Barbados' captain Rashad Jules looking to outrun Nicaragua's defender Camphers Perez in their last Nations League Qualifier.
The Bajan Tridents will be looking to stamp their names on Concacaf’s score sheet and begin advancement to League B when the Concacaf Nations League returns to Barbados in four days.
Following Barbados’ 0-1 loss to Nicaragua in their last encounter in the Nations League Qualifiers in March, the Tridents are looking to set the tone of the game with their home advantage at the Barbados Football Association’s (BFA) Wildey Turf, when they come up against (French) Saint Martin.
Head coach of the senior Tridents Russell “The Little Magician” Latapy said he trusted the players and the process heading into their first game against Saint Martin in this year’s group phase of the Nation’s League Games.
And while they have not played any football since the BFA’s Premier League came to an end in July, Latapy has ensured they have been getting their training in, although it has not been without operational hiccups.
“There has been no football at senior level, so we’ve been concentrating on how we want to play and what we want to do, and then we will take things from there. I believe if we can get the process right, then we will have more success. Our aim as a staff right now is to make sure the players understand the process, understand why we’re doing it and commit and dedicate themselves to the process and the national team,” he said.
Barbados was placed at the top of League C, out of 13 teams, when the draw was conducted in March by Concacaf’s Chief Football Officer Manolo Zubiria in the Chelsea Theatre of the Cosmopolitan Hotel, Las Vegas.
Last year the Men’s Senior National Team drew 2-2 with Guyana in September, fell 3-0 to El Salvador in October and walked over USVI 3-0 in November.
They are scheduled to face off against (French) Saint Martin, Cayman Islands and USVI in seeking promotion to League B for the next edition of the competition. Games are scheduled to be played in the official FIFA match windows in September, October and November, with the final championship set to be played in 2020.
Latapy who has been at the helm of Barbados’ football for the last six months, is also set to battle in his first at-home game, which he says he wants to get off to a good start.
Moreover, English professional player Nick Blackman, a striker with Maccabi Tel Aviv, is set to make his debut with the Bajan boys.
“There is no secret that the Technical Director Ahmed Mohamed when he was coaching the team wanted to strengthen the squad, and I feel the same way. Whatever players we can have that is going to come in with the right attitude and professionalism to help the boys and the team get better, we’re definitely going to accept that. And Nick falls into that category, whereby we know he is a top player.
“We’re looking forward to having him here as soon as we can. With Tropical Storm Dorian, flights have changed a bit but we’re hoping to get Nick here as soon as possible and fingers crossed; hopefully, we can get him three or four days before the game. If that is not possible, we will have him whenever we can,” he said.
Unlike the local boys who have one win, one draw and two losses, Saint Martin lost their four qualifying games, going down 3-4 to (Dutch) Sint Maarten, 5-2 to Grenada, 10-0 to St Kitts and Nevis and 3-0 to Guadeloupe.
Barbados currently stands in 25th position with three points after four games, while Saint Martin is at the bottom of the table in 34th position on zero points.
As to if Barbados could expect any major changes to the team as is widely known, Latapy said he believed in his team of 40 to 50 players.
“I don’t exactly know what Barbados knows. What I know is that I have a player pool of roughly 40 to 50 players and these are the players who, not only myself but the coaching staff, thinks are capable of representing the country at that level of football.
“The starting 11 and the 18 players for these two particular games will come from that squad of 40 to 50 players. I don’t know if that is anything new, I don’t know what the combination for these 40/50 players will be, but this is where the squad is going to come from,” he said.
However, while some may be expecting “The Little Magician” to “work his magic” Latapy said there was no magic wand and no secret remedy.
“I think a good yardstick or barometer for success is really hard work, so whatever we put into it is what we’re going to get out of it. What we are trying to do is to develop a system of play and a structure that our national team could identify with and can play too.
“I don’t know too much about Saint Martin, and that is not in a disrespectful way, but what I do know is that we have a squad of players here who I think are very capable of doing good things. We’re going to concentrate on how we want to play and try to get to the level that we think our potential dictates that we get too,” he said.
“I think if we can do that, then we can beat a lot of teams in the region and it makes us very competitive. The first thing we want to do is get to the level that the players understand this is how we play, this is why we want to play this way and if we do certain things and have the right attitudes and play the ball in the right areas, then it is going to give us a greater chance at success. Once we can get to this level and deal with ourselves, then we can concentrate on what the other teams do,” he added.