Commentary

New T&T coach gets job by default -- and supposedly why Klinsmann said no

After the USA lost its first two games in the Hexagonal, U.S. Soccer fired Jurgen Klinsmann and hired old-hand Bruce Arena.

Say what you want about the merits of rehiring a coach who had been fired 10 years earlier, Arena is an accomplished coach, having had plenty of success since leaving the national team with three MLS titles at the LA Galaxy.

Trinidad & Tobago also lost its first two Hex games and fired its head coach, Stephen Hart. The T&T Football Association's replacement? Well, you'll probably never heard of Belgian Tom Saintfiet, and he wasn't even the TTFA's first choice, to boot.

The selection process began when the TTFA's technical committee came up with a short list of candidates for the job:

-- Saintfiet, who was coaching Bangladesh -- for all of three games (one tie and two losses) -- after almost a decade spent wandering around Africa;
-- Frenchman Philippe Troussier, who coached co-host Japan at the 2002 World Cup;
-- Colombian Luis Fernando Suarez, who coached Honduras at the 2014 World Cup; and
-- Colombian Eduardo Lara, El Salvador's U-20 national team coach.

It wasn't exactly an exhaustive search -- Wired868.com reported that the technical committee did its research via Google -- and its ranking the candidates -- Troussier, Saintfiet, Suarez and Lara -- was based on the working assumption -- never confirmed -- that Suarez and Lara did not speak English.

Troussier was the first choice but was too expensive for the notoriously cash-poor TTFA, leaving Saintfiet as the Soca Warriors' new head coach by default.

How long the Belgian has the job remains to be seen. At Saintfiet's introductory press conference, TTFA president David John-Williams said he was going to give the new coach two games to turn the Soca Warriors around.

“I will also tell you this," said John-Williams, "if he doesn’t get the job done on the 24th and 28th of March, he will be looking for a job. And I make no apologies for saying that. He is laughing but we’re very serious. Because if we don’t get the job done on the 24th and 28th of March, we might as well kiss our campaign goodbye.”

A side note to the search process -- and of interest to Americans -- is that Wired868.com reported that John-Williams supposedly spoke to Klinsmann, who wasn't available -- because he had already agreed terms to coach in China.
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