Fri, May


As the T&T foot­ball team slumped to the ground in dis­ap­point­ment, the stand­ing ova­tion from the crowd of 15,000 Iran­ian fans, was not on­ly sig­nif­i­cant for its ob­vi­ous ap­pre­ci­a­tion but rather more for the ac­knowl­edge­ment from a home crowd that the vis­i­tors had per­formed above ex­pec­ta­tions.

Be­fore the start of the match in Tehran, most of the Iran­ian me­dia were quite cer­tain, this would be an easy day,

"Iran has been on the im­prove since the World Cup and our play­ers are look­ing at mak­ing a strong state­ment to­day (Thurs­day)," one con­fi­dent Iran­ian jour­nal­ist told us.

"T&T de­feat­ed USA, we know that, so this is our way to show that our foot­ball has grown over the years and at this stage, we are look­ing ahead to tough tests in 2019. We ex­pect to win around 3-0,” added an­oth­er Iran­ian jour­nal­ist.

As the team set­tled in­to Iran, the T&T unit un­der the lead­er­ship of Den­nis Lawrence has to­tal­ly be­come a close-knit unit, and giv­en the lead­er­ship qual­i­ties be­ing shown by the se­nior play­ers, it is ev­i­dent that the mo­men­tum of this team is quite pos­i­tive.

Lawrence has in­stilled a dis­ci­pline and fo­cused ap­proach among a gen­er­al­ly young group of play­ers who are aware that the qual­i­ty of their play will at least guar­an­tee them fair con­sid­er­a­tion for se­lec­tion.

When you re­move favouritism or nepo­tism from any se­lec­tion pol­i­cy, in­trin­si­cal­ly you build a "buy-in" from all play­ers and es­sen­tial­ly com­mand their re­spect. And for me and for all of us this should be ex­treme­ly im­por­tant.

This is a trust that works both ways be­cause when play­ers be­lieve that you are be­ing hon­est with them, good, bad or in­dif­fer­ent, they lis­ten and pay at­ten­tion and in Iran, it was ob­vi­ous that the team spir­it is grow­ing.

A new play­er (goal­keep­er Nick­las Fren­derup) was eas­i­ly wel­comed and adapt­ed to the at­mos­phere. To the cred­it of the man­age­ment staff in Iran, be­sides the work be­ing done by Lawrence, there was some­thing else hap­pen­ing as I watched Stern John, Stu­art Charles Fevri­er, Sam Hug­gins and Ross Rus­sell in­ter­act with the play­ers, there was a clear sense that every­one was on the same page. It was clear there was one goal.

When the team ar­rived in Iran, thanks to a great wel­come par­ty or­gan­ised by T&T-born Rae Ann and her hus­band, the team was treat­ed to many won­der­ful meals and an ear­ly taste of Iran­ian food and hos­pi­tal­i­ty, and to­tal­ly en­joyed them­selves.

On the field, I would like T&T to recog­nise the to­tal com­mit­ment and ef­fort from cap­tain Khaleem Hy­land, this young man wears his team’s heart on his sleeve and I tru­ly get the feel­ing that he would do any­thing for this team and play­ers on the field.

As to the match it­self, goal­keep­er Mar­vin Phillip has grown not on­ly in stature but in con­fi­dence and was yet again out­stand­ing for his coun­try, his penal­ty save was splen­did jus­tice for dis­parag­ing ref­er­ee­ing and with Adri­an Fon­cette, has the back­up, our goal­keep­ing is in safe hands go­ing for­ward.

Both Daneil Cyrus and Shel­don Bateau look in­sep­a­ra­ble in de­fence, to­geth­er with wing-backs Alvin Jones and Tris­tan Hodge, de­fen­sive­ly we are be­gin­ning to look sol­id again, notwith­stand­ing there is al­ways fur­ther work and im­prove­ment pos­si­ble.

Le­ston Paul is a fire­brand of a play­er as he ab­sorbed a lot of pres­sure on the night but found both ac­cu­rate pass­es and con­trolled touch­es when the team re­quired such. Lester Pelti­er re­turned to the team and looked like he had nev­er been away, he has ma­tured and his fu­ture looks bright once he re­mains fo­cused.

Every time, I watch Nathan Lewis in ac­tion, he im­press­es more and more, with his ef­fort both in de­fence and at­tack as well as his po­si­tion­ing, as he al­ways seems to get him­self in the best scor­ing po­si­tions pos­si­ble. Both Jo­evin Jones and Ataullah Guer­ra gave their best, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the first 45 min­utes, be­fore trav­el­ling ex­er­tions and lack of re­cent reg­u­lar com­pet­i­tive foot­ball re­spec­tive­ly would have cut short their par­tic­i­pa­tion and best ef­forts on the night.

Young­sters Du­ane Muck­ette, Jo­mal Williams, Ke­ston Julien Akeem Humphrey and Isa­iah Lee are cer­tain­ly will­ing and able and along with the more ex­pe­ri­enced Aubrey David, Cur­tis Gon­za­les and Cordell Cato are breath­ing fresh life in­to the foot­ball.

We can on­ly await the re­turn of Levi Gar­cia, Shah­don Win­ches­ter and Kevin Moli­no head­ing in­to next year. When play­ers com­pete for places, it can on­ly ben­e­fit the team.

Let us con­tin­ue to give our sup­port in ac­tion, not in words. As for oth­ers, the truth hope­ful­ly will open their eyes go­ing for­ward.

SOURCE: T&T Guardian