Current Technical Director of Trinidad and Tobago Football - Lincoln "Tiger" Phillips took some time off to chat with the Soca Warriors Online (SWO). Here is a breakdown on how the interview went with the former national goalkeeper.
1. Mr. Phillips we the fans haven't been hearing from you lately and would love to know what you have been up to.
Well Flex the main reasons why it seems my visibility is lower is that in my first years, it was important for the public to hear about my plans and proposals in creating a developmental structure for the national teams. Since the end of the last world cup, others have taken over the development duties on the men’s side and the programs I wanted to bring online never received the funding or support necessary to implement.
However, here are the following areas in which I have been focused my attention as Technical Director: 1) coaching development, 2) building the U17 women’s program, 3) fulfilling an advisory role working with Francisco Maturana and Zoran Vranes, 4) working with our national team and PFL goalkeepers, 5) coordinating with the SSFL and a private entity to develop academic support programs for student-athletes, 6) working with the Ministry of Education in passing legislation requiring secondary and primary school coaches to have a coaching license. 7) conducting player ID and development clinics with individual MPs within their districts, 8] serving as a liaison between the TTFF and the Ministry of Sport in support of the Ministry’s community summer camp program, 9) Conducting outreach efforts through offering coaching development programs in traditionally underserved communities such as Penal, Chaguanas, Maracas, and Pt. Fontin, 10) working with TTFF Executive, Raymond Tim Kee, on efforts to build our national futsal program, and 11) Coordinating with Republic Bank to support their camps and clinics through our coaching development and licensing programs.
Certainly, compared to when I first returned 5 years ago and in the midst of preparing for the 2006 World Cup, my profile has lessened but not my relevance to the overall development of football in this country; which was actually my original task.
While working outside the TTFF, I have also been blessed to have the chance to hone my skills as a color commentator on i95.5 fm broadcasts of national team games.
2. As the Christmas season approaches the US based players in Colleges and Universities will be on break and most of them return home for a short vacation are you planning to have any screening sessions or games planned out for them. If you are planning one let me know as I will try and get Kyle Bethel and Fabien Lewis to come down as well. We leave no stones unturned. And we have many youth teams that these players are eligible to represent.
Oh Flex, I know all too well the amount of talent we have all over the world and your ability to find such players. The basis of my scouting and player identification program was to have what I called a reclamation project so players with T&T background on all age levels can be discovered, evaluated, and brought into the national pool if he/she is up to the standard. Bringing such players will ultimately raise the standard of play across the board because the level of competition is raised. The fate of the winter combine certainly pains me because the first and, unfortunately, last Christmas combine, in which you Flex and Socawarriors.net played a significant role, was a tremendous success. Unfortunately, no funding has been provided to continue this event. However, with the qualifications for the 2012 Olympics fast approaching, I hope we can re-start this event because when you look at the over 170 players who participated and the 30+ who made up the final player pool, it is amazing the breadth and depth of talent uncovered by that event.
3. Do you have anything in place for the Women Under 17 team seeing that we were awarded to hosts the 2010 FIFA Women's Under-17 Football World Cup here in T&T.
Good question and one that can provide your members with some insight and background to what will certainly be a significant event for our long term development in women’s football. Since I returned to T&T, I have pushed for increased funding and development of a structured approach for the women’s game. As with the men’s side, the key to our long term development is to create opportunities that will expose our elite youth footballers as young as 12 years old to rigorous international competition. To his credit Jack Warner was receptive and pushed to create the CFU Tournaments and appointing the best women’s college coach in the U.S., Notre Dame Head Coach Randy Waldrum, to build and lead the U17 Women’s team earlier this year in the CONCACAF U17 Women’s World Cup qualification round.
As you mentioned, the recent awarding of the 2010 U17 Women’s World Cup to T&T presents an incredible opportunity to build upon the growth and improvement already witnessed within the U17 program. More significantly, through the long standing efforts of UWI Senior Administrator, Dr. Iva Gloudon, UWI is poised to receive massive FIFA support for the creation of an academy in which Dr. Gloudon and I worked tirelessly to create its structure and curriculum.
It is through these developments that top coaches from all over the world in the women’s game have taken notice and I would like to see us take advantage of these opportunities to make a substantive splash for not only our U17 program but our U20 and senior programs as they approach qualification for the 2012 Olympics. Watch out for the current U20 team as they will make up the nucleus of the world cup team and I believe T&T can qualify once again for Germany. Marlon Charles has done a fantastic job with that group and many of the players are playing and developing within good U.S. collegiate programs.
4. I personally believe players such as Andre Boucaud, Matthew Bartholomew, Randi Patterson and Ricky Shakes should be given another trial with the national senior team. I know we cannot see a million players and only 18 will be selected, but a trial for the least wouldn't hurt and can only benefit should we discover a player who could add something we have been lacking in the past. Care to touch on this.
No T&T coach, in my memory, has expanded the national player pool as much as Maturana. With that said, the national team is usually not the appropriate place to conduct tryouts and Maturana, in my opinion, has done a tremendous job in developing a new generation of national team players through his scouting and genuine belief in the ability of the local players, which is contrary to the position held by Maturana’s predecessor.
However, in the case of the players you mentioned, the standard that must be met by such players is they must bring talent and ability that is higher than what is already present on the team. I am not sure a good case can be made that those players are better than what is currently on the roster and more important, that their inclusion will not affect team chemistry. But, the doors are not closed and I know Maturana is looking for special players who can do special things. One player I would like to see get a look is Kevon Neaves mainly due to his football intelligence and attacking capabilities and I have always hoped that Dwarika could continue to get a look at the withdrawn forward position since he is similar in style to Latapy and bringing one on for the other would still provide a dangerous, penetrative presence that will pose problems for opposing defenses.
5. Are we content with our current defence or will Brent Sancho be given another chance to represent T&T. So too Kelvin Jack. We all know Kelvin Jack has been hit by injury but he has recovered and has been working on his fitness which I am sure its only a matter of time he recoveries and get back to his old self. What about Farrier (Ancil) and the talented Marshall (Yohance) who have been winning many awards in the US.
There is concern over the current defense though they played well in the last two matches. However, the defenders take unwarranted criticism. Team defense does not begin with the defense. The first line of defense begins with the forwards. The only forwards who constantly place pressure on the opponent are Kenwyne Jones and Darryl Roberts. I was encouraged, however, to see Stern John battle and apply pressure on the opposing defense when he came on in both the U.S. and Cuba matches. Most important, is the effectiveness of the midfield players’ defensive abilities. If the midfield does not offer a solid and coherent defensive performance the degree of pressure placed on the back four will be overwhelming. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the case of Akile Edwards. Akile is the best option we have for the left fullback spot at this time. Though improvement in his game is required, it is important that whoever is playing in front of him in the left halfback role must be effective in engaging the opponent through constant attack as well as providing competent defensive support. This has not been the case and as a result, Edwards has borne the brunt of the opponent’s attack.
In the case of Sancho, the best move he made was to return to Trinidad and play in the PFL. I think he has the capacity to comeback but he has to prove that he can once again achieve the level of play that made him such a presence in the defense.
6. I applaud the way certain things have been running these days with head coach Francisco Maturana trying so many players, but we seem short at left back and Aklie Edwards isn't the best at the moment and I know he has the potential to be a good player but are we still looking to beef up that position. Players such as Andrei Pacheco, Glenton Wolfe, Nigel Daniel and maybe Michael Williams or Noel Williams should also be considered for a trial to see if we can find an extra player incase Avery John or Aklie Edwards becomes unavailable for some reason. Andrei Pacheco, Glenton Wolfe and Nigel Daniel did relatively good for T&T in the past.
I agree, Maturana has done well. I believe Pacheco is certainly in the mix. As for the others, they have to lift their games on the club level and if they get the nod at the Digicel Cup. I was also disappointed at the lack of intensity displayed by some of the borderline players in the last round of the Digicel Cup. They must endeavor to embrace such opportunities and impress the coach. Players must understand they are always under evaluation.
7. When exactly will Russell Latapy take up his post as assistant coach/player for T&T. I believe having him here in a plus and can only benefit us both on and off the field.
Your guess is as good as mine. I know his presence has already yielded results and is a tremendous asset on the field and in the locker room. The current trend is to take celebrated retired players and assign them a national team portfolio. Russell certainly fits that mold. However, if you look at national programs that employ such coaches, the assistant coaching staff is usually top of the line and in many ways more accomplished as coaches than the head coach. Russell must receive such support. I believe he can become a top coach because he has the respect of players and has a good head for the game. However, timing is of the essence. I really would like to see Russell succeed in this new phase of his career.
8. Keon Daniel should be primed up to take over Russell Latapy's position on the field and moved to central midfield because of his defensive deficiency T&T is vulnerable on the left wing. Do you agree?
Keon is a talent but he must develop his defending, especially as a central midfielder. The days of the central midfielder who doesn’t play defense like Baggio, Valderamma, and even Ronaldhino are over.
9. Local players such as Atuallah Guerra, Kevon Carter and Hayden Tinto will we ever see them again (training for the least) with T&T.
I am sure that as long as they show for their clubs, the possibilities of a national team call up will increase. But they must impress when they get their chance. I like Carter because of his ability to get behind defenses and hope he continues to develop.
10. What are your thoughts of the final round of qualification (Hex).
This round will be difficult but we can finish among the top three. Maturana will have the team prepared to experience the rigors of playing in Central America. The victory against the US in the last round was a tremendous boost for our confidence and we have traditionally matched up well with Mexico when we play them at home.
11. How are we preparing for the Hex.
The Digicel Cup will provide more opportunities for the local players to get noticed. However, their approach must improve significantly and recognize the need to play to impress. Hopefully, we can get some friendlies against teams that are similar in style to what we will face in the Hex. I would encourage games against Panama, Venezuela, Canada, and Bolivia at altitude.
12. Will the latest fiasco "financial settlements regarding the bonus dispute were not reached with the majority of 2006 World Cup players" ?.affect us for next year or are we heading for another blacklist.
The players are professionals and patriots. I do not think off the field matters will interfere with their competitiveness or pride for playing for their country.
13. Congratulations to the TTFF on a good well done on having the Under 20 team compete in the Super League. What?s next ?
I am glad you mentioned this because it speaks to the type of continuity the national programs have enjoyed since my arrival. This team has been together at various stages from the U15 level. I took them to Dallas Cup where they gained their first international experience abroad. Between the parents, volunteers like Peter Pierre and Dion LaFoucade, and Ken Elie there were many people behind this program being kept together despite limited funds. Anton Corneal did a wonderful job in getting the then U17 team to Korea for the World Cup. Now the present coach, Zoran Vranes has taken a relatively experienced bunch and done an exceptional job. Plans are afoot to have the team play a series of international friendlies. For starters, I have been able to facilitate friendlies with the US U20 team scheduled for January. The result will be this U20 team will enter the qualification rounds with a sense of accomplishment and preparation no previous U20 team has experienced in the past.
14. Will we have full season tickets for the Hex series at home.
I am not certain as I tend to stay away from event management issues. I take the Dirty Harry philosophy of “a man’s got to know his limitations”. That would be a good question for Shaun Fuentes
15. Should Tobago United be relegated ? They were bottom last for 6 seasons. St Clair Coaching School or Stokley Vale could take their place in the Pro League? Is Peter Granville doing any good on improving Tobago footballers at all. We cannot continue seeing a team do so bad and not do anything to aid.
63 (2008), 80 (2007), 84 (2006), 69 (2005), 123 (2004) and 114 (2003)
25 (2008), 25 (2007), 21 (2006), 21 (2005), 13 (2004), 30 (2003)
Perpetual losing is neither charming nor noble. The “doormat” team is a constant presence in many sports leagues. However, more parity should be a goal of the league but clubs should possess the resources that will enable them to step on the field with the expectation to win. If such an expectation is not embraced by any club, then self-relegation is in order. At this level you are expected to yield results or there will be a reckoning.
16. Are we still limiting the foreign players playing for the Pro league teams to 4/5 on the field and two under 20 players on the final 18 Roster at one time or is that rule over.
Like anything else there must be a balanced approach when it comes to the idea of foreign players. However, the primary business of the PFL is to put forth an attractive product for the fans. Now, the PFL in many ways plays a significant role in developing national level players either through their own competitions and the opportunity young players have in being exposed to a professional environment or as a springboard for our players to be seen by the wider international football fraternity. If foreign players raise the level of play, I say that is good for our players because they need to be in a consistently competitive environment and maintain what I call a winner’s edge.
17. And finally, give us a summary of the last World Cup series culminating with the following games:
I will give you what I felt were the significant factors that came out of the games. But you should also look to the Bermuda games and their influence on the performances on later games. The decision to drop Stern John and Clayton Ince, while extremely unpopular, actually improved team chemistry, enabled local players a chance to stake their claim, and in my opinion made better players out of Stern and Clayton. Clayton, since his return, has improved his leadership and was certainly a presence in the games in which he has played, especially in crossed ball situations where we have yielded so many goals. I hope his recent injury is not too serious because I am really pleased to see the growth in his game. Stern, watch out for Stern. He is more hungry than ever and will want to prove his place. Most important, however, is the resolve of Maturana to select players based upon their recent performances.
1) Cuba. Away.
An excellent result that was in many ways not fully appreciated for its significance and impact. The team played well, especially Marvin Phillips and Keon Daniel. However, we picked up some costly and unnecessary cards, a factor that must be addressed, especially when we play away.
Our vulnerability to re-starts from the flanks was our undoing in turning a three point match into a one point result and also set us up for problems in the next match against the U.S.
3) US..... Away.
The exclusion of Lawrence was a key omission and one in which I didn’t agree but understood the rationale behind the move because Maturana felt Keyeno Thomas and Makan Hislop were establishing good chemistry in previous games. Certainly, the poorest team performance of the series and one in which the absence of Birchall and Yorke in the middle of field demonstrated their importance to the squad. Also, the constant veering to the middle of the field by Keon Daniel and Carlos Edwards affected the team’s defensive shape and placed undue pressure on our outside backs.
Maturana recognized the need to provide a boost and he made some key decisions to play the experienced players because of the volatile environment that he was well aware of. The timing of Latapy’s return and the amount of time he ended up playing against Guatemala was not a coincidence. In my view, Maturana endures an unfair level of criticism from those who are not privy to the preparation he undertakes. This match showed that not only is he a top tactician but also a historian. He was well aware of Latapy’s and Stern John’s history against Guatemala. Birchall also cemented his unique value to the midfield. The boost coming out of that environment with a point and the significance of our 10-man performance against tremendous odds was reminiscent of our performance against Sweden.
A great psychological boost caused, in part, by the Guatemala result. The players truly felt they could beat the U.S. Should we yield positive results against the U.S. in the hex, we can look back to this match as the key turning point in our history against the U.S. The key question is this; are the significant performances of Latapy and Yorke one to be proud of or should we see their continued dominance as an indictment against the younger players? Their performances showed, once again, the ageless wonders are still of tremendous value to the team on and off the field.
6) Cuba ...Home.
A tale of two halves. The first half was lethargic and demonstrated a sense of overconfidence. The midfield was static and the Cubans were more dynamic. The midfield shape was also poor. Like the U.S. game in Chicago, Edwards and Daniel were encroaching too much toward the middle and failed to attack down the flanks. The key to this game were the tactical alterations made at halftime. Edwards attacked down the flank which created more attacking opportunities as well as neutralized the opponents’ ability to counterattack. The width provided by the outside midfielders diminished the pressure placed on Akile Edwards and enabled him to be more of a factor in the attack. However, the most significant point may be the return of Kenwyne Jones.
Quick Facts About Lincoln.
Inducted into Trinidad & Tobago's Sports Hall of Fame in 1995.
Named to the North American Soccer League's First Team in 1970.
Coached Howard University to NCAA Division I Championship, 1971 and 1974.
Technical Director of Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation, 2004 - Current.
Burke College (1954-57)
Queen's Royal College (1958-59)
Howard University, Washington DC, USA. Obtained his BS and MS in Physical Education
Queen's Royal College (1958-59)
Trinidad and Tobago Regiment (1964-67)
Baltimore Bays (USA) 1968, 1972-73
Washington Darts (USA) 1969-71
Baltimore Comets (USA), 1974-75
Did You Know
There are many football enthusiasts who regard Lincoln Phillips as the best goalkeeper Trinidad and Tobago has ever produced. When Lincoln joined Providence after leaving college he quickly became a member of Maple FC and it was the starting point of an outstanding career, having gone through a spell of 20 matches without conceding a goal for the club. Lincoln wrote his first book "Soccer Goalkeeping" in 1996 and it became very successful.
While still a goalkeeper Lincoln was influenced by Joey Gonsalves and Pa Aleong on how to better his game. He then led the Trinidad & Tobago national team to a bronze medal in the Pan American Games in 1967. Phillips then moved on to an outstanding professional career in America as a player and coach, holding three records in the Guiness Book of Records for ten years. He is a certified United States Soccer Federation "A" License coach and was a staff member of the USSF National Coaching Schools. He also lectures internationally as a member of the FIFA board of coaches.
He has had experience as a goalkeeper coach for United States Senior and Olympic Men's teams and also served as assistant coach to the US Under 14, Under 17 and Under 20 teams. He was also the director of coaching for Prince Williams Soccer Club in Northern Virginia and Premier Development League (PDL) team, Chesapeake Athletic FC—owned by his son, Sheldon, however, the high point of Lincoln’s coaching career was with the United States national team as an assistant coach in 1992 and 1993, under famous Yugoslav coach Bora Milutinovic, as the host nation prepared for the 1994 World Cup finals. Milutinovic is the only coach to lead five different countries to the World Cup.
Lincoln reckons that the experience gained with the US senior and Olympic team technical staff—when the Americans faced opponents such as Brazil, Italy, Germany, Portugal and England—will serve him well in the top local coaching job. “I have coached and been a part of soccer at the highest level,” he said. “I know what it takes to win... I have been a winner all my life.”
Note: On behalf on the Soca Warriors Online and Warrior Nation, we say thank you Mr. Lincoln Phillips for taking the time out to do this Q&A Interview for us. We wish you all the best in the future. May Gob Bless you and your family. And have a safe and enjoyable Holiday.
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Inshan "Flex" Mohammed.