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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.

  34. So all da time Dennis was in Everton Wanda wat he learn over dey to cum an implement it to de drunkerds an dem steups

  35. Only labourers he put to strike on top

  36. Derek, please keep your head Buddy, Success brings unwarranted attacks. I have known you from school, since then your work speaks volumes, that nobody can take away, or tarnish Bro. See you weekend at the stadium

  37. Derek, you are the last men’s national coach to win a Caribbean title with your team in 2014. Keep killing them with success.

  38. Go easy Derek. There will always be people trying to pull you down because they cannot get to your level to push you up. Ignore stupidity remember empty vessels make the most noise. Relax my friend.

  39. Lasana Liburd I don’t comment on the group but when people like Roland Clarke continue to bad talk coaches like myself who have track record. What can I say. Tell him that I am not his friend and leave me alone please because I can be a different person. What he have won as a coach?

  40. You leave out our best player Levi who could have been used as a forward but u bawling steupzzz

  41. it seems to be the common try mistakes/inexperience/poor finishing……..so WHY cant the caribbean teams put emphasis on finishing since goals win matches?…..no strategic 5-year /10-year plans? will the squad dis-band after qualifiers to convene activities a few months before the next major tournament? shouldnt there be a sustained focus on passing, crossing and finishing…..i think LAWRENCE should be allowed to continue a program that establishes a blueprint for the TRINI style of play, from youth to seniors,….this gives identity…..brazil is going back to the ginja, italy has all but abandon the catenaccio..( to their peril?)…..but i KNOW this WONT happen because the p administration of football is rife with ” politics” within the various football bodies ….many individuals with a lot of knowledge but proper execution is lacking……ACTIVITIES WITHOUT ACCOMPLISHMENT……#travesty….ah waiting to read/ hear from the “experts” as they dissect and analyse the issues in their post-mortems……yeah..mi vex….as much as Lawrence must bear the brunt of the blame, but what about the attitude of the players? was the OVERALL performance ..a manifestation of the coach’s philosophy…..?…..questions ,questions….

  42. Good question Lasana. “Pick up” players maketh a “pick up” side. So I don’t think he should be looking to merely “pick up” players.
    On the contrary, he can do like deceased Holly B and engage in some real scouting for talent.
    Keith has suggested that he starts looking deeper in the Super League.
    I would also like to suggest that he starts grooming and blooding more U-20s and see who’s new that he can pluck from the SSFL
    After all one would imagine that TT’s 2022 WC campaign begins with remaining two hex matches.
    Wouldn’t you agree?

    • I wouldn’t. Not that I disagree with you on the developing talent bit. But the upcoming two games have nothing to do with 2022 in the way I feel you’re suggesting.
      We are better off trying to bring some respectability to our brand than just throwing in kids to have a readymade excuse for being spanked. That won’t do anyone any good including the kids.
      But I agree we need to focus more on identifying and nurturing talent long term.

    • Btw kids are young goats lol.
      But no kidding, young ones might be more attuned to coaching than old ones with set bad habbits.

  43. Where can he pick some up Siewdath?

  44. Steups Mr. Lawrence. Too much excuses, just admit the job is bigger than you and move on. Your footballers are also a colossal waste of time. I will always support local football as I’m not a band wagonist and don’t follow foreign football like others do, but you making my country shame.

  45. He needs to search for a better bunch of defenders and a creative midfielder, a holding midfielder as well as a couple of capable supportive flanking mids – and a goal-hungry striking combination with the skills set and basic competence to at least be able to shoot between the uprights and under the bar.
    In other words, he pretty much needs an entirely new squad of disciplined players.

  46. ..8 matches and 3 points. Call some Super League players. They SURELY cannot do worse..

  47. We were very poor last evening. There did not seem to be any spark in the team. Why? I have no idea. Both of our experienced key players were totally off color, but the miss to give us a 1-1 score was a huge setback. The own goal is a mistake that good defenders seldom make in those circumstances and was the final nail in our coffin.
    Everybody is making very good suggestions regarding what needs to be done but then this has been so for years. As a people why can we not get the basics right.
    The same prevails in our politics.
    The answer is that good people do not want to get involved without getting rid of the has beens and those who have personal agendas, not to mention the high levels of dishonesty and corruption in all areas of our country.
    I know from experience, if you cannot change it get out. Your integrity will otherwise be painted with the same brush, and you become tainted.
    Very sad, should not be, but that is the reality.

  48. He said S John was chosen to assist with striking due to his experience as a striker hpw ever it is our weak area when chances comes our way

  49. He keep changing up the team alot also changes to the back line i agree with you .

  50. Brent, see how he brought on Tyrone Charles ahead of Jamille Boatswain yesterday? Four days ago, Boatswain was the answer. Then discarded after a poor performance but one in which he didn’t service in line with his strengths.
    Just as Chabeth noted that Jan was ditched after one calamitous mistake.
    Sometimes a coach can lose his dressing room when he is felt to be too ruthless. In that players are afraid that they can give their all and still be punished for human error.

    • I know the other side to that is you have to earn your pick and Marvin Phillip might have been in terrific form in training–although Phillip hasn’t played domestic game in over a month while Jan is saving in Honduras.
      But Tyrone over Boatswain after one bad game? Tyrone isn’t even a real centre forward.

    • So to be devil’s advocate . . . . if he had played the team that best serves each person’s opinion (as posted), and in so doing won the game, are we saying that TT football would been in good stead?

    • Brian, I have no problem with the choices. I’m just looking at the thinking behind it. For instance, Abu Bakr, Mekeil Williams, Sheldon Bateau, Carlyle Mitchell, Daneil Cyrus are all talented central defenders. So when the coach decides we say it is his preference or maybe someone is showing in training.
      Now if he uses a left winger in central defence, then that is another matter.

    • Lasana Liburd but my point is that all of this discussion is pointless! We will not won regardless to the choices because our football institutions and administration are horribly dysfunctional. Look at my earlier post. These lamentation ware useless. What results should we reasonably expect. Go back more than one year ago I said we will not qualify

    • Fair point Brian. The real problems here happen well over the head of the coach.

    • Lasana Liburd I hear you on the thinking behind the choices. If his argument is that he is searching for a striker then shouldn’t he have more strikers in the squad from which to choose. Spain’s world cup winning squad had so many quality midfielders that they started games without true strikers. Once you know where your strength is and where goals can come from then you can craft a game plan. I really dont think our centre backs need to be babysitted by other centre backs. How can he ever make them feel confident enough to exceed their quality?

  51. In all normal countries, the coach would resign.

  52. Willis Plaza cant hit the sea while standing on the shore

  53. Lawrence is good at talking what is needed. He doesn’t know what he’s doing.

  54. Jeron I feel they need d boss himself Isaiah Hudson

  55. “Fixing” the TTFA administration has to be prioritized. Once that is done then put processes that are efficient and effective in place. From development programs to scouting to recruitment of coaches, to field conditions, to league standards…it is all in a shambles. Hiring a new coach in this mess is a bandaid for a gun shot wound in my opinion.

  56. We have been playing with this Football Cancer for tooooo long with the same results.Hold a referendum , reorganise and fix the damn thing once and for all.Too many priveleges to bad coaches,bad administrators,bad player selections and just persons with evil intent for clubs,friends,children of friends and hangerson.

  57. The reason y the team failing is because of d selection process ,to much great local talent get over Lok ,

  58. People keep talking about Fenwick. What are his coaching credentials? I genuinely don’t know. I know he was an England international. And I know he had a stint with Central but beyond that coaching wise I’m ignorant. But people keep saying to give him a chance. And the last time there was enthusiastic support for anybody inside of here that person was DJW and we see how that turned out so I have to ask about Fenwick.

    • Wikipedia: “Following in the footsteps of many former players, Fenwick decided to try a managerial career. In 1995, he replaced Jim Smith as manager for Portsmouth. After an underwhelming first full season in charge, where the club only avoided relegation on goal difference, an improved second season saw the club miss out on a play-off spot by just one place, and they also eliminated then-Premier League Leeds United from the FA Cup. A dire third season cost Fenwick his job however, and he left with the Club bottom of the Division One table….”

    • Thereafter, he came to Trinidad and has been one of if not THE most successful coach in the Pro League. And in between he had two or disastrous stints at foreign clubs. But on each of those occasions, the club was in a mess financially or going through a take-over.
      So his judgment in choosing gigs is spottier than his actual coaching.
      The funny thing is his critics always point to his foreign flops and ignore that he out-coaches the locals right here and would surely be always under consideration for that reason.
      Also he got to third season as head coach at Portsmouth in then England second division and most of the other candidates don’t even have as much on their own CVs.

    • Nothing against Fenwick… but if we’re going to use clubs being in a mess financially as justification for poor performance, then every pro league club coach can make the same argument.
      But that’s the problem… there won’t be consensus on anyone other than a foreigner with outstanding credentials.

    • Chabeth, I gave you as much info as I could. I agree with you eh. But I’m just giving the info that I feel either party (friend or foe) might come on thread to add if I left it out.

    • As long as this current ttfa is here Fenwick will never be given the national coaching job. How quickly people forget about his Jabloteh side that dominated the local scene. This side consisted of many of the 2006 players that represented us at the world cup. Syd Gray, Whitley, Cornel Glen Kelvin Jack….

  59. I think the coach would need some players to pass the ball sensibly to each other as well.

  60. try OWTU Roget the best striker in Trinidad.

  61. Since the sacking of Ian Hart the team moral is at the lowest point the selection of players is poor the systems Lawrence has try is not working and the problem start from the Administration all the down to the players we are going backwards

  62. Dennis u need to go y ppl so blind give Terry fenick d dammn job and get djw out of there plz it hurts as a die hard tnt fan to see dis kind of football all d rest of teams can play wid two and three players up top except us only one stupid play down d wings an hope dat lone striker gets d ball an wen dem teams lock down d flanks we game done an d other teams thread thread until dey wip we like donkeys

  63. Brent Bennett not only that he wasn’t experienced for this level of football… there’s no quality in that team and whenever i say this ppl get vex…that team NOT GOOD!!! I’m not disputing there needs to be improvement in many other areas…admin etc…. but we don’t hold our players accountable at all… THEIR ATTITUDE, LACK OF PROFESSIONALISM, LACK OF PATRIOTISM, BIG PLAYER MENTALITY AND WINE AND JAM MENTALITY NEEDS TO BR ADDRRSSED TOO!!!

  64. Interesting how Dennis did not attribute any blame to himself and his coaching staff. I’m not calling for his head as yet, but he needs to own up and take responsibility for our team’s abysmal performance. Lasana – I find yuh does go real easy on Dennis. You were all over the Belgium, but have been giving Dennis ah bligh:-)

  65. You creating chances however when you lose the ball the defencive part of your game horrable you left the back flat an the central defender left alone in 1v1 situation where an attacker on a sast break single handedly destroyed your back line not one tried to give up a professional foul example pull him down what ever it took one will remember the Costa Rica game when the defender was pulling at our striker look at the other games the kind of tackles to ensure you stop a soft goal heart and soul .

  66. I am not blaming Dennis one bit. I blame the people for putting Dennis in a situation where he could never have been successful. I said when he got hired we gave up on the Hex because Dennis simply is not experienced enough for this level of football.

  67. Honestly, I find all these lamentations to be hollow, expected, unavoidable etc. We should not have expected to win. We did not do the things we need to do to win. Our country as a whole is not set up for success – no plan, no strategy, no process, no accountability, no anything that matters – then we want to win? Does DJW have a plan or a real care? Who is he accountable to? How does his board assess competence for – administrators, coaches, etc? We joking and jokey! I’ve been beating this drum for the last several years – no plan; no results.

  68. D.L you search the UK ??

  69. A striker ? With the kind of soft goals you giving up at the back wow .

  70. Time to chop and change . Dennis didn’t get a reaction from his players for the 2 most critical qualifiers . John Williams has to go above all but we all know that won’t happen with his leeches keeping him in power

  71. Time for a new coach and new leadership at the executive level. DJW has done nothing of any consequence as the person tasked with the development of our football. As for Dennis, I think that he will be a good coach eventually, but perhaps this role was a bit too much for him to handle right now.

  72. He looking for a man like you on top Andrew Adrian Buggz Bws

  73. When a team plays bad, it’s the players that the Coach chose, the game-plan the Coach chose, the training implemented by the Coach, subsititions made by the Coach, it is the belief that the Coach imparted, the motivation of r he Coach.

    It is the Coach.

  74. A page from the political playbook …Dennis Is a national hero ,but doh play Jesus my brother ,RUN while Belgium needs ur services .hosanna today crucify him tommorow

  75. Dennis boi… give Terry Fenwick de wok nah! Maybe then we’ll hear and read nothing negative about the coach… ONLY then we’ll probably admit that our players are mediocre “at best”… see nothing wrong with wining low in Frankies becoz we scored the lone goal agsinst Jamaican ONE WEEK BEFORE A CRUCIAL QUALIFIER… then again Dennis it’s your fault for real yes coz maybe if we had a first world coach we might do the right thing!

  76. Coaches must understand failure is theirs

  77. Steups…
    (To every single thing he said.)

  78. He blaming everything under the sun, but himself !!!