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Hart: Why I delayed subbing Kenwyne Jones; Soca Warriors coach clears the air

There were about 10 minutes remaining in Trinidad and Tobago’s 2018 World Cup qualifying fixture against Guatemala, on Friday 2 September, when coach Stephen Hart sent substitute Trevin Caesar to the fourth official so he could be added to the action.

At the time, Trinidad and Tobago led 2-1 courtesy of a Joevin Jones double. But it was another five minutes before Caesar was introduced to the action. And, during that period, Soca Warriors captain Kenwyne Jones motioned to the bench that they should delay the change.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Kenwyne Jones takes a breather during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Friday 2 September 2016. The Soca Warriors and Guatemala played to a 2-2 draw. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Kenwyne Jones takes a breather during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Friday 2 September 2016.
The Soca Warriors and Guatemala played to a 2-2 draw.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868

Hart obliged Kenwyne, although he was clearly not in his best form. And, perhaps predictably, the social media was abuzz with the exchange between coach and captain.

Was Hart giving the Warriors skipper too much leeway? Was it poor judgment on the coach’s part? Or a sign of weakness?

The truth may have been much more simple. Hart said his initial decision to delay the change, which was Trinidad and Tobago’s third and final substitution, had nothing to do with Kenwyne at all.

“Trevin Caesar was to go on much earlier [than Kenwyne’s gesture to the bench] actually. But [defender] Carlyle Mitchell went down awkwardly, so we waited to make sure he was okay.

“And then [Cordell] Cato also had a problem…”

The next opportunity to make the change came in the 83rd minute when Joevin was hauled to the ground outside the penalty area by Guatemala right back Christian Jimenez. Panamanian referee John Patti flashed the red card and sent the Central American team down to 10 players.

Photo: Hugs for Joevin Jones. Guatemala defender Christian Jimenez (left) tugs back Jones during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain on 2 September 2016. Jimenez was sent off for the foul while Jones scored twice as the two nations played to a 2-2 draw. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Hugs for Joevin Jones.
Guatemala defender Christian Jimenez (left) tugs back Jones during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain on 2 September 2016.
Jimenez was sent off for the foul while Jones scored twice as the two nations played to a 2-2 draw.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

During the temporary disarray, the Trinidad and Tobago bench prepared to send on Caesar. But Kenwyne felt he deserved one more minute so he could take the free kick.

“It was on a free kick,” Hart told Wired868. “[Kenwyne] scored two free kicks from that distance in practice. He was assigned to free kick duty with Joevin Jones, so he asked to take it.

“But then when the time came for him to take it, JJ begged to get it as he was on a hattrick. And [Kenwyne] obliged.”

There was an infamous moment in the 2009/10 England Premier League season when Frank Lampard won a penalty against Wigan on the final day of the season. Chelsea were already leading 1-0 and needed a result to win the title. But striker Didier Drogba was tied with Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney for the most goals honour with 26 items.

Drogba begged Lampard for the penalty and was livid when the latter player, who was the regular penalty taker, refused to give it to him. Lampard scored and Drogba went on to fire in a hattrick anyway—including one from the sport, courtesy of ‘Lamps’—as Chelsea and Drogba ended the match as winners.

Kenwyne did empathise with his namesake, Joevin, though. But Joevin drilled his kick wide and, after the hastily taken goal kick, Guatemala went up the field and grabbed an equaliser from captain Carlos Ruiz before Kenwyne could be replaced.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago coach Stephen Hart reacts to the final whistle in the 2016 Copa America play off contest at the Rommel Fernandez Stadium, Panama City on 8 January 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago coach Stephen Hart reacts to the final whistle in the 2016 Copa America play off contest at the Rommel Fernandez Stadium, Panama City on 8 January 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

Almost every other football conversation that night began with: “Did you see what happened when Hart tried to take off Kenwyne?!”

In truth, the Trinidad and Tobago coach simply believed—albeit after being prompted—that his team captain was their best chance at a decisive third goal against Guatemala off a set piece.

The Warriors, who remain unbeaten after five 2018 World Cup qualifying contests, close their CONCACAF semifinal round schedule on Tuesday 6 September when they face the United States in Jacksonville, Florida.

If Trinidad and Tobago manage a draw or win, they will advance to the hex unbeaten for the first time. It will also be only the second occasion that the Warriors topped their semifinal group, which was a feat they also managed in 2002 under then coach Ian Porterfield—now deceased—and at the expense of runners-up, Mexico.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland (second from right) gestures to fans after Joevin Jones' second goal against Guatemala during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Friday 2 September 2016. Both teams played to a 2-2 draw. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland (second from right) gestures to fans after Joevin Jones’ second goal against Guatemala during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Friday 2 September 2016.
Both teams played to a 2-2 draw.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868

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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138 comments

  1. honestly kenwyne shudda take the free kick and not take on j jones

  2. We got the kob done that’s important. Now to just focus in the next round. i would add on more experienced player in C. Glen so to add that effect. With this current crop We will go the distance. We are now a feared team in Concacaf by the so called big guns of the zone.

  3. I like Jones and he has a role to play. But on that night the fella had my voice in mezzo soprano mode. It’s not the misses that bother me because strikers miss. I know people have this belief that the world’s best rarely miss simple chances but they do… and often. So if they can miss, I eh too stressed by Jones’ miss.
    What bothered me is the lack of press. I don’t expect the man to effect a one man press like Vardy or Kane but with your team needing a point to qualify and at home with the US to play next I expect a striker to give his last jules to the cause.

    Jones was casual in a way that even when he was closing space and setting defensive traps for the midfield it was just annoying. Women around me who I know for a fact just came for the lime were cussin’ like Pacino in Scarface. It just didn’t seem like he was giving enough.

    Other than that, what was up with T&t’s tactics? We were laying off with a lead against 10 men. Half of the stadium predicted that equaliser.

    One more thing… Levi Garcia boyyyyyyyyyyy. Jeezan. Dat fella is something serious. Watching that fella in the flesh yuh literally seeing de fright on defenders’ faces. Finally we have a player like that.

  4. Kenwyn although not scoring at the moment serves a purpose. His presence alone will draw defenders to him allowing space for Joevin, Levi and other midfeilders the freedom to penetrate on the wings or from up top… I have faith in KJ. He’ll get it right. He came up big in Guatemala, just need to be more hungry and increase his work ethic… Have a feelin he gonna come up massive in Jacksonville tomorrow night

  5. I think this is akin to the chanderpaul issue… while I don’t want to digress, in trying to simplify the worth of a senior player’s inclusion in the ranks of the team one must draw comparisons. We can’t overlook what KJ’s role in the team is, on and off the field. Whether he fulfils this each game is left to be seen and it is up to coachman to buck up on him. But lewwe doh get caught up… even if it was not evident in the last game, KJ commands attention from central defenders… daz 2 men in a 4-4-2 and 3 men in a 5-4-1 leaving space for wingers and attacking mids. His individual talents may be questionable at times but d man on a team and on this team he has a role…

  6. Maybe Coach Hart needs to put him back in the midfield eh, the same like what Benhacker did with Dwight Yorke who felt that he was a midfield general but his role will be also to defend the corner kicks and also push in the attacks whenever necessary and of course all the free kicks will belong to him to eh, Mr bound not score might eventually score some goals eh.Lol

    • hahahaha Coach Hart needs to use two forwards with Mr. Bound not to score just behind them doing his thing eh because he is slow and lazy instead of this one forward that they are using and even with the 5 midfielders they are still being out played by the opponents 4 4 2 system eh and imagine that they were both over 35 yrs old and their forward who is 40 yrs old scored the both gioals for Guatemala. Them really good yes steeuuppss

  7. I still think kenwyn has a tremendous contribution to make…o just believe it depends on the game situation and what we hope to achieve. For instance if we are going for a win at home…we start with Garcia and joevin and or Cato I think he should be on the bench in that scenario with a more mobile faster forward.
    But let’s say we looking for an away draw on a defensive formation. ..then he’ll yeah he should start as that strategy may require a good hold up player. To say “discard him” is just ignorant really

  8. Well yeah I agree, get rid of the current best international player and leading goal scorer. I mean it’s not like we really need him. Look at the long list of great strikers sitting on the bench while he takes up valuable playing time..

  9. Sorry to say but Kenwyne has been way past his shelf life for some time now. This is one definite criticism of Hart that I have of not letting him go already!

  10. It is just me or are people being overly critical of this current squad? When actually advancing to the semifinal round with a game to spare is a fantastic feat!

  11. Since when playing a game is a “crime”?

  12. Worry and pray about Tuesday versus the Americans, instead of the past.

  13. All of a sudden Stephen Hart’s command of the team is being questioned.

    All kinds of prognosticators emerging. Meanwhile, as coaches their charges are not nearly match fit, cannot concentrate for more than in 3 minute intervals, and cannot get their players to even adapt to the modern game.

    I have listened to the players and all, to a man, want to play for, and respect the coach.

    Fickle

  14. If It Wasn’t For Kenwyne Jone Trinidad Would Not Have Scored The 2 Because He Hold Up The Ball For The Play And Support Too Arrive So They Can Score Well Done By The Skipper.
    Some Of You Don’t Go Watch The Game Properly Y’all Just Go Too Jump Up .

  15. Why is he giving out his tatical moves ? He do not has to answer to the public

  16. In my view Kenwyne should have been taken off at the half.

    • More than half the team could have been taken off at the half. But we only had three subs and you had to study who you’re replacing them with too.

    • Quite true, the team was awful but Kenwyne had an opportunity to change the game and maybe, by extension, the team performance had he converted on one of the 3 clear cut chances that he had. I am also not impressed with his defensive play, in my view there is no urgency.

    • He should work harder in the press. I agree. But I don’t think he was bad as some think.
      Cordell Cato missed the easiest chance of the game by some distance. Nobody really mentioned that.
      Men might have stormed the field if Kenwyne had missed that. Lol.

    • We in large part do not finish well, I was however impressed by Joevin Jones, he is so smooth, I just hope we can reproduce the form that we had when we drew with Mexico, if we reproduce that form we can beat the US.

    • I’ve been banging out about Joevin for years. And he still isn’t playing anywhere near to the level I think he can operate at.
      For me, Joevin can play in any top league in Europe. But he has got to be mature in terms of his decision making.
      Joevin is better than even he realises I think.
      Not so Stefano Monti?

  17. That’s not what I saw Jones refused to come I watched the game yesterday and today who’s really the coach HART Jones or Williams ???

  18. Alyuh see the same damn thing eh, I just read Mr Live Wire story eh, and Mr. Bound not to score didn’t take the free kick because JJ wanted to score his hat trick eh. yuh know Mr. Bound not to score might have scored the free kick eh, why these players does always go against the Coaches instructions eh. that is the same thing Stern John did to Dwight Yorke eh asked him to take a penalty eh and alyuh know he threw away the penalty eh. steeuppss Them really good yes.

  19. Sounds reasonable to me…Men calling for the Capt to be removed but then saying they dont know much about the player they suggesting replacing him with…FYI Trini Don I have seen KJ score vs Mexico Panama El Salvador & last year vs this SAME Guatemalan team…so that rubbishes the Caribbean opponents argument…the man has played ONE Competitive game this season over 2 weeks ago so he is NOT match fit…he can & WILL get better!

  20. Kenwyne Jones …. full 94 minutes… no way … 45 minutes and 10 for the most in the 2nd half… we have goal scorers on the bench… fresh legs…

  21. He Shouldn’t Even Be On the Field.

  22. Good piece. You’re normally direct, so don’t understand why you’d demur about Kenwyne being “not in his best form.” How about he played badly and should have been yanked earlier? Having asked to stay on and take a fk and been indulged, he should have. Seems to me that the uncertainties around the changes/non changes may have led to a tactical switch-off and the equaliser. When the coach puts your number up, you come off. Simple. Failure to follow may have cost T&T the late goal.

    • Well, I might have said that Kenwyne said after he was dissatisfied with his own performance. I suppose that would be better from a news standpoint.
      It was one of those pieces that kinda didn’t feel like a straight news piece to begin with. But fair point.

    • I don’t mean to fixate on that point. Apologies. It was a small detail.

    • If I sound a tad frustrated I really wanted the Warriors to win. Been a fan since following them behind God’s back to Kaiserslautern in 2006. Still, they’re in the hat.

    • Once he is on the field his tactical importance and role can be downplayed. he draws much attention. Trini are a real fickle bunch. EDIT: West Indians are a real fickle bunch

    • Lol. No problem Orin. It was a very valid point. But that Kaiserslautern trip must have been the most magical atmosphere I’ve ever experienced.
      I went to the World Cup final that year too and it wasn’t nearly as electric.
      We were poor on Friday. But plenty to appreciate about this campaign so far just like Chandani said.

  23. Kenwyne in his entire career has not been anything close to fantastic….22 goals in 85 games

  24. We down to level hair splitting though. Like I am amazed that people acting like this was some fantastic super sub and the entire result could have been different if he made it on the field on time..

  25. I didn’t see it to be honest Esmond. But a lot seemed to have been happening at that time with the possible injuries and the red card and so on.
    From what I can see, it seemed understandable. I don’t know that Trevin did anything to show he should have been on earlier or vice versa either.

  26. We.took 4 minutes to make the last Sub…. the guy was standing at the sideline… Jones keep motioning to the Bench or Coach many times prior…. A real anti climax !!…

  27. I think if they practiced set pieces and Kenwyne Jones was the best at it, it is reasonable if they left him on for another minute to have a crack…

  28. Gracious and unselfish captain. Leading by supporting.

  29. Steups !!!! Pull him off, waste of time

  30. It appeared to me as if they havent practised any set pieces at all

  31. Earl Best

    Well, Brian Lewis also thought that he should give Dr Hypolite a chance to do the job that he ended up doing, John Public seems to think, badly.

    The voice of John Public, KPB will tell you, is not ALWAYS the voice of God.