By Neto Baptiste
Amidst confirmation that a number of players were barred from entering Puerto Rico ahead of Antigua and Barbuda’s pending World Cup qualifier against the USVI senior men’s team on Saturday, President of the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) Everton Gonsalves said on Thursday that the body is in talks with the Puerto Rico officials.
In an interview with Observer media, Gonsalves said the issue developed even after the ABFA had been assured that all players would be cleared to enter the country.
“The ABFA can only handle the footballing matters because, as you know, we are only humans. So any matter that the ABFA can handle, then you can rest assured that the ABFA, in conjunction with CONCACAF and our various partners who support the ABFA can address so that the players can rightfully compete, then we will ensure that is done,” he said.
The former national striker also revealed that it was only after the players in question had landed in the USVI that the Federal government informed the delegation of the change.
There have been reports of other national teams facing similar issues with a number of Grenada players being denied entry into El Salvador for their match that was slated for Thursday evening.
On Wednesday, Antigua and Barbuda Benna Boys and Montserrat played to a 2-2 draw in Group A of their CONCACAF FIFA World Cup Qualifiers held in Curacao.
Gonsalves congratulated the team on their performance.
“These players have not played competitively for over a year and they were taking on a team comprised of all English professionals and they have done well. From what I am gathering, they could have won the match. but all in all, a splendid performance by the entire management team and the ABFA who would have gone through a difficult time to prepare the team,” he said.
The Benna Boys were twice forced to come from behind in the first half. Striker Eugene Kirwan drew the home team leveled on minute 23 after striker Lyle Taylor put Montserrat ahead from the penalty spot in minute seven. Winger D’Andre Bishop then had to make sure Antigua went into the half on leveled terms with a 45th minute strike after Taylor had again, put Montserrat ahead in the 26th minute.