Support for Forde
AT LEAST NORMAN FORDE’s got a coach in his corner.
The problem is, Keith Griffith is no longer at the helm of Barbados football.
The former national coach and technical assistant is certain Forde would be a major asset for the senior team in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers once the standout midfielder is allowed to take the pitch.
Griffith made the comments in a telephone interview with SUNSPORT following Forde’s unceremonious axing from the national squad earlier this year.
“To me, Norman Forde is still the best footballer on the island,” he said.
“If he’s chosen, it will give him the opportunity to go out with his head held high.
“To be honest, he doesn’t have the legs to play deep in midfield for 90 minutes, but I think he would serve well playing just off the shoulder of the striker, just like what Messi sometimes does for Barcelona,” Griffith added.
Former national captain Forde, his predecessor as captain John “Nobby” Parris, and long-serving goalkeeper Adrian Chase were among eight veterans discarded after Barbados’ failure to qualify for last year’s Digicel Caribbean Cup Finals.
After not being named in an initial training list of 35 players, Forde did not appear in any of the three subsequent “friendlies” against Guyana or the ensuing exhibitions against St Vincent and a visiting college team.
However, it is reported that current national coach Colin “Potato” Forde has since softened his stance on Forde and invited the veteran playmaker to trials.
And the head coach is going to need all of Forde’s skills and experience, as Barbados have been drawn with traditional Caribbean powerhouses Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Bermuda in Group F of the CONCACAF Zone.
Both Trinidad (No. 88) and Guyana (114) are rated higher than Barbados (145) in the current FIFA world rankings, having enjoyed favourable results in their recent head-to-head match-ups with the Tridents.
Bermuda (185) are the only team in the group ranked below the Barbadians but they have also recorded recent victories against Barbados at home in Hamilton.
But Griffith still believes the Tridents’ chances of advancing past this round aren’t daunting, even in light of Barbados’ poor record against the Soca Warriors and the Golden Jaguars.
“It’s not exactly insurmountable, and at least we’ve always played Bermuda well at home,” said Griffith, who currently serves as technical director of the United States Virgin Islands.
“We are quite familiar with the three countries we are playing against and if we win all of our home games, we can make things quite interesting.
“I do believe, though, that we will need Emerson Boyce for sure as well as the other overseas-based [players] if we are really going to advance,” he added.
Griffith was recently highlighted on FIFA.com after leading the USVI to their highest ranking ever (149) following a pair of historic victories over rivals British Virgin Islands.
USVI advanced past the preliminary stages of World Cup qualifying for the first time in the body’s history.