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Tue, Jun

T&T slide in FIFA rankings.
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Trinidad and Tobago’s football continues to slide with the latest FIFA football rankings showing the after effects of the short-lived but disastrous Tom Sainfiet reign.

T&T were the busiest team in the World during the last rankings period, playing four times, but three losses meant they dropped 30 points and dipped five places in the World rankings to 83rd.

Those defeats to Nicaragua and Suriname who are both ranked outside the top 100 as well as to Haiti heaped pressure on Saintfiet with the Belgian on Wednesday deciding to walk away from the job.

Haiti are top in the Caribbean (69th) while Suriname have jumped 22 spots to 128th after beating T&T 2-1. T&T are surprisingly below Faroe Islands (82nd) whose team consists of a number of semi-professional players.

Speaking to Newsday yesterday, Sports Minister and former national youth player Darryl Smith weighed in on the football drama taking place and also discussed this nation’s chances of resurrecting the 2018 World Cup campaign.

While staying clear of the administration aspect of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s (TTFA) business, he stated he would be pleased if the new coach is local.

“I will always always push for local. I think Trinidad and Tobago has the talent here. We are a very talented people and passionate.

Again, it’s not my call but I will always push for a local coach because I feel we have qualified people. They’re just as qualified (as foreigners) (but), may not be the best of experience, I don’t want to call any names but I will always be for going local,” he said.

On the calamitous situation of Saintfiet resigning one month after his appointment, Smith added: “I know football is going through it’s challenges now. I know TTFA is dealing with some challenges.

Whether the new coach was fired or resigned, I’m hearing two different stories but whichever one, we have to dust ourselves off and be optimistic and move forward and get ready for the Panama and Mexico (World Cup qualifying) games.

I’m hoping that Mr (David John) Williams the (TTFA) president and the team at TTFA are able to do that. They don’t have much time, they have to hire a new coach soon, I don’t know who they have in mind but whoever they do (appoint) I hope they are up for the job.”

Although acknowledging the slide in the rankings, Minister Smith says he is not too worried about the FIFA table but moreso the next two World Cup qualifiers in March. He noted that time is extremely limited for the next national coach and it will be a different challenge from when Dutchman Leo Beenhakker replaced Bertille St Clair and took T&T to the 2006 World Cup.

“Last time we went to Germany we were in the same position but we hired a coach and he had more time.

Beenhakker was at a level and quality as one of the best in the world. He had some world class players with experience in Shaka Hislop, Russell Latapy and Dwight (Yorke).

This team, I don’t know if we have anybody at that level of experience.

We have a lot of players playing in Europe and out of the Pro League in other leagues around the world but I mean Russell and Dwight and Shaka were world class players — Stern (John) was one of the highest scorers.

“I was very disappointed in the team (performance). We had been playing well prior to the losses...I think we have to work more on our fitness because once your fitness gone it’s your mental gone too. I’m still optimistic. In 2006 we are at the same point and did it. So I really wish them the best and hope Mr Williams and the team get the right man for this crucial time.”