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Bajan Tridents kick off against St Kitts tonight

EZRA STUART in St Vincent

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RESTORING Barbados’ football pride!
Despite being demoralised by a double defeat to Dominica, followed by the late “unavailability” of three overseas-based professionals and “internal issues” with the late arrival of two key officials, Barbados’ footballers will be playing for the love of the country tonight.
It’s not the ideal build-up but the 121st-ranked Bajan Tridents will kick off their 2010 Digicel Caribbean Cup Group B football campaign against the traditionally difficult St Kitts-Nevis side at Victoria Park here tonight, still confident of a victory.
The 6 p.m. encounter will be followed by the feature match between hosts St Vincent and the Grenadines and Montserrat at 8 p.m.
The match venue in the capital Kingstown was still saturated yesterday from the two inches of rainfall on Sunday and Monday which resulted in flooding around the country, and it wasn’t possible for the Barbados team to get the “mandatory” pre-tournament practice session there, despite the return of sunshine yesterday.
Instead, the Bajan Tridents trained at Arnos Vale ‘B’, next to the international cricket venue, which was being considered as an alternate venue should there be more rain.
And with no technical adviser appointed to the squad, Barbados’ coach Thomas Jordan was all alone as he supervised the final training session yesterday evening in the absence of new assistant coach Asquith Hamlett-Howell and trainer/medic Denis Callender, who were due to arrive last night because of examinations.
 Clearly, this is not the way to prepare a national team, especially on an important overseas assignment with US$120 000 at stake for the winner of the overall competition and US$70 000, US$50 000 and US$30 000 for second, third and fourth positions, respectively .
“We have some internal issues which we are trying to resolve but, once sorted out, we will be ready and raring to go,” Jordan said in an exclusive interview with MIDWEEK SPORT. He declined to comment on the nature of the problems.
“We intend to play to our best for love of Barbados and our fellow countrymen. It must be a 100 per cent with full commitment and concentration.
“The players are not as fit as they should be for this level of competition, as we only had the two practice matches, against Dominica, which we did not win. But we are still very confident that we can do well against St Kitts-Nevis in our first match,” he added.
The absence of overseas professionals Emmerson Boyce, Paul Ifill and Jonathan Forte has left Barbados with a squad of mostly locally-based players, apart from goalkeeper Alvin Rouse, who plays in Ireland. Barry Skeete, Riviere Williams and Mario Harte have all had stints in Argentina.
And Jordan is disappointed that Ifill, Boyce and Forte are not a part of the squad.
“We had made plans for them with the structure of our team but to learn of their unavailability or whatever it is, at the last moment, is disappointing. It is a big setback,” Jordan lamented.
But he said the squad was still an experienced one, with captain Norman Forde and his predecessor John “Nobby” Parris having over 100 caps.
Goalkeepers Adrian Chase and Alvin Rouse, striker Riviere Williams, defenders Jonathan Straker and Bryan Neblett as well as midfielders Romelle Burgess, Sheridan “Rudy” Grosvenor and Rashida Jeffrey Williams have helped formed the nucleus of the team in the last decade.
The four players having their first Digicel Caribbean Cup outing are the Deacons trio of Jason Carter, Terry Adamson and Kadeem Atkins, and Jomo Brathwaite of Dayrells Road.
“The senior players [have] got to pull their weight and guide the younger players and integrate them into the team,” Jordan said.
The last time Barbados played St Kitts-Nevis was at a similar stage in 2008 and they came from behind to win 3-1 in Basseterre with first-half goals from set plays by Straker and Skeete before Jeffrey Williams sealed the issue. That victory was Barbados’ first over the Kittitians since 2000.
Overall, St Kitts, who have depended heavily on the likes of Atiba Charles, veteran George Isaac, Keithroy Richards, Jason Lake and goalkeeper Julani Archibald, still have the edge with four wins, three defeats and a draw in eight matches between 1995 and 2008.