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Lawrence: I’m still searching for striker; T&T coach blames individual errors and poor finishing

Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Dennis Lawrence lamented individual errors and poor finishing as the Soca Warriors crashed out of contention for the Russia 2018 World Cup after a 3-0 loss away to Panama last night.

The result, which was the first time that Panama ever got a result of any kind against the Warriors in World Cup qualifying competition, left Trinidad and Tobago with no chance of advancing despite having two games to spare against Mexico and the United States next month.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago coach Dennis Lawrence gives instructions during the 2018 World Cup football qualifier match against Panama in Panama City, on 5 September 2017.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Ed Grimaldo)

“Of course it’s very disappointing because we are not into the competition [to lose] games,” said Lawrence, at the post-match press conference. “We knew what was at stake [last night] because if we could have managed to get a victory it would have kept us in it so we are very, very disappointed.”

Lawrence, a hero with the Warriors team in 2006 and a first-time head coach, said the visitors acquitted themselves well but could not recover after falling behind after self-inflicted errors.

Curtis Gonzales and Kevan George failed to stop Panama attacker Gabriel Torres, who ran half the length of the pitch for the opening goal while Carlyle Mitchell doubled their host’s advantage with an own goal in the second half.

“I knew we were coming into the game and it was going to be a very difficult one because Panama are a very organised team,” said Lawrence. “I thought the game was very tight before two individual errors cost us the first two goals. And from there it was difficult because Panama showed a good drive and determination tonight to get a victory and I want to congratulate them on that.”

The 2006 Warriors squad were led by record goalscorer Stern John, who sat on the bench last night as Lawrence’s assistant coach. Yesterday, Lawrence started his third centre forward in six games—but Trinidad and Tobago have not managed a single goal from any of them.

Photo: Panama defender Roman Torres (right) tries to keep up with Trinidad and Tobago forward Willis Plaza during their 2018 World Cup qualifier in Panama City, on 5 September 2017.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Bienvenido Velasco)

“If we put away the first chance then it put Panama under pressure, we are on the front foot and it gives us something to hold onto,” said Lawrence. “It’s a situation we had in the last couple of games. We’ve conceded goals and also missed opportunities and it’s something we have to try and fix.

“It’s a position on the football pitch which I’ve been searching for, which is that striker who knows how to put the ball into the back of the net. Tonight showed the difference.

“Panama had the couple opportunities and they put away three. We had our chances and we missed so that cost us the game in the end.”

The former Everton and Wigan Athletic assistant coach said he will have one eye on the future when the Warriors reconvene next month to play Mexico in Mexico City and host the United States.

He assured supporters that the Warriors still intend to put out a team good enough to compete though.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Kevin Molino (top) tries to hurdle Panama substitute Armando Cooper during their 2018 World Cup qualifier football match in Panama City, on 5 September 2017.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Bienvenido Velasco)

“We’ve got a responsibility and there’s still a lot to play for, for other teams,” said Lawrence. “Obviously we are not in contention anymore but we are going to ensure the we put together a squad with the view of the future. We will always put together a squad that will compete and make sure that we don’t let the Hexagonal teams down because obviously we understand that we have a responsibility to go out and put in the performances  to try and get results…

“We have to find a way to dust ourselves off as soon as possible and move on. We have to start looking ahead to the future.”

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196 comments

  1. You played the wrong formation coach: 5-4-1 just wouldn’t cut it to defensive, try playing 4-4-2 or 4-3-3, you will never score if you don’t have people up front to score.

  2. Rename the team hurricane soca boys wait wait wait hurricane have winds (wins) unlike the football team but they would make a good tropical depression…. those boys need to be taught football in a classroom first

  3. Would ah, could ah, should ah, just sh set ah damn excuses as usual, how about your resignation

  4. The best striker in Trinidad look at Guaya United play

  5. Somethings not adding up. How does one have a couple chances and put away three Dennis, how?

  6. 7 straight losses and talking about the future.. Please remind me why hart was fired.. Ttfa is a joke…..

  7. Lawrence d job is to big for u. Get out now and save d embarresment lol

  8. Ah want somebody to make another one of these and it must say “Waiting for Malik Johnson eh hahahhahaha

  9. Ah bunch ah armchair coaches ….Hart lose some games ….fire him …DL lose some games fire him …..Boatswain score a double vs Barbados start him kick KJ out the squad ….he too slow ..he could only hold up the ball …so they play Plaza he too individualistic we had no hold up play…..the man for the job is Terry Fenwick hire him ….but the moment Fenwick lose a few games …allyuh watch …allyuh go bawl fire him. A non ending cycle of shortsighted solutions for a long term problem. Hire pep….he’s an attack based coach yet we can’t defend. Trinis always have all the solutions for absolutely nothing …meanwhile the “log” running the show sitting back and draining all we resources and we vex because DL sub Boatswain lol …. I think I just amused myself with summing up how lost we appear to be at this point …

  10. ..Oh. And our teenagers getting ready for SSFL this weekend..

  11. ..Venezuela had teenagers in their selection that just drew 1:1 with Argentina in Buenos Aires. Those boys were part of their team that did so well in the recent U20 World Cup. We have no players like that. We couldn’t finish FIFTH in the 2016 CFU championship..

  12. It seems that in all walks of T&T culture, people are hired and paid to experiment rather than add value with their skill-set.

  13. ,Ah tell Alyuh already that the man and his staff was experimenting for the next World Cup in 2022 in Qator eh, alyuh really feel that he didn’t know that his Soca Worries wasn’t going and qualify for the 2018 Wold Cup in Russia eh. he and his staff just had to play along eh, Them really good yes.

  14. What positive you see the kind of goals we conceiving it is poor an the coach say he still looking for a striker at least we creating chances however defensively we are very poor and presently we cannto get a well balance Eleven on the pitch over 4 games now and each game there seems to be a different formation wich is a sighn of weaknesses

  15. Not a real country eh and never forget that steeuuppss Them really good yes

  16. If you cannot find a striker, then you should develop your recruiting skills. . Develop a farm system! Be a farmer. Cultivate some or you do not know how to coach!
    In the game of ‘soccer’, a striker plays up front and is responsible for the majority of goal scoring.
    What is equally important is how you create goal scoring opportunities.
    A good striker needs to have many elements of his game under control.
    A striker has a huge responsibility and this is somewhat indicative of how much basic football (soccer) playing skills and abilities that he is willing and ready to fine tune to up his game as a quality striker.

    I played for Progressive Educational Institute ,Represented NFL ,Played at NYU and was an ALL American.I coached Martin Luther King jr HS .We won 10 Borough Championships and 4 ALL CITY Championships .Then I passed the baton on to my colleague Abramson who continue the mission.I know a little about the game to make this comment.

  17. If Brazil or Germany had failed to qualify for a World Cup there would have been some firings and shake-up. T&T different. We believe in giving we boy ah chance not in results.

  18. Malcolm Jack our Soca Worries won’t be going back to any more World Cups until the next generations are develop like real professionals players eh and we have players plying their trade in the EPL and other real top flight professional leagues abroad the same like some of our players back in 2006 World Cup team eh, so doh matter who is the Coach it just won’t be happening. Them really good yes.

  19. Maybe both the administration and coach has to go.

  20. What are we going to do different in the next 3 years to prepare us to qualify for Qatar in 2022?

    • Malcolm, people on this thread don’t want to discuss that! But that’s the real issue. What will we do differently? People want to pontificate and talk crap about who should have been striking. Nonsense! This conversation tells what’s wrong with the football! We don’t understand administration and leadership. As such we can’t demand better because we dont know what good looks like.

      Even if there’s a good TT citizen out there in Europe or USA, why would he come and play for this current administration or country

      We will still be discussing striking options when Qatar is gone .

    • I wouldn’t be surprised that there are players out there who can easily replace the current team if they showed-up for practice. As you mentioned, why would I want to wear myself out taking these cross-Atlantic trips to train with a national team whose football administration does not have it together?

    • Well… to be honest… the main point of the thread was his comments… and his comments were that he was looking for a striker… Of course people would like to discuss the future of TT football admin wise… but the thread in itself is about DL’s comments…

  21. Does this football administration have the competency and balls to to make the prudent and tough decisions that would help us qualify for Qatar?

  22. Then when we get that new coach in 2021, everyone says we would have had a better chance of qualifying if we had changed the coach back in 2017.

  23. Based on the current coach’s winning stats, are we going to stick with him then wait until 2021 to look for a new coach?

  24. I always try to look at the positives in every situation… maybe this is a chance for DL to be more adventurous and in focusing on the future, he can try some things… yuh lookin fuh a striker? “Judgement” has been tearing up the Super League! You already gave Clarke a chance so it’s no surprise that there is quality in the TTSL. We have two of the biggest practice matches we ever had coming up this year against world class oppositions so let’s not waste it!

  25. All the bootleg Coach had to do was to send for our goal scoring machine. Them really good yes

  26. The scenario simple get rid of Dennis Lawrence an he no good staff an put Terry fenick if dey give d man d job now atleast he will have enough time so by d time gold cup comes around again we can see good football not da crap Dennis an doin come trini ppl watch da man back room staff nah stern bount to throw away john is we striking coach well fadda put ah hand no proper formation one thing over and over down d flank crap play Lawrence an dem eh have ah clue wa goin on wat about lester peltier atuller guerra an these boys an he lookin for strikers i sure it have other players abroad dem could bring in wat about rangitsingh d gk but no is politricks wit all ah dem

  27. They cannot pay our players their well deserving monies eh but they could spend $10,000 to add seats in the stadium that only 54 spectators use when the bootleg professional league is playing eh and a stadium that only holds 23,000 eh, and the bootleg Coach Dennis talking about looking for a striker instead of looking for a midfield playmaker/ goal scoring general the same like the Magician eh Them really good yes.

  28. The major problem is almost in the middle of the campaign you change to coach you went for the present serving coach base on merit or good name an from the beginning he asked for 5 years towards development noting worng with the development aspects however is he experienced enoughf ? The Heart staff was removed and called into question base on there ability what about Denis staff ? Are they experience enoughf Defencive blunders and miss chances Defensively first off all i expected to see better orginasition at the back due to the fact you has 3 Defencive coaches on the staff Denis Campbell and Stewart Charles and it is one of the poor area of our game then in finishing you missing your chances you said S John came in for that reson and also your goal keeping coach at present with the errors wich taking place an the losing poat game analysis must be looked into .

  29. The day they fired Hart was the day our campaign went down hill

  30. If a coach selects players whom he considers the best and he fails to have them deliver to an acceptable standard, he needs to resign.

  31. He did his best to work with the hand he was dealt. I never expected him to qualify. Who could with half the campaign gone and in a poor position on the table?

    I would like to see what he can do developing our football over the next four years.

  32. Isaiah Hudson,,,,,,, Levi Garcia,,,,, Dillon aka Cones,,,,,we keep making Stupid excuses and our young footballers getting frustrated waiting for a chance.

  33. U should b searching for a new job after a dumb statement like that. I’m guessing we were playing “seriously at this stage of the campaign, no wonder we can’t win a game ,we had no striker.