Thursday, January 18, 2018

John urges more commitment, pride from national team

Former national striker Stern John.

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Jan 17, CMC – Outstanding former Trinidad and Tobago striker, Stern John, has questioned the commitment of the current national players, and has urged them to lift their professionalism if the country is to quality for the next year's World Cup in Russia.

The 40-year-old, who scored 70 goals in over 100 appearances for T&T, said despite the fiasco surrounding the vacant coaching role, players needed to take personal responsibility for their performances and display the pride required at the national level.

“The players need to have a look at themselves as well and have some personal pride and put everything behind their backs and just get on with the game,” the former Birmingham City and Coventry frontman told the Newsday newspaper here.

“This is football, I think the guys need to grow up. Like I was telling couple of my friends a couple days ago, Andy Cole and Teddy Sheringham they played on the same team (Manchester United) for years and they never spoke off the pitch but you have to be a professional player.

“You don't need to be friends off the field but on the field you need to work as a team and just get the job done and be a professional about it.”

T&T have endured a run of recent poor results which has led to the departure of two coaches in the space of seven weeks.

First, T&T failed to make the finals of the Caribbean Cup and then made a terrible start to the CONCACAF qualifying final round for the 2018 World Cup when they lost their opening matches to Costa Rica and Honduras last November.

The results cost long-time coach Stephen Hart his job but his replacement, Belgian Saintfiet, resigned after just five weeks and four games in charge, after T&T failed to reach a critical qualification playoff for the prestigious CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Describing the current situation as a “shambles”, John placed the burden of responsibility on the players to turn things around.

“The players now they [are] not that passionate about the game and they don't really understand the importance of Trinidad and Tobago getting to another World Cup,” he lamented.

“Even for the country, we [are] seeing the mess the country is in right now, we need some kind of upliftment. The players, staff and administration need to get together and get this sorted because right now it is shambles.”

T&T currently languish one from bottom of the CONCACAF final round standings without a point but will need to regroup quickly as they face Panama and Mexico in their next two qualifiers in late March.

John, a member of the side which made history by qualifying for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, said it was important the T&T Football Association found a replacement coach quickly.

“I think we just need to get it sorted. It has been dragging on for a long time. I think for me it is in shambles, we are making a mess of it,” he said.

“Whoever we choose as the national coach we need to sort it out as soon as possible and just support him, give him 100 per cent support no matter what.”