Trinidad and Tobago have appointed German coach Otto Pfister to lead their national team. The dual-island Caribbean nation made history by becoming the smallest country to reach the FIFA World Cup™ in 2006, but failed to qualify for this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup (the region’s cup of nations) under former playing star Russell Latapy.
The coach boasts an extensive CV, having coached Senegal, Saudi Arabia, Togo and Cameroon. His mandate in Trinidad will be to get the country’s football back on track and make preparations for the qualifying phase of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
The 73-year-old coach, who says that his advanced age is no problem, has promised to bring a “unified philosophy” to Trinidad and Tobago’s football, something that has been missing since Leo Beenhakker famously took the side to Germany 2006. “I will give all my best from my side for the qualification for the next World Cup,” the Cologne-born veteran said at his official unveiling in Port of Spain today. “My main thing now is working, working and working... that way we have a chance.”
Pfister, who was named Africa’s coach of the year in 1982 during his time with Côte d'Ivoire, beat out a shortlist of candidates that included such notable Dutch names as Erwin Koeman and Johan Neeskens. “It’s a big challenge [getting T&T back on track] but it is possible with a professional philosophy,” said Pfister, who can call on Kenwyne Jones as one of only a handful of overseas-based game-changers in the squad since the retirement of Latapy and Dwight Yorke.
The German boss has tasted success at youth level, leading Ghana to a FIFA U-17 World Cup triumph in 1991. It is this combination of senior and junior experience that football fans in T&T will be hoping can pay off in the future. “I need to find the players in this country who are going to fight for their place in the team,” he said. “Football is dominated in this area by United States and Mexico, everyone else fights for the third position," the coach went on. "The only guarantee I can give is with my heart and all my knowledge that I will work hard for Trinidad and Tobago.”
The T&T FA confirmed that Pfister will begin training with a group of home-based players later this month and will attend the Gold Cup in the summer to get a look at some of the teams in the region that he is likely face in their Brazil 2014 qualifying campaign.