By Neto Baptiste
Strict quarantine protocols by the country’s health ministry forced the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) to move its opening match against Montserrat in Group A of the CONCACAF FIFA World Cup Qualifiers to the Stadion Ergilio Hato in Curacao in March.
This is according to head of the ABFA and former national striker, Everton Gonsalves, who said his administration tried to have the two-week mandatory quarantine time reduced, but to no avail.
“Curacao has the same playing conditions as the ABFA headquarters, a synthetic surface. The match against Montserrat, there were some miscommunication with the whole set up where we thought that a number of matches would be hosted by Curacao because of the pandemic, and the players from overseas, both from Montserrat and for Antigua and Barbuda would have had to quarantine before our match. It was an easier access because of the competitions, to have the restrictions relaxed for Curacao and so we jumped at the situation,” he said.
The contest should have been Antigua and Barbuda’s home match but was moved to Curacao after it was revealed that similar quarantine procedures also existed in Montserrat.
Gonsalves also sought to debunk reports that the ABFA’s technical and training facility at Paynters is not certified to host international matches.
“We have the synthetic surface and we have played CONCACAF matches there. It’s a FIFA inspected and approved surface, so we could play there but there is always two facilities just like Cricket West Indies — the grassed one at the Sir Vivian Richards cricket stadium and our surface. We were looking to play our English players and [we made a proposal to have the quarantine time reduced] but contrary to what other people say, it could not be facilitated,” he said.
Antigua and Barbuda will host Grenada on June 4 at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground. The Benna Boys lead Group A with four points.