FA head expects improved performances at top venue

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President of the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA), Everton Gonsalves said the usage of the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground for the final round of matches in the Premier Division has added a new spark to the competition as it heads to a climax.
The final and deciding round of matches in the top flight are slated for Saturday and Sunday at the international venue with the Five Islands FC and the Greenbay Hoppers FC both poised to take the title.
Gonsalves said the venue provides for a better quality of play.
“The most important thing I am worried about is a wonderful playing surface befitting of the requirements of the Premier Division and so I am happy with that. The turnout, as you know, this weekend will be very interesting, it’s a little ways off from the ARG, the home of football, so it might present some challenges but I know a lot of people, the real pundits, the real lovers of football just can’t wait to see the level of the Premier Division on a wonderful playing surface,” he said.
Five Islands, on 32 points after 17 matches and number two in the standings, will face Grenades in the second match of Sunday’s triple-header. They must win the contest to give themselves a chance of lifting the cup.
Hoppers, at the top of the standings with 34 points, will contest Parham in the feature match. Whether or not they would need a victory, would depend on the outcome of the Five Islands versus Grenades clash.
The matches were in doubt after an announcement last week that a concert being put on by the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) will be held at the Antigua Recreation Grounds on Saturday.
Gonsalves said he was excited but not surprised they were granted permission to use the top class venue.
“Myself and the leader of government share a common vision for the development of Antigua and Barbuda and so, when we made our request to the powers that be, they were more than happy to grant the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium for the playing and the hosting of these matches and especially for the hosting of the Premier Division matches which are at a wonderful state and evidence to the fact that we are the number one Premier Division and league in the Caribbean,” Gonsalves said. 
Plans, according to the football boss, are still in place to resuscitate the playing surface at the ARG.
“We would have been looking to embark on the most robust rehabilitation programme for the Antigua Recreation Grounds, but that is held up for a little while, but we are still going to do it because there are other international matches that are coming further down the line,” Gonsalves said.
The senior national team will also play two matches at the venue when they host Bermuda on Election Day (21 March) and Dominica on 1 April. The Benna Boys will play away to the Jamaica Reggae Boyz on 25 March.

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