Former Trinidad and Tobago football icon Russell Latapy will face his fifth tournament as national coach in November when he takes the National Under-20 Team into their FIFA 2019 Under-20 World Cup qualifying series.
The National Under-20 squad began preparations six months ago, according to the TTFA Media, and currently trains at least once a week.
“What we have tried to do as a staff is keep the team together and make sure they stay active,” said Latapy. “What happened before is that we had a lot of long breaks and stoppages. But what we are doing with this team is having them train at least once a week.
“We still have to incorporate some of the overseas-based players who we think are good enough to get onto this team.”
Latapy’s present 30-man training squad includes the Shiva Boys Hindu College pair of goalkeeper Denzil “Peng” Smith and midfielder Tyrel “Pappy” Emmanuel, who were both members of the last Under-20 squad under coach Brian Williams—although Emmanuel was eventually left out for disciplinary reasons.
The St Anthony’s College sextet of goalkeepers Jabari Graham and Elijah Shade, defender Jessie Williams, midfielders Jordel Brown and Che Benny and forward Jayden Prowell as well as the Trinity College East quartet of goalkeeper Emmanuel John, defender Kernel Sween and attackers Nickel Orr and Kishon Hackshaw are among the players who have graduated from Latapy’s last Under-17 squad.
Among the new inclusions are Presentation College (San Fernando) winger Jordan Riley, St Anthony’s College defender Derron John, St Augustine Secondary attacker Anthony Samuel and Shiva Boys left-back Matthew Beal.
Shiva Boys playmaker and SSFL 2017 MVP Judah Garcia and Naparima College flanker Mark Ramdeen, who both missed out on the last Under-17 squad for varying reasons, are also in the current 30-man pool.
“What we are trying to enhance in these players is their game awareness, their tactical awareness and obviously their fitness levels,” Latapy told the TTFA Media. “We have a good bunch of players here that we think we can work with. But in comparison with the teams that we are going to be competing against, we will be coming up against young players who are already playing first team football in top professional leagues.
“But we have a good bunch of young men who are taking on a lot of information and are willing to work hard and that’s a good place to start.”
Benny and Williams represented St Ann’s Rangers in the Pro League last season while attacker Nion Lammy, a former Presentation (San F’do) schoolboy, played for Point Fortin Civic. Otherwise, the majority of players have featured in either adult zonal competitions or in the Pro League Youth League.
Latapy said he hopes to get his squad registered in either the Pro League or the Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) with a view to providing them with match practice before they enter the Caribbean phase of their World Cup campaign.
“For most coaches ideally what you will really like before any tournament—and this is being kind—is six to eight international matches,” said Latapy. “We know that because of the financial constraints of the Association at this point, it’s difficult to get these international games. So therefore what we are trying to do is attempting to play in the local league—either the Pro League or the Super League.
“We are hoping that we will get the support for it not only from the Association but also from the Super League or the Pro League. It has happened in the past [and] we’ve seen [its] impact on the way they perform in terms of game preparation.”
Latapy, who wore the number 10 shirt for Portugal and Scotland giants FC Porto and Glasgow Rangers respectively and for Trinidad and Tobago at the Germany 2006 World Cup, is considered one of the country’s greatest ever players. His coaching record is less illustrious.
In four tournaments at senior and youth level—the 2010 World Cup qualifiers, the 2010 Caribbean Cup, the 2017 Under-17 World Cup and the 2017 CONCACAF Under-15 Championships—Latapy managed three wins from 16 matches with one draw and 12 losses, exclusive of Caribbean Cup qualifiers. His teams scored 14 goals while conceding 47.
There are mitigating circumstances as Latapy took up the Under-17 team with roughly six weeks to go before the CFU competition on home soil. He also won all three qualifying matches for the 2010 Caribbean Cup.
Brian Williams, Latapy’s predecessor as Under-20 coach, took Trinidad and Tobago into the CONCACAF stage two years ago so the current head coach will be hoping that November turns out to be a case of fifth time lucky.
Thus far, Latapy has never managed to advance a team beyond the Caribbean stage and Trinidad and Tobago were either already qualified or automatic qualifiers for any CONCACAF tournament at which he served as coach.
Latapy’s Coaching Record
(2010 World Cup qualifiers, CONCACAF Hex)
2-3 (Costa Rica)
1-0 (El Salvador in T&T)
0-1 (USA in TT)
0-4 (Costa Rica)
2-2 (Mexico in T&T)
(2010 Caribbean Cup qualifiers)
6-2 (St Vincent and the Grenadines in T&T)
2-1 (Guyana in T&T)
4-0 (Haiti in T&T)
(2010 Caribbean Cup)
(2016 Caribbean U-17 Championship)
0-2 (Haiti in T&T)
3-2 (Bermuda in T&T)
2-3 (Jamaica in T&T)
(2017 CONCACAF U-15 Championship)
0-4 (Costa Rica)
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The system set
terry fenwick would have been a better option
but the rest can kiss up
I advocate that..all kind of people were given a chance come on let’s see what Terry got..
Total failure an they continue to recicle
How some of these men still gettin wok??? Dont dey have to walk wit their resume?? More losses than wins??failure to progress from any tournament was in charge of ??Football is a result base game. We continue to go to tournaments with the same coaches and get the same results. It is like someone havin a drivers licence and gettin accidents right through after a while no insurance will want them but not the TTFA. Failure is failure great player poor coach.
I think one of the contributors to this post seeking to address this — and other — issues related to this stupid hiring-of-coaches practice.
Keep your fingers crossed!
Lasana, I would like you to view some of their training sessions. Their fitness levels are poor.
Well they still have time to address that. I hope they do.
Lasana Liburd I hope the team really does if T&T football is to go anywhere
Like the league participation concept. Why wasn’t the same done for the national under 17. They may have benefitted from participation in the youth Pro League
It would mean all the schools and clubs will have to release their players. But, yes, it seems like the best they can do.
Sure. National interest is paramount.
Agree. Not the best situation but a possible solution
..Anton Corneal approached me on this. It has been done previously in the Super League with the U20 team Zoran Vranes took to Egypt 2009. That team won the Super League title. I told Anton we are open to the idea. There has been no further approach on the matter since..
Right idea…Wrong Coach IMHO
..That is another story. Lol..
An innovative approach in the midst of hard economic times where probably overseas camps may be difficult to procure. Also they will get consistent playing time and challenging opposition in a league.
Not saying this is a bad idea but please understand this is nothing new …. they’ve done this before (recently even) please don’t see it as a radically positive move by our current administration. They’ve yet to show any truly advanced means of improving our teams ….latapy has had these teams for a while with no progress …. let’s see how he does. …love the player ….don’t rate the coach