By Neto Baptiste
National footballers based in England are ready and willing to heed the call to represent Antigua and Barbuda should pending World Cup qualifiers proceed as planned in March this year.
This is according to former Benna Boys captain and England-based midfielder Joshua Parker, who said he has been in contact with several players who have all expressed a willingness to represent the senior men’s team if called to do so.
“We [players] speak regularly amongst ourselves and we are just desperate to get out and play. For me, I feel like even with the crop of local based players mixed with the overseas players from as long as I’ve played — which is since the age of 18 — it’s the best crop of players that I’ve ever seen. So, it’s just about harnessing that and getting a coach that can bring everyone’s abilities to the table whilst giving opportunity to anyone who deserves it,” he said.
Parker, who currently plays for the Wycombe Wonderers in the second tier of the English football league system, said he has had recent talks with team manager and former national player Fernando Abraham on how players based in England could assist in some key areas.
“He has asked me how us, the overseas players, can help the local boys with whether it be sending some programmes over or speaking to new potential players that might have come through, like your Che Adams who is in the premier league [EPL] with Southampton and doing very well, and a lot of other players who don’t necessarily know that they are eligible,” he said.
“I also touched base with Mikele Leigertwood, who is a former player, to see if he would be open to coming and doing some coaching with the local boys so everything is in motion to try and continue the progression of the last coach,” he added.
Meanwhile, Iceland-based England-born goalkeeper Brentton Muhammad admitted he has not had dialogue with the Antigua FC for some time but remains ready to represent the twin-island state once called.
“I suppose that my job as a professional is just to keep myself in good condition, good shape and fit as possible and hope that I am selected like I’ve been done for the past eight years and hopefully I can add value to the squad like I have done so we’ll see. I am still at the team [Vestri Ísafjördur] I was in Iceland, we had a good year after being promoted and we finished sixth in the league which is mid-table. I just signed a new contract, I am due to go back in late February for three seasons,” he said.
Antigua and Barbuda will contest Group A of the CONCACAF qualifiers alongside El Salvador, Grenada, Montserrat and the US Virgin Islands.
The Benna Boys are scheduled to face Montserrat on 24th March 2021 before taking on the US Virgin Islands three days later. The Benna Boys will then round off their group campaign against Grenada on April 6.