- The Dominican Republic will face Panama, Barbados, Dominica and Anguilla in Group D
- Passy: “It is a team that has varying aspects. There are a lot of players playing in the domestic league and a group who play abroad, in Europe.”
- Passy points to top-seed Panama as the biggest challenge.
MIAMI, Florida – In the last several years, football has made great strides in the Dominican Republic. The inception of a new professional league has yielded two Concacaf Caribbean Club Championship winners (Cibao FC, Atletico Pantoja), and strong showings in Concacaf Nations League Qualifying and CNL League B prove that the National Team is on the rise.
With the start of the First Round of Concacaf World Cup Qualifying in October in which the Dominican Republic will face Panama, Barbados, Dominica and Anguilla in Group D, a new opportunity awaits to have the Dominican Republic National Team take the next step.
“What you need sometimes is a big result to generate momentum. Any time you have a World Cup Qualifier, it’s a great opportunity for that. Hopefully everyone can do their part and we’re a competitive team. The fans are very hungry and rightly so. The Dominican Republic needs a result to make it feel like they have taken a big step,” said Dominican Republic Head Coach Jacques Passy in an exclusive interview with Concacaf.com following Wednesday’s draw.
Passy, who was named Head Coach earlier this month, inherits a team with a wide skill set, which could prove to be a big asset over the course of the four matches.
“It is a team that has varying aspects. There are a lot of players playing in the domestic league and a group who play abroad, in Europe. They have a combination of direct play, with players who can play more of a possession game, more of a combining game. There are options and as a coach when you have options, that’s the best you can have. Some might say that having options is not best because you can’t clearly define what kind of team you are, but I think having so many different players with different skills gives you the chance to make different tactical plans and have different ways to approach matches,” said Passy.
The Mexican manager also outlined what he hopes to see from his team both on and off the field.
“First, I expect a determined mentality, a mentality in which they’ll leave everything. They have to give everything and grow their mentality and think that they have to win every match. Second, a team that has the capacity to strategize each match in an intelligent manner and always think critically about the right route to win. Third, I expect in addition to the mental and tactical side that there is a brotherhood, that it’s a team that is unified,” said Passy.
In sizing up the group opponents, Passy points to top-seed Panama as the biggest challenge, considering that the Canaleros are the only team in the First Round of Concacaf WCQ that participated in the last FIFA World Cup in Russia.
“They are a good team. They are a team that’s had very good consistency in the last several years. They have a new coach [Thomas Christiansen], a European who will have a very distinct working methodology and he’ll have many aspects to work with, like Panama’s power and explosiveness, but also tactical discipline. I know his work and he is a good coach. Panama is a team that is changing generations. I like their team and it will be interesting to face them,” said Passy.
Passy was also quick to warn that it would be unwise to overlook the other group opponents, noting that in modern day football, anything can happen.
“Barbados is very well-coached both on and off the field and they won their Nations League group in League C. Dominica is a strong team that uses their physicality to have an important presence on the pitch. I am of the idea that you can never underestimate an opponent. You can’t think that the game against the top team in the group is the only game. Every opponent counts and you have to play and you have to win. If not, you can’t aspire to anything, so they are two important Caribbean opponents. Then with Anguilla, getting there can be complex, so overall it’s a good group, an interesting group in which we have our chances. I very much respect the group, but I also respect my team and my team will fight all the way,” said Passy.
Passy’s arrival to the Dominican Republic marks his second stint with a Caribbean nation after a successful four-year spell with Saint Kitts and Nevis from 2015-18. The experience accrued while managing the Sugar Boyz is sure to help Passy in his time in the Dominican Republic.
“When you have managed 27 international matches, you learn things like you need to arrive one day before a match so you will have more time. You’ll have clubs tell you that they won’t release your player even if it’s a FIFA date. You’ll have logistical problems; you’ll face a team expecting one thing but then they will have changed and it’s not the same team you saw on video three months before. I think when you have that experience of having managed games at the national team level, it allows you to have the guideline to face those situations that perhaps the first time were unforeseen, but now you expect them,” concluded Passy.