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Trinidad and Tobago Head Coach Angus Eve looks on during a Concacaf Nations League against Guatemala at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on Friday, October 13th 2023.

Now that a whole highway has been named after Leroy Deleon and Warren Archibald, what about replacing the Haig Street sign with “Angus Eve Street?”

I mean, we’re talking here about a Carenage native who has represented the senior national men’s football team 118 times, scoring 36 goals. There aren’t too many around in the global game with those sorts of numbers. And now, carrying the mantle of head coach of the same team he represented for so long, he has taken Trinidad and Tobago into the quarter-finals of the CONCACAF Nations League and yet another of those end-of-year decisive duels with the United States.

There seems to be a reluctance to give Eve much credit for this run, moreso now that Kevin Molino has properly washed his mouth on his former head coach with accusations ranging from him being more keen to do the bidding of the Normalisation Committee than seeking the interest of the players, to lacking in tactical acumen, and the now standard presumed kiss of death phrase: losing the dressing room.

And yet, here we are, even in the aftermath of an embarrassing 5-3 loss away to Curacao a week ago, into the knockout phase of the Nations League. It is something no-one was prepared to forecast ahead of the group stage, where the side showed spirit and tenacity in coming from behind on more than one occasion, culminating in the dramatic 3-2 defeat of Guatemala at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

So was all this down to the players alone? Is Eve not deserving of any credit at all for what they were able to achieve against the odds, even if they also required other results to go their way following the whipping from Curacao?

Of course, the defensive showing in Willemstad last Monday was worse than a joke. I only watched the first half but in that 45 minutes, the frequency with which players were dispossessed or gave away possession or were caught out of position made you wonder what the so-and-so was really going on. And now that we know the Americans are the next opponents in a home-and-away tie, can we really expect to survive with so much amateurishness at the back?

If we are going to cuss Eve for such a shambolic showing, shouldn’t the players also bear their share of responsibility? As incompetent as many will want to argue that he is—including 95 percent of the players according to Molino—isn’t passing the ball to a teammate rather than an opponent, especially near your own penalty area, a skill so fundamental that it shouldn’t require the intervention of a tactical genius to ensure that it is accomplished regularly and properly?

What doesn’t help Eve’s cause though are statements which are either contradictory or just plain nonsense.

One minute he suggests no attention should be paid to rankings when Trinidad and Tobago are 100-plus on the FIFA table, only to change tune now that his side has advanced into the double digits. After the 5-3 loss to Curacao, one of the many excuses was that the players were “leggy,” the suggestion being that two games in five days had taken its toll. But isn’t that going to be the same situation against the States in a month’s time, so should we brace for a proper cut-tail whether or not the Yanks are at full strength?

Rather than judge Eve the coach on the basis of superfluous issues though, like saying one thing today and something else tomorrow, or lacking the charisma of a Jose Mourinho or the combative feistiness of an Alex Ferguson, maybe we should use results as the ultimate baseline.

In that regard he hasn’t done badly. In fact, he has exceeded expectations by getting Trinidad and Tobago to the quarter-finals of the Nations League. No amount of dismissive references to him being just very lucky will change that fact. Whether or not he is a Robert Hadad stooge the reality is that under his watch the players are putting in enough of an effort, notwithstanding an array of glaring deficiencies, to overcome several hurdles.

However overcoming the Americans is a different challenge altogether, and while we will always be able to point to that shock win at the Ato Boldon Stadium six years ago which led to their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia, every reliable indicator points to elimination four weeks from now.

So, should the concept of an “Angus Eve Street” in his hometown of Carenage hinge on pulling off an even bigger upset against the USA than what has been achieved so far? No, it should be based on the value placed on his body of work as a player, coach and representative of his community.

Everything else is peripheral.

SOURCE: T&T Express