Benna Boys Seek Redress, Ask FA To Dialogue

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Two members of the senior national football team based in England have confirmed the legitimacy of a letter sent to the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) asking the body to address a number of issues surrounding the overall preparation and coaching of the Benna Boys.
Former captain and midfielder Joshua Parker along with goalkeeper Brentton Muhammad, addressed the issues while speaking on the Good Morning JoJo Sports Show on Wednesday, stating they were representatives of a “players union” comprising of both local and England-based players.
Parker, who is the most senior of the two players, said the issues addressed in the letter are not as a result of personalities but simply, a need to see those in authority seriously address the concerns of players.
“We’ve failed to move forward, only sideways and backwards. At one point we were moving forward when we had gotten to 70th in the world which was our highest ranking ever but there was no urgency to invest time. It doesn’t always have to be about money but just about investing extra time to take us to the next step or the next level because at the end of the day that 70th ranking is just a number, just a ranking,” he said.
“We still didn’t qualify for any major competition or the Gold Cup which is our aim, to make history and take the country forward. It’s not about the football team, it’s about our passion for the country and where we can   take the country if we actually work as a collective unit. At the moment it feels as if there is a detachment from the ABFA and the players,” he added. 
In the letter, the “players union” suggested a change in approach to team preparation while lamenting the country’s decline in the FIFA Rankings to 126th from a high of 70th in the world.
Highlighting the fact that the senior team had not played in over a year leading into two recent international friendly matches against Bermuda and Jamaica, Parker said the players are open to dialogue on the way forward Continued on page 20
Benna Boys from page 24
as they seek to avoid a fallout with the governing body.
“If they turn around and say no then we get on with business because that’s what we are here to do; we are football players at the end of the day, but the ABFA knows what we’ve said and we hope they take it with the uttermost seriousness and just show that there is that connection between us and them and that they do understand our frustration and our wants because at the end of the day, we just all want to move forward,” the player said. 
Addressing what seemed to be a recommendation of an England-based coach as a potential candidate for the position of head coach, Muhammad clarified that it was only after the coach in question had applied for the job that they as players got wind of his interest.
“I think the recommendation of Ricky Hill wasn’t initially made by the players. I think that once we knew about him being available it became a suggestion being looked into by the players and the option was weighed up as his experience and having a background in the sport and the experience that we think is needed. I don’t think it’s a situation where the players have created an ultimatum for the ABFA at all. It’s a suggestion as we have always been suggesting things we think could help,” the goalkeeper said.
President of the ABFA, Everton Gonsalves, when contacted for a response,
declined comment at this time.
The Antigua and Barbuda Benna Boys are slated to contest the CONCACAF Nations League set to start in September with their opening encounter slated against St. Lucia here in Antigua.
The tournament was announced in November 2017. It will be divided into three different leagues with a champion to be crowned at the end of each edition. The tournament will also determine which national teams qualify for the CONCACAF Gold Cup and will feature promotion and relegation between the leagues. 

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