Barbados gets World Cup breather

Barbados head coach, former Trinidad and Tobago international, Russell Latapy.
Photo by George Alleyne

Barbados is welcoming the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Football’s (CONCACAF) decision to postpone its World Cup 2022 in Qatar qualifiers to next year.

This island was originally scheduled to take on rising CONCACAF star Panama next month but the organisation announced last week that this and other fixtures across the region, “will not be played in the FIFA match windows of October or November 2020, and will instead begin with the first round in the FIFA match window of March 2021.”

The Barbados Nation newspaper has quoted the island’s head coach, former Trinidad and Tobago international, Russell Latapy saying, “it gives us some more time to prepare and get all of our resources together.”

“Yes, we would continue to prepare. We would use this time to get the players in the gym to help with injury prevention and also strengthen and develop some of the younger players.”

The CONCACAF statement that followed a meeting with member associations indicated, “many parts of the region continue to have very challenging public health situations, and that has been a key factor in this decision. Additionally, several countries across the confederation have travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, which would make international football involving 30 national teams extremely difficult.”

The Barbados vs Panama match was just one of a region-wide schedule that would have seen 14 of the 15-member Caribbean Community organisation (CARICOM) playing in fixtures among the 30 teams, ranked six to 35 by FIFA in the first round of playoffs, all of which have been moved to 2010.

Though the Barbados national team, the Tridents, began training in July guided by the country’s Covid-19 regulations there might have been some concern about their first fixture in the World Cup qualifiers as the Panamanians have been among the most improved regional teams.

The Central American qualified for the Russia World Cup for the first time in 2018 and is regarded as hot. Manager, Thomas Christiansen, was looking forward to what he saw as easy encounters with Barbados and other Caribbean teams and told CONCACAF, “I think it’s been a good draw for us, with all due respect to the teams that we are going to face, Barbados, Dominica, Anguilla and Dominican Republic. I think at present moment the Dominican Republic is the toughest of those, but certainly all of the teams are difficult and more so when playing away when we have to take a long trip.”

Latapy, however, had said that his side would be no walk-over.

“We have a talented team and if we are able to put everything together at the right time, we can become very difficult,” he said to CONCACAF.

“But it is a fairly young team, the average age is 22 or 23, so it is more of a team that we are trying to build for the future. I hope we can get the experience from these games and use that to try to get to the Gold Cup.”

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