was certainly a commemorative moment which celebrated the
hundredth anniversary of Football in the twin Island State.
The response by the people of this country was evidence
that, despite our existing problems, we are still lovers
and absolute patriots of the land of our birth.
As I sat and listened to both national Anthems play, it
dawned on me that many moons ago, the English anthem meant
the world to me and when it was closely followed by our
present anthem, it certainly sent the mind roaming through
the years when the transition from colonialism to the lessons
of independence have often kept us in touch with our past.
The game itself was certainly viewed by many of our people
as another chance to prove to the World that our superb
effort in Germany was just step one on to the progress ladder
of our performances on the football field.
No doubt, England had two reasons to be adamant of victory,
the first being their eleventh place rating on the FIFA
list and secondly, coach Fabio Capellos extreme desire
to demonstrate to the English fans that his job is about
winning and taking England a step further to world Cup 2010
everytime his team takes the field.
Those who felt that the absence of some well known names
like Terry, Lampard, Cole and Cole was an insult to our
public. I humbly disagree, and you would too, if you have
been following the English Premier league and recognizing
the new surge of young players coming into the most recognized
teams in the league, it was obvious that England was not
prepared to put their reputation on the line especially
when playing away from home.
But it was not only about England ! Actually, it was more
about the Trinidad and Tobago team. The first few moments
in the game reminded me about the 1989 World cup match against
the USA at the same venue, where the true potential of our
team may have been stifled by the fact that it was more
than a Football match, but about a huge Super Power Country
up against a minnow which has always had to be so dependent
on the many facets of life that they controlled, even from
a distance away.
I literally placed myself into their shoes and wondered
what was running through their minds when the Great Soccer
names and faces which adorned our television screens day
in day out were now just metres away over the centre line
and just waiting to enthrust their skills and movie star
personalities on a humble bunch of greenhorns. No one could
understand that experience in quite the same way of those
who were actually faced with it.
However, that is not an excuse which will hold for too long,
especially if the simple mistakes which showed up far too
frequently in their game, continues into the future where
three matches are carded for the next three weeks.
Now, to those who went to see just a football match in isolation,
will have seen some basic errors in the early stages of
the game, catapult the promised rhythm and chemistry which
Coach Maturana and his staff had been trying to put into
their game over the past few months.
In just fourteen minutes, the scenario turned from being
a contest of quality to a walk in the park for England.
Was it the nerves of young Cupid and Hislop which was driven
to error by a well defined left sided attack initiated by
Wayne Bridge, Stuart Downing, and Gareth Barry and brought
two goals before the team could settle down. Unfortunately,
the deficit may have invited uncertainty in the minds of
others, who from time to time, also went down the way of
simple unforced errors and gave England the benefit of possession
more often than they deserved.
Statistically, it is true to state that England enjoyed
approximnately fifty eight percent of the possession, hence
the reason for their ability to avoid being scored upon.
In the first half alone, England enjoyed seven Beckham crosses
from the right and five from the left by Downing.
It would almost appear that the players either did not understand
the instructions given them, or there was not an organized
format to reduce Beckham to playing from centrefield instead
of on the flank. I expect that Fabio Capello would be rightly
criticized for the simple misses by Ashton and Defoe although
they scored three goals.
For the Soca Warriors, the picture is not as dismal as some
may wish to comment. For instance, if we compare our attacking
play of Nurenburg in 2006 as against Sunday, there was definite
improvement in this regard. Its a pity that the key
figure Kenwyn Jones was injured early. His presence was
proving to be annoying to Ferdinand and had he more time
to aggravate the English defender, who knows what the situation
may have provided.
Yet still Darryl Roberts had his right footed shot well
saved by David James, and moments later, Ferdinand had to
courageously throw himself to stop what appeared to be a
massive day for Darryl Roberts, who was about to put the
finishing touches to an attack.
Five other shots were attempted, only two of which David
James had to save and the others were well over the woodwork.
Maybe the most essential lesson of the evening was the vulnerability
of our defence line. Here is a case where the stability
of defensive work has to be the key factor in our qualification
process. While we cannot challenge the individual competence
of Lawrence, Hislop, Farrier and even Cupid, they certainly
were well short of the cohesiveness of which good defenses
are madef. Cupid was most guilty as he ball watched excessively
and made too many mistakes. He quickly lost his confidence
and maybe the most appropriate decision after fifteen minutes
would have been to save the youngster from himself and allow
him the opportunity to learn from the more advanced Johnson
and Bridge from the bench.
I have seen this lad before and he has the talent and the
understanding of the game. Who knows to what extent did
the occasion have on his mental focus.
The second most serious challenge came from Midfield where
Skipper Whitley and the teenaged Hyland seemed lost in their
positional responsibilities and allow Gerard and Barry the
freedom for which they are unaccustomed. I have the feeling
that the roles of these two players must be more specific
and regimented in order to reducing lanes for the opponents
and disallow any sort of freedom for opponents running freely
towards defenders, especially as they are asked to play
square in order to reduce the options of effective through
It is true to say that the forwards were trying to create
some level of potency when the attacking moves were made.
Stern John had reverted to his suttle diagonal runs across
defenders while Roberts showed that moving into deep field
tended to draw his opponents into week defending positions.
Carlos Edwards and Keon Daniel could have used the inside
midfielders more effectively in order to receive the reverse
pass freely behind the back of the defense. Dribbling a
wing defender to reach the byeline is easily achieved when
the defender offers the options. Neither Bridge or Johnson
allowed that luxury.
Conclusively, The better team won and they provided some
live lessons for this young team. It may also have drawn
to the attention of the Coaching staff that the level of
aggression and mental toughness in defense is probably the
first lesson to be corrected. Good defense play is the recipe
for gaining points in International Football. If you doubt
me, ask italy, the country of Cappellos birth. This
week is crucial for the team in Training. The attitudes
must change into a more positive mode and the intensity
of their effort must turn mediocrity into a higher state
of potency. Thank you England for a fine celebration to
our 100th Anniversary. When we qualify for South Africa,
we shall send you the forst thank you card.