Sun, Oct

Ex-Trinidad and Tobago national footballer Angus Eve has questioned the lack of experience in the “Soca Warriors” squad as they prepare for the CONCACAF Gold Cup first qualifying phase.

St Kitts/Nevis met St Lucia yesterday at the Centre of Excellence, Macoya in the opening match of the three team round robin competition.

And Eve, who retired from national football in February, is concerned that the national team may not quite have the experience within their ranks to do themselves justice—even against such unfancied opposition.

“I think there are a lot of good players (on the squad) who could make an impact,” said the CL Financial San Juan Jabloteh midfielder. “They shouldn't have discarded their experienced players like Arnold Dwarika and Dale Saunders who both have good leadership qualities.

“There are good young players on the team but they need leadership.”

He also insisted that Dwarika, who was omitted by technical director Hannibal Najjar for missing training sessions, would still be a major asset to the team that is lacking a genuine playmaker.

“Defensively, they look good,” said Eve. “But, from the two games I’ve seen, there is still room for a lot more movement and innovation. Part of that is because there is no playmaker. That is where Dwarika would help.”

The national team won two practise games on Saturday and Tuesday against Pro League teams Vibe CT 105 W Connection (1-0) and Joe Public (2-0) respectively.

But Eve is unconvinced that Najjar has been given enough time to prepare his squad.

He blamed the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) for creating an unstable atmosphere by the hiring and sacking of interim coach Jamaal Shabazz—within a 27 day span. He also said the Pro League could have helped by suspending their competition.

These are some of the recurring problems in the local game that he claimed, prompted him to bring his international career to a close after the 2002 Gold Cup in Miami, United States.

Eve’s nine World Cup qualifying goals are second only to Steve David on the Trinidad and Tobago all time scoring list.
The former Mucurapo Senior Comprehensive standout was also a key member of the national under-20 outfit that became the first Caribbean team to qualify for a World Cup tournament.

Eve played alongside the likes of Blackburn Rovers striker Dwight Yorke, St Gallen winger Jerren Nixon and Crewe Alexandra custodian Clayton Ince in the 1991 Portugal Under-20 World Cup.

The 30-year-old attacker admitted that it was difficult for him to leave international football behind.

“After so long, it is something that becomes a part of you,” he said. “But I felt that there were enough young players coming up and there was no challenge for me anymore.

“There were recurring problems in the (T&TFF) and things in football were not changing.”

He pointed to the choice of venue as another example of the administrators failing the players.

The Centre of Excellence, Eve insisted, was more suited to the visitors than the host team.

He compared it to their decision to play Mexico at the Queen’s Park Oval rather than the Hasely Crawford Stadium during their last World Cup qualifying campaign.

The match ended in a 1-1 draw.

“We moved from the Stadium to the Oval for home advantage,” he said. “Because we knew we would be more comfortable there than the Mexicans. Why is it the opposite now?

“We are taking away our home advantage. We have five new stadia where the guys have been playing whole year...I still hope that the powers that be do something to change the venue.”

Regardless, Eve called on the national community to turn out and support the team and sport in general.
T&T play St Kitts from 6 pm tomorrow in Macoya.