All of Barbados should be proud of the Bajan Tridents.
That was the declaration made by Head Coach of Barbados’ senior men’s football team, Russell Latapy following their first game in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
The Barbados team played a hard-fought game at the Felix Sanchez Stadium, in the Dominican Republic, holding Panama off for the first 82 minutes of the game, ending in a 1-0 defeat. The result put the Panamanians at the top of Group D.
“I am extremely proud of all the players and what we achieved. By no means we thought this was going to be a game that we were going to walk in to and it was going to be easy. We’re talking about a team that is loaded with professionals we were playing against. We’re talking about my boys who had two weeks to prepare for this game under very difficult circumstances.
“I think what we did [Thursday] night is we showed the region and the world by extension that we could compete at this level. The boys fought as hard as they could and gave us everything. I think with a little bit of luck we could have gotten a goal or two, but in saying that, we played against one of the leading teams in the region who went to the last World Cup. I am really proud of the boys,” he said during a post-game press conference via Zoom.
The Tridents have been crippled of ball time with the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, with no ball action for 14 months. Currently, football remains suspended on the island of Barbados, and the senior men were only able to engage in a training camp at Cap Cana, Punta Cana, two weeks ahead of their scheduled qualifiers.
Latapy, a midfield wizard during his career as a player, said the team could only build from that point heading into their second match-up against Anguilla on Tuesday night.
“When we came to play these two games, we knew the reality was that Panama was going to be a really tough game. We got through that game last night, in my opinion, with flying colors. We know that the tables are turned a bit, whereby we’re the favorites against Anguilla. I think this is a game that we can go and try to impose the way that we want to play football and that is what we are going to try to do,” he said matter-of-factly.
The head coach said he was surprised they had to “pick the players up off the dressing room floor” following the game, but said it spoke to the bounds, they had grown by, and the “spot-on” level of discipline and the professionalism they displayed both on and off the field.
Latapy said the focus now remained on working towards getting the players to buy into his philosophy and trusting the process.
“The further on we go with it, the better we become at it. I think [Thursday] night was an excellent exercise in showing these players what is necessary, what is required, the intensity that we need to play at, the courage and commitment that we need to have. Again, I would give them a pass in every department,” he said.