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Veteran Latapy faces battle for Trinidad place

Written by: Staff
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WUEMME, Germany, June 6 (Reuters) Russell Latapy will have to fight for the chance to weave his magic at the World Cup, the veteran Trinidad and Tobago striker said today.

The ''little magician'', scorer of 28 goals in 66 appearances, is not certain of a starting place in his country's opening Group B game against Sweden on Saturday.

''I really don't know, competition is very tough for places,'' the 37-year-old Latapy told reporters.

''All I can do is try and do my best to prove myself. It is up to the coach after that.'' Latapy retired from international football in 2001 before returning to the fold last September, marking his comeback with a goal in a 3-2 qualifying win over Guatemala.

He had previously turned down two requests to return before captain Dwight Yorke persuaded him to change his mind.

''To play in the World Cup is the highlight for any player, and at my age, it is even more sweet,'' Latapy said.

The dreadlocked player-coach of Scottish club Falkirk smokes 10 cigarettes a day, a habit he is happy to keep.

''It is something I choose to do and it has never affected my performance,'' Latapy said.

''I don't smoke a lot and never in the public domain or in front of the team at training or the like.'' After the game against Sweden in Dortmund, World Cup debutants Trinidad play England on June 15 in Nuremberg before rounding off the first round against Paraguay in Kaiserslautern five days later.

REUTERS DH BST2156

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