By Neto Baptiste
The Antigua and Barbuda senior women’s football team, the Benna Girls, will open their League B, Group A campaign in the Concacaf Road to W Gold Cup competition here on Wednesday when they face the Guyana senior women’s team at the ABFA’s Technical Center on the Sir Sydney Walling Highway.
The team will then fly to Suriname where they will face that country’s senior women’s team on Sunday, September 24.
Head coach and former player, Astel Joseph, said preparations are well on the way for the team’s opening clash.
“As you know with everything you have ups and downs, but we’re pushing through and we’ve been getting the job done, myself and Karen Warner. We’ve been putting the girls through their paces trying to get the best out of them,” he said.
Dominica is the other team in Group A of League B.
In total, 34 Concacaf member associations will participate in the 2023 Road to W Gold Cup, excluding the two that will compete in the 2024 Paris Summer Olympic Games Women’s Football Tournament (USA and Canada or Jamaica). These 34 teams were split into three Leagues (A, B, and C) according to their Concacaf women’s ranking as of March 2023, and sub-divided into groups at the official draw on May 17.
Joseph said the group is mostly inexperienced, but he’s optimistic about their chances.
“We have a petty young group and a lot is being put on their shoulders, so we just have to figure out the best way going forward which we think we have been doing so far and putting the best players on the field to get the job done. We definitely are working hard and the girls are very optimistic, so we are looking forward to favourable results in these two upcoming matches,” he said.
The ABFA is yet to announce a squad for Wednesday’s opener against Guyana.
After 88 group stage matches, including home and away play within each league and group, the top finishers in each League A group (three teams) will qualify for the 2024 W Gold Cup Group Stage. Furthermore, the second-place finishers in each League A group (three teams) and the first-place finishers in each League B group (three teams) will advance to the 2024 W Gold Cup Prelims.