Trinidad and Tobago Under 17 coach Russell Latapy is urging his players to hold their heads high despite having failed to qualify for the CONCACAF Final Round of qualification for the FIFA Under 17 Men's World Cup in 2017.
Speaking to TTFA Media yesterday, Latapy congratulated the five teams from the Caribbean Football Union which have qualified for the final round and also thanked his charges for their efforts during the competition. Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba, Curacao and fifth place finishers Suriname all advanced to the CONCACAF Finals in Panama City next year.
“Unfortunately for us, we are not among those five teams, but I want to thank the players for the efforts and time they gave in the preparations and during the matches and to the staff and the fans who supported us, also to the Football Association (TTFA) for trying to give us the best preparation during the time in which we were able to have two training camps inside a month,” said Latapy.
“Sadly, it was not meant to be for us, but I'd like to tell the players to not drop their heads. They still have the remainder of their careers ahead of them and there's a lot of football to be played,” Latapy continued.
“But 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. 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,” he said. Looking ahead, Latapy said there will be a review of the team's performance.
“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 programme. 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 programmes 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,” Latapy explained.
The former national team captain also issued a message which he felt was critical towards improving the development of local football; it centred around a change in attitude and work ethic.
“It is imperative for the progress of our football that we change our mindset, because what is happening is, we tend to react after the fact. The mindset has to be one where we are committed to stopping the short cuts that we are accustomed taking,” he said.
“As a nation, we tend to take short cuts and then at end of the day we want things to work in our favour or we are always hoping it will work in our favour; but in order for that to really happen, we must give ourselves the best chance by having proper preparation and doing the hard work that is required for it.
“And some of the little things that make a difference is the short cuts players tend to take in training during drills or trying to stay away from putting in the extra work. The coaches also have an important role to play in breaking these bad habits. This is something in our culture and at the various levels of our football that we need to change in order for us to achieve any level of success on the international stage,” Latapy concluded.
Latapy recently agreed to a two-year contract with the TTFA as Under 17 head coach and a staff coach with other national youth teams