National coach Belgian Tom Saintfiet sought to cover himself by admitting that he did not have sufficient time to prepare the team properly for the Caribbean Football Union/Concacaf Gold Cup play-off qualifiers against Suriname and Haiti.
At a post match press conference the coach who took over from Stephen Hart about three weeks ago, said he had just two weeks to prepare a team ahead of the tournament, conceding defeats to Nicaragua 2-1 in a friendly, Suriname 2-1 and Haiti 4-3 out of four matches. T&T defeated Nicaragua 3-1.
The 43-year-old Belgian explained the country’s best coach ever Leo Beenhakker had three months before his first qualifying match and lost three out of the first five games the team played.
He told the media that a number of top international players, whom he depended upon, were invited for the play-offs but did not show up for one reason or another. “We invited Khaleem Hyland, Jomal Williams, Levi Garcia, John Bostock, Kevin Molino, Joevin Jones, Cordell Cato and Mikeil Williams.
So we invited a lot of players who did not make for several reasons, because it was not a FIFA date or personally was not ready to perform for the team. But it has consequences, if you have a lot of good players missing before such an important game.”
“Ten days before the first of January I spoke face to face with Joevin Jones and informed him to take a few days off and on the first of January I expect to see you in camp. It is not the coach who invites players but the general secretary, except what I did for Joevin.”
According to Saintfiet, “On the otherside in the two weeks time of working with the team, the boys grew as they worked very hard and I think the local people have discovered some very good local players who they never expected to play at this level.
So I have had good experiences of working with the boys and can assure that some of the boys would be on the squad or have to be in the squad in the future.”
The team gave a fighting performance which Saintfiet said he could not fault them for generally, but noted he was very disappointed with the blunders that prevented them from winning the match. He pointed out that the team led twice in the match and created many opportunities.
He claimed that with the game at 2-apiece it seem like the players did not want to score to take the lead 3-2.
“In extra-time I saw three good chances, one by Cornell Glen , one by Winchester who had an excellent game and another one” Saintfiet explained.
He lashed out at the defensive part of the team, saying it is unacceptable to concede three four goals. “Haiti scored from two corners and a free-kick and two of those goal were unacceptable.”