“Unfair” is how newly inducted First Citizens Sports Foundation Hall of Famer Shaka Hislop describes the comparison being made between the current national team and the one which represented T&T in the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
Hislop was among 15 former T&T sporting personalities, who were, honoured for their contributions to national sports at the Foundation’s Induction Ceremony, at the Crown Plaza Hotel, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain, on Thursday night.
The former national goalkeeper, who represented T&T on it’s World Cup debut in Germany, said that the public can’t expect the team to be the same two years after the World Cup.
Hislop in an interview with G-Sport sighted the many differences.
“If you look at the two teams anyone who is being realistic can see that they are totally different. Firstly there’s a new coach, new players with a different styles of play, because of the age of the last squad we have lost many players and the times at which we are looking at the two teams are also different. One team was in the World Cup and the other is just entering the semifinal round of qualifying,” said Hislop.
“The other team which we saw in the World Cup had its development problems as well in the early stages,” Hislop reminded.
While many have criticised the current national coach Francisco Maturana, Hislop would not add his voice to that choir, instead he offered a different view.
“I would not say yes a coach should step down. In my career I have played for different clubs and under different coaches everyone was different and the way he does things is not the way you or I would,” said Hislop.
Hislop urged the public to believe that the team which is currently on the field, has just a good a chance as any to take T&T to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa but must be allowed the time to develop into a unit which can achieve that goal.
“As I see it, the team is in a period of transition and must be allowed the time to develop,” Hislop remarked.
Hislop says that the problems which the team had against Bermuda being defeated 2-1 in the first leg and facing a must win scenario in the second leg served as good lesson.
“Bermuda was a nasty scare. Anyone who supports T&T football would have felt uncomfortable with us facing a situation like that but the players and team officials would have learned from it I am sure,” said Hislop.
When asked if he would offer any advice to the team at any point, Hislop remarked, “What can you tell them that they should play better, they know that everyone is telling them. We must not assume that the players don’t know these things because they do.”
He continued, “There were times in my own career when the same thing happened to me, you know that you are not playing well and you just look for ways to get out of spot you are in.”
“There’s always going to be patches where things aren’t going well,” Hislop offered. “But you have to pick yourself up from the low points. The players who last the longest are the players who continually pick themselves up from their low point and take the criticisms that come with bad performances.”
When asked what would happen if we don’t qualify, Hislop was reminded of previous incarnation of national teams, who also failed to qualify.
“Their were other teams before which were on the verge of qualification and failed. The issues would be how the team and the people coped with the failure.
“If we were to take another 16 years to qualify like we did after ‘89 (World Cup campaign) that would be a tragedy. I hope that if it were to come to that it doesn’t take that long this time around,” Hislop said.
“There’s always going to be patches where things aren’t going well, But you have to pick yourself up from the low points. The players who last the longest are the players who continually pick themselves up from their low point and take the criticisms that come with bad performances.”