Sun, May

Past West Indies cricket greats Sir Vivian Richards, Curtly Ambrose and Richie Richardson will be backing the Trinidad and Tobago football team all the way to Germany 2006 and has made a call for the entire Caribbean region to rally around the “Soca Warriors” as they get set to contest the final round of the qualifying campaign.

This was the message coming from the greats as they met up with skipper Angus Eve and his teammates during the training camp in Antigua earlier this month.

“Of course we are all Caribbean people and I am hoping that Trinidad can go all the way this time. I remember back in 1990 we came so close and fell to the US and now we have a chance to make up for that,” Ambrose told TTFF Media after he and Richardson witnessed a training session conducted by Bertille St Clair and Graham Taylor at the Antigua Recreation Ground. Also present was Mervyn Richards, brother of the Sir Viv and also president of the Antiguan FA.

“They have to make the Caribbean proud. We have talked about integration over the years and in this case with Trinidad still in the running, it’s like representing the West Indies and qualifying for a World Cup can in a way bring more unity in this region.”

“I think it’s like the West Indies cricket team where when they win, we all win and when they lose, all of us lose. It’s the same now with the Trinidad and Tobago footballers.”

And commenting on his whereabouts these days, the giant figure added “I’m still around and still trying to become a musician,” he said with a laugh. “I’m with a group called the Dred and the Baldhead and I’ve done quite well with cricket in Trinidad so hopefully I can come down and do the same with my music.” And he will return to the Queen’s Park Oval, this time to see the ‘Warriors” take on the United States on Ash Wednesday. “I’ll be in Trinidad for the Carnival, so definitely I will be in the stands for the match.”

Richardson, a former West Indies captain, was just as confident of T&T’s chances.

“I believe these guys have the potential to go all the way. No doubt that they have the support in Antigua and even though they lost the friendly, that was just a form of hospitality because you could see the guys were holding back a bit on the field,” Richardson said. “I always remember flying down to Trinidad on the morning of the last match against the US in 1989 and the place was all red. We were all disappointed back then but I have a feeling that this time things will be different. I will obviously try to be at some of the games, said Richardson who still plays with Lashings Cricket club which is based in England and includes several international stars including Ambrose, Richards, Jimmy Adams, Chris Cairds and Brian Lara. He is also attached to an Antiguan Masters team which is preparing for a tournament in Argentina in March. Richardson has also been recently hired to work with the Antiguan Sports Tourism Commission.
Richards couldn’t make it to the session but kept his promise to meet the team, turning up at the Airport on the morning of the team’s departure.

“I think it was great to have the guys over here for the training camp and I know for sure that getting to the World Cup will be a great achievement not only for Trinidad but for the whole of the West Indies. It is important that we realize just how significant something like this will be. We must all rally around them on their way to Germany,” Richards said.
Skipper Eve welcomed such words from the icons. “To hear men of their caliber voicing their support for us is remarkable. It means a lot to what were are trying to achieve as a team and a nation and we know that the hopes of the Caribbean are resting on us. There have been some concerns expressed by persons about whether the team can cope with the pressure but we would be foolish to lose our focus and engage in anything that would hamper our chances,” Eve said on Sunday.

Meantime, T&T will resume training at the Queen’s Park Oval from 4pm on Monday ahead of Tuesday’s warm-up game with Haiti, scheduled for the same venue from 3:30pm. The Haitians are scheduled here early on Monday morning.