It’s crunch time for Tridents
It’s do-or-die for Barbados footballers in today’s home tie against the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) at the Wildey Turf in the Concacaf Nations League Qualifiers.
After a 2-2 draw at the Leonora Stadium against Guyana in September and a 3-0 away defeat to El Salvador last month, Ahmed Mohamed’s men, currently in 23rd position, are in a must-win situation in order to progress from Group C.
The message is also clear for the US Virgin Islands who sit four places down from Barbados in the standings, having lost 5-0 to Curacao and 8-0 to Canada in their two opening encounters.
The last time the two sides met was in 2015 in the second leg of a World Cup qualifier. Barbados thrashed USVI 4-0, with Raheim Sargeant, Mario Harte, Jamal Chandler and Jabarry Chandler all getting on the score sheet.
USVI had won the first leg 1-0.
Barbados, who have been struggling to put the ball in the back of the net, were boosted by the inclusion of 24-year-old Hallam Hope, a striker at League 2 English Club Carlisle United.
On his debut against Guyana, Hope bagged both of Barbados’ goals in a game in which the Tridents came from a goal behind, took the lead and then had to settle for a point. It was an encouraging result for the Tridents on the road and shows that they have what it takes to come from behind.
Hope is not in Mohamed’s 24-man squad this time around, but the return of former national captain and prolific goal-scorer Mario Harte, along with the midfield maestro Romario “ Pete” Harewood, should boost Barbados’ chances of a victory in front of the home crowd.
Harewood’s return is welcomed, considering that captain and midfielder Rashad Jules is sidelined because of a groin injury.
Despite Jules’ absence and the fact that no overseas players will feature for Barbados, Mohamed will still have headaches picking a starting line-up due to the quality of the players at his disposal.
Versus Guyana, the technical director opted for a 4-4-2 formation, while in El Salvador a 4-2-2-2 formation was the order of the day.
USVI are used to playing a 4-3-3 formation and relying on captain James Mack III to make an impact from the right wing.
Barbados will have to keep possession of the ball and take their chances when they come.
Judging from the two previous games, only a brave man would attempt to predict the line-up.
In the absence of No.1 goalkeeper Keasel Broome, BDFSP’s Kishmar Primus is expected to get the nod ahead of teenager Liam Brathwaite and Paradise’s Jason Boxill.
Ramar Millar has proved to be solid in the defence and should retain his spot at centre back along with either the returning Ricardio Morris, Shane Codrington, Keason Trench or Terrence Smith, who is looking to make his debut.
Traditionally, Raheim Sargeant and Ackeel Applewhaite have been deployed as wing-backs. However, the inclusion in the squad of Rico Graham, Akeem Hill and Ramon Manning could mean that Sargeant and Applewhaite will take up their normal attacking positions.
The midfield options are plenty. Jomo Harris and Mario “Bagga” Williams may be tasked with the more defensive duties, while Romario Harewood, Hadan Holligan, Armando “Suga” Lashley, Omani Leacock and Antoine Greaves play further up.
Harte, Zeco Edmee, Shakille Belle and Jabarry Chandler will be tasked with getting the goals for the Tridents. (AGB)