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Trexit?! Best looks back at the Hex road so far travelled by the Soca Warriors

In the beginning was the word and the word was with Hart and the word was heart.

And the Soca Warriors were looking like the 300, capable of beating tremendous odds.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago coach Stephen Hart (right) passes on instructions to left back Aubrey David during 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Honduras in San Pedro Sula on 15 November 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago coach Stephen Hart (right) passes on instructions to left back Aubrey David during 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Honduras in San Pedro Sula on 15 November 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

But there was a boy called David who, like the fellah in front in Sparrow’s “Ten to One is Murder,” was a very good pelter. He fancied himself a giant killer. And one after the other, little stones went into David’s sling. And he slew the giant Stephen, under whom the Warriors had taken what looked to us all like giant steps.

Starved of resources, Hart could only manage a pappyshow in the two opening World Cup qualifying encounters, losing 0-2 against Costa Rica and 1-3 against Honduras. Costa Rica, remember, are a nation that have never lost a World Cup qualifying match to Trinidad and Tobago—no matter if our forward line-up had Alvin Corneal, Leonson Lewis or Stern John, much less Kenwyne Jones.

So eight games left and we are propping up the table. What to do? David took Hart to the cleaners.

Actually, he took him to Ruby Tuesdays but who wants to nitpick?

Why, David of course! That’s precisely what he did, picking a nit to replace the giant. The nit didn’t exactly land on his Saintfiet. Tom was baptised and given the sacrament on the same evening. He thought—nits aren’t renowned for their insight—it was David’s blessing when, in fact, it was extreme unction.

Salut et au revoir!

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Tom Saintfiet (right) talks to his squad during 2017 Gold Cup playoff action against Suriname at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on 4 January 2017. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Tom Saintfiet (right) talks to his squad during 2017 Gold Cup playoff action against Suriname at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on 4 January 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

With a mountain to climb, David turned unsurprisingly to the Tallest man available. And still determined to have his own way, he came within a kn of voiding the deal.

So when new coach Dennis Lawrence finally gets his papers, it is a matter of mere weeks left before Panama and Mexico come a-calling. And with Jack Warner out of the equation and no favours to call in, there’s no chance of anything but a mauling in Ciudad Méjico.

Lawrence makes clear early that he is a great believer in attitude. But even with the best attitude in the world, you simply aren’t going to be able to do too much at altitude. Not against Mexico. And not when you have been struggling to have enough gas for a strong finish at the Hasely Crawford.

And even though half the worriers in the Cabinet were on hand to see the Warriors’ improved performances against both Panama and Mexico, they can’t really help because Point Lisas and all running outta gas.

Let us revisit for a moment that pair of weekend matches. How different things could have been if, as Sparrow again said in a calypso, Jamaica had said they didn’t want to unite as one. They coulda tell the Doctor they not in favour although I really don’t know what Rowley could have done about changing the officials.

I mean, Edmund Dillon is still Minister of National Security, ent? And my friend Tony Garcia is still the Minister of Education. And Shamfa still in Tourism.

Photo: Tourism Minister Shamfa Cudjoe. Tourism remains in the Cabinet but was a no-show at the Stadium. (Courtesy Newsgov.tt)
Photo: Tourism Minister Shamfa Cudjoe. Tourism remains in the Cabinet but was a no-show at the Stadium.
(Courtesy Newsgov.tt)

But leh we doh go dey! We talking football.

So in cruise control at last, Kevin Molino spoil Panama party with a wicked rasping 37th-minute left-footed shot that rocketed into the corner of the net. Trinidad 1, Panama 0. And that score-line remained unchanged at the final whistle.

Only about 10,000 people were actually present in the Hasely Crawford the Friday evening; another 10,000 will try to convince you they were there because we win.

For Mexico on Tuesday, the band-waggonists were out in full extreme; of the nearly 20,000–strong crowd that turned up, almost 10,000 will try to convince you that dem stay home. Know why? Because deh lorse.

And in case you are wondering, that “we” two paragraphs up and the “deh” in the last paragraph is the same Warriors, eh. Daiz how it is in dis land, We does win, dem does lorse.

To tell the truth, I felt we had a good chance against Mexico. There is no one whose opinion I respect more on footballing matters than Lasana Liburd. And he didn’t say so publicly but he felt we were in with a chance.

But he reckoned without the Jamaican intervention. What is it he wrote in his caustic “Refereeing clanger” match report? “So much for the benefits of Caribbean free movement.”

Photo: Mexico forward Javier Hernandez (right) tries unsuccessfully to evade a tackle from Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Kevan George during 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on 28 March 2017. (Copyright AFP 2017/Alfredo Estrella)
Photo: Mexico forward Javier Hernandez (right) tries unsuccessfully to evade a tackle from Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Kevan George during 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on 28 March 2017.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Alfredo Estrella)

But I was saying, I felt we had a good chance against Mexico when I was taking in the scenes before the start of the game. The Mexicans were there parading up and down in front of the stand in their fancy national costumes, looking like a long-time Tuesday pretty mas sailor band.

And I telling myself, “Wait until Cato or Joevin get free in the area. Everything goin and turn ole mas.” Well, I was almost right. But to echo what Chalkie say about the calypso officials, how a man could be a world-class or a World Cup judge and he has not even done Caribbean Civilisation?

Which reminds me. I was struck by the behaviour of the rhythm section, which reminds me of the Trini Posse Stand at the Oval. Why does  their rhythm bear no relation to what is happening on the field? Why are they there? To support the team or to provide entertainment for the crowd? I have to remember to ask someone who knows whether they are allowed in free of charge.

I noticed too that the Spanish speakers didn’t really try to win the picong war; they would have lost handsomely anyway! It might have been Allyuh-buy-nuts-from-mih-nah who early-o-clock shouted at the group of visitors standing there proudly in their national colours, “Green, go!”

And that was just the opening salvo.

I think I have already indicated here on Wired868 that the itchy-twitchy Mexican coach was directly in my line of vision. So I watched him for five minutes and I tell myself dem could never beat we. The Eternal Pantomime coaching them? Tallest have to be a better coach than Rhoda Bharath!

Photo: Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio (left) complains to the fourth official while Trinidad and Tobago coach Dennis Lawrence (right) follows the action during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 28 March 2017. Mexico won 1-0. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio (left) complains to the fourth official while Trinidad and Tobago coach Dennis Lawrence (right) follows the action during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 28 March 2017.
Mexico won 1-0.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Anyway, the upshot of it all that is that, with just two home games left and four away, including Mexico and the US, it looking like crapaud smoke we pipe.

People know words have power and deh fraid to say it out loud but I sure everybody else mussee thinking so too; people waiting until the players not listening to say it. ‘Hexit’ is a dirty word.

I mean, I remember Hutson Charles scoring after that diving header pass from Marlon Morris against the US in the States in the 1989 campaign. About two dozen ah we jump up and touch the ceiling same time.

Just like when Crawfie win in Montreal in 1976 or Penny win wherever it was in 1977.

So is possible. But, brother, daiz like Christ feeding the multitude with a few loaves and a couple ah fish. Or turning water into wine; it could happen but doh expeck it.

Because if in the beginning the word was heart, in the end the word is Trexit, a synonym for more 1989 heartbreak.

Photo: United States players celebrate at the Port of Spain National Stadium on November 19, 1989.
Photo: United States players celebrate at the Port of Spain National Stadium on November 19, 1989.

Editor’s Note: David John-Williams lodged a protest, on behalf of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) against Jamaican referee Valdin Legister’s decision to incorrectly void a “goal” scored by Trinidad and Tobago’s 1-0 loss to Mexico on 28 March 2017. And FIFA has accepted it!

As a result, the Soca Warriors now have four points rather than three and climb off the foot of the standings to fifth place…

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Joevin Jones (left) blasts the ball into the back of the net while Mexico defender Carlos Salcedo looks on during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 28 March 2017. Jones' item was incorrectly ruled out for offside as T&T lost 1-0 to Mexico. (Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Joevin Jones (left) blasts the ball into the back of the net while Mexico defender Carlos Salcedo looks on during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 28 March 2017.
Jones’ item was incorrectly ruled out for offside as T&T lost 1-0 to Mexico.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Happy April Fool’s Day!

AboutEarl Best

Earl Best
Earl Best taught cricket, French, football and Spanish at QRC for many years and has written consistently for the Tapia and the Trinidad and Tobago Review since the 1970's. He is also a former sports editor at the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Express and is now a senior lecturer in Journalism at COSTAATT.

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17 comments

  1. SO. Its. True. About. The. Protest. Lodged. Too. Fifa. By. Djw

  2. With that said…do u think Lawrence’s “success” cud be to d fact dat he inherited a team that was “functional” due to Hart’s work wit d core group of players??

  3. I kno eh but Hart deserved to see us thru till d end regardless if we had qualified or not…an shud have gotten better support from d TTFA Administration

  4. Costa Rica are the toughest opponent we faced so far. The second toughest is Honduras away.
    The last two results were encouraging. But that’s not to say Hart wouldn’t have also fared better with Molino back and a fit Kenwyne.

  5. why you using the name David with a pic of Aubrey David ??????….I see what you trying lass ?

  6. The Honduras game ended 3-1 not 3-0 and Kevin Molino’s goal against Panama was scored with his right foot not left.

  7. Pretty good synopsis albeit with the tongue-in-cheek religious references…One correction tho Hudson Charles’ equalizing goal against the US in 1989 was NOT a diving header… Rather it was Marlon Morris whose diving header onto Hudson assisted him in shooting the ball pass the keeper…I won a bet on that goal so I will never forget that passage of play ??

    • Very true. Missed that and I will get to it right away.

    • Earl Best

      Thanks, Brian. A sexagenarian’s head is full of memories of myriad moments, some of which will never be forgotten. Some, alas, get mixed up and messed up and that’s where I depend on Mr Football to set me right.

      As he said he missed that and I apologise both for my error and for his oversight.