Veteran Trinidad and Tobago international midfielder Khaleem Hyland vowed to continue to give 100 percent to the Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, as the Soca Warriors prepare for life under new coach Tom Saintfiet.
Hyland, a combative box to box midfielder with 67 caps and four goals, told the TTFA Media that his dream remains the same: to get to the World Cup.
“We have a job to do which is the same job we had from the start of the campaign, which is to go to the World Cup,” said the 27-year-old Hyland, who plays professionally for Westerlo in Belgium. “And we as players really want to go to a World Cup. We as players have the job to do. The coach is only there to guide the players…
“The coach cannot come out on the field and he can only guide us from the sidelines. The player has to make the final decision when he is on the field and give his one hundred.
“I as a player always give my full hundred and will continue to do so once I have on the Red,White and Black.”
Saintfiet, a 43-year-old Belgian, was once attached to Westerlo as a player, although he retired at 24 and it is uncertain if he played professionally in the Belgium top flight. Hyland revealed that the new Warriors coach is on friendly terms with Westerlo technical director Wim Van Hove, though.
“Wim said to me a couple days ago that he knows coach Saintfiet well and that he was here at Westerlo and they are good friends,” said Hyland. “I had a conversation with coach Saintfiet today and he spoke well of Wim whom he said was one of the first persons that sent him a note of congratulations when he got the job.”
Hyland played in 35 of Trinidad and Tobago’s 43 internationals under former national head coach Stephen Hart and expressed disappointed at his departure. However, he said the Warriors now have to look at the bigger picture.
“I know a lot of people expressed their disappointment with the situation over the last few days but that is part of life. We wish coach Hart the best of luck. I personally sent him a message. We know what he wanted to achieve and what he gave for T&T football and the mindset he instilled in us.
“I know he wants the best for us which means we have to overlook all the negatives right now and focus on the bigger picture, which is the success of the national team and our football in general…
“It has always been my dream to represent my country and I will always give my best because I am not playing for myself only but also the entire country. We want to put back Trinidad and Tobago football on the map. And by trying to do so, we have to qualify for the World Cup and this means we have to play and give the support to whoever the coach is. And right now, Tom is the man in that position.”
Hyland suffered a hamstring injury in Trinidad and Tobago’s last outing away to Honduras, which ended in a 3-1 loss. However, he was deemed fit to return to action today against Standard Liege.
Saintfiet will make his debut as Trinidad and Tobago coach later this month, as the Warriors leave on Christmas Day for friendlies in Nicaragua against the host nation on 27 and 30 of December.
Trinidad and Tobago will then host Suriname and Haiti in 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup qualifiers on 4 and 8 of January while they again play at home for a pair of World Cup qualifiers against Panama and Mexico on 24 and 28 March respectively.
TTFA president David John-Williams has publicly warned Saintfiet that he should look for a job if the Warriors do not get at least four points from the two World Cup qualifiers at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
In other local football news, new Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) technical programs head coordinator Jamaal Shabazz vowed to kickstart the National Elite Youth Development programme next month and denied it was already underway.
At least one south zone official claimed that the elite programme started with screening sessions over two weeks ago. However, Shabazz, who was officially appointed on Monday 5 December, denied this.
“There have been a lot of rumours that the Elite development programme has been started but it has not been started,” Shabazz told the TTFA Media. “I did not come to run around the programme. I came to run the program.
“We will start in a proper way and all the zones and the country at large will know about it. It is not a secret. The sponsors have made a great input.
“NLCB have demonstrated that they have planted the corn. We want the butcher to send his son, the baker and the candlemaker to send his sons and daughters to to be part of this programme.”
Shabazz said the local football body will liaise with the zonal associations and hire a large staff of mainly coordinators and coaches to run the programme.
“We have already spoken to UEFA about setting up a course to teach coaches how to scout for talent and then we will also have a specific course for youth development in a more specialised way,” said Shabazz, who coached the Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana national teams and is a co-founder of the Morvant Caledonia United club.
The TTFA Elite Youth Development programme, according to the local football body aims to: scout and select our best U-13/14 boys and girls and nurture this special pool of talent so that they form the core of our national teams at the U-13/15, U-17, U-20, U-23 and senior levels from 2017 through 2034; and to hone the talent of these young footballers through specialised football and life skills training.
The TTFA proposes to develop and implement the following:
- A programme of year-round coaching, training and national team duty inclusive of 2- 4 week periods of being ‘in camp’;
- A schedule of games to be played that includes one friendly international game every two to three months;
- Procure the necessary personal and team performance recording and monitoring equipment to enable scientific performance analysis and assessment;
- Implement a Personal Development Program (PDP) for each player, including nutrition education, educational assessment and tutoring for the players;
- Maintain a players’ ledger on all those involved in the program to ensure accuracy of their playing history and professional career progress;
- Form a parent and family support unit for the players.