(ABOVE) Action from Barbados' last friendly on March 2, 2014, against visiting Jamaica (yellow jersey).
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados -- Host Barbados and Guyana have emphasised the importance of Sunday evening’s international friendly, as they prepare to square off in what is expected to be keenly contested affair at the National Stadium.
Neither side has had a particularly busy schedule as of late. Consequently, both will be using this fixture to kick-start their preparation and to build confidence, especially with qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup scheduled to start in March.
Barbados technical director Marcos Falopa said he was thrilled with the squad’s efforts in training and, though he identified Guyana as the favourite, stressed that Barbados would be approaching the game with victory in mind.
“They have responded very well,” Falopa told CONCACAF.com. “We will see what we can do. I believe in the boys, they have a good mentality to play this match. The boys like to work hard. There are some talented players and we are trying hard.
“It will not be easy because Guyana has a strong team and they had good results last year in the qualification for World Cup. But in football it is 11 against 11 and we still have to play and we will see who is better. I believe they are favorites for this match, but we will try because we are building a new team for Barbados. I am glad to play this game because it will be a very important event here in Barbados.”
With the qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games coming up as well, the bulk of Barbados’ squad will be comprised of under-23 players.
However, Falopa said he did not expect Barbados style to be affected by the team’s relative youth.
“The style will be the Barbadian way, the Caribbean way,” he stressed. “We will play with the technique, but also the heart and the mind to win the game.
“I am looking for a result, and the players too, because the important thing is that we are working to see results and the production of the team. Sometimes results are not always positive, but there are always positive things you can get from every opportunity.”
Against the Barbadians, Guyana head coach Jamaal Shabazz said the visitors were banking on team spirit and confidence as a unit.
“This is a big moment for Guyana’s football because this is the first friendly international we will be playing in two years,” the 51-year-old noted. “We’re hopeful. Where we lack is in fitness because there was no football going on in Guyana, but we will make up in enthusiasm and commitment. We had an eight-day camp and that is the only time we had with the team, but the enthusiasm is so high with what the Normalisation Committee has brought to Guyana’s football so far, in terms of how they deal with the players, how they deal with the staff and the pathway they are setting forward.
“I think we can only look at the positives and be very anxious to play this game and put our best foot forward.”