Bajan ballers feel the pain
DISAPPOINTED, but not disgraced!
That’s the shared view of Barbados’ senior team football coach Thomas Jordan and captain Norman Forde on their return home Monday night from the first round 2010 Digicel Caribbean Cup campaign in St Vincent.
“It was a tough competition with St Kitts and St Vincent and I still think we did well considering the little preparation the team had and the internal problems,” Jordan said.
Barbados failed to advance to the next phase, despite playing unbeaten and finishing with the same five points as eventual group winners St Kitts-Nevis and hosts St Vincent and the Grenadines, who qualified on the tournament regulations’ tie-breaker system, employed to separate tied teams.
Two practice matches
But before the start of the Group ‘B’ first round, Barbados had only played two practice matches in the last 20 months and suffered a double defeat against lowly-ranked Dominica, the first time they had lost to Windward Islanders.
Jordan, who found himself all alone at the Arnos Vale “B” ground on the eve of the first match against St Kitts-Nevis called for additional technical help. He conducted the training session in the absence of assistant coach Asquith Hamlett-Howell who arrived later in the night as a result of examinations.
“It’s hard to control a full squad of 18 players with only two people. We need a goalkeeping coach and a trainer. These things will be helpful,” he said.
“There must be continuous practice and friendly matches for the national senior team. We also need to have an under-23 team in practice,” added Jordan, who had a three-month coaching stint in Hungary earlier this year.
Forde noted that while it was disappointing that Barbados had been denied a second-round berth based on the interpretation of the tournament rules, he felt the footballers should be commended for their performance in the difficult circumstances.
“After the game, we were told that we had qualified and later on that same night to hear another story is hard because you know that you finished with five points, a better goal difference than St Kitts, who have gone through at the top of the group,” Forde lamented.
“It is really hard for the guys. A lot of criticism was meted out to the team before we left and to see how they came and played in St Vincent was really good for the team. I’m real proud of the team. That’s the honest truth,” Forde declared.
He said there is a definite need to play more practice matches and he urged the Barbados Football Association (BFA) to arrange “friendlies” on FIFA’s international match days.
“You can’t bring a national team and just put it out to play two friendlies for the first time in two years and then expect to put the team in a tournament,” Forde added.
“But the guys adapted really well under the conditions,” the skipper noted.
He, however, felt the team inclusion of overseas professionals would have guaranteed qualification to the second round.
“If you got overseas players in England or wherever, you need to get them back home in Barbados. We got some good players in the team but we need the players that have that experience and exposure playing overseas,” Forde said.
Forde, who also had trials playing in England in the late 1990s, named Paul Ifill, Fitz Hall, Emmerson Boyce and Jonathan Forte as overseas players who can bolster the national side.
“If we had those players right now on this leg, we would’ve gone through. No disrespect to the players that we had, but I think at the end of the day we were lacking firepower. Paul and Jonathan would’ve made up for that and the little defensive errors that we were making, guys like Boyce and Hall would’ve helped to sharpen up our team,” he asserted.