NATIONAL football coach Angus Eve said the six weeks of uncertainty before he was retained at the helm of the men's programme was not lost time.
Eve told Newsday since his contract ended when Trinidad and Tobago exited the Concacaf Gold Cup on July 2, he has been watching tapes and scouting opponents for the Concacaf Nations League.
TT begin their League A Group A campaign at home against Curacao on September 7. Group A also comprises El Salvador, Guatemala, Martinique and Panama.
On Tuesday, the TTFA announced that Eve's contract has been extended until March 2024.
TTFA normalisation committee head Robert Hadad said Eve has brought "stability, quality and belief to the team.”
Eve said, "The possibility that I might get back the job was always on the table. I never stopped working and scouting our opponents – plus we saw Curacao (qualifying round) and Guatemala play in the (2023) Gold Cup, so we have information on them, and El Salvador also."
TT's Gold Cup campaign ended disastrously with heavy defeats to Jamaica (4-1) and USA (6-0) in Group A. Asked if he would have been disappointed to have those losses as the lasting memory of his tenure, Eve said society should remember what he has achieved since taking over in June 2021.
"We had a very stable run. I would give it 50-50. We broke even.
"There are a lot of issues we have to deal with. Football, like a lot of other things in the country, is not positive, because the negative outweighs the positive.
"I'm happy we've been able to stabilise the team. We've been able to bring in young players and try to give them the opportunity to represent the country, and although we haven't moved massively in one direction...I know it sounds small, but we moved up two spots (102nd in FIFA rankings). There are a lot of positives that we have done so far."
Looking towards the Nations League competition, Eve said his players need to match the aggression of their primarily Latin American opponents.
"They play quick, aggressive, high intensity. The Latin people have this never-say-die mentality, so that sort of aggression we would have to match, or else we will be overrun in the games."Eve said it remains a difficult balancing act introducing new players to the national programme while also needing to get results.
"Every window we play now is an international window with a competition inside there. It's difficult to expose players. It's a difficult balancing act to achieve.
"For this tournament on September 7, the locally-based players are playing until August 31. The foreign players eligible for selection are playing up until the 3rd (September). The window opens on the 4th (September). You have basically two days to prepare for the match."
Asked whether foreign-based players will continue to be given preference over their local counterparts in team selection, Eve replied, "I hate that term about 'foreign' and 'local' – they are all Trinidadians.
"I think it's only about four of our players weren't born in Trinidad. Most of the players, Kevin Molino, Joevin Jones, they learned their football here, they never left here until they were about 21 years old. Unlike what Curacao and Jamaica are doing, we actually have home-grown players who are playing abroad."
Eve has been criticised for omitting top local-based players like forward Nathaniel James (TTPFL top scorer), attacker Reon Moore and defender Justin Garcia from the Gold Cup squad, but he insisted that the best team on paper was selected.
"When we went out, nobody said we picked foreign over local. They thought that was the best team we could have selected on paper.
"I've told the 60 players in the pool, we have to use competition matches to expose players and evolve the team. As we go along we may pull players out and change players in."
On the introduction of a TTFA technical advisory panel, Eve said he welcomed the decision.
"Angus Eve and my staff alone cannot qualify for any tournament. We need government, corporate, technical committee. I welcome it. I welcome going in front a panel and explaining why we did this or didn't do that.
"Accountability is always necessary. Sometimes in these committees you might hear something you don't want to hear, but it might build you going forward. I welcome it because it's a support mechanism."
Eve said he will be keeping a keen eye on the Concacaf Caribbean Cup, which Defence Force and AC Port of Spain are competing in, before he names his 23-man squad for the Nations League opener.