• Friday Sep 23, 2016

    Latapy, T&T look to future after U17

    Action from the Caribbean under-17 qualifier between host Trinidad & Tobago (red jersey) and Jamaica on September 20, 2016, in Couva, Trinidad & Tobago. (Photo: CA-Images)

    COUVA, Trinidad & Tobago – Now the hard work begins.

    Trinidad & Tobago was eliminated from the Caribbean qualifying competition for the 2017 CONCACAF Under-17 Championship on Wednesday, after Suriname snatched the last of the region’s five berths as the best third-place side.

    With three points each, T&T and Suriname finished third in Group A and Group B, respectively. The Surinamese, however, progressed on goal difference (-1 to -2).

    “Sadly it was not meant to be for us, but I’d like to tell the players to not drop their heads,” said T&T head coach Russell Latapy, a former national team star, who was appointed to the position less than a month before the competition opened. “They still have the remainder of their careers ahead of them and there’s a lot of football to be played.”

    In each of its three outings, T&T conceded the first two goals. The young Soca Warriors fell Haiti (0-2) in their opener, but rallied in the other two matches to equalize, ultimately beating Bermuda (3-2) and losing to Jamaica (2-3). Even a draw against the Jamaicans would have been enough to earn the tournament host a place at the CONCACAF event next year in Panama.

    “One of the things I think we can take from this tournament is the spirit which we showed which allowed us to come back in two of the matches,” Latapay noted. “Maybe with a bit more time together things may have turned out better. We also would have to take away from this tournament the fact that there is a lot of work to be done if we are to compete strongly and give ourselves a good shot at succeeding at the international level.”

    Latapy is at the start of a two-year contract with the Trinidad & Tobago Football Association to be in charge of U17 side and be a staff coach with other national youth teams. He is ready to take the next steps in his position.

    “What will follow now is we’ll have a proper review of our showing in the tournament and put measures in place to ensure the team continues a program,” he finished. “Like I said before, one of the discussions I had with the President and with the members of the technical committee was to have continuity and programs in place where we do not find ourselves having serious preparations underway just two or three months before a tournament, but that we have a system in place whereby our teams are together on a more regular basis.

    “We must give ourselves the best chance by having proper preparation and doing the hard work that is required for it.”

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