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T&T drop to lowest FIFA ranking since 2010; Warriors now 50 places below pre-DJW position

The Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team slumped to their lowest international ranking in seven years today, as FIFA listed the Soca Warriors as 99th in the world, joint 10th in CONCACAF and fourth in the Caribbean.

To put that in context, the last time the Warriors were ranked this low was in 2010 when then head coach Russell Latapy’s team was eliminated by Grenada in the group stage of the Caribbean Cup. Trinidad and Tobago were subsequently ranked 106th in the world.

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)

Today’s FIFA rankings mean the Warriors have fallen a remarkable 50 places since David John-Williams was elected as Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president in November 2015.

At present, Trinidad and Tobago are on a seven-game losing streak while current head coach Dennis Lawrence has won just two of 10 outings—against Panama and Barbados—since his appointment in February.

John-Williams recently told the media that Lawrence, a former assistant coach at Everton but now on his first assignment as head coach, will be given time to rebuild the national team. But the figures do not suggest that the Warriors have improved under the current coach or president and, arguably, again put the president’s sacking of former coach Stephen Hart into focus.

Trinidad and Tobago were ranked 87th in the world by FIFA when then TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee announced the hiring of Hart as head coach.

And by the time John-Williams replaced Tim Kee at the helm, three years later, the Warriors—under Hart—had soared to 49th in the world and were fourth in CONCACAF and first in the Caribbean.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Stephen Hart (centre) and players (from right) Mekeil Williams, Daneil Cyrus, Kenwyne Jones, Radanfah Abu Bakr and Sheldon Bateau at a national training session.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images)

Had Trinidad and Tobago retained that average FIFA ranking, it would have meant that local footballers would be eligible for work permits in Britain for the first time since 2006.

Instead, the Warriors’ fortunes went in the opposite direction.

The decline was gradual at first. Hart lost 10 of his first 30 internationals—three of those defeats were on kicks from the penalty mark—as head coach. But, once teamed up with John-Williams, he lost eight of his next 13 matches.

There were several on-field factors. After a one-year absence with a broken leg, ace midfielder Kevin Molino returned to the national team in March 2016 but, despite a hattrick against the Dominican Republic, the MLS player did not inspire in the big matches. Worse, Molino was involved in two distracting incidents when he broke team curfews to party before competitive fixtures.

He was fined for the first indiscretion and given a temporary ban for the second.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfield ace Kevin Molino (centre) flicks the ball around Dominican Republic midfielder Heinz Barmettler (left) during the 2014 Caribbean Cup qualifiers while coach Stephen Hart looks on.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Perhaps just as significant was the form of team captain and forward Kenwyne Jones, who swapped the England Premier League for the United Arab Emirates in January 2016 and then, six months later, moved to Central FC in the local Pro League.

In 2015, Jones scored four times—including competitive goals against Mexico, Panama and Guatemala. But in 2016, with his professional career in flux and struggling with injury, the giant forward’s only international goal came in a 6-0 rout of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Off the field, there were early signs that the president and head coach Hart were not singing from the same hymn sheet.

The John-Williams-led TTFA’s first act was to tell the players that they would be paid match fees when the football body was good and ready to pay up—a stance exacerbated by a media statement in which the FA told the public that the players “were not out of pocket.”

Hart moaned then that the stand-off between players and administrators was not helpful and had basically destroyed their preparation for a Copa America Centenario Play-off against Haiti, which the Warriors lost 1-0.

Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Stephen Hart (left) and Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams enjoy each other’s company during a media conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port-of-Spain on 19 May 2016.
(Courtesy Wired868)

The big confrontation came in May 2016 when, after Hart turned down the offer of a friendly game coming from the TTFA, John-Williams allegedly walked into a national training session and asked the players whether they wanted to play the match anyway—and essentially invited them to overrule their coach.

John-Williams claimed he had Hart’s blessing to interrupt the session but his coach never corroborated the president’s version of the story. And Hart never got another friendly international as Warriors’ coach.

In November 2016, after three losses in his last four matches—one in extra time against Martinique—Hart was summoned to a meeting at the Ruby Tuesdays Restaurant in Grand Bazaar and told that his services were no longer required.

Trinidad and Tobago were ranked 78th in the world at the time and, during his three-year spell in charge, Hart’s troops lost just two of 12 home matches, a friendly against Panama and a World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica.

With John-Williams leading the negotiations, the TTFA Board turned to obscure Belgian Tom Saintfiet—a former Bangladesh coach—who promptly lost his first two competitive matches against Suriname and Haiti at Couva and quit before he was pushed.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Tom Saintfiet shares a light moment with a member of the crowd during 2017 Gold Cup play-off action against Suriname at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 4 January 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

When Lawrence, a former 2006 World Cup hero, was hired in February 2017, the Warriors had already slipped six spots to 84th.

Lawrence started brightly enough with a friendly win over Barbados and a 1-0 triumph over Panama in his first competitive match on 24 March 2017. The Warriors have not won a game since.

Six months later, Trinidad and Tobago have slumped a further 15 spots to 99th in the world.

John-Williams’ enthusiasm about his own contribution to local football has not been reflected in the FIFA rankings just yet.

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)

AboutLasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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78 comments

  1. The bottom line is we do not have players at a high enough level to compete in the Hex. Why can’t we produce players consistently at a high level? We need to analyze our present football infrastructure and what can be done to facilitate a better environment to produce elite players CONSISTENTLY. We seem to produce players the likes of Yorke, Latapy, Hislop, Rougier, Andrews, Stern, Jones, et al in waves. These players came from the wave of the 80’s. After that wave, the well has run dry.

    1) Need to benchmark what is done in the EU and South America. Youth football development is controlled by the Football youth academies of the top teams and not the local secondary schools. We need to send our top level youth players to the youth academies of teams like Jabloteh and Central FC. Use the school league as a feeder program to sign top youth players. Youth academies should play in their own league against each other. Local business support will be needed here.
    2) Increase coaching level of local TT coaches to international level(note :secondary schools coaching IS not be at international leve). Need to train and educate the coaches on the physical and mental aspects of the game. Poor techique and lack of understanding of the game is apparent during games.
    3) Strength and conditioning leaves a lot to be desired. Our team seems to not be able to physically keep up with the competition for the full duration of the game. They seem to run out of gas. Players need to be educated on diet and proper training habits. Professionals sacrifice if they want to make a good living.

    In conclusion, we need our administration to be more professional when they approach TT lineage players in the EU and US. Fringe players whom may never get a chance to play in the Olympics, World Cup, etc need to be actively recruited and convinced to commit.

    So many talented people in TT and we could only get DJW for our football. What a travesty and lack of leadership! Time for all to get involved and give back to the community.

  2. Harmon Lucas Sterling Manchouck Dana McIntosh Marilyn C. Pendergast Marius Hcm Caballero Nigel Ojagir

  3. It only fair, besides administration, our players have d mentality that once they playing for T&T, dey reach! Dey don’t have no real goals.

  4. Say no more let the stats talk for them. Why we letting one man destroy football in our country.

  5. we move from playing against the best to hmmmm …..

  6. Great job by the dumbass President they will soon reach 200 after Mexico and USA kill them off

  7. Stop wasting my money with these kfc eating footballers!

  8. Our ranking is poor obviously but it’s where we are supposed to be at this moment. We can’t be absolutely dysfunctional administratively, prepare poorly, coach poorly and play poorly and expect a higher ranking. What’s highly disturbing are there are no signs of improvement. Just diabolical failure in every facet that is a prerequisite for success. There must be wholesale changes as the only thing we are guaranteed of at this stage is failure.

    • Kelvin we need responsible ex players like yourself to come back to T&T from first World organizations and make a difference here. Otherwise there will be no change, just the same old empty promises and incompetence. We are ranked 4th in the Caribbean my god?

  9. why we not at the 200 mark –slackness

  10. What is the international criteria for players coming into Trinidad from none Caricom countries?

  11. Hyland, Guerra and Peltier were all offered contracts with Portsmouth and Celtic but failed to pass the criteria

  12. It figures the fellas not that good . Cannot blame the coach or manager. The pool to choose from is poor.we have no real international players

  13. why are we suprised by this development

  14. Mr wired can you do a piece on how a president is elected?
    How many ppl vote?
    Who are the voters?

    I love local football and right now i mad, i want to channel my anger at the King makers.

  15. Mr Nigel S. Scott,I don’t know how you arrive at that conclusion,I am talking about from the sixties to now,

  16. I’m seeing a trend here ,it looks like DJW is the cause of our misfortunes

  17. T&T players have not been able to get work permits in England since about 2006–after which came the TTFA blacklist and our first plummet down the FIFA standings.
    Also the EPL changed its rule from teams in top 75 (I think) to top 50, which made it even harder for our players to get work permits.
    Khaleem Hyland and Jan-Michael Williams were both signed by English clubs pending work permit approval that they never got. Portsmouth signed Hyland while Sheffield United signed Jan-Michael.
    Almost certainly, there would have been other players between the ages of 19 and 23 since then that a British club would have taken a punt on.

  18. Seems like yuh used to have weekly exposés on the past administration… but nothing on thus cabal. What gives?

  19. Next Fifa Rankings 16th October after losses to Mexico and USA, TTFA heading for a century

  20. He only studying to sell he players not the national team interest.

  21. Who are the other Caribbean countries above us? Jamaica? Haiti? And?
    Also, has the women’s ranking been so adversely affected as well…

  22. One more place drop and we’ll redefine what “keeping it 100” means…

  23. In this part of the world failure is rewarded whether is cricket or football,e.g DJW and Cameron

  24. The same greedy eyes and brown noses are setting themselves for the “overhaul”

  25. T&T players have not been able to get work permits in England since about 2006–after which came the TTFA blacklist and our first plummet down the FIFA standings.
    Also the EPL changed its rule from teams in top 75 (I think) to top 50, which made it even harder for our players to get work permits.
    Khaleem Hyland and Jan-Michael Williams were both signed by English clubs pending work permit approval that they never got. Portsmouth signed Hyland while Sheffield United signed Jan-Michael.
    Almost certainly, there would have been other players between the ages of 19 and 23 since then that a British club would have taken a punt on.

  26. We have promoted mediocrity for too long and we are experiencing the fruits of incompetence.Before Jack Warner there was Eric James but he had the good fortune of talent,Gally,Corneal,De Leon,Lincoln Phillips,Steve David ,Dwight Yorker,Latapy but now the cupboard is bare,so ingenuity is needed

    • Earl Best

      But Eric James’ power was not backed by the might of regional and international bodies! He was almost certainly JAW’s role model (although never publicly acknowledged as such as far as I am aware) but he never inspired the same degree of fear in subordinates and associates that JAW did.

      I have searched in vain for a calypso reference to Jack Warner. Isn’t it surprising that the bards have left him severely alone?

  27. He has proven to be an incompetent, corrupt president with an personal agenda, he needs to go

  28. WELL LETS SEE SOME PEOPLE RESIGNING lets see the responsibility passing on to new entities .

  29. We’re #99!!! We’re #99!!!

  30. He wont go anywhere….the rankings are sure to go lower before there is a turnaround…but sometimes something has to happen for somwthing to happen…#awfulladministration

  31. Not good at all. We have really sunk to an all time low.

  32. The ascension of King David has proven to be a developmental disaster for the sport. We have gone backwards, regressing so badly that any turnaround will require a total overhaul!

  33. Good article, we cannot ignore the FACTS, no old talk, no speculation, this is how the outside world judge you, by results! 50 places we dropped!
    No plan, still no development, no expertise, clearly no experience and the FACTS speak for themselves. Football under the bus with incompetent DJW mismanagement and appointments.

  34. DJW sabotage our chances with his poor administrative decisions.

  35. He must go…he has single handedly destroyed t& t’s football

  36. Spin doctors will claim the rankings are meaningless…meantime our players will find it harder to get contracts in QUALITY Leagues in Europe…The state of our football just deteriorates further and further…SMH 🙁