PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – New Trinidad & Tobago Soca Warriors head coach Tom Saintfiet has appointed Russell Latapy and Jamaal Shabazz to assistant coaching positions on his technical staff.
Saintfiet said Latapy, a former Soca Warriors captain and star midfielder, and Shabazz, a former Soca Warriors and Guyana head coach, were chosen ahead of a number of other candidates, due to their knowledge of the sport in T&T and the wider CONCACAF region.
“In the last few days, I spoke to a lot of local coaches where I tried to get a lot of information about their history, their background and their philosophy,” said Saintfiet in a T&T Football Federation media release.
“I wanted to make a decision based on the facts I know. I wanted local assistant coaches who could help me with their knowledge, not only of the football in T&T, but also the CONCACAF region.”
Saintfiet added: “One of them is Jamaal Shabazz. He was in the beginning not really eager to return in the coaching role, but I think with his experience as ex-national team coach of T&T and Guyana, as well as his philosophy, he can help me a lot in this beginning period, to introduce me to local football and to the mentality of the players.
“The other assistant coach is Russell Latapy, who was a top player in the history of local football, played at top level in Europe, played at the World Cup and I think both add something. Both (Shabazz and Latapy) have a different mentality, different personalities, both are experienced coaches within T&T and I think I can use that experience very much as national team head coach.”
Saintfiet was appointed head coach of the Soca Warriors after Stephen Hart left the position on November 24. He noted that Shabazz will fill the assistant coach position on a temporary basis and Latapy, who is presently in Portugal, will join the squad at the end of the month.
The Soca Warriors are currently ranked 78th in the World, ninth in the Confederation of North, Central America and the Caribbean, and fourth in the Caribbean Football Union.
They are currently fifth in the final hexagonal of CONCACAF qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia and preparing for two international friendly matches against Nicaragua on December 27th and 30th in Managua.