Wed, Jun


IAN PORTERFIELD'S job at the helm of the Trinidad and Tobago senior football team is safe.

This according to Professor René Simoes who made the statement yesterday at a media conference at the Queen’s Park Oval to introduce the Brazilian.

Simoes arrived in the country on Wednesday night to sign a three-year contract for the post of Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) technical director. The 48-year old Brazilian will also replace chief Adegboye Onigbinde as head coach of the national Under-17 team for the September 13-30 JVC Under-17 World Cup to be hosted in this country.

Among Simoes’s main functions is the restructuring and remodelling of football in T&T as well as recommending to the T&TFF executive committee coaches, instructors or trainers at national and regional level.

The T&T World Cup 2002 qualifying campaign is currently in low gear, with Porterfield’s men having earned just one point from three matches to occupy the cellar position on the six-team table.

And although the T&TFF declined to discuss details of Simoes’s salary, the Brazilian is expected to cost the local football federation-and the T&T government who are said to be “assisting” with the appointment-a tidy packet. Simoes’s monthly salary as coach of the Jamaican national team was reported to be some US$35,000. And Simoes is said to have turned down an offer for a position in the United Arab Emirates to take up the appointment here in T&T.

But if the Scotland-born Porterfield had any fears that his job may be in jeopardy, the Brazilian put those to rest.

“Coach, there is no talk about replacing or moving you so you can sleep very well,” he joked to Porterfield. “We are going to do everything to make you feel as comfortable as possible.”

Simoes further explained that his role was to help build on the foundation that Porterfield had put down.

Comparing T&T’s start to the Jamaicans’ in the France 1998 campaign when the Reggae Boyz had mustered two points from their first four matches, the former Jamaican coach expressed the view that T&T’s fortunes could be reversed.

Simoes also identified finance as a major contributor to the Jamaican’s success in 1998. He disclosed that on his arrival there in 1995, that country’s football budget was a mere US$1.5 million. It subsequently rose to US$4 million which Simoes described as a minute sum on the global level.

“That amount represents just 10 per cent of what Brazil spent. It is, as the Jamaicans say, chicken feed.” He implored the country-including corporate T&T-to get behind the team in its time of need. Simoes also explained how he came to decide to take up his new post.

He said he debated between the offer made by Fifa vice-president Jack Warner and the one extended by the United Arab Emirates.

The deciding factor, he claimed, was the proximity of T&T to Miami where two of his three daughters reside.

Simoes added that he had always liked the T&T team for the quality of its footballers who include Manchester United star striker Dwight Yorke and national skipper Russell Latapy, who contract with Hibernian has just unofficially expired. But he has his personal favourite.

“The best team player,” he declared, “is discipline.” Refusing to be drawn into commenting on Latapy’s latest brush with the law, Simoes noted that players wearing the national colours should be “role models for the youth”.

Simoes is to meet today with the T&TFF and Under-17 technical staff to work out the schedule of preparation for Team 2001.

Also at this meeting, it is expected that the names of the three Brazilian technicians-a trainer, assistant coach and goalkeeper trainer-to help Simoes with the preparation of the national Under-17s before the World tournament will be revealed.

Simoes leaves after that for Brazil to celebrate his silver anniversary with his wife Maria before returning to Trinidad on May 27 to take up his official duties.