HANGING IN LIMBO
The recent appointment of former Canada coach Stephen Hart as Trinidad and Tobago senior team head coaches will leave his predecessors in a state of limbo, at least until this weekend.
Hart will take over from former T&T co-head coaches Jamaal Shabazz and Hutson Charles as the national team gets ready for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which kicks off early next month.
TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips said that Hart was their first choice for head coach.
Phillips said that Hart was recommended by newly-appointed director of football, former T&T coach, Leo Beenhakker, and that the support staff for the national team will be finalised when the new coach arrives.
“As far as Mr Shabazz and Mr Charles, Mr Hart has been in contact with Mr Charles and is interested in meeting with the other members of the technical staff when he arrives in Trinidad,” Phillips said.
“The technical staff that will be going up to the Gold Cup has not been finalised. Mr Hart is eager to meet with the staff members and has been in direct contact with Mr Charles in preparation and to help set up the upcoming training camp,” Phillips added.
Phillips said Hart will arrive in Trinidad over the weekend and the national team training camp will start on Sunday with players checking in.
Former “Soca Warrior” Brent Sancho, who played under Beenhakker at the 2006 World Cup is backing the appointment of his former coach as director of football and Hart as T&T head coach, but also wants both appointments to have some “longevity”.
“I think Leo’s reputation speaks for itself. He is a tremendous coach and he has done well and has been with Trinidad and Mr Hart has done very well with the Canadian national team.
“It was an interesting selection; I think the timing is very interesting as well.”
“We only hope there is some longevity in it and I would also hope that some funding now can go towards development of young players coming through the ranks because I think that is where the problem is...the development of the youths,” he added.
Phillips said that while the TTFA are still in the process of finalising the terms of the contracts of Beenhakker and Hart, they were looking at Beenhakker serving in his new post for six months to a year and Hart for two years.
Asked about the timing of the appointments with the Gold Cup starting early in July, Sancho said: “It is not necessarily bad timing.
“Obviously I would hope that they (T&T) get at least one or two games in before they go into the Gold Cup so these gentlemen (Beenhakker and Hart) can get every opportunity to scout the team going into this tournament.”
Phillips said that the TTFA are in process of looking at a couple options for practice matches, and are hoping to get one or two games in before heading to New York for the Gold Cup.
But Sancho said his main concern was after the Gold Cup.
“How do we continue on and try to develop our national programme? That is where the importance of Mr Beenhakker and Mr Hart will come in,” he added.
The former national defender also believes that his former coach, Beenhakker, can have a positive impact in T&T football but is also concerned about the actual structure of the national coaching and how things are going to be run and implemented at the national level.
“I think anything you ask Mr Beenhakker to do is a positive. He is a tremendous coach and it is good to have him back in Trinidad.
“We don’t want a situation where people are stepping on other people’s toes. There needs to be clear, defined lines and I think once that is established, then you can have some benefits to it,” he added.
Phillips insisted that the TTFA had clearly defined roles.
In terms of the role of the technical director Anton Corneal, Phillips said, “His responsibilities will continue and will be largely developmental.
“The technical director is charged with organising grassroots programme and player development and coaching development for the wider part of the game.
“Beenhakker’s role is more narrowly defined dealing with the national team and national team coaches and national team programmes,” Phillips explained.
An introduction to Stephen Hart.
The newly appointed head coach of the Trinidad and Tobago senior men’s football team is a Trinbagonian in many regards.
Born in San Fernando on March 15, 1960, Hart migrated to Canada in his late teens to attend Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was outstanding for the school’s football team and earned his first Trinidad and Tobago selection in 1980. He also played for Texaco and San Fernando Strikers.
Hart was always a student of the game and became technical director of Soccer Nova Scotia in 1993 and held the position until 2001.
He held the position of head coach of Canada’s Under-17 and Under-20 teams and was also assistant coach of the Canadian senior men’s team before taking over as head coach in 2007. That year, he led Canada to a semifinal spot at the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
He had also held the position of interim head coach and full-time head coach of the Canada senior men’s team.
In 45 international matches in charge of Canada, Hart led them to an impressive 20 victories, 10 draws and 15 defeats.
At the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup, Hart led Canada to victories over Costa Rica (2-1), Guatemala (3-0) and Haiti (2-0).
In 2009, he also led Canada to a 1-0 win over Cyprus, 3-0 over Guatemala, 1-0 over El Salvador, and 1-0 over Jamaica.
In 2010, Hart steered Canada to a 1-0 win over Honduras and a 2-2 draw with Venezuela.
Among his other results are a 2-2 draw with Ecuador in 2011, a 0-0 draw with the United States last year, a 1-0 win over Panama, 3-0 over Cuba, and a 0-0 draw with Honduras in 2014 World Cup qualification.
He also guided Canada to a 2-0 win over T&T in a friendly in August, 2012.