St. Lucia (pictured) in training ahead of the 2015 Windward Islands Men's Championship. (Photo courtesy of the St. Lucia Football Association)
CASTRIES, St. Lucia – Defending a title at home will be all the motivation St. Lucia needs, when it hosts the 2015 Windward Islands Men’s Championship, starting next week at the Philip Marcellin Grounds in Vieux Fort
The St. Lucians won the 2014 edition in Dominica, conceding no goals while going unbeaten with a 2W-1D-0L record.
“I think that the guys’ spirits are very high,” said head coach Francis Lastic. “The guys are looking forward to representing, going into the Windward Islands to defend the title. They are ready and set for a second championship.”
All four teams in the competition will be involved in World Cup Qualifying next month as Dominica will take on Canada, Grenada will square off against Puerto Rico, St. Vincent & the Grenadines will meet Guyana and St. Lucia will be tested by Antigua & Barbuda.
Lastic’s initial focus, though, is on the Windward Islands tournament and how it will help his team for upcoming challenges.
“We want to deal with the Windward Islands first,” said the 43-year-old, who played in six World Cup qualifiers for St. Lucia. “I think our task right now is to win this championship. The tournaments are very close, but our aim right now is try to win the Windward Islands tournament and then concentrate on World Cup Qualifying.”
As for the squad, Lastic has been pleased with its efforts in training.
“The players are committed to the task,” he expressed. “We can rely on them to come on the 12th to put their best foot forward. The players are very keen in defending our title. It’s an opportunity for players to do well for the country. That’s what I like. I like the spirit in camp.”
Competition for places in the side has been fierce and a new addition -- United States-based Dwight Degazon -- has already made a positive impression.
“I like what I see from Degazon,” finished Lastic. “He’s a central stopper and he adds a lot of attributes to the team itself. There’s good character in what he presents as a professional player and what he brings to the team. That’s what the national team needs, players from overseas coming to contribute, coming to assist.”
St. Lucia opens its Windward Islands schedule on Tuesday against Dominica, before facing St. Vincent & the Grenadines (May 14) and Grenada (May 16).