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T&T fall to 101st in FIFA rankings, plus controversial clause that would have cost Lawrence his job

The Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team was ranked 101st in the world today by FIFA, as they continued to tumble down the charts.

The Soca Warriors dropped nine places since their calamitous showing at the June Concacaf Gold Cup—in which they were beaten 6-0 by USA—while they have fallen 17 spots since current head coach Dennis Lawrence replaced Tom Saintfiet at the helm and 47 places since Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams was elected in November 2015.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Levi Garcia (left) reacts after a missed opportunity while USA defender Nick Lima looks on during Gold Cup action in Cleveland on Saturday 22 June 2019.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

The latest rankings spells gloom for Trinidad and Tobago football on a collective and individual basis. The Warriors must be ranked within Concacaf’s top six nations by June 2020 to get into the Hex and earn a shot at an automatic qualifying berth for the Qatar 2022 World Cup. At present, Lawrence’s men are ranked 11th in Concacaf.

Individually, Trinidad and Tobago footballers do not qualify for a work permit in England unless the twin island republic averages better than 70 over a two year period. However, the National Team has not achieved that ranking since John-Williams fired Stephen Hart in November 2016.

The Warriors were 54th in the world under Hart when John-Williams took office. Hart was sacked a year later after a slide of 11 places to 65th.

Trinidad and Tobago fell a further 19 spots to 84th before Saintfiet was put to pasture. Under Lawrence, the rot has only increased. Yet, earlier this year, Lawrence was rewarded with a two and a half year extension by the John-Williams-led Board.

The only Board member to vote against Lawrence’s extension was Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) president Keith Look Loy, who the head coach has threatened to sue for defamation in an unrelated action.

Ironically, Lawrence would have been sacked since January 2018 if the Board had agreed to key performance indicators (KPIs) recommended by then TTFA technical committee chairman and former Strike Squad forward, Dexter Skeene.

Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams and Men’s National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence enjoy each other’s company during the Football for a Cause charity match at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 26 October 2018.
(Copyright Nicholas Bhajan/CA-Images/Wired868)

Lawrence, who was the technical committee’s third choice candidate for the job after Stuart Charles-Fevrier and Terry Fenwick, was asked to deliver a 40 percent success rate on an annual basis while another clause meant his contract could be terminated if the team suffered more than a six point drop in the FIFA rankings.

Lawrence’s agent, Mike Berry, refused to let his client agree to the clauses and the Board backed down on the demands.

“So if, God forbid, we lose against Panama and Mexico [in March] and we drop six points in the FIFA rankings as a result,” Berry told Wired868 in January 2017, “then his contract can be terminated at four months’ notice! Now bear in mind, Dennis has a two-year contract in Belgium [as a scout].

“Those clauses were unacceptable… How could he sign that?!”

It is uncertain if Lawrence’s contract has any KPIs at all since John-Williams has refused to let the Board see it. However, his current international record is five wins, six draws and 15 losses from 26 games, which gives him a ratio of 19 percent wins, 23 percent draws and 58 percent losses in his overall tenure.

In competitive fixtures, Lawrence’s record is 18 percent wins, nine percent draws and 73 percent losses—after two wins, one draw and eight losses. While, at the end of his first year in charge, Lawrence had a 19 percent win and draw record while 62 percent of his outings as head coach ended in losses.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Dennis Lawrence (right) appeals to the referee’s assistant during 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica at the National Stadium in San José on 13 June 2017.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images/Wired868)

Trinidad and Tobago have not won a match in 2019 after six games and his record so far this year stands at: zero percent wins, 33 percent draws and 67 percent losses.

The Warriors’ next international outing is away to St Vincent and the Grenadines on 11 August.

(Trinidad and Tobago football in numbers)

54—The ranking when John-Williams took office with Hart as head coach. Trinidad and Tobago were fourth in Concacaf at the time (behind Mexico, United States and Costa Rica) and first in the Caribbean.

65—T&T’s position when John-Williams fired Hart at Ruby Tuesdays.

84—The Warriors ranking after two months under ex-Bangladesh coach Tom Saintfiet, who replaced Hart.

90—The ranking place that would have given the TTFA grounds to sack Lawrence under KPIs suggested by the Skeene-led technical committee but binned by the Board.

93—The Warriors’ ranking when Lawrence received a two and a half year contract extension from the TTFA Board on 20 February 2019.

101—Trinidad and Tobago’s current FIFA ranking, which sees the Warriors snuggled between Estonia (100) and Palestine (102) in the global charts. Lawrence’s team is 11th in Concacaf and fourth in the Caribbean behind Jamaica, Curaçao and Haiti.

Photo: USA goal scorer Paul Arriola (second from left) thanks teammate Jordan Morris for the assist while Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Marvin Phillip and defender Alvin Jones lie in a crumpled heap during Gold Cup action in Cleveland on 22 June 2019.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

About Lasana 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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  1. Wow great article, very technical and filled with statistics, the figures tell a story and it does not lie