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Tridents preparing for World Cup qualifiers in Dominican Republic

Nick Maitland

Tridents preparing for World Cup qualifiers in Dominican Republic
Head coach of the Barbados senior national men’s team, Russell Latapy. (FILE)

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Head coach of the senior men’s football team, Russell Latapy, will have a sizeable squad at his disposal when the Tridents depart for a two-week training camp on Wednesday ahead of their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Panama and Anguilla in the Dominican Republic.

The team last trained as a group on December 29, 2020 and as such, Latapy and his staff could not assess his players on the pitch to select a customary 18-member squad.

The 162nd-ranked Tridents are expected to travel with a squad of 20 to 24 players, which will include overseas invitees Hallam Hope, Nick Blackman and Thierry Gale. Latapy will be depending heavily on the form and fitness of the trio.

Hope is currently experiencing a revival in productivity at Swindon Town in England’s League Two while the 18-year-old Gale just forced himself into starting contention at Budapest Honved in Hungary. The 31-year-old Blackman, who notched three goals in his five caps for the national side, scored his first league goal of the season on Thursday for Maccabi Tel Aviv against Hapoel Haifa.

Senior national captain Rashad Jules received a massive vote of confidence from Latapy and is expected to retain his position and place in the team. Seasoned squad members Hadan Holligan, Jomo Harris, Omani Leacock and first-choice goalkeeper Kishmar Primus are also expected to take the trip.

In addition, the group is scheduled for COVID-19 PCR testing on Sunday and Monday and Latapy said that test results would also play a part in his final selection of the travelling party.

“We have everybody testing between Sunday and Monday which would be the 72-hour threshold for overseas travel. Once we get results, we can go into a little bubble here before we travel to keep everybody safe,” Latapy revealed.

“It is an unfortunate situation that we can’t get back on the pitch to give everybody a fair chance. We have players here that we trust and believe in and have done a lot of work over the past year, so it is an opportunity for everybody to come and fight for their play.”  (NM)