Covid Has Stagnated Preparations: Women’s Football Coach Hoping FA’s Exemption Request Is Granted As Country Jumpstarts Preparations For World Cup Qualifiers

Women’s football technical director and head coach of the senior women’s team, Lisa Cole.
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By Neto Baptiste

Technical director for women’s football here in Antigua, and head coach of the senior women’s team, Lisa Cole, said recent Covid 19 protocols instituted by the government has negatively impacted preparations for the country’s participation in the CONCACAF leg of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifiers scheduled to start in November.

Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Cole who is a former US coach, said the association is currently seeking exemption from the proper authorities for the team to resume training.

“We were going pretty well and then this recent bout of Covid has taken us back off the field and so players are doing a good job in training individually, getting some strength work in, doing their running and then they are also trying to play as much as possible. We are hopeful that we’ll have them back doing football on the pitch together this week,” she said.

“We need to work out testing and the players need to be vaccinated in order to travel to the US so there are lots of little moving pieces that have kind of gotten in the way of our actual on-the-field preparation,” he added. 

Antigua and Barbuda was drawn in Group A of the CONCACAF leg and will play alongside Mexico, Puerto Rico, Suriname and Anguilla.

Cole said that a number of the country’s young players who recently returned from Curacao for the under-20 qualifiers have been drafted into the senior team training squad as a number of the senior players are based overseas.

“We have a group in training, and that group is difficult because we do have a lot of players in that group that are overseas, so we’re excited that the U-20’s are back so I’ll be adding some of those U-20s to that training group but I am not sure if they will make that team, it would kind of be up to them. We do have a lot of international players in that senior group and players who are overseas playing right now, and basically, what I have told the players overseas is that you need to be regularly competing within your college team for us to feel like we can bring you on in November, so they need to be active,” she said. 

Cole is hoping that plans for a camp outside of Antigua ahead of the November qualifiers will get the ABFA’s approval.

“Has it been signed off officially as yet? No but that is the plan we are pitching in terms of getting over early, even to get to Puerto Rico early because I have a good friend who runs a club in Puerto Rico, so if we got there and got two other teams and are able to play two good games before we play Puerto Rico, I think that that would put us ahead,” the TD said.

The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualification process determines all 32 teams which will play in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, with the co-hosts, Australia and New Zealand, qualifying automatically.

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