National Senior Team head coach Tom Saintfiet welcomed assistant coach Russell Latapy into his technical staff and squad at Sunday's training session at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo as preparations continued for the upcoming CFU Gold Cup play-off matches against Suriname on Wednesday and Haiti on Sunday at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
Latapy was named as assistant coach to Saintfiet last month and joined the team for the first time on the weekend after returning from Portugal on the weekend.
"The last two or three weeks I have already had a lot of contact with Russell. Today, when he came into the hotel we took some time, we came together to training in the car and we spoke a little bit about my philosophy, about his ideas and about our way to work together. I am very happy that Russell is here," Saintfiet said.
"Russell is a football man, he knows the country and he has achieved a lot as a player on top level in Europe and on the national team. He has experience also as a coach so I am very happy to add him to the technical team just like everybody else who is there and together we will form a stronger squad," he said.
Saintfiet also spoke on the topic of Latapy's involvement with the youth programme and how their services can be combined to benefit both.
"I think that it's going hand in hand. I am a coach who proved in other countries not to be afraid to select 16 and 17 year old players to make their debut in the national team because on the end when we develop players, it's to get them to the national team. In my own country Lukaku was 16-years-old when he played with the national team. So if you are a talented player, maybe not yet discovered by local teams, but you are a good talent, you can also have a chance in the senior national team and I will work very closely with Russell and the other national youth coach (Brian) Williams to help the development of football and to bring young players very close to the national team," the Belgian-born coach added.
Meanwhile, Latapy earlier stated that he was looking forward to making his contribution as senior team assistant coach.
"Again, it's an opportunity where I've been called again to assist and this is exactly what I will do. I've represented Trinidad and Tobago for so many years, and if I am being called upon again especially in my new role as staff coach for the association, to be an assistant coach for the senior team, I will go in and do my best. The focus has to be on the new coach and his ideas and his philosophies and we need the players to pull together just like the nation and we need to come together to do the best so that we can move forward and give the team the best possible chance," Latapy explained.
Saintfiet, added, that he will look very closely at players' attitude when it comes to team selection.
"I will always consider every player with a Trinidad and Tobago passport, but I will always take into account what is the attitude of a player so players who shows a negative attitude, they have to be double as good and prove that they have the right attitude to come back because we don't win football matches with quality but we win football matches with commitment at this level," Saintfiet pointed out.
"I have to form a team that is ready to fight for their country and I am very happy to do that."
In announcing his 20-man squad on Sunday he included English-based midfielder Andre Boucaud.
He revealed that his decision to omit experience defender Daneil Cyrus and winger/forward Jomal Williams from the 20-man squad was due to both players arriving to a residential camp at Cara Suites Hotel, La Romain, San Fernando, on New Years day more than an hour after the scheduled arrival time and that the players smelt of alcohol,.
In response to US-based player Joevin Jones, who was also in the initial 20-man squad, Saintfiet explained that he too was also released after he failed to report to camp and there places have been given to Trevin Caesar, Curtis Gonzales and Akeem Roach.
Tickets for the upcoming Gold Cup play-off matches are now on sale at all Lotto Locations nationwide. There are three in one season tickets for the three matches costing $$100 for adults and $45 for children. Single match tickets cost $50 for Adults and $20 for children. TTFA Season Pass holders can access the games at no additional cost. Those TTFA Season Passes which includes access to the World Cup qualifiers also, are available at First Citizen's Banks nationwide.
T&T 20-man squad
Adrian Foncette, Glenroy Samuel, Carlos Edwards (captain), Curtis Gonzales, Carlyle Mitchell, Radanfah Abu Bakr, Maurice Ford, Hughtun Hector, Alvin Jones, Kevan George, Nathan Lewis, Aikim Andrews, Hashim Arcia, Tyrone Charles, Cornell Glen, Shahdon Winchester, Akeem Roach, Trevin Caesar, Aubrey David and Andre Boucaud.