Can Trinidad Give Surinam Three...

Earl Best
Date Published: 

WITH the first leg of the home-and-away second round of the Olympic Games qualifying tournament over, our national football squad is faced with the task of defeating Surinam by three clear goals in the second leg at Queen's Park Oval on August 24th.

In 1973, in the World Cup preliminaries we needed only one-goal victory after drawing the away game 1-1 and we won 3-1. This time things are not going be that easy.

There was general optimism in the air prior to the first game and it is reported that the defeat has not dampened the spirit of the squad. My view is that the reports on the last game do not give in much to be happy about.


There is somehow the impression that the referee is at least partially to be blamed for our present plight. Both the decision to award a penalty against Mr. Tesheira and the one to disallow "Sammy's" first-half goal were allegedly "wrong."

"Wrong" decisions notwithstanding, one gets the impression that the better team won. We heard little about Carter's performance in goal apart from the fact that he could save neither goal.

Manager Camps, however, was quoted as saying that 'our midfield players did not perform as we expected' and that the second Surinam goal 'came as a result of a defence blunder.'

Other reports reveal that we had several scoring chances in me second half but poor shooting caused us not to score. Clearly, then, there's work to be done on the whole team if we are to come up to scratch by the time the return match comes around.


Whatever happens, the decisive factor is almost certainly going to be the finishing of our front line. La Forest, Cooper, Llewellyn and whoever are going to have to be brought to a state of preparedness which will make real chances of half-chances and goals of easy ones.

Both Llewellyn and La Forest have the ability to create their own chances so that whether or not they get the kind of support from the links for which we are hoping we ought to get a couple of goals.

We cannot, of course, forget that the onus is on us to get goals. With this in mind one is tempted to plump for a switch to the 4-2-4 system which yielded fruit in the first round final against Barbados.

Still, (and Manager Camps has segely reminded us of this on more than one occasion) the most effective counter to the one-two, short-passing style of play which our opponents favour is really thoughtful, TIRELESS linkplay.

I feel sure that Coach Vidale will opt for the 4-3-3 at least to begin with. That will, in my view, be a mistake.

Carpette and co. will probably find their defensive responsibilities less weighty on account of the conditions underfoot. Wet, slippery surfaces, as every footballer knows, make short passing difficult and the Surinamese attacking power is likely to be adversely affected.

Our links will, therefore, find it easier to expend more of their energies on attack and we have the material ahead of them to make capital of good link play.

One cannot overemphasize the important role the middlemen have got to play if we are to win by the required margin. The description of Sehal's 80th minute goal leaves one thing beyond dispute: ours was a tired defence.

Carpette and co. have got to be very careful to take the pressure off the last four in the early stages of the game so that in the closing stages they will have enough energy left to withstand the onslaught of the opposing forwards who will hopefully be trying very hard to force the equalizer.

All things being equal, then, we should put in a forward in place of the extra link especially if it rains.

It is to be regretted that the selectors have not seen it fit to recall "Buggy" Haynes to the squad that resumed training earlier this week. He seems to be always able to assist in defence without reducing his effectiveness up front, precisely the attribute which the additional forward needs to have.

In his absence I would go for Michael Grayson to replace Gordon Husbands in the team that lost the first game because Grayson has a good shot with either foot, a good head on his shoulders and both the tendency and the stamina to expand energies in defence. Paul's fitness not withstanding, I would leave the rest of the team unchanged.

An early goal and a cheering home crowd has often transformed an ordinary side into a world beating team and we are not yet trying to beat the world. Just Surinam . . . by three clear goals at least! Drop by slow drop . . .