Kudos and fair play must be given to the Bajan Tridents.
That was the humble declaration and acknowledgement by the Barbados Football Association’s Head Coach Russell “The Little Magician” Latapy at the end of a fantastic Concacaf Nations League tournament, which saw the victors promoted to League B.
The home team pulled off a stunning 3-0 triumph over the Cayman Islands Turtles in their final group phase encounter in Group A of League C in the Concacaf Nations League last night.
While the Tridents and the Turtles finished on 12 points each, the home team advanced to League B on goal difference.
Speaking to the media following the game, Latapy describing the game as “very difficult” said all kudos must be given to the teams.
“Firstly we would say congrats to the Cayman Islands. They came here and they made the game very difficult for us. We had to stick to our game plan and our structure, and fair play to our players, we were able to do that. At the end most importantly, we were able to create our chances and take them. At the end of the day, it’s about scoring goals and we were able to do that,” he said.
While admitting that they were under some pressure from people outside of the camp, the decorated coach said it was because of the 1-0 loss they suffered at the feet of (French) Saint Martin three days prior.
“A lot of things we do, we do it as a team, as a unit, and that includes the BFA as well and that pressure obviously is because of the result in the last game. We know that football is about winning games, but the bigger picture for us, when we started this campaign, was about qualifying for Group B. We knew from the time we lost the away game to the Cayman Islands, it was going to come down to the last game.
“We had a decision to make, and again fair play to the players for giving me their support, for buying into the things that we’re asking them to do. We knew in the last game, whatever happened, we had to come and win this game so we rested some key players because we knew this one was do or die, and I think it showed in the last 20 to 25 minutes of the game that we were a lot fresher than they were,” Latapy said.
Captain Holligan acknowledged they were under some pressure, but echong Latapy's words he said: "We go out there and we play for a result, a clean sheet and goals and we execute it. The crowd played a big part of the performance. The guys really enjoyed the crowd support tonight."
Latapy added once they all understood their roles and functions tactically, there was a lot more stability defensively during the game.
“I think we’re a step or two up the ladder, but we still have a long way to go. I think in the past, we were winning games and everyone was still trying to get forward and get their own name on the score sheet, [but] we’re in a situation now where the players are understanding that everybody has their roles and function and it’s a team game and we leave the responsibility to scoring goals mainly to the forward players,” he said, adding that they knew from the start of the game that a clean sheet was vital, and he was happy that he got the two things he asked for; goals and a clean sheet.
"We have quite a young team. There is a young player who we tried to get a little bit of the game, and if we had scored a couple goals a little earlier we would have gotten him in. Romario Drakes is a fantastic young player. He is 18 years old. We want to start to build with these players who have the ability. We’re going to keep demanding and keep building off of them and hopefully we can continue to grow," he added.
Meanwhile, Head Coach of the Cayman Islands Turtles, Benjamin Pugh said both teams made the game a “real spectacle”.
“I thought both teams came for the win and fair play to Barbados. They deserved to win and fair play to them they moved on and well deserved to them. From our point of view, we go away as well very happy. Before this process, we hadn’t won a game in nearly nine years, and we’ve now won four games out of six. We missed out on a small margin by goal difference so for us it’s a building process. We’re naturally disappointed that we can’t move on but we’ll go forward and hopefully, there are good things down the line.
“As the game drew on, we knew we had to press a little bit more to win the game . . . and when we did that we left gaps to be exposed and we got caught twice and conceded two more goals, but we had to push forward and try to get an equalizer. When you do that, you are more susceptible to conceding and I think that was the main thing the longer the game went on,” he said.