With just over two months to go before this country’s next 2018 World Cup qualifier at home to Honduras, National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence is putting his pieces together in anticipation of what is set to be a game that could swing the momentum in this country’s direction for the remaining matches on the schedule.
Speaking last Friday, Lawrence indicated that his team would be giving it absolutely everything to achieve the required results in the next set of matches. T&T will host Honduras on Friday September 1st, the day after Independence Day and then travel to face Panama on September 5th.
“At the moment we have got Honduras next and that is the key focus. Plain and simple we need to win the game. If we want to have any chance of qualifying for Russia, we need to win this game. It’s not going to be easy because there are no easy games in World Cup qualifying but we are home and we need to take advantage of the situation. After we win this game then we need to win the next one against Panama, plain and simple,” Lawrence stated.
And as to why there should be that belief that T&T can still get to Russia 2018, the former Wrexham man pointed to the positives from the team’s recent encounters which has brought one victory over Panama and three solid performances against Mexico and away to United States and Costa Rica.
“If you want to take the positives from the games we played so far, you would like to say we have a good chance but it’s not going to be easy because Honduras are in the same position as us. They know they need the points. They are going to come here well prepared and they are going to fight. We just need to ensure that we want it just a little bit more than them,” Lawrence said on the Good Morning T&T show.
“We have to focus on the positives. It’s not an easy thing and it’s not often we go to a place like Costa Rica and be able to come out of the game with more possession and more shots and having a performance where I thought we should have taken something away from the game, When you look back at the positives it gives you hope going into the next game. But we cannot afford to rest on these good things we have done, we have to keep progressing,” Lawrence said.
And staying positive and maintaining a buzz on the the job is important like anything else that comes with the territory.
“The important thing for me is to enjoy every moment because why, I am doing something that I have grown up all my life being involved in,” he said.
“I am doing something that I enjoy doing on a daily basis. OF course the last couple results are not something I enjoying because I am not here to lose games but i ma here to try and build something for Trinidad and Tobago football. At the moment I am seeing progress but what I would like to see is results.”
He commented on the evidence of synergy between himself and the players, explaining that there’s some history to it.
“It’s because of the fact that I am still young coming out of being a player myself, because I understand Trinidad and tobago as a country, I understand our people and our needs. I have known some of the players for a while so I think it was quite easy for me to interact with them and get them to understand what I was trying to do, myself and the staff. We are just trying to integrate and get to know each other very quickly which the players have taken on board.
“There has been synergy with past coaches but what has helped me is being a Trinidad and Tobago citizen. I understand a lot about what takes place in our football environment. It was easier for me to come in and transcend and interact with the boys and get a quick understanding of where we were and what level we are trying to get to,” stated Lawrence who has 89 appearances for T&T and played in three World Cup campaigns.
The past Everton coach spoke about his ideas as he carries out his duties during his tenure with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association which he intends to take beyond the Senior Men’s Team.The former Defence Force player who made his debut for T&T at age 25 in 2000, spoke about the developmental process he sees as the way to go for T&T football.
“This is something that I am trying to affect as quickly as possible. Our development has always been about the youth teams winning and we have lost track of the idea on developing the player. The idea now is we have to try and develop players within trying to win games. The focus can go very quickly into winning tournaments or games and we could lose a bit of focus on the direction of developing the individuals.
“Now the idea is to try and work with the coaches, the zones, at some point get into the schools leagues and get them to understand what the development process is about. As much as I understand winning is a major part of development, we cannot afford to sacrifice the development for the winning .”
“We need to understand what the development process is in the younger generation so that we can have that continuity in our football. Too many a years we have always produced a good group of players who have done well and then we have gone on a lull for two or three years and then we come again because the development process is not really going the way i think it should be.”
With his immediate focus being the Senior Team when he came in to the job in late January, Lawrence still has his eyes on the overall development here.
“I’ve come in right in the middle of the campaign for Russia so I haven’t been able to go deep into how we are going to structure this but at some point I am going to be involved. I am going to have meetings with the youth team coaches. I’ve met with the zones recently because we have started the Under 13 programme. The idea is to try and bring everything into one so that we can have direction in our development process and not just try to create winning teams.
“We need to create our own philosophy. We need to be very strong in what we are going to do and believe in what we are going to do. I have brought on board coaches with me and we have worked together for the past four and a half months or so. They have seen what I am trying to do and they have all bought into it. The idea now is for it to spiral all the way down. The idea is for people to see there is progression and there is positive in what we are trying to do and then people will come on board and try to integrate it within their club.
“At the end of the day, each club is responsible for how they want to play and how they choose to set their team up. But my idea is if I can affect the national team at that level then hopefully the coaches at the Pro league level will see something good and if they can pick up bits which can help the players then that would be great for us,” Lawrence said.