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Panama penalise Warriors; T&T fails to hurdle ‘Canal Men’ in G/Cup 1/4 final

The Panama football team has played four matches in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup and is yet to win a single game, four ties in regulation time. Yet, it is “Los Canaleros” who will advance to the Gold Cup semifinal round on July 22.

And the “Soca Warriors” will head home after a heartbreaking 6-5 loss on penalties at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago football captain Kenwyne Jones (background) hugs teammate and goalkeeper Marvin Phillip after their penalty shoot loss to Panama in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal. (Copyright Jewel Samad/AFP 2015)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago football captain Kenwyne Jones (background) hugs teammate and goalkeeper Marvin Phillip after their penalty shoot loss to Panama in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal.
(Copyright Jewel Samad/AFP 2015)

“I think at the end of the day the two days extra rest for Panama showed,” Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart told the TTFA Media. “We were completely exhausted. But I have to give credit to my players. They gave me everything. I extracted every drop of juice out of that orange.

“Penalties are a cruel way to decide a game but it’s how the game ends.”

Some people believe that Lady Luck decides the winner of penalty shoot outs. Hart’s own view on the subject is uncertain. But it is surely a dilemma that he ought to grapple with.

The Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team has faced three penalty shoot-outs during Hart’s tenure. In every one, the Warriors kicked second. And, on every occasion, they lost.

It was 6-7 against the United Arab Emirates on 5 September 2013 at the OCM Cup in Saudi Arabia. Then 3-4 against Jamaica at the 2014 Caribbean Cup final on 18 November 2014 in Montego Bay.

And, this evening, Panama extended their miserable run from the spot. Three successive defeats via the same format is not misfortune. It is a shortcoming.

Yet, at the same time, one cannot overlook the significant transformation in the Warriors, who seemed to be afraid of their own shadows, just a month ago, but became the talk of the region once the business started.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Sheldon Bateau (centre) celebrates the opening goal against Guatemala with teammates Radanfah Abu Bakr (left) and Khaleem Hyland. (Copyright Jonathan Daniel/AFP 2015)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Sheldon Bateau (centre) celebrates the opening goal against Guatemala with teammates Radanfah Abu Bakr (left) and Khaleem Hyland.
(Copyright Jonathan Daniel/AFP 2015)

Hart begged for more live-in camps, international practice games and scientific training equipment so as to widen his player pool, improve his team’s fitness, enhance their tactical grasp of the game and properly prepare them for the speed and intensity of top flight competition and tutor them on the art of physical recovery between assignments.

Even as fans despair at Trinidad and Tobago’s inability to keep possession or Daneil Cyrus’ woeful penalty kick, it is worth noting that, if successful teams could be created with a short pre-tournament camp and sporadic international games, then the likes of Real Madrid and Chelsea would not bother to have lengthy and arduous pre-seasons.

The Warriors could have beaten Panama today. Maybe they should have. But we are a long way from being able to expect such results.

You sow, the good book says, as you reap. It is alarming that this lesson appears not to have sunk in with the powers-that-be after so many close defeats by the male and female teams respectively.

Hart insisted before the fixture that ball possession would be vital to the quarterfinal fixture. But it is one thing to diagnose the problem and quite another to address it.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart (centre) makes a point while midfielders Ataulla Guerra (right) and Khaleem Hyland look on during a practice session in March. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart (centre) makes a point while midfielders Ataulla Guerra (right) and Khaleem Hyland look on during a practice session in March.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

By the halfway mark, Panama had 58 percent of possession and completed 126 pass to 71 from the Warriors.

A decade or two ago, Trinidad and Tobago had maestros like David Nakhid, Russell Latapy, Dwight Yorke, Arnold Dwarika, Kerwin Jemmott and Aurtis Whitley, who had the talent and presence to dictate the tempo of a match.

These days, the Warriors are more one-dimensional, built for speed and combat. And a team’s DNA cannot be changed with one lecture.

Kenwyne Jones does not just wear the armband. He is the reference point for the squad and the direct tempo suits him.

Panama, like Mexico, Cuba and Guatemala before them, quaked when balls flew towards the giant Cardiff City forward.

And Jones nearly put Trinidad and Tobago ahead in the 25th minute with a powerful header, off a Cyrus long throw, that was inches over the Panamanian bar.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Kenwyne Jones heads towards goal against Panama in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. (Copyright Jewel Samad/AFP 2015)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Kenwyne Jones heads towards goal against Panama in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
(Copyright Jewel Samad/AFP 2015)

Panama struck first, though. Radanfah Abu Bakr failed to decisively deal with a diagonal cross in the 36th minute and his central defensive partner Sheldon Bateau’s attempted clearance only made things worse.

The ball ricocheted off Panama striker Blas Perez, ricocheted off Bateau and fell to Luis Tejada inside the penalty area. And Tejada is not the sort to pass up such opportunities.

It was Tejada’s 40th international goal from 86 matches. The entire Trinidad and Tobago starting team only had 30 international goals combined.

The Warriors nearly had their own slice of good fortune, seconds before the halftime interval.

Panama right back Gabriel Gomez was stretchered off the field with a shoulder injury. And, before coach Hernan Dario Gomez could get a replacement on the field, Cyrus delivered a brilliant cross to the back post where the Panama right back would have been stationed.

Keron Cummings and Joevin Jones were both charging towards the ball with the goal in their sights. But Jones (K) launched himself backwards to make contact and denied his teammates of a clear scoring chance.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Keron Cummings (centre) celebrates his goal against Mexico with teammates (from right) Cordell Cato, Joevin Jones, Mekeil Williams and Aubrey David in the 2015 Gold Cup. (Courtesy MexSport/CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Keron Cummings (centre) celebrates his goal against Mexico with teammates (from right) Cordell Cato, Joevin Jones, Mekeil Williams and Aubrey David in the 2015 Gold Cup.
(Courtesy MexSport/CONCACAF)

Maybe the captain did not hear them. Perhaps he was trying to take responsibility.

Either way, Jones (K) atoned, nine minutes into the second half, as he ran on to a deep Khaleem Hyland free kick and nodded a header past Panama custodian Jaime Penedo.

Panama defender Harold Cummings was trying to knock the muscular Warriors captain off his course during the set piece. But he had as much chance of success at that task as pint-sized MP Colm Imbert flooring retired boxer Kertson Manswell.

It was Jones’ fourth all-time Gold Cup goal, which brought him level with Dwarika as Trinidad and Tobago’s most prolific scorer in the confederation’s showcase tournament.

It was also Trinidad and Tobago fifth goal off a set piece from four games at the 2015 competition.

Jones did not celebrate with a somersault. Maybe he was conserving energy. Or perhaps it was his way of saying that the job was not finished yet.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Cordell Cato (left) eludes Panama midfielder Miguel Camargo during the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal. (Copyright Jewel Samad/AFP 2015)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Cordell Cato (left) eludes Panama midfielder Miguel Camargo during the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal.
(Copyright Jewel Samad/AFP 2015)

But the Warriors rarely saw the opposing penalty area again.

Keron Cummings had one sniff in the 69th minute, after a counter that involved Jones (K) and Lester Peltier, but his shot was charged down by Panama captain Roman Torres.

Otherwise, it is hard to remember Penedo having much reason for concern between the uprights for Panama.

Trinidad and Tobago defended deeper and deeper as the minutes went by while Peltier was generally not as successful at winning yards down the touchline as the man he replaced, Cordell Cato.

Panama should have won the match in the 90th minute but somehow Perez, another veteran goal poacher with 38 goals from 96 internationals, contrived to screw Alberto Quintero’s cross wide from inside the six yard box.

Neither team seemed to enjoy extra time. For 30 minutes, it looked like 22 men running in quicksand, until Honduran referee Hector Rodriguez blew the whistle and invited the two nations to solve their dispute via kicks from the penalty mark.

Photo: A Trinidad and Tobago football fan has more than the "Soca Warriors" on his mind in New Jersey.
Photo: A Trinidad and Tobago football fan has more than the “Soca Warriors” on his mind at the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal in New Jersey.

“I think fatigue was a big factor,” said Hart. “We could not get up and down the field as a unit like we did against Mexico and as the game went further and further forward we just couldn’t keep possession of the ball.

“We ran out of legs.”

Jones (K) won the toss. For some unfathomable reason, he chose to kick second for the third successive time.

Yet, to be fair, it did not immediately seem an omen of doom.

Torres skied the first kick of the shootout over the bar and Trinidad and Tobago substitute Ataulla Guerra dispatched his effort to put the Warriors ahead.

The advantage did not last as Sheldon Bateau blasted Trinidad and Tobago’s second kick too close to Penedo, who held on to it.

Phillip got Warriors supporters jumping as he pushed away the next attempt from Panama left back Erick Davis. But then Jones (J) hit to the heavens and the scores were tied again at 1-1.

Mekeil Williams, Jones (K) and Abu Bakr converted as the two teams were locked at 4-4 after six kicks each.

Then, Quintero walked up, spat—surely a sign of nerves—and was promptly denied by Phillip.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Marvin Phillip. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Marvin Phillip.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

The thing about shoot-outs is that the first kicker always knows that his goalkeeper can cover for him if he misses. The pressure is always more intense for the team that kicks last.

Cyrus, who could have put the Warriors into the semis, choked and missed the entire frame of the goal.

Perez squeezed the next shot past Phillip before Andre Boucaud, who missed a penalty for T&T in Saudi Arabia, and Valentin Pimental both scored.

As Peltier strode forward, he was the fifth Trinidad and Tobago player who was kicking to pull his team level. And he could not get his attempt past Penedo, who tipped it on to the bar.

Game over.

“Yesterday nobody missed (in practice) and today we had three chances to take it and we missed,” said Hart. “A lot of what we have to work on comes with experience and playing matches.

“A tournament like this would have done a lot for our young players and hopefully with the right preparation, we can continue to grow and improve as a team.”

Maybe the Warriors’ encouraging performances at the Gold Cup would inspire the football community and the public and private sector to provide them with the necessary tools—both in terms of financial resources and managerial expertise—to take a more measured approach to their next tournament.

Or maybe Trinidad and Tobago will continue to improvise on the fly and hope for the best.

What do you think?

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national senior team coach Stephen Hart studies his options during a 3-0 friendly defeat against Argentina in June 2014. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national senior team coach Stephen Hart studies his options during a 3-0 friendly defeat against Argentina in June 2014.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

(Teams)

Trinidad and Tobago (4-2-3-1): 1.Marvin Phillip (GK), 5.Daneil Cyrus, 6.Radanfah Abu Bakr, 4.Sheldon Bateau, 17.Mekeil Williams; 8.Khaleem Hyland (11.Ataulla Guerra 91), 19.Kevan George; 13.Cordell Cato (23.Lester Peltier 65), 20.Keron Cummings (14.Andre Boucaud 80), 3.Joevin Jones; 9.Kenwyne Jones.

Unused substitutes: 22.Adrian Foncette (GK), 2.Aubrey David, 7.Jonathan Glenn, 10.Willis Plaza, 12.Kadeem Corbin, 15.Dwane James, 16.Rundell Winchester, 18.Yohance Marshall.

Injured: 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK).

Coach: Stephen Hart

 

Panama (4-2-2-2): 1.Jaime Penedo (GK); 6.Gabriel Gomez (13.Adolfo Machado 45), 5.Roman Torres (captain), 3.Harold Cummings, 15.Erick Davis; 2.Valentin Pimentel, 14.Miguel Camargo (22.Abdiel Arroyo 90); 11.Armando Cooper, 19.Alberto Quintero; 7.Blas Perez, 10.Luis Tejada (8.Gabriel Torres 82).

Unused substitutes: 12.Luis Mejia (GK), 21.Jose Calderon (GK), 4.Alfredo Stephens, 9.Roberto Nurse, 16.Rolando Blackburn, 17.Luis Henriquez, 18.Darwin Pinzon, 23.Angel Patrick,

Suspended: 20.Anibal Godoy.

Coach: Hernan Dario Gomez

 

Referee: Hector Rodriguez (Honduras)

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones celebrates his goal against Mexico in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones celebrates his goal against Mexico in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal result

(Sun July 19)

Panama 1 (Luis Tejada 36), Trinidad and Tobago 1 (Kenwyne Jones 54)

*—Panama won 6-5 on kicks from the penalty mark

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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88 comments

  1. Cyrus is one of our best defenders though. It was just a job too much for him. He is a real fighter but I think Boucaud is a better technical player and should have kicked earlier.

  2. boy that Haiti team look very good. we are going to have to come good

  3. I didn’t know Cyrus before and now I won’t forget him. Smh. He reminded me of that Chelsea player that missed the penalty and José side lined him then loaned him out. However, we played hard, missed opportunities but so it is in football some days. I hope we keep improving and Hart keeps them on track.

  4. Teams that try a thing nearly qualify. But don’t. Over and over again.
    The Women Warriors were seconds away. That gives the false impression that if only Cyrus hit on target or Kimika held on, we might have done it.
    If we keep trying a thing, we will put up a brave fight and not qualify. Repeatedly.

  5. Lasana I would hope we can do more than compete this time and make it out if the group stage. We know we can compete. We competed in 2006 and as far back as 1990. But as you pointed out earlier we don’t have a proper programme in place. Look at this the only player from the under 17 team that played when the youth world tournament was here in TT are Marvin and Kenwayne. That was an excellent team. What about the other team that went the tournament in Africa? Right next door Jamaica has been seriously preparing. They are in the gold cup semis.

  6. Most teams have been preparing for the 2018 World Cup for years. We still don’t have a proper program in place.
    So I would be surprised if we qualified.
    But we have a team that can compete which gives us a shot.

  7. I have seen progress with this team, when last have we come back from 2 goals down against a team like mexico, the goal is goal cup 2017 and russia 2018

  8. Lasana- Good game yesterday a tough loss for T&T.. I liked both teams but gave the edge to Trinidad because of the quality of players they have. I didn’t know what Cyrus was trying to do with his kick. A good team in the making, just need some business like and mental toughness to go with it and won’t be surprised if they make it to Russia in 2018..

  9. We ended every training session with penalty kicks, not just any penalty kicks you had to score in certain areas of the goal, the keepers rotated each kicker, that’s how you prep for PK’s

  10. It might sound that simple Dennis Drakes. But if people can change corners that easily there would be much less missed penalties.
    But consider that amount of mental gymnastics going on. People can’t say it is just a moment of walking up to the spot and either scoring or missing.
    And that’s why some teams win shootouts pretty consistently and others don’t.

  11. Interesting discussion Lasana! Yeah, the video analysts are an integral part of the backroom staff in the modern game. But check this – the analysts and the keeper know that the kicker is likely to put the ball in the right corner. But the kicker’s team know that the other team knows that he is likely to put it in the right corner, so he drills it into the left corner. So what I am saying is that analysts, yes, but at the end of the day is you against me, mano y mano, leh we see who have d bigger cajones (not trying to be sexist here eh). Leh we see who badder dan who. Lol.

  12. Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised when we won those games leading up to the Panama game. Our defense was questionable in all games and was my biggest concerned going into this game. This game was painful to watch. I thought our focus/concentration seemed off. I don’t know how we move on from here.

  13. A broken clock is right twice a day Debbie Espinal. If they keep kicking second and eventually win, it won’t prove them right.
    In penalties, the pressure is on the kicker and NOT the goalie.
    If you kick first, you know the other guy could miss or the goalie could save. When you kick second, if you screw up then it is over.
    I would think it to be simple as regards which kicker is under more pressure.
    In any case, I am not making up the stats. We kicked second on three occasions. We lost on three occasions.
    But, hey, we can probably keep trying it and see what happens.
    Of course, it depends on your accuracy and nerve in the end. My point is: Why invite additional pressure on your kickers?

  14. Red Steel kept winning the toss and electing to bat first not without loud protestations from the fans. It paid off for them eventually so i’m not sure your theory about kicking first or last is the key. Penalities is a shitty way to get a result. There will always be a winner and a loser. It’s simply the luck of the draw and maybe who prays harder, Not withstanding Cyrus’s insistence on taking that kick had he nailed it we would be singing a different tune today. Pressure does buss pipe. I seek to take the positives from this tournament while recognizing our shortcomings. With the right infrastructure, a cohesive TTFA and Sport Ministry, proper funding i think if we stick with this pool of players there just may be a light at the end of the tunnel. Yesterday was yesterday and today is today. Moving forward lets continue the support as they start their preparation for the World Cup Qualifiers. Go Warriors!

  15. Yes. Hart said he doesn’t have a video analyst. Those teams have a team of them and they would research all the potential penalty takers.
    Marginal advantages. It doesn’t assure you of a win. But it makes it easier for you.
    I saw a photo of the Panamanian technical staff and it was like a small army.

  16. Lasana I must say thanks for your insight. I didn’t know penalty kicks got so scientific people know where to dive and where to kick depending on the goalie and the kicker. I saw some goalie training videos for barca the other day and I was like wow. They even training them to have better reflects. I guess at the end of the day while we support our team and passionate about the warriors (male and female) we still have a long way to go to win a Gold Cup, progress to the second round or further in a World Cup and just become a consistent force in football in general.

  17. People who have done this at the highest level say every penalty is harder than the next. It matters psychologically if you are the second kicker with two or three kickers after you. Or if you are kicking fifth or sixth and it comes down to you alone.
    It matters if you are kicking to save the game or to win it.
    Do you know your spot? Or where the goalkeeper is stronger?
    I can assure you that it is not luck. Otherwise England would have won just as many over the years as Germany.
    Some teams prepare scientifically and their goalkeepers know where to dive according to who is shooting. They even know where to dive if guy makes a longer run up than usual.
    Others think it is luck and they tend to lose much more often than they win.

  18. I’m not upset. I think coach Hart should first be paid then given a raise. TIMKEE OUT!

  19. I hear you Lasana. But there are so many variables to consider….I can’t say it was the same thing because I would hazard a guess that it was a different set of players who kicked ‘differently’. So right there the whole ball game changed. I don’t have any answers, so I will not even try to offer some kind of technical input. I out.

  20. And how can mental pressure not be a factor in kicking penalties? There are many ways you can put yourself at a disadvantage.

  21. I obviously disagree Nigel Myers. First, I didn’t complain about us kicking second after the fact. In the game thread I said it before.
    Secondly if you give yourself several little disadvantages it tends to add up to a great big disadvantage.
    And if you keep trying the same thing and failing consistently, then it is time to try something else.
    Teams don’t prepare for penalties outside competitions as far as I know.

  22. Ah know Lasana just emotional 🙁

  23. No date has been set on that Copa play off yet. Actually Abu Bakr has been a dead ball specialist for years and Mekeil Williams takes penalties for W Connection.
    I’ve never seen Cyrus take a penalty before though.

  24. Sometimes you try hard, but things don’t work out as you had intended. Nothing to do with kicking first or second, or strategy etc. The Coach might be right – tiredness! Tired legs leads to tired brain, which leads to tired thinking, which leads to tired execution. Who knows? It just wasn’t our day – the planets were not aligned!

  25. Over and over we see this result and the thing is we know exactly what the problems AND the solutions are…yet TTFA, Tim Kee and the Ministry of Sport are allowed to hand us the same bullshit. We can’t expect different results if we keep doing things the same way. The Warriors went as far as WE equipped them to go!

    • How many times must we nearly qualify before we realise that we have do things a little better?

    • Yes cindy, but you have to remember, that this team is much better then the team that we had years ago. The weakness is in the penalty area. And they must work on that..⚽⚽⚽…

    • The weakness is not only in the penalty kicks. Their weakness is all round Michael. Had we advanced ahead of Panama how far do you think they would have gotten playing the way they were. Yes they’re better BUT they’re not nearly where they need to be and SHOULD be had they been given all the tools and advantages that they need and deserve. That’s the crux of my argument. With half assed or mediocre training and practice how will they ever improve to be the team we know they can be and want them to be? My beef is with the administration.

    • Yes. We need to give the coach the possible chance of success. And that isn’t the case. Cyrus’ penalty isn’t the real problem. It is the lack of resources for the team.

  26. So T&T will play Haiti in a play-off to see who qualifies for Copa 2016? Does this tie occur during the Gold Cup window or later in the year?

  27. Could the coach map out a plan for the World Cup Qualifiers inclusive of camps and good warm up games, have a budget prepared and meet with the Minister to determine how the Government can help?
    Set up a committee of people who can be trusted to use taxpayers money wisely and will account for the funds in a detailed manner. We need to START OVER. Forget the past, that is history. We need to give the coach, players and staff a REAL opportunity to succeed.
    We should do the same for the ladies.

  28. It doh matter whether we kicked first or second. The fact is we had the opportunity to win the game and we didn’t take it. If Cyrus had scored then we wouldn’t be talking about it. Nothing to do with strategy. We would have probably said that KJ was a boss for choosing to go second. We could barely prepare properly for a game, much less having the luxury of addressing penalty kicks.

  29. Ah boy…Lasana ….you getting props ……

  30. I just hope that the TTFA gets it act together and stop all the stupidness….

  31. Warriors are one of the best in the region and Lasana Liburd is as well. Thanks for the brilliant article as usual man! Always bringing perspective.

  32. I agree. Costa Rica haven’t won since they have an new coach

  33. I guess the coach knows his players, but I don’t get it with all your defenders taking penalties.

  34. I think we ran ourselves flat against Mexico trying to avoid Costa Rica and seal spot against easier opponents. Didn’t end too bad as well, but we really struggled today. I think we just didn’t have the fitness and human resource to tactically control the game. We did well to take it to penalties, hard defeat.

  35. We have to assume a warrior’s attitude! Grab our opposition by their throats, strangle them, and take no prisoners.

  36. At least we didn’t get cheated like Costa Rica

  37. Lol John Trinipelvic Patterson

  38. Coach Leo said that “the best teams make few mistakes”. I am taking heart that we are eradicating some of the mistakes in our game. Players need to think of penalties as a technical part of the game that has to be developed. I have seen too many times in local and community games penalties taken as if they picking mangoes.
    Its clear as was highlighted in your article, we have not learned from the past. KJ cant keep wining the toss and opt for second, as if he minin ah play whe mark hoping it would score one day.

  39. Give coach Hart what he needs!

  40. Progress… we lost but headed in the right direction. Have my tickets in hand for the semis so I’ll go anyway.

  41. Can’t wait for the banter! People bashing the fellas! Ready set go! I think it was a great preparation for world
    Cup
    Qualifying.

  42. I was disappointed that we did not win. Thanks for all the analysis. When the final kick turned into a miss I remembered the Soca Princesses s Ecuador. The kinda of long term investment (human resources, financial resources) that go into a successful team we still lack. It was an decent showing I think most of TT are proud and felt a small measure of 2006 pride again. I really hope we can build from here for 2018. That includes the women’s team as well.

  43. There is enough in this team for sponsors to get on board. I think TTFF lack of accountability and no clear, real plan for taking our football forward is hurting the team(s) tremendously.

  44. In all honesty I doubt there was anyone who thought this team would have reached this far given the lack of proper pre tournament preparation and the off field issues that occurred. So congratulations to the Soca Warriors and Stephen Hart on reaching this far with the limited resources given and numerous off field issues.It shows the mental toughness and togertherness of the group. This seems to be the never ending story of this nation’s football and to be honest the vast majority of us( if we are to be truly honest) are neither true football fans nor patriots..we only become patriots when it suits us( whether it be for personal gain..political gain or otherwise..and since I can recall quick fix plans have been the order of the day with our football.Just take a look back at our women and the amount of people who supported them during their qualifying games to that last game where they were on the verge of qualifying for the WC. Get my drift? So forgive me if I don’t see much changing very soon. It’s baffling that we can never somehow seem to give the players EVERY opportunity to be successful. Administrators in this country seem to get it very wrong mentality wise when it comes to sport..the athletes are the important ones…NOT you…and it is the athlete who should be given priority and the necessary resources(whether financial or otherwise to be successful)..Your day, Mr. Administrator, will come via photo ops when the teams are successful and winning. It does seem though that there is an underlying jealousy of the athletes by older administrators ( and even former players/ athletes) where the administrator believes that the athlete should not be making more money than they are( I recall an article where one spoke about the u23 footballers making 20,000TT a game for 3 matches..so they would have made 60,000TT. But this would have been in a whole year. How often do they play tournaments in a year? In a sport where 20 years is about the most one can get before retiring it’s just baffling that these things come up. It’s simply ludicrous that we genuinely want to reach anywhere in this country with this sort of archaic and dinosaur like thinking. Sport it seems is still an unrespected luxury in this country. I have heard athletes complaining that even getting time off from work to represent your country proves to be somewhat of a challenge so what do we really expect? Jamaica and other caribbean nations have gotten it right..why can’t we? SIGH!!!