FORMER national coach Stephen Hart said his sacking did not come as a surprise, but stated he does not have any hard feelings towards the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association following their decision.
Hart, who served as head coach of the national team for almost three and a half years, was relieved of his duties on Thursday. In a media release on Thursday, the TTFA stated that they, and Hart “have agreed to part ways with immediate effect. This follows a meeting held (hours earlier) between Hart and members of the TT FA Board of Directors.” “Well to be honest there were a lot of rumours around and people called and said they had heard this and they had heard that. As a coach when you have a couple bad results you always feel (you can get fired), especially with the history of the TT Football Association and their behaviour towards coaches. I think I am the 29th coach since 1990. It’s almost predictable,” Hart explained in a frank interview with Newsday.
Hart’s sacking comes days after national football team doctor Terrence Babwah and physiotherapist Dave Isaac resigned. It was reported in another newspaper that Babwah tendered his resignation due to Hart playing an “injured” goalkeeper Jan Michael Williams against the advice of Babwah. Williams has since denied being injured while Hart said he is still flabbergasted by the claims being made against him.
“We’ve (Babwah) always had a very good professional relationship.
I was dumbstruck on what I read on Monday when I woke up and can’t come to terms with it and I don’t know where it came from,” Hart said.
Does he have any regrets or feels any resentment towards the TTFA? “Not at all. I think under the circumstances and with the tools I was given, I did the best job possible.
I had a wonderful staff, they went above and beyond the call of duty. I was always grateful to the players because they were a fantastic bunch to work with and they endured a lot in order to represent their country.” TT have started the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying on a losing note, falling 0-2 to Costa Rica and 1-3 to Honduras.
Looking back at his time as coach of the national team Hart said it was an enjoyable experience.
“Yes of course (I enjoyed it). We had some good moments and we had some not so good moments but that is the nature of football and it’s not for a lack of trying.” Among his achievements was guiding the national team to the knockout stage at successive Gold Cup competitions with TT even topping their group in 2015.
Hart said he plans to take some time away from football before he decides what is next for him professionally.
“They (TTFA) have made it clear I don’t have a place in TT football. We will see what happens, I have not sat down and take in all of this as yet. I will take a little break, maybe try and see my children and then start to think about that after the Christmas season.” Hart added, “they (TTFA) are moving in a different direction and at this moment I am not part of that and I accept that.” However, the former national team coach says TT can still qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
“I continue to maintain I think we have a good chance to push for the fourth position, even the third position considering the results that have happened to the United States.” TT are currently in fifth position on the six-team standings in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying with the top three teams qualifying automatically and the fourth place finisher going into a playoff.
In an interview on television channel Sportsmax yesterday TTFA president David John-Williams sought to clear the air as to why Hart was sacked. John-Williams explained, “we have zero points from two games. The results in the last couple of games has not gone for TT , including a loss to Martinique that would have prevented us from an automatic qualification for the Gold Cup, we have to go into a playoff. The results for the last year has been really disastrous.
We failed to qualify for Copa Centenario, we just barley made it against Guatemala, we got a hammering in the US and we lost at home to Costa Rica and away to Honduras. The results just have not gone for us.” John-Williams added, “I am on record saying that Stephen Hart is going to be judged by his results in competitive games and not friendly games. World Cup qualifying is a result oriented business and I am on record saying that Stephen Hart is going to be judged by the results on the pitch and the results on the pitch have not been very good.” The TTFA president confirmed that 14 or 15 coaches have been contacted as a replacement for Hart, but they have not narrowed down the list yet.