Oliver Camps, manager of the national soccer team of Trinidad and Tobago, is confident that his club will beat the United States in a World Cup qualifying match today at El Camino College.
“Officially, I can guarantee that the Trinidad team is going to win,” Camps said. “I can guarantee that.”
Has Camps been studying the motivational technique of Laker Coach Pat Riley?
“We are confident because we know exactly what level we have reached,” Camps said. “I would be failing in my duty as a manager if I did not feel confident that we could win.”
What do the U.S. players think of Camps’ guarantee?
“Making predictions that they’re going to win is not right, especially in our home country,” said goalie David Vanole. “I could see them making predictions at home, but not here.
“I don’t believe that (predictions) should be made before the game by a team like Trinidad. We respect them, but we’re at home and we should win. That will just help us focus.”
While Camps was making predictions, Everald Cummings, coach of Trinidad and Tobago, was complaining about sabotage.
As the Trinidad and Tobago team was scrimmaging at a Torrance park on Wednesday, the sprinklers went on. The players got soaked, and practice was interrupted for 20 minutes.
“Maybe they thought we shouldn’t be training so they put on the sprinklers to get rid of us,” Cummings said. “What was strange was that the sprinklers went on in the middle of the field from one goal to the next. They came on because somebody knew what they were doing.
“That was a nasty thing to do. This is a country you’re dealing with and not some little club in the park. We’re supposed to be guests here.”
Did Cummings think the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) was responsible?
“I can’t say for sure if they did it,” Cummings said. “But it happened to us in America. We don’t treat people like that in Trinidad.
“I know people will try all sorts of things to humiliate you before a game and take you off your psyche. But I’m accustomed to that. It doesn’t worry me.”
Camps said he had seen American scouts at the park shortly efore the sprinklers went on.
“I got the impression that it was deliberately done,” he said. “Some people will do anything to upset an opponent. We have our turn in November (when the U.S. visits Trinidad and Tobago).”
Bob Gansler, coach of the U.S. team, denied having anything to do with the sprinkler incident.
“That’s not my style,” Gansler said.
So who was responsible?
Said Mike Wilson, a spokesman for the Torrance Parks and Recreation Dept.: “We have gophers in the park who have been chewing through (water) lines, which triggers the sprinkler system,’ Wilson said. “And we have irrigation crews out there trying to fix it.”
The field figures to be dry today and Cummings’ team can demonstrate the new style Cummings has given Trinidad and Tobago since being hired 16 months ago, after the team was eliminated by the United States in the 1987 Pan American games.
“It was a very low point for soccer in Trinidad,” Cummings said. “The morale of the team was low and we had to make changes in the coaching and players.”
The changes have been effective.
Trinidad and Tobago is 2-0-2 in World Cup qualifying matches since Cummings was hired. Trinidad and Tobago defeated Guyana, 4-0 and 1-0, in the first round of qualifying, and beat Honduras in the second round with a 0-0 draw at home and a 1-1 tie in Honduras. Trinidad and Tobago won the tiebreaker by scoring a goal against Honduras on the road.
"(Trinidad) looked well organized and confident when I saw them in Honduras in November,” Gansler said. “They needed a late goal in order to go through on away goals and they got it.”
Trinidad forward Richard Chinapoo, who scored two goals in qualifying matches, won’t play against the United States. Chinapoo is committed to play for the Dallas Sidekicks against San Diego tonight in a Major Indoor Soccer League playoff game.
Will losing Chinapoo hurt Trinidad and Tobago?
“Richard Chinapoo is a good player,” Gansler said. “But I’ve seen them play well without him. They have other players who can jump into the breech.”
As has been his policy, U.S. Coach Bob Gansler said he won’t name his starting goalkeeper until game time. “I prefer that they hear about it from me rather than read it in the paper,” Gansler said. Goalie David Vanole, a former UCLA star, preserved a 1-0 victory over Costa Rica when he blocked a penalty kick last month at St. Louis. Goalie Jeff Duback played in a 1-0 loss at Costa Rica. Vanole and Duback said not knowing who will start motivates them.
Trinidad and Tobago Coach Everald Cummings is no stranger to American soccer fans. Cummings played for the Atlanta Chiefs from 1967-70, leading them to the North American Soccer League title in 1968. He moved on to the New York Cosmos, where he played from 1971-73. The Cosmos won the NASL title in 1972. After playing three years in Mexico, he returned home to play on Trinidad and Tobago’s World Cup team in 1978. He returned to the United States, playing for the Cleveland Force in the MISL from 1979-80. After retiring, he moved to Toronto, where his wife, a diplomat, worked at Trinidad and Tobago’s embassy. . . . Today’s match, which starts at noon, will be televised live by ESPN.