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Who is calling the shots? Central question “foolhardy” omission of Jan and Nathaniel

Pro League leaders and defending champions, Central FC, are continuing to question the omission of goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams and Nathaniel “Spanish” Garcia from the Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team, after postponements meant both players are available for the rest of the year.

Central controversially refused to release the duo, despite the request of National Senior Team coach Tom Saintfiet, after insisting that their own fixtures were first priority outside of the FIFA international match window.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Tom Saintfiet (centre) and Dr Terence Babwah (left) talk to defender Carlyle Mitchell during training at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on 15 December 2016. (Courtesy Nicholas Williams/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Tom Saintfiet (centre) and Dr Terence Babwah (left) talk to defender Carlyle Mitchell during training at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on 15 December 2016.
(Courtesy Nicholas Williams/Wired868)

Saintfiet responded by leaving both players out of the Soca Warriors team that travels to Managua on Christmas Day for friendly matches against Nicaragua on 27 and 30 December. San Jabloteh coach Keith Jeffrey and Club Sando coach Angus Eve also criticised Central’s decision to prioritise the league over the country.

However, the Pro League’s postponement of all matches today has again brought the decision of Saintfiet and Central bigwigs Brent Sancho and Kevin Harrison into focus.

Williams, who was a nominee for the CONCACAF Goalkeeper of the Year accolade in 2013 and 2014, and Garcia have now missed the opportunity to feature in Saintfiet’s first squad for a solitary match against second from bottom Pro League team, Morvant Caledonia United.

Harrison, the Central operations director, reiterated that the Warriors’ new Belgian coach, Saintfiet, was to blame, though. And he expressed doubt as to who is actually calling the shots for the National Senior Team.

“Saintfiet [allegedly] told the players it wasn’t his decision [to drop them],” Harrison told Wired868. “I wrote to [TTFA president] David John-Williams and asked if he could intercede and ask the coach to compromise. And David said it’s the coach’s decision. So I don’t know who is making [the] decisions there.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams enjoys himself at new head coach Tom Saintfiet's maiden training session at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on 15 December 2016. (Courtesy Nicholas Williams/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams enjoys himself at new head coach Tom Saintfiet’s maiden training session at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on 15 December 2016.
(Courtesy Nicholas Williams/Wired868)

Thus far, no official reason has been offered by the Pro League for the fixture postponements. Local teams have not received Government subventions for the past two months and the 10 member clubs met yesterday evening to discuss the financial issues and the challenge of finishing the season.

Harrison feels the Pro League’s loss should be the Warriors’ gain, though, and suggested it was ridiculous that Garcia—a two-time Caribbean Club Championship and Pro League champion—is ready and available to play but has been left out. He also questioned the omission of club captain Darren Mitchell and midfielder Leston Paul, who is a two-time World Youth Cup captain.

“At the end of the day, we’ve compromised twice [by allowing the players to train] and, as you know, the games have been called off, so there is no problem anyway,” said Harrison. “There is no [club versus country] conflict now… There are not many players locally that are winners [and] Nathaniel Garcia is a winner.

“He is a Caribbean Club champion [for] two years running. He has played at Vancouver Whitecaps [and] Sporting Kansas City in big games. It is foolish to cut someone like him out of a squad to prove a point to a club…

“If the coach is determined to prove a point then he is foolhardy because at the end of the day, the most important thing for everybody concerned is qualification for the Gold Cup and preparation for the World Cup… I can see no reason other than pride why he is not training at [the] Mannie Ramjohn [Stadium] this afternoon.”

Photo: Defence Force striker Devorn Jorsling (left) chases Central FC midfielder Nathaniel Garcia during the Digicel Charity Shield on 10 September 2016. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Defence Force striker Devorn Jorsling (left) chases Central FC midfielder Nathaniel Garcia during the Digicel Charity Shield on 10 September 2016.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Harrison questioned too how Saintfiet could justify leaving out the Central duo because they could not join his residential camp in Claxton Bay yet allow overseas-based players like Cornell Glen and Kevan George to meet the team in Nicaragua.

He was not placated by Saintfiet’s vow to Wired868 that he would not close the door on Garcia and Williams due to their club’s stance.

“I’m very pleased that [Saintfiet said] he won’t hold it against the players. However these players that are arriving straight from America and different places, they haven’t trained with the squad either. So I find it scary that he is prepared to gamble on Gold Cup and World Cup preparation and qualification just to prove a point…

“Jan not going to Nicaragua is okay as he is already established as a top goalkeeper in the Caribbean. But excluding him from the Gold Cup qualifiers would prove to be a major risk both on the field and in the dressing room.

“Without Kenwyne [Jones], Jan is probably the next natural leader—not necessarily captain, but certainly leader. And it’s ridiculous to gamble Gold Cup qualification to prove some point.”

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)

Trinidad and Tobago play Suriname and Haiti in Gold Cup play off contests on 4 and 8 January while they also host Panama and Mexico in vital Russia 2018 World Cup qualifiers on 24 and 28 March.

John-Williams stated publicly that Saintfiet will have to look for a job if the Warriors do not take at least four points from the March qualifiers.

About Amiel Mohammed

Amiel Mohammed
Amiel Mohammed is a sports enthusiast and has worked in communications for Central FC and the Women's Premier League TT. He has also pioneered numerous projects geared towards creating opportunities for the differently abled such as the Differently-Abled Football Camp 2015 and Focus Football Coaching Academy.

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  1. Bachannal aside,let’s see how the team plays if there’s an improvement in fitness cohesion intensity etc thats the important things right now,would have liked to see a few younger faces given a chance

  2. I think this is the first time I’m commenting on this coach situation. I have never ever seen so many angles to a story. This would either be the most BRILLIANT decision made by the TTFA or the WORST decision ever…there’s no middle ground. Either way, they have to own it; resign if it doesn’t work.

  3. It is disingenuous to say they were dropped when Central FC did not release them in the first place. So what. … after the Pro League game is cancelled they should just let them in the squad? I am no fan of Saintfiet, heck I don’ t even know who he is…. but right is right.

  4. I some how believes that the getting rid of both Kenwhyne Jones and Jan Michael Williams was all in the making for some time now, and to just get rid of our number one goalkeeper is a big, big, mistake, especially for the reasons that was stated and clearly this is call “Double Standards” Them really good yes.

  5. listening to all your points pertaining to coaches decision..re- coach hart not taking the medical expert advice on player and coach tom presently not picking central fc players..real case scenario ..A national player was not to keen on playing for this particular national coach so the player brought a medical paper from a reputable doctor..stating the player cannot do any try of training for a month and a half .this meant almost 90%of team training ..the coach made the decision to drop the player only for the player to realize that they could now train ..coach refereed to the medical document as stated by doctor and stuck with the position to drop star player..even as star player tried to convince they could train thereby overriding doctor’s order …give your opinion on this and see how it relates to hart or saintfiel ‘s decision that they both made …would you have done the same and were they right!!

  6. The fact is if the league was on these players would not be available so the coach went with who would have been available. If they do well then they continue to play

  7. Not really they just wanted to break the Nat coach training schedule, go play their club game (which may be a different system of play), and then fall back into the Nat team training. They could do that…their manager say they are champions. Simple.

  8. I support all of the Saint’s decisions until January 9 p.m. From there I’ll make a decision.

    So out of all the local clubs that agreed to let their players train with the team for a game outside the FIFA window, only the Central F.C. representative interpreted the verbal agreement differently ?
    Huh ?
    Where the minutes of the meeting ?

  9. Please tell me if the guys were available for training before the tour team was selected. Weren’t they debarred by their manager from attending national training. Did I get it right.

  10. Kenwyne : boss can I be excused because I have club business = Dropped
    Plaza: boss can I be excused because I have personal business = of course you can son.
    Go figure.

  11. Yeah thanks Sancho that’s your call ent?

  12. i AGREE with Saint felt if Central won’t release the players then we do without them. If the replacements do well then we continue with the team that performs, that’s football

  13. Ofc coach is not calling shots…the last coach called the shots n look wat happen!

  14. Smh. …jus keeps getting worse. ..smh. …

  15. Fair sentiments Jamaal …… willing to wait and see what’s up?

  16. I know what it is to be a foreigner ….even though it was only 55 minutes away. People can get away with telling you x y and z but after you see everyone play live….you watch tapes…you read and research ….you start to form your own opinions. Tim I am talkative so I tend to respond but can still go about my job. However if one prefers not to respond and go about his job…it is also his right. My thing is there is a serious he say she say the Coach say part of the story ….that I know could misrepresent the facts. If the player makes a direct quote then fine.

  17. Would you have dropped them kurtwyn (and I’m not judging)

  18. Lol! I am basically contracted for 2 Hex games,I am getting paid regardless…what do I care if I upset a few people….my coaching staff is getting paid regardless,and there is a replacement already line up if I fail to get points in the Hex, so I would do exactly as Tom did drop them??

  19. Would you have addressed every Tom, dick an harrylal Jamaal? Or go about the business of coaching and let the chips fall where they may?

  20. Interesting how many w connection players + recent murcielagos players “w connection” were selected. Hope it’s based on merit.

  21. Men eating they cake and still want to have it. That has nothing to do with PR. If any of the bloggers was in that coaching situation how would you react…..I would like to learn from this….all ears

  22. Ok…someone please help me out. Central refuse to release their players and now upset that the coach didn’t pick them? That’s the synopsis?

  23. I would much rather hear the coach talk after a game and let the PR people, including the manager deal with everything else

  24. I like real discussion not slander. Plus Mango tell me SMALL TALK get bounce in Carenage yesterday and died.

  25. It easy to say somebody picking the Coach team ….if is mangoes….again he is not my favourite coach but he solid….he knows what he doing….ask the players….

  26. I want a journalist to pose that question to the Coach (he) then we will hear what she or rather they say he say they say.

  27. A man say the players tell him the Coach say he did not drop the players. I would love to hear a player say this coach told them that….the one thing I learn about Saintfiet is he takes responsibility for his picks and drops

  28. I do not defend foolishness Malik but check that story

  29. One thing is clear. The players who trained have no problems with the coach and are willing to support him so that’s a promising start from a football perspective.

    • ..Any player who wants to play accepts the changing of the guard when a new coach comes in. I won’t be judging Sainfiet by media reports or by player statements. Lemme see the team selection, the match management, and the results..

  30. Maybe for now the players chosen understand the type of coach that he is. He’s in the role doing it his way. Let the manager or the media officer deal with John Public

  31. Shabazz my point is …. these shenanigans take away from the bigger picture ….. his initial approach hasn’t established what kind of bloke he is and is not inspiring confidence at all. “You” have a bigger role than you believe because if you’re gonna interact with us …your job is not to solely shade or defend your organisation its to also understand our frustrations and if need be …. share it. You’ve fallen into that role whether you want it or not ….

  32. hahahahahahaa The bacchanal now start, well Alyuh carry on eh doh let me stop Alyuh et all……..Malik Johnson well talk nah. hahahahaha

    • Buh A A like yuh eh seeing that I have been contributing or wha eh, try yuh best and don’t start me eh hahahahaha

    • The kind of slander does pass on social media you really need a sense of humour yes. If men used to get strokes for slander …he would never say she say just so nah

    • Slander? Shabazz lemme ask you something ….when we talk on this forum. Why do we do it? Do you think is just “ole talk” or you think we want answers …..solutions? You seriously missing the frustrations we feeling here as supporters of “our” national team. You feel men coming out here “to win an argument” ……. who benefits from that? We want answers and to get that yuh have to ask the tough questions …question everything and everyone. You don’t live in an age anymore where you can give any answer with the assumption that we’ll take that. We’re not fools …. we just want straight logical answers to legit questions. Redirecting to make things look as though we’re malicious ….. is unwarranted. If I see you in ah party I’ll buy you a drink if you don’t want it because we disagree on things. …welll… I’ll take my damn drink back and drink it myself. We want the same thing …. believe it or not.

    • Preach, preach, yuh preaching really good dey eh Malik Johnson. Them really good yes.

  33. He say she say that they say Malik know who is an idiot . So factual

  34. Malik how yu so sure he say she say.

  35. All these questions because of poor management and puppet coach who tries to give the picture of a plan but hides behind the theory “it wasn’t me” …. idiot!

  36. Where was it established that the new coach was picking and or dropping players “just to prove a point” according to KH. Sorry i must have missed it.

  37. But why stop the league now the training is finish the squad is selected and only one team missing about four or five players. Why was the league not stopped to accommodate the training.

  38. Central FC management took a particular line, opposite to all other Pro League clubs, and stuck by its decision. New TT coach Saintfiet laid out his plans and decisions that were accepted by all the clubs, save and except from hattrick chasing champion Pro League outfit Central FC.
    Saintfiet has demonstrated that he will not allow anyone or any club to hold his plans to ransome or to dictate conditions for players’ selection.
    He doesn’t seem to be in the least bit bothered by any noises around his squad selection.
    While it is yet to be proven how successful or not his initial conditional stint as TT coach will be, he has certainly demonstrated that he is on top of his game in discerning petty bullshit power plays.
    In the midst of all the kuchoor and noises, he seems focused on fomenting team bonding and chemistry in the dressing room. Not outside of it.
    So in for a penny, in for a pound – his job is in the line as is TT hope of qualifying for the Russia 2018 World Cup.
    If any of the noise-makers and those who revel in kuchoor were in Saintfeit’s position, would they have Brent, oops bent – forward, backwards or stand firm?
    Lol. The off-the-field posturing is good stock entertainment to feed passions though, especially the one between a chained-up Englishman and an unruffled Belgian.
    Would be interesting to hear how the other outspoken Brit, Terry Fenwick, will weigh in on this convo. Lol

  39. Lasana Liburd Didn’t he pick the squad for Nicaragua before the cancellation of the game and before he knew those players would be available?

  40. The coach made a principle stance. If you are called up an don’t show up then you are not selected. The postponement of PL games is irrelevant. I don’t agree however with those players not being considered for the GC qualifiers.

  41. Of course he isn’t….that’s one of d reasons he was chosen to take directions without question! Smh

  42. And isn’t it also a disrespect to the new Coach with respect to the players who was selected but couldn’t make it because of their club business in my second sweetest country, but they are all here in our sweet country and played in a charity game in Carenage the other night, so what would have happened if one of them had gotten a serious injury, well I will be waiting very patiently to see what this new Coach is made of and if any actions will be taken against all of them the same like when my ex- Coach Hart took action against a player that broke his rules twice. Them really good yes.

  43. I never got how he decided to select guys who are not playing ball yet did not make themselves available for the camp. Yet omits players who are playing where he can have a look at them in actual game situ? Not blaming anyone in particular but this is ridiculous

  44. ..I done say what I have to say on this yes. FIFA’ s rules are clear. Saintfielt’s selecton is erratic. He better win them matches against Nicaragua..

  45. Well when a Coach is given an ultalmantum