Former national footballers Steve David and Anthony Rougier have both called for serious planning to take place, at all levels, before Trinidad and Tobago embark on their 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign.
Trinidad and Tobago, under the guidance of coach Dennis Lawrence, were beaten 3-0 by hosts Panama on Tuesday to effectively end their dreams of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Looking back at Tuesday’s game, David, the ex-TT striker, said, “There is nothing to be really excited about. We changed our team, we had seven new players but no plan. They were just running around.”
Rougier, the former national defender/midfielder, admitted that the Panama defeat was “a difficult one to swallow”.
He noted, “At the end of the day, football is in my blood, and I’ve always been a part of Trinidad and Tobago football programme. We gave a valid effort in the early stages of the game and it went against us (thereafter).
The ex-national captain continued, “We have to now put the plan in motion now because I would like to think we had a plan before going into the Hex. And now is the time we’ll need to see that plan come into fruition. I don’t think we were solid favourites to go through (to Russia). I think we could have done better but now we have to concentrate on what’s next. And that’s the way we have to approach things now.”
As far as the immediate future of TT football is concerned, from an administrative point of view, David stressed for a long-term plan to be put in place by the TT Football Association (TTFA).
“A long-term plan with the Under-15 group to take us to, maybe eight years from now,” David said. “It seems as though we’re reinventing the wheel. We should plan better.”
Rougier, when asked about the 2022 campaign, responded, “We (have) a new president (David John-Williams). We had a new coach. So they had to come in with a plan (for the 2018 campaign). If we are now looking to find a plan, then we have missed the plot. I think we need to now continue the plan – I pray to God that we do have one – and that’s where we would see the opportunities of what we’ve been through and the experiences of what we’ve been through in the Hex.”
He pointed out, “I believe that Dennis is a good guy. He would learn from that experience and I hope that we think that he can still be the man to take us forward. And let’s hope that the Association gives him that chance. It’s going to be a tough time for us now.”
Stephen Hart was replaced as coach last November, with Belgian Tom Saintfiet having a short-lived stint, before Lawrence took over the mantle in January.
According to David, “(the changes) came at the wrong time, because we were already two games into this Hex. I think they brought the new technical staff in and that was really a disaster, because they were jumping into a no-win situation.
“I think they should have let us finish with the old technical staff and, at the end of this, bring a new technical staff,” he added.
And Rougier stated, “The reality is the decision was made and we have to accept it. We have to look forward. We can’t do anything with what has happened in the past. We can look back and see where we’ve made mistakes and make sure it doesn’t happen again. But we can learn from this.”