(from left) Players Ricardio Morris, Mario Harte and Team Captain Hadan Holligan (right) flank BFA Technical Director Ahmed Mohamed (second from right) as he speaks during yesterday's media conference.
Barbados will be going for the jugular tomorrow when they square off against the United States Virgin Islands in their first home fixture in the Concacaf Nations League Qualifiers. After a draw and a loss in games in September and October, Barbados find themselves in a need-to-win situation and they will be going after it with fervor.
Speaking to members of the media during the pre-game conference held today at the Wildey Turf, Barbados Football Association Technical Director Ahmed Mohamed said that as always, they were not underestimating their opponents. “This game is a special game for me, being the former coach and Technical Director of the US Virgin Islands. Besides that, this is a must-win game as we all know. We are playing our first home game and things have changed since last night. Thanks to Bermuda and Montserrat our chances are intact an the main goal will be the same – try to qualify for the time in the Gold Cup. Now the opportunity is here and tomorrow will be the first step towards the Gold Cup next year.”
Asked a question about the disparity between world rankings as Barbados is at 162 and the USVI hold out at 200, Mohamed explained that ranking meant very little as it only showed momentum of a team at the moment. “When we speak about ranking, it doesn't make any sense. It is very, very dangerous. For example, Montserrat. They are ranked all the way at the bottom. Montserrat needs one win and they are in the Gold Cup next year. What that shows is that the ranking is not important. Football is played on the day and ranking is just secondary. I know USVI very well and they are a strong team. The team has improved over the years and that is why I know how we will have to play against them and that is the most important thing. We don't focus on ranking. We will consider them as we would any other team. This time we are home and it will be more dynamic and more offensive football as our home supporters are used to seeing from us.”
With a 23-man squad that was missing most of the overseas players, most-notably Hallam Hope and Krystian Pearce from England and Keasel Broome from the US, Mohamed explained that the move was a strategic one. “We have a bright roster! We played about 13 games that I remember without overseas players and we always had good results with overseas players and good results without overseas players. This time we decided to go with local players and that is the reason. Against Nicaragua, another music, another opponent and we will move to suit.” he said.
With the team seeing a few familiar faces back in the squad after some absences and a couple of new faces, Mohamed said that there were no issues and that it would be smooth sailing. “Nobody knows the US Virgin Islands better than me. I can tell you how the team is looking because this is my team and that was my team. I always tell my players be careful, focus and respect. If we have those things, we will win this game without any problems. We are fit and here. Mentally we are fit. Physically we are fit. We are ready for the Virgin Islands!” he said.