It was déjà vu all over again.
Head coach of the Barbados Football Association’s (BFA) senior Tridents Russell “The Little Magician” Latapy led the home team to victory, where they capped off an impressive 3-0 victory in Group A of League C, over the Cayman Islands last night to register a promotion to League B in the Concacaf Nations League.
And while the Tridents finished with the same 12 points as the Cayman Island Turtles, they forged ahead on goal difference.
Similar to their first game at the Wildey Turf against (French) Saint Martin, which saw Latapy coach in his first Nations League encounter, he selected the best team to execute the job. This win now puts the Bajan Tridents on solid footing for a chance to qualify for the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup.
Starting minus usual captain Rashad Jules, Hadan Holligan took the reins. Other changes from the last game against Saint Martin over the weekend in Anguilla, where the national team lost 1-0, saw Ricardio Morris, Akeem Hill, Rashad Smith and Hadan Holligan deployed in the starting 11. Additionally, overseas players Tel Aviv Maccabi striker Nick Blackman and English League 2 Club Carlisle United’s Hallam Hope took up their postions on the starting line.
While the game began intense with both teams taking the chances as they came, it wasn’t until the 32nd minute that the Tridents got the go-ahead goal. A shot on goal by Smith went wide and out for a corner. Holligan stepped up to the flag and Hope rose to the occasion, tucking the ball off the set-piece into the back of the net at far post, sending the small crowd into a frenzy.
As the second half rolled around, Blackman was subbed out for Jules before he caused an upset for the visitors. Captain Joshewa Frederick-Charlery was knocked unconscious momentarily, after a heavy one-on-one challenge with Jules, causing a gasp across the stadium in the 63rd minute when the former hit his head on the Turf.
And despite the power outages across the island, as word of the "Trident magic" spread once again, the bleachers began to fill as the crowds descended on the stadium to witness another amazing performance of the home team under the command of the former Trinidad and Tobago Soca Warrior.
Then in the 75th minute, Latapy exchanged Armando “Sugar” Lashley for Blackman. Eleven minutes later, Lashley sweetened the pot for the Tridents with an impressive control and turn from just outside the box beating a defender, and levelling the ball with his right foot, he hit it for all it was worth into the top of the net.
The entire team rushed to the sidelines as they mobbed their officials and the fans all across the Turf reacted when they realized Barbados had just won their group phase competition.
The Tridents took the time then to put on a two-minute show for the fans, and the boys, clad in their canary yellow national kit, engaged in a game of touch as supporters erupted in cries of ‘Ole’ on each pass.
The added support from the 12th man seemed to fuel the team and Hope struck once again in the 89th minute. Running straight down the midfield and beating a defender on the line, he hit the ball straight through the keeper's gloves and into the back of the net.
And wiith shouts of jubilation, the senior team anchored themselves at the top of League C and catapulted over into League B, while renewing the faith of the fans that with a little more "magic", the team would see its way back to glory.