Hart: Make the T&T players feel wanted

Stephen Hart has thanked the Trinidad and Tobago fans and urged them to continue getting behind the team in the wake of his sacking. The 56-year-old was relieved of his duties after the Soca Warriors began the Hexagonal phase of 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualifying with a 2-0 loss at home to Costa Rica and a 3-1 defeat in Honduras.

“I would like to say thanks for the opportunity to coach the national team,” said the former midfielder, who won seven caps for Trinidad and Tobago in the 1980s. “It’s unfortunate that things were not running as smooth as we all would have liked, but the decision has been made.”

Hart reserved special praise for the fans “for all their support. I will say to them, ‘If you pay your money and you go in the stadium, support the players, make the players feel wanted. All the players, whether you agree with the selection or not.'”

Trinidad and Tobago, who are captained by former Southampton, Sunderland and Stoke City striker Kenwyne Jones, resume their campaign in March, when they welcome Panama and Mexico to Port of Spain. The top three in the six-side Hexagonal reach Russia 2018 automatically, while the fourth-placed finishers face an Asian team in the intercontinental play-off.

Trinidad and Tobago are the smallest nation to participate in the World Cup, with their only appearance having come at Germany 2006. In qualifying for that tournament, the Soca Warriors were bottom of the Hexagonal after three rounds, but the appointment of Dutch coach Leo Beenhakker revitalised their fortunes. Three wins from their last four games – ones indebted to Stern John – nicked them a place in the intercontinental play-off, where they overcame Bahrain.

Shaka Hislop, Dwight Yorke, John and Co helped T&T grab an unexpected draw with Sweden in their curtain-raiser, before 2-0 losses to England and Paraguay sent them home.