President of the Barbados Football Association (BFA) Randy Harris is over the moon with excitement following Concacaf’s announcement that the senior men’s national team have been given a straight ticket to the preliminaries on the Road to Gold Cup 2021.
“It is a good thing that has happened to Barbados football. It is the first time that we will really be exposed to this quality of competition. The whole organization and the size of the stadiums that they will experience will certainly be a good thing for them, especially for the younger players in the team,” he said.
It is the first time Barbados has qualified for a competition of this magnitude, after qualifying for the Caribbean Cup twice.
Barbados was set to compete in a home and away game against Guyana’s Golden Jaguars, which some had dubbed the “revenge game”. Once the Bajan Tridents had made it past those two games, they would have advanced to play against Trinidad and Tobago’s Soca Warriors for a place in the highly anticipated tournament.
However, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced football to halt the world over, Concacaf issued an updated men’s international calendar on Tuesday afternoon.
“This will give the players the opportunity to see what being in a football tournament of that magnitude will be. With the kind of support the Gold Cup unusually receives from the public in the USA, I think it will be a good experience for our players to see what it is like at the upper level of football,” he said.
The senior Tridents earned qualification to League B in the Concacaf’s Nations League after defeating the Cayman Islands 3-0 in front of a home crowd last November in Group A of League C in the competition.
With this “free pass”, the Tridents make up one of 12 teams who are eligible to gain entry into the finals of the Gold Cup. The other 11 competing nations are Bahamas, Bermuda, Cuba, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Montserrat, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.
The team recently resumed training under the command of Head Coach and former midfield wizard Russell “The Little Magician” Latapy, despite some restrictions in the wake of COVID.
“National Coach Russell Latapy has a plan going forward and of course the BFA will be supporting the team. We are grateful for the opportunity, and we have to do everything that would make preparation comfortable for the players,” he said.
Harris, who is also president of the Caribbean Football Union said the local team had to ramp up preparations to face any team within the region.
“Our preparation has to be stepped up, fitness and nutrition, because it is going to be very difficult to compete if we don’t lift the level of preparation. In the Gold Cup, we will have teams like Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama and the USA, so the game would be to try to lift the quality of our football,” he added.
Additionally, the long-standing football administrator said the FA would be looking at overseas professional players to strengthen the team. However, he said while they had some prospects, he was keeping the names close to his chest, until players were confirmed.
“Our technical department is much better organized and we are now seeing the roots of the development program we instituted some five years ago. We will also be able to research if there are any players in the UK or USA who are playing professionally with Bajan roots,” Harris said.