The Barbados senior men’s national team put in a credible performance against Concacaf’s powerhouse Panama, despite being defeated 1-0 in the opening leg of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
The Bajan Tridents who had not played any football in over a year, were able to fend off Panama, who had greater ball possession, until the final ten minutes of the game at the Felix Sanchez Stadium, Dominican Republic earlier tonight.
Panama, who qualified for the FIFA World Cup in 2018, was dominant in the first 45 minutes, but the Russell Latapy led Tridents held on for a 0-0 result at the end of the first half.
Barbados was bolstered by debutants Jamol “Molly” Williams, Netherlands-based Ryan Trotman, Keon Atkins, and Canadian-based Emile Saimovici, along with the return of English professional player Krystian “The Chief” Pearce.
By every measure, Lakeland Community College’s Omani Leacock was the undisputed player of the match with his superb performance and dominance of the midfield. Other notable players of the night were Carl Hinkson and Rashad Smith.
Leacock, fondly known as “The Chemist” missed a golden opportunity to score for the Barbadians in the 81st minute. He made an about-face, slapping the ball straight on target for the back of the net, but in losing his footing, the ball was intercepted by Panamanian keeper Orlando Mosquera.
However, Barbados’ number one Kishmar Primus was on point, and try as they might, Panama was unable to convert any chances, until a critical error in the 83rd minute when 29-year-old Jair Catuy delivered for the opponents with his first national team goal. The unmarked Catuy collected a cross from midfielder Cesar Yanis in front of the box, landing a diving header at far post.
With their lone goal, Panama, who had five shots on target compared to Barbados’ three, became desperate and made several scrappy attempts in the dying minutes of the game, but the Bajan Tridents were able to starve them off despite picking up two yellow cards in the 64th and 90th minutes.
The Tridents will now reset and face Anguilla on March 30 at the same venue. Kick-off time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.