- Barbados will play into Group D with 2018 World Cup participants Panama, Dominican Republic, Dominica and Anguilla.
- “Barbadians have a fighting spirit, a never-say-die spirit, which is brilliant for a coach”
- “It’s a tough group for us. Panama having been to the World Cup. Being the seeded team in the group, they will be favorites”
MIAMI, Florida – The future is bright for the Barbados National Team and a wonderful opportunity for a young team to grow presents itself in Concacaf World Cup Qualifying for Qatar 2022.
Drawn into Group D with 2018 World Cup participants Panama, Dominican Republic, Dominica and Anguilla, Barbados Head Coach Russell Latapy is eager to see his team make the most of the upcoming four games, including their opening match against Panama.
“It’s a tough group for us. Panama having been to the World Cup. Being the seeded team in the group, they will be favorites. I have a fairly young team and we are building and developing so it will be a great experience for us. I like the present format right now. Previously you would just play a home and away and if you’re out, you’re out. Now it’s really good for the small nations, where we get to gain more experience by playing more games. It’s fantastic for us,” said Latapy in an exclusive interview with Concacaf.com.
“We played Canada twice in January and it was a good experience for my young team. In terms of a lot of things that we are trying to do, Canada was doing it at a high intensity and were a lot sharper, and so it opened the eyes of our young players. It really doesn’t matter when we play Panama as far as I’m concerned. We are going to play the best team in the group and no matter the result, I want us to learn from it and continue to develop the way we are,” added Latapy.
While Latapy feels like Barbados could advance from the group by playing their best football, he acknowledges that a secondary objective is to use these games to fine tune his side for the upcoming 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup qualifiers.
“We have a talented team and if we are able to put everything together at the right time, we can become very difficult. But it is a fairly young team, the average age is 22 or 23, so it is more of a team that we are trying to build for the future. I hope we can get the experience from these games and use that to try to get to the Gold Cup.
“Barbados have never qualified for a major championship and I would really like for us to gain experience so when the Gold Cup qualifiers come around, then we are ready for it. I am looking at these games as we are going to go in and fight hard and do our best, but being realistic, we are in a group with Panama who have been to the World Cup and who have a bigger footballing culture. We understand that it is going to be difficult, but our mindset is that it is going to be 11 versus 11 and we’ll do our best,” said Latapy.
With the current Covid-19 pandemic creating all sorts of hurdles, Latapy knows that it might not be possible to bring in players who play overseas in Europe. With that in mind, opportunity knocks for a group of young Barbados players looking to make their mark.
“We have a few older ones coming in. Nick Blackman and Hallam Hope, who play abroad and we would like to get them, but we understand it is going to be a difficult situation. We look at their club situations and it is going to be hard for the managers to let their players go considering the time missed with quarantines. We are anticipating that we’ll have issues with these clubs, just like every other nation. It’s a long time for these players to be away from their clubs, so what we’ll do here is work with the local players and young players in hopes of developing these players for the Gold Cup and maybe 2026 where they can be matured at that time. We are hoping to get those boys international games and international experience,” said Latapy.
Yet no matter whether it is WCQ or a Gold Cup qualifier, Latapy knows that first and foremost in order to have success, Barbados must play more like a collective.
“Barbadians have a fighting spirit, a never-say-die spirit, which is brilliant for a coach. I think what has happened in the past is that we’ve played a defensive game and an individual game, and what I’m trying to do is to get everyone on the same page and play as a unit. I think the players are buying into it and if you look at us now, you see a team that is organized and a team that is working as hard as possible for each other. I think if we can get our foreign-based players in, they will bring in quality and make us a better team,” concluded Latapy.