MIAMI, Florida --- Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) Technical Director of Football Andrew Edwards says his team hopes to make the best of contesting the Concacaf World Cup Qualifiers for Qatar 2022.
In reaction to Wednesday’s Concacaf WCQ draw, which took place at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich, the Jamaican says there is no easy draw when it comes to World Cup qualification. Instead, he asserts, teams should focus on their preparation and readiness for competition.
“The draw is what it is. I am never one to consider them easy or hard, it’s really a matter of where we are in our development and readiness for competition,” said Edwards in an exclusive interview with Concacaf.com.
“For the Turks and Caicos Islands, I don’t think there could have been any easy draw for us in the World Cup Qualifying campaign, given that it is the first time Concacaf is using this format and it is a format that we are very excited about because of the opportunities that it creates,” added Edwards.
In the new qualifying format, which will be played over three rounds, Turks and Caicos Islands was drawn into Group E of the First Round with Haiti, Nicaragua, Belize and Saint Lucia.
Edwards, a former Jamaica Under-17 Men’s coach, says that aside from the obvious tough opposition that awaits his team, the focus remains to grab the opportunity to play top-class football with both hands.
“For us, we are in the process of building something here in the Turks and Caicos Islands and we are going to embrace this opportunity [playing in the World Cup Qualifiers] fully.
“I have said before we are hoping to get at least one positive result from these games. However, our objective as always is to do the best we can on the field of play and let the results take care of themselves. If we are able to do that and get more than one positive result, then that would be more than a bonus for us,” said Edwards.
Turks and Caicos Islands, ranked 203rd by FIFA, faces daunting competition from four nations ranked above them, but as Edwards puts it: “Football is played on the field of play.”
“On paper, the opposition are much better than us and results-wise they would also have a better record than us. But football is played on the field of play, and as the great coach Jurgen Klopp says, ‘Football is the great equalizer’. It does not matter what quality is on the other side of the park, when the whistle goes, it’s 11 players versus 11.
“If the team is properly organized and properly prepared, it can always get a result. That is going to be our focus: to prepare as best as possible, despite the challenges being posed by the current pandemic, and to just put our best foot forward in all of the four games,” said Edwards.
The Turks and Caicos Islands technical head admits that he is yet to equip himself with information on all teams, but gave a synopsis of those with which he was more familiar.
“In terms of what we know about the teams, that will require a bit more analysis, but Haiti is definitely the pedigree team based on their program over the last six to 10 years, and we have seen them in qualifying for the Under-17 World Cup. Also, they have done well at the Gold Cup last year, and they are definitely on a rise. I know that they have a very well-organized plan in place to improve and develop their football overall.
“Saint Lucia I know is doing some work in setting up their youth football programs, but for the others [Nicaragua and Belize], we have to do some more analysis,” concluded Edwards.