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Business as usual

By TERENCE HILTON CLARKE

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 and gloom.

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.