Dennis Lawrence (pictured) was named head coach of Trinidad & Tobago on January 21, 2017. (Photo: ttfootball.org)
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad & Tobago – Trinidad & Tobago is turning to one of its past World Cup stars to help reignite its qualifying campaign for Russia 2018.
The Trinidad & Tobago Football Association (TTFA) announced Saturday that it has named former international Dennis Lawrence as head coach, replacing Tom Saintfiet, who resigned on January 11 after slightly more than a month on the job.
“I feel very honoured and humbled by this opportunity and the confidence placed in me by the Association,” Lawrence said in a press release distributed by the TTFA. “I have given my all for Trinidad and Tobago as a player and now relish this moment to contribute as head coach of the National Team.”
Lawrence, who enjoyed a long club career in Wales as a defender with Wrexham and Swansea City, earned 89 caps for the Soca Warriors, winning the 2001 Caribbean Cup and appearing in all three games at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He’s best known for scoring the lone goal in the second leg of an intercontinental playoff against Bahrain that sealed T&T’s place in Germany.
The 42-year-old became a coach with England’s Wigan Athletic under manager Roberto Martinez and eventually followed the Spaniard to his posts with Everton and the Belgium national team.
Saintfiet stepped down after T&T was eliminated from 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup qualifying contention, when it dropped a 4-3 decision to Haiti in the last match of the 2016/17 Scotiabank CFU Men’s Caribbean, finishing at bottom of the three-team table.
With no further Caribbean Cup or Gold Cup activity in 2017, Lawrence’s focus will be on the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. T&T currently occupies fifth place on goal difference ahead of the United States (-4 to -5). Neither side has earned a point after two matches.
“Of course I am coming into a difficult situation and we have to take each game very seriously and put our best foot forward,” Lawrence commented. “The experience I gained working under different coaches during my 89 international caps for T&T and my exposure in coaching has all helped to shape me. I intend to give my very best towards this national effort.”