T&T's national football coach Dennis Lawrence has lashed back at Keith Look Loy, a member of the board of the T&T Football Association who has said publicly that he (Lawrence) should step down following the country's horrendous CONCACAF Gold Cup performance.
Speaking at a press conference at the National Cycling Centre (NCC) in Balmain, Couva, on Wednesday, Lawrence, who admitted that certain things could have been done differently to produce better results, said generally, he stood by the decisions he made during the tournament with regards to team selection, among other decisions he made. He said, however, that he feels like he has lost a battle and not the war.
The T&T team finished the tournament with just one point from three matches, having been humiliated 6-0 to the USA, losing 2-0 to Panama and drawing with Guyana 1-1.
However, Lawrence took offence to calls headed by Look Loy, a former national player and coach, for him to step down, saying, "Had I taken his advice then, I wouldn't be where I am today. When I was 15-years-old, that was the same guy who said to me, you would not make it in football. I didn't take his advice then.
"In 1998, while serving as Joe Public's Technical Director, that team was beaten 8-0 by DC United in the CONCACAF Champions Cup, but he (Look Loy) did not resign then, instead, he got another promotion."
According to Lawrence, Look Loy, the former FC Santa Rosa coach, was also appointed manager of the country's youth teams in 1999, where, in three consecutive games the side was beaten by six goals, but still he was promoted a second time to the country's senior team as an assistant, where there were also unfavourable results.
Disappointed by Look Loy's insistence that he is not the man for the T&T coaching job, Lawrence said Look Loy was then elevated to the position of technical adviser and appointed a German coach who failed to get T&T to the Hex stage of the World Cup Qualifiers.
"Today he is still involved in our football, making decisions," Lawrence said.
Lawrence believes a number of factors contributed to his team's poor Gold Cup campaign and a visit to the Kansas City training centre was confirmation for him that they were punching well above their weight, due to the variety of high-tech equipment that his players did not have access to in their daily preparations.
Because of this, Lawrence said he awaits the coming on stream of the Home of Football, from strictly a footballing standpoint, as it will help with the preparation and development of the players. Lawrence said his team was affected by a range of issues, including players' personal problems, player unavailability, injuries, fitness and players' mentality, among others.
Still, he told the media to be beaten by six goals, four of which came in 12 minutes, was not normal.
"Our problem has been us in possession of the ball and then just giving it away. For us to compete in football, we must manage the game better."
Lawrence said he is hopeful he will be presented with a wider pool of players to pick from in the future, as well as a core group of local players from the Pro League. He said he will keep a close eye on the coming pre-season Professional Tournament later this month, from which he intends to choose players for the Nations League in September.