Sat, May


Dwight Yorke and Anthony Wolfe

Administrative error taints Latapy’s maiden squad. 

Twenty-five-year old Ma Pau FC attacker and 2006 World Cup member Anthony Wolfe probably did not sleep well on Tuesday night.

Wolfe, who started in the last three international fixtures under the reign of departed coach Francisco Maturana, saw the maiden 22-man squad by new national coach Russell Latapy and realized that he was not in it.

The mobile, all-action utility player is hardly a household name for fans of the “Soca Warriors”. Wolfe made his international debut in 2003 during the short lived reign of Hannibal Najjar and, six years later, has just 23 appearances to his name—18 of those caps came in the last year under Maturana.

But Wolfe felt, at the very least, he deserved to be in any local selection and was crushed that Latapy, his former teammate and idol, seemed to think otherwise.

Wolfe vented to Ma Pau assistant coach Angus Eve who, in turn, rang Latapy to enquire about the non-selection, which seemed odd since Latapy and Eve recently had a positive exchange on the player.

Latapy apologized to Eve. It was, apparently, a mistake. Wolfe was always meant to be in the squad and was belatedly invited to the first session, which was held yesterday at the Larry Gomes Stadium in Malabar.

The Trinidad Express confirmed as much when they contacted team manager David Muhammad. Muhammad was dismissive when pressed on the reason for Wolfe’s absence in the first place.

“He is in the squad (now),” said Muhammad. “That is what matters.”

Indeed. Muhammad has been a Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) employee for barely 15 months but he seems to fully grasp the ethos that permeates their headquarters.

Accountability and competence, as far as the local football governing body is concerned, are for players and, arguably, the head coach but surely not for administrators.

So Maturana was ushered to the Piarco International Airport’s departure with a dunce’s cap for the team’s poor start to the final 2010 World Cup qualifying round. Yet Muhammad stays despite a catalogue of blunders which include heading a technical staff that dropped national heroes via text messages, failing to bridge the gap between staff and players, an apparent inability to book an international team beyond Guyana and the occasional tendency of sending invitation letters for players at the wrong clubs.

Already, he has proven his worth to his rookie coach, Latapy—if not for the tainted team sheet handed to the media then surely for his response to the error.

Muhammad’s belief that administrative blunders should be ignored while errant passes and shoddy defending are intolerable is an old theme in the TTFF. And it looks like it will run for a while yet.

Over the next month, Latapy will try to convince his players to take pride in their duties. He will assure them that slip ups are harshly punished at this level and would talk repeatedly about how a five percent increase in their abilities can make a world of difference.

Muhammad, with replica shirt under his suit, would probably nod along too and may even add his polished oratory to the lecture. Any notion of hypocrisy would escape him.

I had hoped to discuss Latapy’s first squad. The intriguing selections of Conrad Smith, Devon Jorsling, Hughton Hector and Noel Williams or the shock recalls for the likes of Hayden Tinto, Dwayne Jack and Gyasi Joyce. Perhaps even speculate on the omissions of Cyd Gray, Marvin Oliver, Kerry Baptiste and Jerol Forbes.

Instead, Wolfe’s mistaken exclusion distracts. Muhammad believes it is a non-issue. For the rest of us, it feels more like déjà vu.

Wolfe, like most of his teammates, will be either booed or praised according to his performance on June 6. By now, he would be accustomed to such public judgments of his competence.

Latapy too would be made to account for the time he spends with the national squad and the team he sends out to face Costa Rica and Mexico.

But spare a thought for the influential figures lurking in the corridors of the TTFF who seem immune to the court of opinion.