play him was because his mouth got him in trouble with the Coach and you done know who was the Boss my foreign base coaches don’t stick eh Them really good yes

  22. This man must be commended for trying with us wi. Eventually tho his patience will wear out

  23. Well you know me I does sometimes read your stories after cause I know you have the thing down path so I will be waiting very patiently to see his tactical adjustments in the Gold Cup and if he fails well ah calling for his throat to be buss up eh. Them really good yes

  24. The problem Earl was that Latas wasn’t fit enough to last the game. As I understood it, the plan was to bring him on later in the game when the opponents were not as fresh to maximise the impact.

  25. Earl Mango Pierre, he spoke about the tactical adjustments he is making to the team to score goals in part one.

  26. Every team has a game plan with respect to scoring goals and it definitely shows that our Soca Worries have none and this even goes back to 2006 World Cup and I am positively certain if our bestest player play maker / goalscorer the Magician was on the field from the start the outcome would have been different. Them really good yes

  27. “Right now, we are training players by guess. We don’t have heart monitors or GPS systems. If we had it, we would know exactly what level of fitness each player has and what we are able to do with them as a result.”

    In the absence of this , I would have expected that the players would have been subjected to a beep test which is definitely available and would have been a good gauge of the fitness levels to start with.

  28. And the problem isn’t only scoring goals eh what about our bootleg defenders steeuupps . Them really good yes.