Interim Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team head coach Angus Eve was rewarded with a two-year contract today, which should see him lead the Soca Warriors through the 2022-23 Concacaf Nations League competition. His new contract expires on 31 March 2023.
Fifa-appointed normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad made the announcement via a press release, which also named Eve as head of the Men’s National Under-20 Team. The national youth team is due to start competitive action in November.
Neither position was put out to tender by the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), which is steered by the normalisation committee at present. Hadad apart, the committee comprises vice-chair Judy Daniel and floor members Nigel Romano and Trevor Nicholas Gomez.
After talks with the Unified Coaches of Trinidad and Tobago (UFCTT) earlier this year, the normalisation committee agreed to open all technical staff positions up for tender. And, in June, Hadad said Eve would have to re-apply for the role of head coach after the Gold Cup.
However, the normalisation committee made an about-turn today and there was no suggestion that Hadad even reconvened his ad-hoc ‘technical advisory panel’ to have them formally weigh in on the matter.
Hadad, the co-CEO of HadCo Limited, officially—and unconstitutionally—deactivated all the TTFA’s standing committees in January. And although he vowed to restore them with fresh faces in the near future, he is yet to do so.
In a TTFA press release, Hadad suggested that the Warriors’ recent performances made tendering for the job unnecessary.
“Angus [Eve] earned an opportunity because of his desire to help Trinidad and Tobago football, his success in the last few outings and the potential that he has shown,” Hadad told the TTFA Media. “He is passionate about our football and we see this as a relationship where the team and Angus can grow together and be successful.”
Eve led Trinidad and Tobago for five games in July, as the Warriors thumped Montserrat 6-1 and then squeezed past French Guiana 8-7 on kicks from the penalty mark to get to the Gold Cup group stage. There, they held Mexico goalless and drew 1-1 with Guatemala but were eliminated after a 2-0 loss to El Salvador.
The results were considered an improvement on the lack-lustre showings under former head coach Terry Fenwick. And Eve, whose contract expired on 31 August 2021, was pleased to have his tenure in the post extended.
Eve, who is also Trinidad and Tobago’s most capped player of all-time, described his full-time appointment as ‘a great honour and privilege’ for not only himself and his family but also his present and past employers, his first national youth coach Bertille St Clair, his hometown in Carenage and local football coaches.
“All of these people I am doing it for and for local coaches,” said Eve, during a press conference this evening. “I see myself as having an obligation to them to do a good job. I cannot put in words how much this means to me.”
The Soca Warriors have already missed one international match window as the Hadad-led normalisation committee failed to line up any friendlies for the September period, which has already started and ends next week.
Eve said he does not know of any games in the works but intends to raise the topic in a meeting with his employers on Monday.
“I have ideas already,” said Eve, “[…] and I will like to play in every match window.”
His future plans will now also include the Concacaf Under-20 Championship, with qualifiers starting in just two months.
“Angus knows the under-20 players and is extremely decorated in youth football from his time in the SSFL,” said Hadad, as he suggested why he did not invite applications for that job either. “He has shown that he can relate to and get the best out of the young players. And though his time was short so far, he showed that with the Senior Team as well.
“So this was viewed as an ideal fit as we target development towards qualification for the 2026 World Cup.”
Eve had barely three weeks to get the Men’s Senior Team ready for the Gold Cup. He suggested that with proper periodisation, a coach can make some impact within six weeks. And, with the under-20 team, he has ten weeks to prepare.
“We actually have more time than I had with the seniors, and I believe there is a way we can cope,” he said. “[…] This is the same group of players that ‘Stuartie’ (Stuart Charles-Fevrier) had from under-15 level who had joined me at under-17 level last year. So they will have a natural camaraderie with each other.”
Eve noted too that, in considering international prospects for the national team, his staff had identified two players who can feature at under-20 level: 18-year-old Atlanta United 2 playmaker Ajani ‘Jay’ Fortune and 16-year-old Real Monarchs attacker Seth Powder.
Both are active players in the United States second tier domestic competition, the USL Championship, and the younger brothers of Gold Cup players Andre Fortune II and Noah Powder respectively.
Former W Connection midfielder Molik Khan, who was a stand-by for the 2021 Gold Cup team, is also eligible to play for the junior Warriors.
There has been no domestic football on the two-island republic since the Covid-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, though, while the normalisation committee did not take advantage of the government’s Covid-19 exemption to keep the national youth teams active.
“We just have to make sure we have some practice games to get them sharp,” said Eve. “Hopefully that will be enough for the first hurdle [in November] and then we will have some more time before the second phase.”
Eve noted that he and his assistant coaches, Reynold Carrington and Hutson Charles, have vast experience at every level of the game on the local and international stage which should be an asset going forward. At some stage, he expects to split the coaching staff to ensure that the senior and under-20 teams can play at the same time whenever necessary.
“I have taken that [both teams may have to play at the same time in the November match window] into consideration,” he said, “and I have asked for a couple other staff members so that we can manage the two situations simultaneously.”
Eve has already identified a prospective assistant coach—he suggested that he had a young coach in mind—as well as another equipment manager and assistant team manager. But he did not name them.
He said his request for reinforcements was also based on his staff’s workload during the Gold Cup tournament, which he described as ‘a learning experience’.
The ripple effect of Eve’s ascension to the post of full-time Soca Warriors head coach is that, for the first time in the Secondary Schools Football League’s Premier Division era, Naparima College now have a vacancy for head coach.
Eve has led the southern school since 2014 and ‘Naps’ won four national league titles during that period. He is also the current head coach of Pro League outfit, Club Sando. He confirmed that he will give up both positions.
“I asked the normalisation committee to (allow me to) stay on in an advisory role to help with the transition at both places,” said Eve. “I will not be coaching; [it is] just a handing-over. I will have to vacate those two roles.”
Eve hopes to have training schedules ready by next week for both national teams. But there is another issue: outstanding remuneration.
Eve confirmed that his staff was, belatedly, paid for July, although they are still due salaries for August. He did not complain about the hiccup and it will not hinder their work.
However, the Men’s National Senior Team players, who are owed match fees from the June match window and July Gold Cup, remain bitterly dissatisfied with the response from the normalisation committee on the debt.
The TTFA earned US$100,000 (TT$680,000) for the Soca Warriors’ qualification for the Gold Cup group stage, although Concacaf will only pay out that financial reward this month.
Neither Hadad nor any member of the normalisation committee attended this evening’s press conference.
In any case, Eve suggested that he prefers to use the next match window to widen his player pool and intends to select players who did not feature at the Gold Cup.
He has a couple players in mind, as he said he is keeping tabs on Malcolm Shaw (Atlético Ottawa), Akeem Garcia, Andre Rampersad (both HFX Wanderers—Canada), Leston Paul (Memphis 901—USA), Leland Archer (Charleston Battery—USA) and Keston Julien (Sheriff Tiraspol—Moldova) among others.
“We are well placed to be competitive in [the Concacaf] zone,” said Eve, who based his opinion on the standard of the Gold Cup. “It will not be easy because we are starting with a deficit. But I believe we can do it.”
Editor’s Note: The Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Under-20 Team was seeded for the 2022 Concacaf Under-20 Championship, according to a Concacaf announcement on 3 September, and will not participate in the November 2021 qualifying tournament.
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