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Kelvin: We weren’t good enough for Russia; but DJW, players and coach made things worse

The final nail was hammered in the Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team’s coffin in Panama.

To be brutally honest we were not good enough administratively, technically or tactically and we lacked the level of discipline required to qualify for a World Cup finals. This is not a new problem and Trinidad and Tobago football will continue to be terribly frustrating if we do not get serious.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Dennis Lawrence (centre) makes a point to midfielder Hashim Arcia (left) during international friendly action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on 24 August 2017.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

This blog will be 25 pages long if I go through the games against Honduras and Panama meticulously. So I will highlight a few defining moments.

(Honduras)

I just couldn’t believe the lack of urgency and the sloppiness in our play. This was a hugely important game and this is when I expect the so called ‘big players’ to set the tone. But we were not sharp in the mind.

After seven minutes, Honduras played a cross into the box and I would expect goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams to gobble that up and set the tone, just be nice and solid. He spilled it, it’s not cleared and Honduras score.

Yes, players make mistakes and I’m sure Jan-Michael would be bitterly disappointed with the role he played in it. Having conceded first and knowing the importance of the game, I expected a reaction.

We had a really good chance to test their keeper with a header from Sheldon Bateau but his effort was poor. I then expected to see us up the tempo. But we looked so disorganised that it beggared belief. Every time Honduras came forward, they looked like scoring and they duly did in the 16th minute. We didn’t do enough to stop Romell Quito’s cross from the left flank and Honduras were 2-0 up in no time.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Kevin Molino (left) walks past coach Dennis Lawrence during World Cup 2018 qualifying action against Honduras at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 1 September 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Honduras were in control and if I’m honest we never looked like we had the desire or know-how to win the game. Of course we scored the penalty but we were inept and deserved nothing from the performance we conjured. It was nothing short of embarrassing.

(Panama)

Another poor performance and I question our focus and concentration here. We had a corner but yet we conceded 20 seconds later. Our defenders were not concentrating; they were watching the game and not switched on to potential danger.

I blame the coach, defenders and goalkeeper. It used to infuriate me when we had a corner and my defenders were just watching the game and not sensing danger. This tells me you are not concentrating and lack focus.

The second goal is also very avoidable. Again we don’t do enough to stop the cross but what I find inexplicable is that Carlyle Mitchell had more than enough time to have his body shape right. Instead he is facing his own goal and is so unaware of his positioning that he heads it in his own net.

It was a technical error that shouldn’t happen at this level, especially when you have enough time to get into a position where you can see the ball and the attacker. We could’ve easily been beaten 5-0 in this game.

Photo: Panama forward Abdiel Arroyo (left) squeezes his shot past Trinidad and Tobago defender Carlyle Mitchell (right) for his team’s third and final goal during their 2018 World Cup qualifier in Panama City, on 5 September 2017.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Bienvenido Velasco)

I think people need to realise that qualifying for a World Cup finals is no mean feat and needs serious commitment from the players and staff. In 2006, we had a very experienced squad. Players who were playing at a decent level and who had been through a couple World Cup campaigns. We were also very disciplined and had a top coach in Leo Beenhakker.

There was not one incident from the 2006 squad regarding discipline. But yet we had incidents in this squad with Cordell Cato, for instance.

I just cannot understand how a player could not be focused and committed for something as life-changing as World Cup qualification. He let his teammates and the fans down. It should be a lesson learned for the boy.

Our campaign was doomed from the onset and the baffling decisions by David John-Williams also didn’t help. He sacks Stephen Hart and hires Tom Saintfiet. He then undermines Saintfiet publicly and hires Dennis Lawrence, while ignoring Terry Fenwick who was—without question—the best person available to give us a chance of qualifying.

DJW must do better and, if he is not up to the job of getting football organised, he needs to resign. I ask the question: What is his plan? How is he going to structure Trinidad and Tobago football to become a CONCACAF power?

Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams (centre), media officer Shaun Fuentes (left) and new Soca Warriors coach Dennis Lawrence at the TTFA headquarters on 30 January 2017.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/TTFA)

I know what needs to happen for sure and I have extended an olive branch to him. But he obviously thinks he knows what he is doing.

It is almost farcical where we are at the moment but I would warn the die-hard football fans that things may get worse before they improve—unless there are major changes and investment in a structured plan.

AboutKelvin Jack

Kelvin Jack
Kelvin Jack is a former Trinidad and Tobago international football team goalkeeper and was first choice at the 2006 Germany World Cup although injury restricted him to one outing against Paraguay. Jack is an ex-San Juan Jabloteh captain and played professionally in the UK with Dundee (Scotland) and Gillingham (England).

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100 comments

  1. This holds true for so many of our sporting bodies md tea,s in Trinidad, up to now the board in charge of gymnastics cannot manage to get rod of a few parasites…..

  2. Ask not what your country can do for you … but what you can do for your country

  3. I do not think I am really qualified to comment on this post due to lack of technical knowledge of the game. What I can say though that at the Secondary School level. Players exhibit greater passion, there is more co-ordination, and more of a fighting disposition of team mates. Some of the players actually cry, if they are not victorious. Problems at the administrative level are minimal. Perhaps if that passion, combined with proper technical administrative skills could be employed, perhaps the results would be more encouraging, but from the look of things, it will not take place very soon. Start with the young ones and try to iron out the technical difficulties. Good Luck.

  4. Very good read with a lot of truth!

  5. In game tactics change depending on the opponent. But can someone tell me what style of football the National Teams from youth level come right up to the Senior Team play? We need to find an identity 1st and then employ the right coaches for the job. The politics is not going to disappear overnight. Local management will sadly continue to place more importance on trying to fill their pockets, rather than improving the local infrastructure. Kelvin failed to mention the fact that right now we are not even good enough to win the Caribbean Cup. Far less to compete with the best teams from any region, including New Zealand in Oceania.

  6. All of which Kelvin Jack has expressed is on point. First, Administratively we lack the right leadership to truly understand what is required to be successful consistently at that level. Second, our so called professionals lack the football and emotional intelligence to control and manage games for us to achieve the desired result and finally the TTFA needs to invest in heavily in the under 12 age group with respect to broadening their life experiences, their technical and tactical awareness, gradual exposure to nutrition, body mechanics and strength and conditioning. Once there areas are worked on with this age group we need not worry about qualifying for a World Cup in the future.

  7. The first paragraph is an accurate summary of, not only soccer, but most other national sports.

  8. I agree with all is said but my input is we need to start with the primary schools than the high schools leagues. We have not had any one football player played at a high level after the guys of 2006 our highest level is the MLS and that will never take us to a WC!

  9. For years now we blaming everyone
    But we have to start looking at the players who are almost all professionals and who it seems can’t hold it together no matter who is the coach especially the foreign base players who is only coming home to be cap in matches other teams have worse Coaches but there players have the heart to fight ours are here merely to play not to win

  10. Agreed with everything Mr. Jack says..also agrees it will get worse before it gets better…however whats the plan to get back on track…and it clearly wont involve djw resigning because personal accountability just isnt a thing in our twin island republic…

  11. And I agree that nothing is wrong with that at all my baller for life and that trend should have continued if it was a real professional league and plenty monies was being made to continue to recruit the foreign base players that wudda always bring that higher standards to the league and of course with the real professional marketing behind the same eh and our football would have been on the same level with the CPL cricket eh, and my foreign base coaches only failed because of some of them bootleg players that doesn’t have the real DISCIPLINE in order to be the real professional players and the corrupted TTFA eh and never forget that. Them really good yes.

  12. D Boss,If my memory serves me well we always had foreign coaches and they also failed…so because we happened to get through in the playoffs against Bahrain..Do we always have to go that way?Also when the league started JP and DF had almost most of the senior national team players so even my club Doc’s had to get players from our neighbors Guyana …so if W went Brazil nothing was wrong with that if they wanted to compete locally and internationally 👌

  13. Firstly the only reason why W- Connection was so successful in the early years in the professional league,not only that they had a top of the line coach in Stuart Charles Fevrier but it was because my president never had faith in our local players eh so he use o make certain that the real foreign base professionals were recruited in order to do so especially from my greatest football sweet country in the universe and after winning all those championships and spending all the plenty of monies he decided to give our locals their chances especially when Terry Fenwick came on the scene and started to complain about W- Connection recruiting practices eh and last but not lease the only way that our Soca Worries will ever be making it back to any more World Cups is with another top of the line foreign base coach the same like the DON Leo Benhakker eh and this time he should be recruited from my second sweetest World cup country that is always in the play offs if not wining a World Cup eh and that is Germany because he will surely instill the kind of DISCIPLINE that our players needs so badly and I done talk. Them really good yes.

  14. Here, here Senor Kelvin…..agreed 112.5%…..VAT inclusive.

  15. Lasana Liburd we have the solution right here in Trini⚽️

  16. We need to start doing well at CONCACAF level. The odds are stacked against us because we are not well resourced. But we need a local coach to start making that kind of mark. Otherwise the temptation to bring in overseas coaches will continue