By TERENCE HILTON
9 March, 2001
ONE of the most striking
things about last week Wednesday's World Cup qualifying match in Kingston
(other than the result, of course!) has been the calm, cool, collected
reaction to the outcome.
There has been no national
outcry over the performance of the Trinidad and Tobago team, no outspoken
calls for the resignation of the coach, no sense of widespread doom
Instead, apart from a few
subdued mutterings of discontent, the atmosphere has been more philosophical
than pessimistic. Immediately after the game, coach Ian Porterfield
was trying to direct attention to the positive aspects of Trinidad and
Tobago’s game, however few they may be. Later on that night, TTT’s Ruskin
Mark tried to assure audiences, after the USA-Mexico broadcast, that
Trinidad and Tobago could still factor in among the four teams shown
on his station, including Jamaica. Other people have professed at not
being too worried about the game.
What is all this about?
I mean, can someone even
demonstrate the slightest bit of urgency?
We have just lost the first
game of the final round of the 2002 World Cup qualifying competition.
Isn't that supposed to mean something?
Apparently we have all adopted
the mind set that this is just the first game and that Trinidad "bound
to come back"
Excuse me, this is not the
Caribbean Cup, or Copa Caribe or whatever! We have games coming up against
even better sides than Jamaica. Trinidad and Tobago has another away
game, in Costa Rica, in a few weeks time. Then we have to deal with
Mexico - the team that kicked us seven times last October. There is
also a dangerous Honduras team on the list followed by the USA - away.
Then, in July, it starts all over again.
So, in all reality, it's
an even tougher road that lies ahead now. We already have to make up
three points on Jamaica and the USA, along with a point each on Costa
Rica and Honduras. Trinidad and Tobago has now found itself at the back
of the pack that's racing down the home stretch, towards a place in
the "Big Dance."
Please do not get me wrong.
I don't expect anyone to panic or even riot down the place. The last
thing we need is someone lighting up a flambeau and looking for the
TTFF and CONCACAF offices, any sports store selling national team jerseys
or even the Hasely Crawford Stadium. But, what is needed is for all
of us to demonstrate some bit of concern, show that we are aware of
the predicament that the national team is in right now and recognize
the fact that a tough task has gotten even tougher.
That attitude also has to
be transferred to the team. The players have to be aware of the fact
that they will have to work even harder in every game from now on. The
USA has proven what it is capable of. Honduras and Costa Rica are not
easy teams. Mexico is still the strongest side in the group.
Of course constructive analysis
would also help. That game in Kingston has to be broken down, in order
to find out where Trinidad and Tobago went wrong. In addition, a number
of questions have to be raised, and answered: Why was Trinidad and Tobago's
play so lacklustre at times? Is the integration of six or seven foreign-based
players really a legitimate issue? Has Stern John fully recovered from
his injury? etc.
Those things have to be
done now. We are now in the midst of World Cup qualification and there
is simply no more time to burn. Certainly no more time to be wasted
remaining just too freaking calm. The next game against Costa Rica is
on the 28th of this month - just three weeks away.
We are now in an emergency
and it is time to act, now.