President Anthony Carmona has deferred his response to questions now in the public domain relating to issues at President’s House. His response will be given on Wednesday.
Never mind the horrendous effort which our team produced in their failed effort to qualify for the Brazil World Cup. This country has gained entry by virtue of accepting offers of matches against teams which are actual candidates for the big event starting June 12. The improvised group consisting Argentina, Iran, Columbia and the Soca Warriors from T&T, may not be described as a group of death, but a realistic combative occurrence for our national team. For those who are less than 40 years of age, they could be enthused to know that matches against these teams will be some sort of historical moments for this country’s football. And who can blame them?
They were probably not around when both Columbia and Argentina were drawn in the same group at the 1967 Panam games in Winnipeg, Canada, with Mexico being the fourth team in the group. The general consensus at that time was the fear of this twin island state been beaten badly and probably humiliated at this competitive setting. However, I am and will always be proud to mention to our young folks that our national team surprised their opponents, not by just giving them a good game, but defeating Columbia by 5-2, tying with Mexico 1-1 and defeating the mighty Argentina by 1-0, to win the group and earn the right to play for the gold medal.
Needless to say to those who were not aware, both Argentina and Mexico had played the World Cup in England the previous year when Alf Ramsey’s England’s national team, won the Cup. This was also the first time that this country had won a medal in a major football tournament, the bronze. If I were the coach or the players, I would have utilised this occasion as another great opportunity to show their worth, if only because these opponents were playing their final matches prior to the official ones, and that means a dress rehearsal for them. Now that we have established this feat of arranging these matches, the major question will be our readiness for this level of opponent. It is no secret that our national team has not had a training session for some time, a factor which have been shrugged aside, stating a shortage of funds for the absence of activity.
There is no reason why the pro league clubs could not have been requested to release their players for one day per week for the national players to interact mentally and practically with the technical perception of Stephen Hart, the national coach. This opportunity does not come very easily and it calls for a serious approach by the people of this country. Sometimes, insularity and/or tunnel vision behaviour tend to outshine reality, and one should hope that this occasion must be treated as a huge step for our football future. After witnessing the stints in the United Arab Emirates, then against New Zealand and our neighbours, this should be another exposure to the world that the quality of our game in rising towards the regular World Cup qualifiers.
Having seen a cadre of young players, who have actually demonstrated to the fans that they are not a long way technically from some of the more advanced countries, the target now is the creation of “chemistry” among the group.
We may be accused of lacking in cohesiveness with regard to team play, a feature which can only come with practice sessions together, where players get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, with the coach working to reduce the obvious faults. This is the time when our commitment to supporting our national team is not conceptualised as just a hope for success, but for a demand from each and every player to accept the responsibility of a national effort, throwing every bit of thought towards a winning trend. We all shall await and watch the days leading up to these challenging matches.